The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for crawling out of bed far too late, because I was up until dawn playing around with after being at the World of Love Jam yesterday and being introduced to making nonsense with it, and then hurriedly compiling a list of the fine (mostly) games related reading from across the week (and trying so so hard not to include a list to some pop music), so I can finish off an actual script before Delightful Fiancée returns from a hen-night (not hers) on the other side of the country. Go!



  1. Thirith says:

    Not sure I agree with you on the ability to shock=relevance thing, Kieron. So often, in so many art forms, shocking the audience just means pressing some cheap buttons. It’s the artistic equivalent of the gag reflex. Unless we’re talking about a very different kind of shock, it’s an effect that tends to be superficial and shortlived.

    Added to which, it’s oh so easy to shock your average audience. Shocking them != challenging them.

    • Gwyn says:

      Shock is not a cheap, instantly-forgotten mind trick employed by horror directors.

      Shock is what puts soldiers in mental hospitals.

      You literally couldn’t be more wrong.

    • Stijn says:

      That is one definition. But I think it’s fair to use it like Thirith does. It’s not an uncommon usage of the word.

    • Gwyn says:

      If he’s going to comment on an article then it’s assumed he’s construing the word in the context of that same article. You can’t justify wrongness with sophistry.

    • Jimbo says:

      Your mum puts soldiers in hospitals.

    • Stijn says:

      Well… I really don’t think Kieron meant shock as in the experience that gives people PTSD. What makes you think that?

  2. Kast says:

    I’m surprised that you haven’t mentioned Dan Pinchbeck’s guest lecture at the IT University of Copenhagen –

    He discusses his theories on games, games research and the making and meaning of Dear Esther and Korsakovia. 90 minutes, great stuff but wish he’d stop walking back and forth all the time.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Huh, Pinchbeck’s a lot older than I though he’d be. Interesting.

      Thanks for the link, anyway.

    • Zwebbie says:

      Much appreciated! I find it mind boggling that someone who’s as focused on trying new stuff as Pinchbeck can be so enthusiastic about the state of current day FPS.

  3. Thirith says:

    On the [i]Dragon’s Lair[/i] article: I don’t see it. I have no problem whatsoever with people liking the game, but as far as I remember it [i]Dragon’s Lair[/i] was a game-length QTE, but without much in the way of prompts. The translation of the player’s actions into what’s happening on screen was entirely arbitrary, so the game ended up being primarily about memorising and reproducing the right commands at the right time. How does this even begin to compare to [i]Half-Life[/i]’s gameplay? I’m not saying that Valve’s game is the [i]Ulysses[/i] of video games, but it’s not about arbitrary QTEs.

    • poop says:

      I am guessing that article is a troll because his opinion is so hilariously flawed otherwise

    • Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      There’s always a prompt in Dragon’s Lair. It’s a difficult and fast-moving reaction-testing game, not a memory one.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      Yeah. I’m a Dragon’s Lair fan myself, but claiming that it’s more sophisticated or interesting from a gameplay perspective than Half Life is just trolling.

    • Thirith says:

      Reverend: I honestly can’t remember any prompts in the Amiga version. Thought that may be due to the crack I played at the time…

    • Wisq says:

      I played Dragon’s Lair many years back on the PC. The only “prompting” was the nature of the environment, i.e. it required deciphering as much as reactions. So it was like a QTE game where you had to guess what the QTE button was, which no doubt added to the game length, but also to the frustration at times.

      The thesis of that article is that when you’re playing Half-Life, you’re being repeatedly put in situations that depend on reflexes and making the right keypresses at the right time — correct so far — and that this is essentially the same as QTEs. But this fails to take into account several key elements:

      1. In Half-Life, you decide when and how you’re going to resolve a “QTE” (enemy encounter, tricky jump, etc.). Maybe you’ll put down satchels in key locations ahead of time. Maybe you’ll snipe most of the opposition from afar, or maybe you’ll go in with your crowbar. Do you sidestep that headcrab or do you just whack it as it leaps? Etc. QTEs drive you down a single path and just have you press buttons to determine success or failure.

      2. In Half-Life, your actions before a “QTE” (including previous “QTE”s) affect your approach and your ability to complete future ones. This is most obviously demonstrated in terms of your health and ammo level, but there are also often situations where you can make key environment changes or preparations and make things easier — or ignore them and rush in for a challenge.

