The weirdest news stories of 2022
2022 kicked off with the biggest proposed corporate acquisition in videogames history and, since then, Sony bought Bungie, the New York Times bought Wordle, and the Embracer Group bought everything else. We also saw a gargantuan leak of early GTA 6 materials and a wave of unionisation efforts across the games industry. And Google shut down Stadia. Remember Stadia?
But the year wasn't just defined by the big, earth-shaking stories. It was also pockmarked by a load of events that were just, well, a bit strange. Things like the aimbot that aimed so hard it died, or the MegaMan documentary too sexy for YouTube: these important cultural moments can end up overlooked when corporate history is being made.
Do not let 2022's most bizarre news items go gently into that good night. Here's a roundup of some of the strangest things that made our pages this year.The Pope blasts Megalovania to kick off the year
We weren't even a week into 2022 when Pope Francis, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church settled down for a nice show and the absolute hardest track in any game ever. Sat beneath an enormous bronze sculpture of Christ arising from a nuclear crater in Gethsemane, His Holiness observed politely as a troupe of circus performers performed juggling miracles to Toby Fox's battle theme banger. Amen.The Italian senate gets disrupted by Final Fantasy pornography
An Italian senate meeting briefly became way funnier when it found itself thrown into disarray by a video of Final Fantasy 7 Remake's Tifa Lockhart in flagrante delicto in January. What would otherwise have been a fairly rote meeting between senators and academics suddenly became decidedly un-rote when a virtual intruder interrupted proceedings with 30 seconds of, um, explicit video rendered in the Unreal Engine, plunging the meeting into chaos.A Stalker-themed supermarket opens in Kyiv
Finally, you can buy a calzone in The Zone at Kyiv's foremost STALKER-themed shopping establishment (I don't actually know if it sells calzones). You can pick up all your STALKER sundries in an environment themed around the games' familiar and much-loved radioactive, rusty post-apocalypse. It's not a temporary stunt, either. For as long as the supermarket lives, it'll be STALKER-themed.Ikea threatens to sue an 'infinite furniture store survival game'
Indie developer Robert Shaw incurred the wrath of the Swedish furniture gods with his survival game set in an "infinite furniture store". Everything seemed to be fitting together until a letter from Ikea's lawyers turned up accusing him of using aesthetic flourishes that "suggest that the game takes place in an Ikea store". The lawyers didn't demand Shaw terminate development, but they did demand that he take out every inch of the game that might remind players of the furniture and meatball megastore.BMW owners figure out how to pirate their heated seats
When BMW figured out a way to turn keeping warm into a subscription service, irate owners got to work. Rather than pay $18 a month or a $415 up-front fee to keep their seats warm, they found tricks to bypass the system. It wasn't quite free—most of the ways to circumvent BMW's absurd policy still cost money at some point—but it was satisfying. And warm.Hacker jailbreaks a tractor and runs Doom on it
It's not just BMW that's nickel-and-diming users in the physical realm, John Deere's long been in on the action too. The company is the biggest firm in the agricultural manufacturing business, and has a policy of putting strict locks on its tractors that prevent farmers from repairing their own machines. Those locks were broken live on stage by Australian hacker Sickcodes in August, though, allowing him to play original Doom on a rooted John Deere tractor display. I guess something's gotta keep you entertained during a long harvest.Order real-life Domino's pizza in The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion
Old games never die, they just become festooned with an increasingly bizarre series of mods. This one, created by a modder named Nickies, allows you to order an actual, physical Domino's pizza to your home by chatting to an NPC. It does also require you to store your credit card info in plaintext on a file on your PC, but nothing risked, nothing gained.Children's MMO roiled by wave of bizarre server announcements
Wizard101, a youth-oriented MMO that has—so I'm told—been running since 2008, had to shut its servers down in September when its players kept spammed by bizarre messages. With missives like "BRADLEY COME DOWN TO THE OFFICE THIS INSTANT - the ceo" and "The next world is my boss's asshole," the messages were strange, profound, prophetic, and wholly unacceptable.Please stop using Arma 3 to make fake war footage
Newsrooms have been mistaking Arma recordings for actual warfare for ages now, but a plague of footage purporting to be from the war in Ukraine—but which had actually been generated by players of Arma 3—forced Bohemia Interactive to put out a statement in November. First, the company asked its fans to play the game "responsibly," and second, knowing that absolutely would not work, it put out a guide to identifying Arma-generated footage for overworked news editors around the world.The entire Nier: Automata church saga
When a Reddit user named sadfutago posted asking how to reach "the church" in Nier: Automata, the game's subreddit removed his post for low engagement. When he posted screenshots that seemed to show a never-before-seen area in the game, he piqued everyone's interest. When he posted a video, the community entered a days-long fever pitch of theorycrafting, data-mining, and general confusion. The "church" ended up being the creation of some very talented modders, but for days it felt like the only thing anyone could talk about was the final secret of a game released in 2017. Yoko Taro would be proud.
* This article was originally published here