The Sunday Papers

Los Campesinos were good this week too. Yay Los Camps!

Sundays are for doing work and compiling a list of interesting (primarily) games related reading from across the week for your delectation. Also, desperately resisting linking to a pop song that’s set my head on fire all week. Resist. Must… resist.



  1. Lack_26 says:

    That bit about Portal was excellent, now to start on the rest.

    • arrr_matey says:

      I don’t know about the Portal piece. It struck me like a lot of papers I had to read for my English Lit classes in university: someone writing something very long-winded about something that’s obvious to anybody who’s experienced the work in question.

      I guess if you’ve never played Portal, reading the essay would be a good scholarly substitute. But it really just summarized the game in a really obvious way.

      The interesting question isn’t “How is Portal a metanarrative?”, the question that matters is “What does the experience of Portal as a metanarrative mean to its players?” Is it just an interesting conceit or does it have some kind of broader theme or message that it’s trying to communicate?

      When Salman Rushdie writes a metafictional novel, for example, he is trying to convey information about the way we experience history, politics, and the world in a way that causes us to gain a new appreciation for just how fictional our so-called reality really is.

      I don’t get the sense that the developers of Portal were aiming for anything more than using the “metanarrative” conceit as a fun gimmick. Whereas Kojima clearly has some political/social commentary he wants to make with his metanarrative approach in Metal Gear.

      Don’t get me wrong. Portal is a masterful game and an amazing experience. I just don’t think it really stands up to scholarly analysis beyond how it serves as a great example of game design. I could be wrong though (that’s me being metacomment).

    • Chobes says:

      I agree with the pirate colloquialism. I could appreciate the writer giving his take on the narrative, if not so much for a scholarly analysis and more simply because I enjoy listening to someone else’s take on a work, but way too much time was spent regurgitating different examples of “your character is being controlled, hence you are being controlled, hence you are free from manipulation, yet you are not because you keep playing, yet that doesn’t matter because you want to be manipulated, hence hence yet yet therefore ergo” and I felt like I was slogging through the damn thing.

      It also had the added effect of giving me a sickly feeling as it reminded me of all the godawful drawn-out essays I’ve passed to teachers who believe that word count equals quality (and maybe an accidentally excessive comment I made on an article posted here *cough*).

    • Muzman says:

      Yeah, it was fairly ok-but-meh. Thief: The Dark Project hit all the same marks (or meta marks) 11 years ago. But I guess you write about what’s around. Some might think Thief‘s lack of an overt controlling influence, its freedom v linearity aspects being differently weighted in the design and wrapping it up in a hero narrative, puts that meta-narrative at too much of a remove for the terms of this article. Which is probably fair. I reckon it’s all there though.
      Indeed, between Thief, System Shock 2 and Bioshock you’d have to say Ken Levine is trying to sew up that theme (although he’s shifting it very much from subtext to text).

  2. Lars Westergren says:

    “Westerfield”? Hmph. ;)

  3. Risingson says:

    About the first point… it’s not that saying that you are a gamer is still not socially acceptable, it is more subtle than that. You can say you are a gamer, but you can’t say that you are a PC Gamer, for example. And it’s not about beeing “noob”: it’s about having an interest that socially it’s still banned. And, let me talk about myself, it happens to me all the time at the office, or better said, it happened. “You listen to very strange music, Carlos”. “Why do you use the PSP for emulation? You nerd, Carlos”. “You are going to watch what where? What a strange person you are”. “What strange words you say, Carlos”. But then, someday, they realized that I actually had fun. And some of the things I did appeared on tv, some of the things I said appeared in news, and so on. To my very own surprise, I must say, I had a social “digivolution” from nerd to “party people”, which is not much better at work, but a bit better socially.

    Pc Gaming, so, is part of that misunderstood range of interests because they are not “normal”. And , as the article says, it’s not because it’s exclusive, but because many people does not understand it, and finally, it’s a matter of media coverage.

    Anyway, it amazes me how having fun in your free time is so satanized after all. End of rant.