      3. FPS games (when done right) are oozing in immersion. I believe QTEs in normal games are typically considered immersion-breakers — and QTE-only games are not immersive in the least. They choose your approach for you. They skip straight to the action sequences rather than letting you feel the tension of not knowing when you’ll next face action. They almost always resolve failed QTEs as “you died, try again”. (An FPS will wound you for a reflex failure more often than just kill you outright, thereby giving you another chance but increasing the tension level.) Etc etc etc.

      So, yeah. I did kinda like DL, but that article is a deeply flawed argument.

    • Wisq says:

      I forgot to add that the entire concept of emergent gameplay — a well documented and rather desirable attribute of many games — is the antithesis of QTE games, where you can do nothing that isn’t designed to be done. And even Half-Life had some emergent gameplay, albeit not as much as (say) Deus Ex or any number of other titles today.

    • Gwyn says:

      ‘Interesting from a gameplay perspective’ is pretty subjective. I enjoy moving forwards and shooting monsters with a machine gun, but I don’t think it’s ‘interesting’ in the sense that I could talk about it without boring myself to death.

      HL games are full of instant deaths though, it’s the truth. The fact most of us mitigate them by hammering F5 after every fight doesn’t mean it’s less true. I think Stu Campbell’s mad about a lot of things but on this he’s unassailable: HL and games like it are trading on surface style, not deep substance.

    • jeremypeel says:

      “I forgot to add that the entire concept of emergent gameplay — a well documented and rather desirable attribute of many games — is the antithesis of QTE games, where you can do nothing that isn’t designed to be done.”

      I see your point, but what about Heavy Rain? A game nearly entirely made up of QTE’s that made emergent gameplay its selling point.

      Of course the emergence of Heavy Rain is fundamentally flawed in places and far more structured than it would have us believe, but I’d hardly call it the antithesis of emergent gameplay.

    • Mman says:

      “HL games are full of instant deaths though, it’s the truth.”

      No it isn’t, beyond a very abstract sense (E.G. many areas have falls etc that are “instant death” but that no-one would fall into). Outside of a few somewhat misjudged sequences (and even then I can’t think of any as clear-cut as “go left and you die with no warning, go right and you live”) there’s always some warning when a sequence can be fatal, and you frequently have multiple ways through such things. This goes even more for HL2 which has very few potential instant death set-pieces (again, outside the abstract sense) and provides even more warning when such things can happen.

      Really the article lost me pretty much straight away when it tried to argue that, but I guess theres been enough holes in this article pointed out in this already.

  4. HexagonalBolts says:

    You think films can’t shock? See Serbian film. I remember reading a review for it that said something along the lines of: no matter how much glue I may huff, no matter how many television sets are dropped on my head, even if I get alzheimers and can no longer remember the names of my loved ones, I will never forget the horrors of Serbian film.

    The real catch is that, despite this, it’s actually a very good film.

    Also, for the old games vs. art debate – I don’t understand why people struggle to define art so much. The simple definition that an object of ‘art’ is predominantly a physical manifestation of a person’s/people’s creativity has worked flawlessly for me. I’m yet to find something that fits under that definition that anyone would exclude, or something outside of that definition that people would argue needs to be included.

    • TeeJay says:

      A lot of people would exclude the end result of “creativity” where it lies squarely within a field of activity that people don’t call “art” – for example creativity in designing a scientific experiment, creating a business, training an athlete, whatever. You also just push the argument back one step to defining the term “creativity” and even ‘physical manifestation’ and ‘person’ (eg non-creative art? ‘non-physical ideas’ as art? robots and/or animals as artists? etc).

      I’m not saying yours isn’t one perfectly good definition amongst several, just that people tend to draw their own line in different places, there isn’t any single definition that everyone will agree with and there doesn’t really need to be – that’s part of the fun.

  5. GliderRecon says:

    “I don’t understand why people struggle to define art so much. The simple definition that an object of ‘art’ is predominantly a physical manifestation of a person’s/people’s creativity has worked flawlessly for me.”

    Wouldn’t that definition mean the loaf of bread I baked this morning, was ‘art’?

