The Whole Of The Moon: Consolevania Ends

By Kieron Gillen on January 15th, 2009 at 12:31 pm.

I'll get my revenge for NSJ though.
God, this probably says too much about my priorties. When one of the biggest and more credible sites get gutted in a dumb corporate buy-out, it gets mentioned in The Sunday Papers. When a virtually-unknown outside-of-UK internet videogame TV show calls it a day in their final episode though? Front page post. Like, obviously. I dunno. The slow machinations of advance capitalism leaving human tragedy behind it is just life. Consolevania were unique, and their passing just as unique as their coming. And my short eulogy continues herein…

I also like how I know THE TEAM would be rolling their eyes at the last two sentences. Which was part of their charm.

The last episode is one of the strangest, most human pieces of games writing/performance/programming I’ve ever seen. You can get it here, though we’re going to bring the server down if everyone tries to download it at 250Mb a pop. It’s a little bit nervous breakdown. Or more like post nervous breakdown. The long monlogue talking about their love of videogames and their fear that they’ve sacrificed their love of games to become nothing but snark-merchants sounds like the result of soul-searching. It sounds like a confession.

And while they didn’t say this, their fear could be neatly paraphrased as “We didn’t want to be Yahtzee”. The ritual disembowelment of an artistic failing for the baying crowd, with you as some kind of Gladatorial Lion tearing apart Christians whose only real sin was to believe in something… well, eventually, all that congealed and ageing flesh leaves a rotten taste in the mouth. And the longer Consolevania did it, the less well it sat.

Anger’s a young man’s game.

(Its older-uncle-emotion – which when observed in action can appear very similar – is bitterness. Anger is born by a failure of something to live up to your ideals. Bitterness is born of a realisation that your ideals will never be true again, and maybe never were.)

Anger fundamentally is puritanical. It only exists as a primary force when you lack a desire to understand or empathise. In such a state, it becomes easy to do this kind of stuff for jollies. It’s the reviewer who’ll lob a “I hope the developers get cancer” into a piece, knowing that readers will appreciate it. Eventually, you start to realise while there’s an audience for that, it’s not an audience you want to encourage. That kind of response to art is emotionally stunting. That kind of response to anything is emotionally stunting. It doesn’t go anywhere. And eventually, it turns you from an angry young man into a bitter old one.

(When I was about 21, I loved the Sneaker Pimp’s sneer of a lyric “Just because I understand, don’t think I care”. I still love it, but only in the same way as I love vile emotions expressed in songs, from Nick Cave to the Waitresses.)

Consolevania said fuck it. Their motivation was always about trying to express their love for games, not their disappointment. They never wanted to be reviewers or critics, but had found themselves accidentally in that position. They didn’t like it. They decided to stop.

You can always stop. Being forced to stop is sad. Choosing to stop is beautiful.

Consolevania were beautiful and while I’ll miss them, I wouldn’t want to change their mind.

They went out on this:

Which isn’t a bad way to go.

.

82 Comments »

  1. Gap Gen says:

    I think Consolevania (and by extension, Videogaiden) is one of the only videogame shows that I’ve seen that really works (I missed Gamesmaster, so I can’t comment on that). It never played at being hip and cool, and fully embraced the kind of awkwardness that nerds get when sat in front of a camera. It didn’t always work and occasionally fell in the shit, especially in VG’s last season (VG always worked better with a more professional air than CV’s anarchic style).

    It passing was probably partly due to the financial troubles they had (one of the people who they did work for allegedly didn’t pay them), but I hope the sense of what they were doing lives on. Hell, perhaps Game Damage will learn something from what they tried to do.

  2. NullH says:

    I for one will be sad to see them go. Conesolevania was always genuinely funny, and felt like the kind of show where you could have a pint with the guys making it and not be awed by their pretention.

    I’ll remember fondly reviews of hentai games made while eating Fray Bentos pies, the death of John Wayne Gacy, poor sad Hitler and Ken Kutaragi’s voyeurism. Good times.

  3. Ado says:

    Refreshing to see someone go out on something of a high.