    • PHeMoX says:

      Funny that you make that distinction of PC gamer non-PC gamer, as many people do not consider themselves ‘gamers’ when in reality they do have a Wii or PS2 with a lot of games.

      Some also buy a PS3 and only watch Blu-ray movies, but I’m sure many people do not really care about what they’re ‘named’ for their hobby.

      In any case PC gamers sounds like a nerdish thing, even though many non-gamers spend hours on hours surfing the world wide web in a much more nerd-ish way.

    • Dave says:

      Even more “strange” than PC gaming is old-school gaming. Lots of people who think it’s perfectly normal to spend the weekend playing XBox still think playing paper-and-pencil RPGs in person is extremely nerdy.

    • GibletHead2000 says:

      I work for a software company, with a bunch of other programmers. All we talk about is computer games. ;-)

      Oh, and poo.

  4. Frenz0rz says:

    Nice article from Ed Stern, its a shame about the comments from some of the Guardian readers.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      The comments reminded me of what youtube comments would look like were they written by people with the same intellect but a dictionary.


    • Batolemaeus says:

      *..but in possession of a dictionary.

      *shakes fist at missing edit functionality*

  5. Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

    Scientology is a cult…and a bad one.

    • FunkyB says:

      It’s a disgusting, despicable exploitation of people’s innermost turmoils, made all the more insidious because it exists simply to make money.

    • Xercies says:

      In fact if you look at it that way its a very good and successful cult. Most cults would only be able to dream the amount of gullible people Scientology has pulled and got money from and keep blackmailing.

      Though I do know one thing Ron L. “To get a million pound easily all you have to do is to make a religion” Hubbard is laughing in his grave.

    • FunkyB says:

      Heh, good point Xercies

  6. Dominic White says:

    In the last town I lived in, there were as many shops selling games as there were selling music and films, yet somehow gaming was still this quiet, almost taboo thing.

    How the hell does that happen, anyway? Massive commercial saturation, ads on TV and all over cinema screens, and yet people look at you funny if you say you were playing Halo instead of watching Big Brother.

    As for that Scientology article, I gotta echo the sentiment of a lot of the comments. 35 years, and he only leaves because they support Prop 8? That’s a might flimsy straw to break the camels back.

  7. Shadrach says:

    The Gossip is probably whats on the tip of the tongue? Soul vocals on guitar riffs <3

  8. Dominic White says:

    Then again, I guess I should tone down my earlier statement – better to get out of Scientology on a flimsy reason than stay in despite the biggest reasons in the world. Didn’t John Travoltas autistic son die a while back, probably because he wouldn’t let him be properly diagnosed/treated due to cult doctrine?

    As far as I’m aware, Travola is still a scientologist, despite it probably having kill his son. That’s scary.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Epileptic I think, and yeah, the kid died because the family refused to medicate him (apparently, that would've counted as psychiatry so that makes them evil).

  9. vanarbulax says:

    Ahh the Sunday papers, how much different they must feel as lunch break reading instead of a last ditch attempt at avoiding sleep before school the next morning….

    I find the article on games being socially unacceptable to talk about interesting because I feel the stigma is going to go away in different ways for different groups:

    1. The so called “hardcore” gamers are a pretty large part of not only my teenage friends but also a lot of the boys (few of the girls yet) in my age group, even if many aren’t obsessed gamers they’ll still play a LAN game of modern warfare after school. It’s just so damn widespread it will be acknowledged as part of culture, though probably (and often rightly) looked down upon as “uncultured”.

    2. The emergence of what I guess would be called the “causal” gamers due to such things as Wii and guitar hero. I think Tycho put it something like “Those who would consider themselves as much a “toaster” because they make toast occasionally as the would a “gamer” because they occasionally play games. They are just merely doing an activity, not entering a sub-culture” (god I’m mangling that and wish I could find the qoute).