    I’d go with something along the lines of ‘Art is anything defined as such by an artist or critic. And an artist or critic is anyone that chooses to define themselves as such’.

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      If you baked it with the primary intention of creating a piece of art and there was a conceptual creative process involved, then yes GliderRecon, it would be art – unless you baked it with a practical purpose as the main intention, e.g. to be eaten, om nom nom

    • Heliocentric says:

      It was caterpil-bread designed to plot into other pieces of caterpil-bread. Simply to see if it could be done.

    • GliderRecon says:

      What if I baked the bread intending to eat it, but, when left to cool on a windowsill, it was stolen by a wandering Duchamp-type who later exhibited it as art?

    • jeremypeel says:

      Then it’s art! In fact, even the act of stealing it could be art.

      Also, you baked bread this morning? Impressive. I barely managed to swallow my hayfever pill.

    • Keep says:

      @Glider Recon (I don’t trust the reply system)

      “Art is whatever an artist/critic calls art” is a moronic definition.
      It has ZERO explanatory power. It tells us nothing about what art is, or what an artist/critic is.
      “What is a chair?” “A chair is whatever a carpenter/sitter calls a chair”.
      See? USELESS.

      It’s just a bit of logical sleight-of-hand to postpone actually having to try and answer the question “What is art?” and reveal yourself for the opinionless guppet that you are.

      (It makes me angry :-|.)

    • Chris D says:


      You might as well have said that a chair is an item of furniture for one person to sit on, generally with four legs and a back. A cow is an item of furniture for one person to sit on, generally with four legs and a back. Therefore thats a useless definition for a chair.

      If you bake a loaf of bread only to eat it then that’s not art.

      If you make a smiley face on top of it then now it is art.

      If you steal and exhibit a loaf of bread with or without a smiley face then the act of displaying it makes it art.

      Just because it’s art doesn’t mean it’s good.

      Now, can anyone tell me if you sit on a cow does that make it a chair?

    • GliderRecon says:

      You’ve plainly thought long and hard on the subject of ‘What is art?’. Please share your wisdom.

      My definition is an honest attempt to encompass the huge range of objects, images, sounds, etc I’ve seen/hear/felt/smelt in galleries. The *only* quality these ‘objects’ share is that they were created and exhibited by people that consider themselves artists.

    • GliderRecon says:

      @Chris D

      “If you steal and exhibit a loaf of bread with or without a smiley face then the act of displaying it makes it art.”

      Agreed. I wonder though… When exactly does the loaf transmute from wheat-based foodstuff to art object? is it the moment it is exhibited, the moment it is stolen, or the moment the wandering artist/common-thief spys it on the windowsill and decides to steal and exhibit it?

    • Keep says:

      @ Glider Recon:

      My definition is an honest attempt to encompass the huge range of objects, images, sounds, etc I’ve seen/hear/felt/smelt in galleries.

      That’s fair enough, but have you ever been to a gallery and thought “That’s not Art!”

      Or: I’m calling myself ‘an artist’. I’m calling everything in the world ‘art’. Now: what’s still special about that subsection of ‘art’ that can be found in galleries and exhibitions?

      The *only* quality these ‘objects’ share is that they were created and exhibited by people that consider themselves artists.

      I’m not sure that’s true. Take, for example, how sometimes you might look at an artwork and think “I don’t get the point of that”. Maybe every artwork shares the fact that they make a point?
      Or they all provoke a reaction (even a pleasant one)?
      Or they all give rise to the formation of a certain relationship between artist and viewer?
      Maybe Art is what you approach with a certain attitude?
      Or it’s what you talk about as though it has intention and will of its own (you’d never say “the chair is trying to express the idea of freedom”, but you would regards artworks)?

    • GliderRecon says:


      “have you ever been to a gallery and thought “That’s not Art!””

      Not lately. I’m constantly thinking “That’s weak art. That’s lazy art. That’s obvious art… ” etc but never “That’s not Art”. If the ’success’ of an artwork qualifies it or disqualifies it as artwork, then, what chance discourse? “Today I’d like to talk about the art of Gustav Ambulance, a man who [[Sorry, can I just interrupt at this point and say I don’t believe that Gustav Ambulance actually produced any art]]

      “Or: I’m calling myself ‘an artist’. I’m calling everything in the world ‘art’. Now: what’s still special about that subsection of ‘art’ that can be found in galleries and exhibitions?”

