Gubbins co-creator Jessica Shipard shares her Favourite Games of 2023

The Studio Folly co-founder shares the five games that occupied her time and mind during 2023.
Best of 2023 Studio Folly Gubbins

As part of GamesHub’s Best of 2023 celebrations, we asked a number of developers and friends of the site to share some thoughts about the games that defined their year, impressed them the most, or were simply the ones they spent the most time with.

Spoiler alert: The mobile word game Gubbins is a title that will appear on many of those lists, so it’s a pleasure to have Jessica Shipard, co-creator of Gubbins and one-half of developer Studio Folly, share her own favourite games of 2023.

Check back all throughout December for more guest lists and GamesHub’s own picks for the Best Games of 2023.

Dredge (2023)

Image: Black Salt Games

Having grown up on whale-watching boats, I didn’t find the threat of what might be swimming under your boat as horrifying as many did, but was totally immersed in the isolation of the Dredge’s open seas. It might even be my favourite representation of the ocean in a game.

I’m generally not huge on fishing in games, but something about the Tetris-y inventory combined with the puzzle-y approach to reeling in fish had me going hook, line, and sinker (sorry). The messed-up versions of the fish (aberrations) are so satisfying to catch and sell for mad cash. Our friends across the pond knew exactly what they were doing!

Image: Fuzzy Ghost

A Queer Man Peering into a Rock Pool.jpg (2022)

The feeling of moonwalking around the world of Queer Man stuck with me for days, like a really good film. The loneliness of the sweet-natured older gentleman, the magenta sunsets, the escalation of the music, and the simple act of plucking chunky rocks out of rock pools was all so emotionally affecting and I didn’t want it to end.

Having grown up with precisely one computer game, Queer Man is what I’ve been calling “the beginning of my Steam era”, and I so desperately want to go over to the homes of non “capital G gamer” pals and install it on their computers. I had the good fortune of meeting Scott and Pete of Fuzzy Ghost only days after playing at GDC and became instant (dear) friends, though this game would be on my list nonetheless.

Image: Adam Robinson-Yu

A Short Hike (2019)

Despite its release a few years ago, A Short Hike has been hugely inspiring to my partner Darcy and I this year as we start to think about making game two. It embodies so many things we value in a game: a lean scope, a story that’s not trying to do too much and plenty of toys to interact with while you are roaming around. The control scheme is also incredibly satisfying, making soaring through the air a pure joy.

Kind of a small thing, but A Short Hike features what might be my favourite typography in a game. I’m obsessed with how the dialog boxes seamlessly expand to accommodate the text length and how the chosen pixel font complements the game’s unique take on pixel art.

Image: Max Inferno

A Little to the Left (2022)

As a disorderly wannabe perfectionist, A Little to the Left scratches a hard-to-reach area of my brain. Some puzzles are brief and quick to solve, while others contain tons of items, but when you find the perfect spot to fit the measuring tape you’ve been staring at for 15 minutes, oh boy is it satisfying.

Not unlike Darcy and I, the couple behind the game started making it in the pandemic. The fact they got it out a whole year before we released our game Gubbins is just rude, especially given its sheer polish and many hours of content. But like, go off Max Inferno, that’s wild.

Image: Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom (2023)

Let’s be real, the game I threw the most hours at this year was The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.  I had the best time banging on rocks in the caves and wells to unearth gemstones and fusing obscure items to swords to see what happens. TOTK also introduced my favourite creature in the whole series, the gentle chonky Dondon friends. They poop diamonds!

Like many, I struggled with the game’s sheer vastness, but reuniting with the familiar faces from BOTW felt like coming home.