    They will understand the enjoyment of playing games, and wouldn’t look down on those who play a game the same way they’s sit and watch trashy TV but will roll their eyes as soon as a single “PWN” comes out, and lose interest when someone begins talking in any length about them.

    3. Those who are don’t play games and generally don’t think much of them but are interested in some developments in games. I remember at a easter party a bunch of adults were talking about the waste in time in games of “just learning reflexes to stimulus” when the kids were playing with the Wii. They weren’t interested in Mario Kart or whatever games the kids were playing but when I began to tell them about the teleporting mechanics in Portal, or the time bending of Braid, or the Japanese watercolour art style and drawing ability of Okami they seemed to genuinely curious if not particularly interested in playing any of these games themselves.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “2. The emergence of what I guess would be called the “causal” gamers due to such things as Wii and guitar hero.”

      Ask my elbows and wrists, there is nothing casual about Tom Sawyer on expert drums.

    • Chobes says:

      I feel obligated to note that, as a person whom unabashedly holds gaming one his most endeared hobbies, I tend to view most people who say “pwn” aloud as a sort of Step’n Fetchit.

  10. Xercies says:

    God whenever someone says PWN its like a nail going down a blackboard for me. Stop it.

    Oh and I got into the Portal articl but then it kind of lost me and I went Ehh as it went on. I can’t deal with the artistic wankery…

    Oh and Scientology…35 years and you only just recently found out that they smear the names of ex-scientologists with what they said in confessionals… my god where have you been all that time.

  11. Saskwach says:

    Edward Stern’s article was a bit weird for me. First, he missed the point of the “generation of quiet young men” quote he took from the original article (it was a generalisation of past gamer demographics, not necessarily of the present). He also, like all those who write on how Gaming is Important (so Listen to Us), wheeled out the sales figure in Country of Writing and compared it to films. Never mind that games cost far more than a movie ticket or even a movie on DVD – it’s the money that counts. Only they don’t. We’re talking about demographics and popularity, not cash flow. It’s here that movies still have us beat.
    Strip away the first paragraphs that imply the article is some response to Arnott’s own thought piece and you have X hundred words of saying “Yes, but…”

  12. lumpi says:

    link to

    Finally! It always bothered me that HL2 merged, cut and streamlined all enemies and weapons into only about half the variety of HL1 (the gravity gun almost made up for it, but not quite). It’s symptomatic of 21st century game design. Make no mistake, leave no balance issue unsolved, have total control over pacing and player movement… even if it means cutting out all the fun parts because there is no time to come up with dozens of interesting, little ideas that made games from the 90ies so much fun. The ideal Warren Spector has been preaching for decades now (“Have the player solve an in-game situation in a way the designers and programmers never intentioned!”) seems to get completely ignored in COD4 and Co. nowadays.

    Note that I am terribly disappointed by the whole “procedural” craze as well. It just doesn’t seem to be a proper replacement for actual designers sitting around a table and coming up with fun enemy and gameplay ideas.

    • Turin Turambar says:

      One of the various reasons HL1 is better than HL2.

    • yhancik says:

      “It’s symptomatic of 21st century game design. Make no mistake, leave no balance issue unsolved, have total control over pacing and player movement… even if it means cutting out all the fun parts because there is no time to come up with dozens of interesting, little ideas that made games from the 90ies so much fun.”

      And that’s exactly one of the reasons why buggy, ambitious eastern-european/russian games are so much fun :D

  13. leeder krenon says:

    that music at the end was horrendous. wtf?

    • Gabe says:

      OK, so you didn’t like the mashup.
      I do – so…. we’ll just disagree.

      Anyway, if anyone’s interested… here’s how it ended up in The Sunday Papers.

      1. KG tweeted about the song “I like to Move it” by Reel 2 Reel
      2. I replied, asking if he’d heard the mashup Reel 2 Reel vs. Ghostbusters.
      3. I then told him it was in my top 5 mashups with Ce Ce Penniston vs The Sex Pistols
      4. KG retweeted my comment, and the link to the track.
      5. KG then mentioned the track in The Sunday Papers.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Gabe: Don’t worry, sir. No matter what I link, there’s always one person who’ll have a go at the music link. In the same way there’s always one person who’ll do the “I didn’t like Deus Ex” in a Deus Ex comments thread. The joys of a subjective existence.