    Whilst I understand from my friends that are avid fans, that they had got progressively less of what they once were, I must admire anyone that decides to call it a day before it gets dragged out and pathetic. That’s the most annoying thing with TV (especially US Shows), they just go on and on until they become so damn blah…

    I salute the corpse of those I knew little but heard tell of very much. At least they died with honor.

  4. itsallcrap says:

    That’s genuinely depressing news.

    I mean, really.

    Name another decent games show. Zero Punctuation doesn’t count as it’s too short.

    What are we going to do now?

    I don’t think they were getting at all unpleasant. Their review style was brilliant. They told us what your mate tells you about a game, and I got so much more information from that than I ever do from traditional games reviews.
    I always knew whether or not I wanted a game after CV reviewed it, whether I agreed with them or not.

    How long until someone else as good as that starts producing a games show off their own back?

  5. Owen says:

    They’ll be missed but I certainly wish them all the best.

    For old times sake, I think I’ll watch the Oblivion review again with the shoe throwing :)

  6. Ian says:

    I never really watched Consolevania but it’s nice to see they’ve gone out the way they have.

    I’m probably not supportive enough of gaming-show-things, if I’m honest.

  7. crap guy says:

    Nitpickery, but the lyric is actually “Don’t think ’cause I understand, I care.”

  8. LewieP says:

    It is really a shame to see it come to an end.

    I hoped that the BBC would have seen sense at some point, and given them a decent timeslot to do a decent video games show. They are often funny enough that even non-gamers I have forced to watch their stuff have enjoyed it.

    Goodbye team, thanks for the memories.

    Rehost in case it does get borked
    http://www.amusingmonkey.co.uk/cv/ccc.avi

  9. phil says:

    Equally Yahtzee’s dire attempt at stretching his material to 30mins shows how difficult it is.

    Goodbye CV – you were funny, independent, deeply strange, informed and massively self indulgent, all good things.

  10. Akirasfriend says:

    Don’t fret though. The CV forums are awash with emotion and threads rapidly filling with goodbyes and thankyous (mine included), yet any CV or VG fan should know that TEAM are cheeky basts who like to surprise us. So let’s not say goodbye, let’s just say… seeya later. :D

  11. LewieP says:

    Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do come back, but my guess is there will be a change of format somehow.

    But if they are one thing, it’s unpredictable.

  12. itsallcrap says:

    BUG REPORT FOR THE RPS TYPES!

    After editing a comment here (in Firefox at least) your altered message appears with ‘%20′ in the place of every space.

    This is clearly only a client-side thing, as a page refresh fixes it, but it may well confuse people…

  13. qrter says:

    Yeah, I’m not convinced it’s really over. Rab and Ryan can be a dramatic bunch – unless they come out and say “never again!” will I actually believe it.

  14. Muzman says:

    Does anyone want to offer a few faves/best of lists?
    I never really got into them (I get turned off by poorly performed crude jokes with dodgy sound and camera. I just do) What I have seen of their reviews seemed pretty smart and impassioned though. On the occasions I did try and check out their stuff I had trouble working out how to watch the show at all; bits and pieces all over the place etc. I’m sure it’s format breaking fun for the long term fans (or mabe it was videogaiden’s web site I couldn’t work out. Can’t remember)
    Anyway, link a brother up if you can be arsed.

  15. Helm says:

    Well-written piece. I’m afraid I’ll have to admit that I could never watch Consolevania very much because the HEAVY ACCENTS destroyed the Greek-trying-to-understand-the-English. But of what I watched some I enjoyed and I can understand their choice.

  16. hydra9 says:

    I loved what I saw of it. One of my favourite bits was their review of Oblivion.

    Also, I’m reminded of VideoGaiden’s lovely review of Pathologic.

  17. EvilG says:

    Well lets just hope that the sad end of consolevania will at least allow allow our protaganists to grow emotionally *rolls eyes*

  18. Gap Gen says:

    hydra9: “Overencumbered” was one of the best jokes in CV, I think.