      Nice point. My definition of art is certainly vulnerable to abuse (though I’m not sure the world is quite ready for an artist who operates in this way). This flaw is something I was trying to explore in the bread-stealing dilemma. Perhaps the artist has to physically move, alter, process, order or disorder something for that something to become art?

      “sometimes you might look at an artwork and think “I don’t get the point of that”. Maybe every artwork shares the fact that they make a point?
      Or they all provoke a reaction (even a pleasant one)?
      Or they all give rise to the formation of a certain relationship between artist and viewer?
      Maybe Art is what you approach with a certain attitude?
      Or it’s what you talk about as though it has intention and will of its own (you’d never say “the chair is trying to express the idea of freedom”, but you would regards artworks)?”

      A couple of the these fall into the trap of conflating “What is art” with “what is good/successful art” (Maybe every artwork shares the fact that they make a point?) or are just too woolly to be helpful (Maybe Art is what you approach with a certain attitude?). I like the ‘provoke a reaction’ one, though this would need to be heavily qualified as it doesn’t in itself constitute a watertight definition. A dog turd on a sidewalk might provoke a reaction, but it’s not art (unless a wandering Duchamp-type with a loaf of bread under his arm decides to scoop it up for his next exhibition).

  6. jsutcliffe says:

    Comic Sans has its place. It is often found out of its place, which is a shame, but there’s no need to demonise it — it’s not its fault people don’t know what they’re doing.

    • TenjouUtena says:

      Rant against Comic Sans:

      1) Sans Serif fonts are harder to read in large blocks. Example: The link above. That is the primary reason for using a serifed font.

      2) Using goofy clip art, wacky colors, or comic sans does NOT make your little note about your ham in the fridge any less passive-aggressive; So stop.

  7. YogSo says:

    That Deus Ex piece is truly wonderful. Deep, insightful and very well written. A must-read, IMHO.

    • Neut says:

      Indeed, everybody seems to have forgotten about emergent gameplay these days. :(

  8. Duoae says:

    Huh…. so because books largely fail to shock and that they are accepted by society as a whole…. does that mean that they are dead? By those standards books and the written form was at its most relevant over a hundred years ago…

    Who would dare write that opinion and then go and write a book, i wonder?


    I’m afraid that i’ll have to disagree with your assessment, kieron. I don’t think something has to be able to shock to be relevant… and it’s quite common for many things not to shock when experienced “in the flesh” so to speak. I’d argue that quite often shock or outrage over a particular matter is a condition brought about through other people’s perceptions rather than forming your own through thorough research. Obviously that is not saying that shock and outrage cannot be experienced by a person of their own volition but from what i’ve seen of the world, most shock is social mimicry.

    Then there’s the whole aspect of essentially writing off all future (or past) endeavours. I mean, not all art is shocking or able to engage with people on an emotional or intellectual level but that does not mean that something not “relevant” today will not be relevant tomorrow….. nor does it mean that because there is nothing expressed in that form that is relevant today will there ever be anything releveant expressed in that form.

    It seems that there are other people who would argue against what you said in that paragraph so maybe you just worded it ham-handedly.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      In short: If you can’t have a Rite of Spring or a Ulysses, your medium is dead.


    • qrter says:

      What does that really mean, a medium is “dead”?

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Well, I take it to mean that the medium is no longer relevant.

      Books and films still have the capacity to shock, though. Of course they do. The Human Centipede was disgusting; it wasn’t new and it wasn’t shocking.

      From what I’ve heard from friends who have seen it, anyway. I don’t do gross-out, it’d most likely just leave me feeling a bit ill.

    • Thirith says:

      Kieron: Ulysses and Sacré de Printemps no longer shock. Does that mean they’ve lost their artistic value or relevance?

      What is deemed shocking has at least as much to do with the audience and their expectations as with a work of art. Fifty years ago, you’d be shocking by putting full frontal nudity on stage – but that’s a cheap shock and entirely reliant on the prudishness of the audience.

      Shouldn’t artistic relevance be something that is longer lasting than social mores and conventions?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Thirith: Why are you bringing artistic merit into this?