  14. Sagan says:

    I don’t think the social stigma towards gaming is going away anytime soon. I’m 21 now, and I have a feeling, that it should be going away with my generation. Because thats what people have been saying for years. “Once the people who grew up with gaming get older, it will be accepted as something normal.” But I don’t get the feeling that my generation is any different.
    For example I notice that my friends play less games than they used to. Just has to do with growing up I guess. They’d rather spend their time on other things, and they don’t want to commit too much time. The problem is, of course, that if you stop playing games once, you pretty much stop forever. Lets say you stopped playing in the nineties, and now you hear on TV about Brütal Legend, and are interested. It would then take you over 200€ just to play one game. Nobody does that.
    And I don’t think many people in my generation play games. I study computer science, and even here of the people I meet, probably less than half play games. I was in a cross-faculty course once about psychology concerning the internet, and one topic was gaming addiction. It was appalling how uninformed people from other faculties were. This is the generation that was supposed to have grown up with gaming, but they had no idea what they were talking about and clearly bought all the shit that the media is talking about when it comes to spreading fear about violent games and addicting games. I don’t see why they would treat games any different than their parents do.

    And lets face it: The reason why you don’t talk about games among friends is, that talking about games is boring, unless you both happen to play the same games. If a friend told me about how he just barely won in Need for Speed or how he beat some level in Call of Duty, I probably couldn’t be bored more. I have one friend who plays Pen & Paper RPGs, and I think his stories could be genuinely interesting. But he is no games journalist, and doesn’t really know how to sell his experiences. Generally it’s pretty boring to listen to him.

    Maybe the Wii will change all of that. And casual games on the net. But even then I think, that only the stigma towards casual gaming would go away. Those people probably still don’t think very highly of “real” games.

    Oh and one more thing: A lot of people in my generation who play games still consider that as wasting time.

    The doyouinverts did a great song about this:
    link to

    • Lack_26 says:

      I find myself playing less and less games as I get older, I used to play a lot. I’m lucky now if I can play for an hour without getting bored and doing something else.

    • Radiant says:

      Most people have an xbox/ps3/wii but most people couldn’t name all 3.
      And the difference between them and us is that although they have played Halo or Guiter Hero they haven’t spent 8 hours on a weekday trying to nail a Stan Bush solo.

      It’s not normal and frankly, unless you’ve done it, talking about it is boring.

      But fuck those guys and fuck that solo on hard mode too.

    • Thants says:

      Well, talking about most hobbies is boring if you don’t share them. People talking about how their sports-team did is intensely boring to me, but that doesn’t stop anyone.

    • Chobes says:

      I think a large part of the “stigma” within our generation is actually greatly affected by the fact that most of us played games when we were little. There were people like us who grew up and kept playing games as a hobby (and developing a hobby in anything leads to a refining taste in it), and there were folks who became interested in whatever else and simply put video games to the side. A consequence to that seems to be that video games are considered little more than toys that don’t merit too much investment or interest.

      That said, I haven’t met many people my age who actually condemn gaming at any and all levels. Chances are when you walk into the apartment or dorm of a semi-privileged 20-something year old it wouldn’t be surprising to see a 360 with a copy of Gears and a few sports/racing games. Granted they don’t see much use and used 360s are probably passed around more often than spliffs in these circles, but point is that gaming is much more prolific than gamers seem to make it out to be. The divide exists in that level of interest between passing fancy and full-on hobby.

      As a final note, I feel a little gross discussing this in general. I feel like the so-called stigma is just self-perpetuated and only exists because we let it. The only thing that’s kept me from talking in-depth about games (with my mouth, not with keyboard fingers) is that I’ve yet to meet many people who follow games as a hobby. I’ve sat through stories concerning much more socially accepted hobbies that bored the shit out of me, and it only reinforced the idea that no matter what any person says about any certain thing somebody is going to find it enormously dull. If you know someone who shares an interest, for god’s sake talk about it with them; fuck the eavesdroppers.