  19. dracko says:

    Just when we needed them most. :(

    itsallcrap: Zero Punctuation doesn’t count because it’s misinformed shit, exactly the sort of thing Gillen is talking about. Just one look at its audience is enough.

  20. Premium User Badge

    dbdkmezz says:

    Yaaarg, I’d never even heard of them till today!
    Just watched the Oblivion (shoes on the roof) review , wonderful :)

  21. Heliocentric says:

    Hmm. They’ll be back, they love games too much. That said. All in all it seems to prove, that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone.

  22. Schmung says:

    Nuts. My work PC won’t play it and I don’t get anywhere near my home PC for a days :( I always liked consolevania, though I didn’t often agree with them it was always a pleasure to watch and was actually genuinely funny as opposed to the zany nonsense most games coverage seem to think passes for humour.

  23. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    I loved the Oblivion review (amongst others)…”I cannae move, I’m encumbered!” says Rab laden down with shopping.

  24. hydra9 says:

    Hadn’t seen the God Hand review before. Hilarious, but at the same time – really passionate and makes me wish I had a PS2.

  25. hydra9 says:

    I don’t want to keep bashing Yahtzee but… his ‘Game Damage’ pilot *really* looks sad next to Consolevania.

  26. Kieron Gillen says:

    God Hand is well worth having a PS2 for. It’s proper mental.

    KG

  27. dhex says:

    “Just one look at its audience is enough.”

    i like zero punctuation.

    i never watched consolevania that much but i do appreciate their accents in the artistic sense. not so much the communication of ideas bit but so long as you listen really, really hard it becomes somewhat comprehensible. their setups were always more interesting than the actual reviews, though.

  28. Andrew says:

    Rab said recently that ‘we’ll always have Game Damage’ in reference to CV stopping. I told him to get to fuck. :(

    CV ending is genuinely sad. These guys have almost always made me laugh and the passion… no, not passion, raw unbounded enthusiasm… for games was what drew me to their stuff in the first place.

    I think videoGaiden S2 was their finest hour, with the mix of professional watchability as well as their own style, but I enjoyed almost everything they did. It was CV that hooked me first and I was even an apologist for (most) of vG S3, because it did find its feet after a while.

    One of my abiding memories of them is during their ‘contact the readers’ phase, when Rab and Ryan called me twice on Skype and part insulted me, part discussed games. It was good times.

  29. LewieP says:

    I actually met Rab and Ryan once.

    Proof here.

  30. Andrew says:

    For anyone who wants in on CV and videoGaiden but doesn’t know where to start, all the episodes (apart from the ‘normal’ vG S3 ones, which are at the BBC site) are available to download here:

    http://mirror.pixelated-ape.org/

    I’d recommend starting with CV 2.1 or vG 1.1, for ease-of-entrance factor. The CV episodes are all on their own sites, but the vG ones aren’t.

  31. wallace says:

    Consolevania is dead, long live Consolevania!

    It’s a sad thing to see it end, but it was a glorious finale. Maybe it’s time for some new noise.

  32. hydra9 says:

    Thanks for that link, Andrew. A lot of downloading is going to be going on now.

  33. TooNu says:

    Rab’s points are valid enough though, if they don’t feel comfortable slagging off other peoples work rather than just enjoying the games then stop doing it. You don’t continue eating shit if it leaves a bad taste in your mouth just out of perseverence. Good on them I say.

    Still, it would be nice if this was a piss take but I don’t think it is.

  34. A Button says:

    As stupid as it sound, I hope people learn something from this. 2007 and 2008 have been amazing years for games, but gamers have gotten so much worse.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I was a big fan of Consolevania, but it’s probably for the best that they’re calling it quits. Sometime around the third season of Videogaiden, they really started losing their grip – there was just far too much wacky comedy skits which had nothing to do with gaming and was clearly amusing to the five people involved in it, but no one else. They never quite reached the quality of episodes from before that era, I hate to say.

