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The Sunday Papers

Sunday is a time for reading. And sleeping. And painting Skaven, if you’re a big ole geek like yours truly. But mainly reading – and for that, we offer a little help by compiling a list. It’s a list of smart games-based pieces we’ve found this week which I compile while trying to avoid linking to the two musical bookends of this week. Go list!

  • Julian Widdows Ex-Rage and now of Swordfish writes about being approached to get the legendary Hostile Waters Multiplayer patch on Good Old Games… and deciding that it’s better it stays legendary: “The game is better left with only the thought of the patch and what it might have been like, rather than the reality of what it was like. The game, as it was released, is the game we made and, maybe putting this to bed once and for all, I think it should stay that way. The patch is the mystery box; best left unopened…”. A little automythology never hurt anyone.
  • “Are critics gamers?” asks Ex-Eidos Interactive President turned videogame agent Keith Boesky rhetorically. He thinks not. The most interesting stuff is his analysis of how his thirteen year old plays videogames, and doesn’t have the cut-scene rejection that people like (say) I do… but I suspect he’s actually just serving his argument by saying Kids These Days Are Different To The Critics. It’s not as if the Final Fantasy players of the nineties didn’t embrace the non-interactive interactive game. Less strong is his claiming that only pick-up-and-play no-story games score highly. That’s (basically) pure 100% bullshit. In a year where MGS4 and GTA4 have got stratospheric scores, this is actually openly laughable. And claiming that Mercenaries’ flaw was that it started slowly – when, on the first real mission, I was hurtling through bushes in a stolen truck while cackling hysterically, is even worse. And Jim, who added the piece to the Sunday Paper document, adds “All generalisations are shit – see what I did there?”. Yes, Jim. I did.
  • The New York times on libraries using games as an entry point, and the concept of digital literacy. Jack Martin of the New York Public Library: “I think we have to ask ourselves, ‘What exactly is reading?’… Reading is no longer just in the traditional sense of reading words in English or another language on a paper.” Certainly the sort of piece that makes you question your own assumptions.
  • Someone called Jim Rossignol interviewed about the wonder that is Jim Rossignol.
  • These two pieces caught my eye, as while both negatively charged, they’re the sort of serious-attempt-to-engage-with-a-game which implies (by the fact they’re being written) their subject has won. As in, they’re worth arguing about. Nerfbat argues that the Public Quests in Warhammer Online are fundamentally antisocial. Meanwhile, R1ftgaming discusses the inevitable Meh of Warhammer Online. The former is amusingly anal analysis, but fun. The latter is a touch flame-baity, I suspect, with a splash of post-Yahtzee outrage-for-kicks, but speaks of the dissatisfaction of a certain kind of MMO player. To be honest, I’m not that sympathetic. I’ve you’ve played thousands of hours of a certain sort of game which shares tropes – hell, it applies to all genres – then, yes, the problem is you and you totally should be off playing other sorts of games.
  • Splendid Hat-wearer Ernest Adams’ irregular Bad Game Designer No Twinkie sparked a debate between a friend and my last night. Specifically, the first part here – Fake Interactivity. Specifically, it argues, if there’s only one way to go, make it a cut-scene. And if you’re doing the Half-life esque playable cut-scene model, it should be an early identified convention rather than a latter insert. I think the latter point is what makes the position justifiable… but I also think the latter point undermines the relevancy of the point. There’s far too many exceptions to the rule through that loophole. What do you think?
  • I started the week by helping out (i.e. Standing Around, occasionally making tea) on Alex De Campi’s videoshoot for Manda Rin’s next single, Guilty Pleasures, which is on her MySpace page. And I ended the week at Amanda Palmer’s gig at Koko, which was typically glorious theatrical melodrama. As I prefer Amanda in rant-mode, track of the album’s Runs In The Family.

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Kieron Gillen

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Kieron Gillen is robo-crazy.

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