  15. Some Guy says:

    what i lerned today: portal has more than just being incinerated at the end/ facepalm. now to compleat it. properly this time. :)

    • Chobes says:

      I’ve often wondered if anyone had actually done this.

      Thank you for the closure.

  16. We Fly Spitfires says:

    Heh, I love Charlie Brooker and I’d put money on him vs Edge any day of the week!

    • qrter says:

      In general, I wouldn’t go to either Edge or Charlie Brooker for any info/reflection on games.

  17. Stu says:

    In a fit of shameless self-promotion I’m going to link to a female-vocalled bootleg of my own which I threw together a few years ago:

    link to

    And may God have mercy on your soul, Gillen, if you happen to link to anything by PWL in future Sunday Papers; I don’t want to post a link to my Reynolds Girls vs Alanis Morissette track but BY GOD I WILL.

  18. Gap Gen says:

    Out of interest, is the PR guy being offensive to the indie developer actually a good way of getting hired? I’m not sure I’d hire someone who went out of their way to call me a loser.

    • Radiant says:

      Pr guys are generally offensive and bullish because they get paid based on the premise they know more about your game then you do.
      Oh and their knowledge of strippers/handjobs.

    • LewieP says:

      There are certainly some lovely PR people too. In my limited experiance, a lot of the nicer PRs are the ones who genuinely love the things that they are doing PR for. You can often tell if someone is saying good stuff about a game (or basically any product) just because they are being given money to do so.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Radiant: I dunno. Surely the point of PR is not that they know more about your game than you do, but that they can communicate what they know better to journalists and the public in general?

      Maybe there is a psychological effect where insulting people works in certain cases. But I’d personally hate working with someone like that, and certainly wouldn’t hire them unless I was convinced they were really worth the hassle of dealing with them.

  19. Radiant says:

    I love how Gillen has gone from writing about video games to the only other thing that regular grown ups turn their nose up at more…
    Comic books.
    You could have at least couched that comic book article by mentioning that whathisface comic book writer and whatshisface games maker who together made that whatsithingy adventure game have decided to do another.

    What was it about that counter Edge article about the Brooker show had journos reaching for their twitter apps btw?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Radiant: I’d tell you, but you’re being rude. So sling your hook, my son.


    • Gap Gen says:

      Personally, I quite like the slight diversions from gaming, such as the articles on the future of journalism in general in past Sunday Papers. I don’t really think there’s that much value in being utterly purist, as long as it doesn’t dilute your focus or your message to do otherwise.

    • Radiant says:

      Sorry guv I was just being caustic and thought it was ironic. [going on the contents of the rest of the papers.]
      I didn’t intend it as a slight on your writing!
      I wouldn’t be here if I thought your writing was shit, you know?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Radiant: Don’t worry. By my phrasing I was hoping it’d be clear I I wasn’t seriously annoyed. If I’m pissed, I’d tell people to fuck off. Well, I wouldn’t. But I’d say it and delete all their posts which cackling.

      Bad mod. Bad mod.


  20. Hmm says:

    I was convinced FunkyB’s first comment was going to lead to a “So it’s a religion, aha!” joke.

  21. LewieP says:

    Pretty certain Joe Danger is now confirmed for PC/XBLA/PSN. Certainly is a ton of fun, I can’t wait for the finished version.

    • Lewis says:

      Wasn’t when we spoke to the devs on Friday…

    • Lambchops says:

      Bah, the two of you posting together isn’t helping me in my unending confusion over who is who! For some reason Quinns is involved in this confusion as well – but there’s no teason for that other than me being simple!

      That aside joe Danger looks like great fun.

    • LewieP says:

      Was when we spoke on Saturday, so ner!