  36. Gap Gen says:

    Yes, I did like the different styles of Videogaiden as a more professional show and Consolevania as a cheap, deliberately tacky thing. The last season of Videogaiden, which used Consolevania-style tackiness with BBC-level resources fell pretty flat, I felt.

  37. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    I dunno, I thought the last season of vG was alright. They picked the right length for it at least, I was always felt the 10 minute shows were a little too cramped and the 30 minute shows a wee bit too self indulgent. That it killed much of their passion for games at the same time is rather a shame though.

    Anyway, cheers for the shows fellas. It was great fun while it lasted.

  38. Heliocentricity says:

    Good meeting.

  39. mrrobsa says:

    Sorry to see them go, thanks for all the laughs TEAM.

  40. Conquests.of. says:

    Whatever hurts consoles makes me happy.

  41. Katsumoto (jvgp100) says:

    Heh, I got God Hand recently. It truly is hilarious. I’ve ran out of plugs for my ps2 atm (!) so it’s on hold, but this has inspired me to stop being such a lazy bastard asap and get back to it.

  42. Oldats says:

    I’ve been a long time fan of Consolevania & vG, and I loved season 3 of videoGaiden. Couldn’t get enough of the Gerry McLaughlin character/skits. Hats off to Rab, Ryan, and the complete Consolevania & vG crew for the years of entertainment and laughs.

    I wish them success in any future endeavours.

    NSJ, yeah?

  43. eyemessiah says:

    “it’s not an audience you want to encourage.”

    Yeah, all those guys that laughed at CV making fun of broken games are clearly deviants!

    I’m not convinced that their love of games is more valuable than their entertaining satire. Warm sentiment becomes boring much more quickly than humorous cruelty imo.

    I’d say it was quite untrue that anger/bitterness is a dead-end. Its plainly a great motivator and good entertainment. In terms of some of the games that CV have savaged over the years I’d say much of it was righteous anger at that.

    And I don’t think there is much wrong with entertainment being mean for “jollies”. No one will ever be able to smoke enough drugs to approach every bad game with the same willingness to empathise and understand – and if there is no entertainment mileage in playing the thing then I think its a positive thing if some pleasure can be derived from its savaging.

  44. A Button says:

    It’s more fun to burn down a forest than let it stand.

  45. Premium User Badge

    dhex says:

    eye: that’s not what the original post was referring to, i believe – it’s more the angry, stompy, I HATE YOU ALL BECAUSE YOU LIKE WHAT I DO NOT types. there’s something broken there, whether it be an inability to regulate emotions or a lack of empathy or what have you.

    it’s one thing to wish bad things upon, say, politicians or serial killers – morally vacant types whose inexcusable inhumanity harms others.

    game developers? not so much. not quite as consequential or important, which may be why it’s so important to so many in such a theatrically unsympathetic way.

  46. Mr Wonderstuff says:

    I’d like to here what the writers here think. I completely understand when a hobby becomes a job can lose its appeal and the reason you got into it in the first place. How do RPS writers deal with this conundrum?

  47. MetalCircus says:

    I think Kieron hit it on the head, and I think it IS beautiful how Consolevania decided to bow out. I know he’s popular, but I think Yahtzee sucks. Not because he’s a poor Charlie Brooker rip-off (he’s even used some of his jokes!) but he has to say something negative about everything regardless of wheather he enjoyed it or not. How people can live with such a pessimistic sense of cynicism about an art-form that is essentially here as a source of fun and still say you love video games is beyond me. So I think the consolevania guys really hit the nail on the head. There really is too much negativity about games, and I think Yahtzee definately plays to that “evil remarks for a baying crowd” thing.

    Whereas Charlie Brooker likes to rip apart things that he doesn’t find good, he still has a good side and isn’t afraid to give a positive review of something he liked that not everyone nescasarily did. Yahtzee however is just a mean-spirited bastard who trashes everything, and I think he revels in it, too. You can’t win with this guy.

    Anyway, i’ll definately miss Consolevania. They weren’t over pretentious but they loved their games too. Great blokes, and great show that they made for fuck-all. How many people can say they do that?