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Eurogamer's news editor Wes once said that if Hunter S. Thompson were alive today - and writing about video games rather than the counter-culture of the sixties and the politics of America at a crossroads - then he would surely be covering the extraordinary sight of the digital gladiators descending upon Las Vegas to celebrate their shared obsession and do heavyweight battle with each other at the Mecca of fighting games, the Evo Championship Series. Impenetrable to the outsider, all-encompassing to those on the inside: a place where worlds collide.

From my own perspective, I can't help but feel he'd be even more intrigued watching over the events of Eve Online's Fanfest - and the players' fervent devotion to a suspension of disbelief that hinges on the basic desire to gain as much as possible at the expense of others. In the flesh every bit as much as in the game, personalities, politics and power rub together constantly like tectonic plates. Yet the camaraderie of a shared adventure is unmistakable.

Last year, the endless conflict of Eve Online stepped out of its digital boundaries in extraordinary fashion. The end result was around 120 people losing their livelihoods, and so before we go any further with what's intended to be a light-hearted retrospective of some of the most remarkable drama that gaming had to offer in 2011, that sobering fact needs to be acknowledged and respected. Let it be so noted.

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The best photos of 2011 from around the globe. Warning: All images in this entry are shown in full, not screened out for graphic content. Some images contain dead bodies, graphic content and tragic events. We consider these images an important part of human history.

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Seven weeks ago, a labor dispute threatened to push the NFL season to the sidelines. Instead, the goliaths of gridiron made a glorious return this past week, from the last-second goalstand by the Super Bowl champs Green Bay Packers to Tom Brady’s second-to-no-other-Patriot’s 517 yards passing. The games also paused to mark the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11th attacks. Though the season is just one week old, fans across the globe are hoping their teams will play in the grand finale next Feb. 5, held for the first time in Indianapolis. -- Lloyd Young
(34 photos total)
Miami Dolphins Brandon Marshall (19) dives over New England Patriots Devin McCourty after catching a pass during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Miami Sept. 12. Hans Deryk/Reuters)

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