  22. Larington says:

    That Edge review of gameswipe should’ve come with a review score, yaknow, just to complete the thing.
    Yes, I know, its not a review, and the other 20 obvious things that don’t need to be stated but inevitably does get stated anyway on the Internet.

    What contributes to the social stigma around games is the industries dogged determination to only market to gamers in the Up to 18 and 18-25 age brackets, if a designer tries to put forward a proposal for a game intended for the 40+ age bracket he’ll get laugh at, despite (Marketted correctly, IE, not on gaming sites or gaming mags but rather local and national newspapers everywhere) the fact that its a potential money making opportunity waiting to be exploited. And maybe newspapers would be less inclined to rubbish games if there was a risk of an advert for a game being alongside the article.

  23. Guy says:

    Ennis the best ever writer of war comics! You’ve been drinking my son!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Guy: I think he’s past the accepted classics masters now. On the Brit side, better than Mills’ Charlie’s War – which is the obvious big influence. He’s been doing a hell of a lot of War comics on the quiet, and when they’re in his serious mode, they’re rarely anything other than brilliant.


    • Guy says:

      Can’t agree I’m afraid.

      Pat Mills is a good storyteller (bar his 1960’s grasp of history and constant chippiness) and Charley’s War is still the better comic both for breadth and art. Ennis hasn’t reached the heights of, say, Darkie’s Mob or Johnny Red (yet). Adventures in the Rifle Brigade was Ennis’s best war work but its a comedy. Both War Stories and Battlefield have jumped around from dull to average (amongst his output). I’d expect to have seen most of them as one of the better stories in a weekly issue of Battle/Warlord/Victor. Much of the other stuff can be dismissed. 303 was dull wank-fantasy, the SAS in Hitman don’t really count as war (the Convoy story was good though), Unknown Soldier was a thriller. The war segments of Preacher were good but short and understandably stilted etc.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Ennis (preachy politics aside), but his war comics have mostly been pretty unexciting. Great comics imprint themselves on you. I remember Arseface. I remember the Third Man’s unmasking. I remember Darkie tied to a hot tin roof. I can’t remember the name of the Soviet lead in Night Witches or what happened in his comic about the SAS.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Guy: Yeah, we’re just separated here. I’ve found the vast majority of his war stories – both WAR STORIES and the BATTLEFIELDS malarkies – brilliant, while RIFLE BRIGADE is one of my least favourite things he’s ever done.

      (To pick up one of your points on Mills though – his sort of research for Charlies War was unprecedented in the period he was writing. I agree it’s not exactly modern, but it was ground breaking and brilliant)

      To be fair though – I don’t remember the lead’s name. But I don’t remember most characters in fiction’s names.

      But I wouldn’t forget – say – Dear Billy. I wouldn’t forget his name anyway. It’s in the title. That helps.


  24. Schaulustiger says:

    Media reception of gaming and gamers will change as soon as games mature on a wide front. Films wouldn’t be as accepted as they are right now if 95% of them would be Chuck Norris flicks. But that’s where we are with games at the moment. Too many mindless click-fests instead of clever use of the new medium.

  25. Broklynite says:

    I’ve been saying for ages that being caught reading science fiction or playing video games is the equivalent of being caught masturbating.

    “What are you doing”
    “What, me? Oh…uh…nothing.”
    “You were playing that game again, weren’t you?”
    “No I wasn’t! I swear!”

  26. kafka7 says:

    To be fair to Charlie Brooker, he did seem almost apologetic at having to explain some simple gaming concepts to the audience. He compensates with sarcasm.

    As for the music, Kieron, are you thinking of The Bellrays? Real rock’n’soul.

  27. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    Hey KG. I’m pretty interested in finding out the ‘meat’ of the ‘twatting’ regarding Edge vs Brooker. And I’m not being rude so, pretty please.

    Early Pipettes demos to your email if you want!

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Edgar: Oh, it wasn’t hyper serious or anything. Just a lot of twittering in a burst. If you go back in Rab Florence and Simon Parkin’s twitter you’ll find a lead to some of it.