      The genuinely new remakes society and offends society by its mere existence due to how it questions everything about how people approach culture. That’s why it’s shocking, in the context it was created. That it’s no longer shocking is in how it changed the world. Dead art forms merely decorates it. It’s been processed. You can do fantastic art in those forms, but you’re never going to match the canon, simply because they were there first. Dead Art forms are where all the Everests have been well and truly conquered. The once-grand achievements are common-place.

      The new isn’t always good art. But great art is *always* new. If you’re looking for the emergence of something on par with anything which I’ve mentioned in this thread, you’re a fool if you’re looking at – say – Classical Music or traditional literature. That’s why I’m comfortable at describing them as dead art forms. All that’s left is parlour games.

      Conversely, games are vital and alive.


    • Thirith says:

      Kieron: With all due respect, I think that’s theoretical/philosophical bullshit. It takes an idealised view of art and media that is too facile. Who was shocked most by Ulysses and Sacré du Printemps? The bourgeois world – and let’s face it, it’s not all that difficult to shock them. Were artists at the time shocked by the sheer newness? Most likely yes, but I think we’re talking about two very different kinds of shock here. Arguably the newness of works such as these didn’t have much of an effect on society at large. The problem with most interesting, innovative media output is that the larger part of society won’t give a toss about it. Revolutionary media at most create revolutions within the world of their specific media. It’d be nice if it were different, but I honestly don’t see that it would be.

    • The Archetype says:

      One day the reply function will work for me :(

    • Duoae says:

      Conversely, games are vital and alive.

      It could be argued that what shocks people from within the perspective of computer/video games isn’t anything new…. it’s not akin to punk, rock or fashion changes that reflect new movements within society as a whole.

      Though i view games as being an artform, it is not the artistic aspect of the form that is challenging society, it’s the misconception of their effect on society that is causing the problems. The current shock of gaming is more similar to being shocked at writing with a biro or felt tip pen rather than what is written.

    • Gap Gen says:

      I’d argue that games represent the spirit of Joyce more so than many other genres. There are quite a few games out there, mainly for PC, that are difficult, take forever to complete and are totally inaccessible to huge sections of the population.

  9. AlexW says:

    I am extremely disappointed that the DICE SCIENCE link was not about DICE but dice.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      If it’d been about DICE it’d be wonky, refuse to work and never get fixed.

    • Starky says:

      Isn’t that pretty much exactly what the guy was saying is the problem with cheaper plastic dice though? Wonky.

    • jeremypeel says:

      Arf arf. I was hoping for a roof-jumping and building-collapsing physics essay.

  10. Radiant says:

    There’s a game on today.
    If you watch it on your pc it becomes pc game.

    Albeit one with a really long cutscene.

    • jeremypeel says:

      If they branded it as Sensible Soccer, we’d all be watching it.

    • Baboonanza says:

      I like the idea of watching a match on the PC and merging some interactivity into it. Instead of watching ‘pundits’ at half time you could play a simulated dressing room scene where you play the manager. The player would react convincingly to your verbal abuse or gentle encouragement. I you used a motion controller you could even add in some judicious slapping of your cack-handed goalkeeper.

      It wouldn’t make any difference to the outcome, but given human psycology I would expect a large amount of the player/viewers would feel like it did.

      I don’t watch football, but I’d still enjoy abusing the team at half-time :)

  11. Clockwork Peanut says:

    re: frozen synapse PR

    I completely feel for the guy, because I don’t really understand why people think the PR for the game is crap. In my opinion the PR is just as effective as with other successful indie games, if not better.
    For example multiwinia did not hit home its key points- naturally I bought it on release, but I wasn’t entirely sure what sort of game I was in for.

    Obviously Frozen Synapse should continue to strive for more exposure, but based on the coverage they do have no one can say that they are unclear what the game is all about, and thus they make an informed decision. This already puts them ahead of games such as multiwinia and sleep is death, which is severely misrepresented by it’s name, and requires extensive research to actually ‘get’.

    • Clockwork Peanut says:

      Also Love and subversion, though I suspect more info on the way from the latter.

    • Schaulustiger says:

      Since I wrote the sentence that gets quoted in the ModDB article, I posted my response there and explained what I meant with “bad PR”.

