Play the Game; Our Obsession with TV, Film and Music Entertainment Often Leaves the Popular Video Gaming Industry Lumbering in the Shadows. WM's Brendan Hughes Explains Why Now's the Most Exciting Time to Be a Gamer, as He Runs through the Best New and Upcoming Launches
Byline: Brendan Hughes
IWAS told recently - to my horror - that it is now less than 20 weeks until Christmas.
But rather than conjuring up fearful images of last-minute panic present buying or untangling the Christmas tree lights, there was only one thing that popped into my mind.
I thought to myself: "I wonder what video games are out this Christmas?" Since my sixth birthday when my parents got me a hand-me-down Nintendo Entertainment System and a copy of Super Mario Bros, computer games have been a dangerous indulgence of mine.
The entertainment media has fascinated me in a way music, film or television never has, and although the hassles of life mean I don't get to play them as often as I would like these days, I still avidly follow the gaming world with a geeky zeal.
This time of year in particular is the most exciting as a gamer. As we move into the colder months, the gaming calendar heats up as companies roll out their biggest games to entice punters to part with their cash.
And this year is no exception, as an array of firmly established franchises are being updated with bells-and-whistles second sequels in time for the Christmas shopping season.
By far the biggest mass-market blockbuster this year will be first-person shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, November 8).
Its creators have been teasing us all year with hyped-up movie-style trailers, promising another high-octane blaster, both through its single-player mode and addictive online multiplayer.
But the king of shooters has ample competition this year for that elusive crown. Most eager to knock Warfare off its perch is Battlefield 3 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, October 28), another military-style shoot-em-up.
The five years since the release of Battlefield 2 have seen Call of Duty rise to dominance in the genre. This long-awaited second sequel will be hoping to steal some of Modern Warfare's thunder with its similarly styled modern-military shooting experience.
One thing you can always be sure of in the gaming calendar at this time of year is that EA Sports will trot out another incarnation of its ludicrously popular Fifa series. Fifa 12 (All platforms, September 30) - the 19th in the franchise - will feature gameplay gimmicks such as an "impact engine" to sound in some way new. …