  28. Lewis says:

    I’d say the language we use to identify ourselves as people who play games is something that’s keeping the stigma alive and well. I mean, I love cinema. Am I a filmer? Of course I’m not.

    Having that specific term so active identifies those who play games as “other”, by the very fact that they need identifying at all. Lose that, and I’d say we’d be on our way.

    • Lyndon says:

      Yeah but real cinema buffs call themselves cineastes and they’d consider all of us “causual” movie goers by virture of us not consuming like 10-20 films a week. It’s worth noting that normal people still consider them weird cretins because loving anything obsessively isn’t healthy.

      I guess what I’m saying is being a hardcore gamer isn’t going to magically become socially acceptable but casual gaming will be and arguably already is.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I have to say I don’t particularly like the word “gamer”. I try not to use it whenever possible.

  29. TomCruz says:

    Crash is overrated shit. The Asians in the movie were offensively stereotyped and got the shaft while the other races got some redeeming closure in the end.

    That said, good that he’s left that cult and being public about it. He’ll probably doomed himself to be harassed by Scientologists now.

  30. Strategery says:

    Good retrospectives on Sacrifice and Shogun: Total War. Put into words exactly how I felt about those games.

    I wonder if that Jack Chick fellow will also contribute.

  31. Hobbes says:

    “On the Brit side, better than Mills’ Charlie’s War”

    Where I come from, them’s fightin’ words mister.

  32. Max says:

    I dislike the misuse of the prefix “meta”. These days it seems like everyone loves to throw meta in front of anything that functions on multiple levels or possess any kind of depth or irony.

    Meta means that something is self-referential or is applied to itself in some way. A meta-narrative would be a narrative about a narrative. Meta-narrative would be if Portal was told in flashbacks narrated by a nostalgic GLaDOS. Not to say that the Portal article doesn’t make any good points – Portal is a meta-game of sorts (in that GLaDOS has you playing the game she has created up until you get behind the scenes). But just because Portal is a meta-game does not mean that it’s meta-everything. Meta-narrative, meta-theater, meta-reference, meta-bullshit.

    For example, the pixelated hack’n’slash Ginormo Sword – which Alec described as “so meta it hurts” – is not meta at all. It’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s satire; whatever it is, it most certainly is not meta.

    • Urthman says:

      Max, Ginormo Sword is meta in the sense that it’s not designed to suck you into the world of the game, it’s designed to make you step back and see at it as a game, and to compare it to other games. When you play it, you’re not thinking about the game, you’re thinking about games.

    • qrter says:

      I think you’ll find that most dictionaries will say meta means self-referential, as in a thing that refers to itself. Parody and satire can fall well within that definition.

      Besides, a meta-narrative could refer to that specific narrative, but it also could refer to narratives in general, I’d say.

    • Pod says:

      a) I completely agreed. I despise the constant over use of “meta” attributes. Most of the time you’re simply talknig about attribute, and not the meta-attribute.

      b) your definition of meta is completely wrong


      1. a prefix appearing in loanwords from Greek, with the meanings “after,” “along with,” “beyond,” “among,” “behind,” and productive in English on the Greek model: metacarpus; metagenesis; metalinguistics.

      The most famous use was meta-physics: link to

  33. Prefexual says:

    Was Infinity Ward doing meta-PR with the F.ight A.gainst. G.renade S.pam video featuring dopeheads saying “pussies”?

  34. panik says:

    “This one caused some amusing Brit games journalist fisticuffs on twitter”

    Fisticuffs between who?
    Brooker just said one comment about it being snooty.

  35. skizelo says:

    Good selection. I found the Ellis peice on Kirby kind of unedifying though. He took some nice prose for a walk, but it might have just been him pointing to any Kirby-written comic and saying “lookit”.

    • Phil H says:

      While its not obvious on the site, that’s the 22nd column of something that is working its way towards being a book and there’s quite a bit more if you go back to the start of the column’s run. As someone pretty uneducated about comics history it has been a pretty enlightening read as each new bit comes out every week.

  36. the wiseass says:

    As a guy who doesn’t even live in the UK, I fucking love Charlie Brooker. I even adore his column in the guardian. Screenwipe (and to some extend Newswipe) was just a brilliant way to convey some of the deeper problems between entertainment, politics and over-mediatization in a non-boring and sometimes humorous way. Okay, maybe his Gameswipe wans’t so birlliant, but it was pleasant and informative enough. At least Brooker is able to make fun of himself, even blaming himself for the same mistakes he criticizes on his show and for that, I admire him. That is something that one does seldom see with gamers or games-journalists.

  37. Lilliput King says:

    Um, could of sworn I posted this in response to something.It’s fine, ignore me.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Liliput King: You did, but I deleted the original post, then cleared up. It was going nowhere relevant to The Sunday Papers.


  38. DMcCool says:

    What amazes me in the whole games-in-mainstream-journalism debate, in ALL of those articles and ALL the comments (yes I did read them all) not one person actually put their finger on the real problem here.

    Computer Games simply aren’t that good. Even looking past the oh-so-tedious subject matter we see in all the most high profile games, they really aren’t that good. They are addictive, but so is stratching an itch. No popular games achive anything at all in the artistic direction available exclusively to interactive media, which deprives us of the support of the intellectuals, even in the most critically acclaimed games the writing is inferior to the similiarly acclaimed television series and, yeah, the subject matter of space marines and what not is unbeliavely unappealing to most humans.

    Right now, as a whole, games get exactly as much respect in the mainstream media as they deserve. Ok, TV gets far far too much as does Hollywood, but gaming is inferior in almost every way besides and has earnt its derison.

    Your average game is an escapist power-fantasy or an idle time consumer. Thats not to say they are not entertaining – they are! But so is pornography. Right now, thats where gaming sits, somewhere between TV and Pornography. So many of us consume it, but we are loathe to talk about it in public.

    That said, I’m no cynic. I think it’ll change in time, it may only take one mainstream leap of faith from a major publisher or an indie gem to somehow break into the public conciousness, but I think it’ll happen. In the meantime I’ll settle for Beatles Rock Band being the most high-profile game around – its actually rather good.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      “No popular games achive anything at all in the artistic direction available exclusively to interactive media”

      Y’know, I keep reading comments like this about the possibilities of interactive media. And I like the idea, I want to believe that there’s something to it. But thus far, I see almost nothing in the way of explanation as to what exactly interactive media offers. A lot of talk about the artistic and storytelling possibilities of interactive media, but talk seems to be all it amounts to. Anyone want to cowboy up and offer a perspective on the possibilities of interactive media, beyond complaining that games haven’t reached them yet? Actual personal thoughts, not a link to someone else’s blog.

    • Kommissar Nicko says:

      Interestingly enough, I’d say this ties into Rossignol’s discussion of “artificial beings.” Games haven’t quite figured out yet what they’re actually “good” at doing, in the way that TV, movies, and porn have. It’s been said before that games have not quite realized they’re not goddamn movies, but really, the design hasn’t moved much beyond exploring the synergy between player choice, procedural generation, and simulacra. I would say that the hidden but powerful desire of AAA-game-developers to be novelists and Hollywood blockbuster directors is the lodestone around the neck of the game industry as a whole, and the development of the medium: there is no way to fully explore a player’s choice options while at the same time maintaining a photorealistic level of content and strict narrative control. The things games of the future ought to be exploring and capitalizing is the potential for infinite player choice and infinite generation of content. However, whether or not you want to call that “art” is something for the people of the future to decide, when those things exist.

    • Kommissar Nicko says:

      Oh, also Dwarf Fortress.

  39. Gundrea says:

    Kommissar Nicko cancelled diatribe on art: interrupted by carp.

  40. Dracko says:

    Paul Haggis was a Scilon? Probably explains why his movies are such crap, then,

  41. Janise Vogds says:

    Awesome short article, well written I must say.