    • Clockwork Peanut says:

      Fair enough, this has really got me thinking about just how bad the PR for some of the games i’m interested in actually is ^^

      So many of them rely on good reviews to translate into sales, but a good review is no guarantee and does not moderate risk like pre-orders do.

    • jeremypeel says:

      To be honest, I think all our shouting about Frozen Synapse needing better PR was borne of enthusiasm for the game, and a desire for a greater audience to hear about it as a result. I don’t think any of us realised for a second that there was a man entirely responsible for it.

      I mean, I just want Frozen Synapse staring at me from billboards when I stop at traffic lights. That’s not a PR issue, that’s a finance issue.

    • Cynic says:

      My experience was as follows:
      RPS: Look at this promising hybrid strategy game, reminds you of X-Com and the good bits of the UFO:After-games, right?
      Promo video: Hybrid turn-realtime strategy, Introversion-style graphics, predicting where your enemies are and simulating that combat, before committing your actions. SWEET.

      Frozen Synapse PR guys: Follow us we’re great and totally interesting somehow, even though we only ever post begging for more followers. MOAR FOLLOWERS. Game looks great right? New info? Nah. Oh and it’s a pay-beta without {un-followed}

  12. Miked says:

    This Zoe Keating person is interesting, thank you Mr. Gillen. Will check more of her stuff soon!

    • Paul B says:

      I Agree – I’d also say the free track available from the Sunday Paper’s link, is well worth a download too.

  13. The Archetype says:


    It seems to me like losing the ability to shock comes from developing an audience thats willing to accept experimentation, which to me suggest a mature artform, just not necessarily one that’s growing in new directions. It doesn’t remove the ability to be relevant, powerful, important art, it just means that the audience of the artform now SEES it as art and is willing to accept the stretching of artistic boundaries. In this sense, video games are a young art form, since so much of their audience doesn’t view them as art. I’d still prefer mediums like film to be thought of as mature artforms because they’re still relevant. A dead artform to me suggests something like Gregorian chant, which produces no new works and has no relevance to modern times.

    • The Archetype says:


      And of course, so much of the joking around Human Centipede was a way of dealing with shock. It’s not so much that film can’t shock, just that there’s been some movement away from “BAN THIS FILTH” as a response to shocking film due to the maturation of the artform.

  14. GetOutOfHereStalker says:

    whats the human centipede

  15. terry says:

    Dragon’s Lair is the reason I hate QTEs. I had the 48k Spectrum version :9

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      But the Spectrum version was the less QTE-charged version you could find! At some points it even became a pretty by-the-numbers platformer. Sort of.

      Funnily enough, that was the reason I didn’t like it back then.

  16. Xercies says:

    Great piece on Deus Ex, said brilliantly why it was so great and why I lament that games are about you as a hero and not about you in a world maybe becoming the hero. I really think that its true that immersion is a dirty word that no one seems to like to ever think and they always want the game to be created around you but of course that makes you see the interior to much. It also explains why I loved Deus Ex more then IW and why i loved Morrowind more then oblivion and lots of other games that did this. Great stuff.

    I watched that dice thing last week and i was truly amazed how fascinating it was to me and it was just an old man explaining dice rolls and that to me. Maybe teachers should watch this video and take down notes because something about how he does it makes you extremely interested in a subject not many people would think they were going to be interested in.

    Ha love the rant on comic sans…i never had a problem that it was misplaced or anything and did think it was fun. I mostly used it for what it was meant for you know COMICS.

    • Grunt says:

      “It also explains why I loved Deus Ex more then IW and why i loved Morrowind more then oblivion and lots of other games that did this. Great stuff”

      Totally agree. I’ve only ever played Oblivion once, and not to completion. “Sanitised” describes it perfectly. I’ve played through Morrowind several times, each time trying hard to be somebody different than before. Throw in a few mods and it really is the game that keeps on giving. A work of art indeed.

      Deus Ex is the same. I loved his jokey comparison about the different approaches for ‘takedowns’ in DX and DX: HR. So true. And I’m afraid I’m not holding out much hope for this third game to reach anywhere near the heights of DX. Every time cinematic polish is applied gameplay suffers. And DX: HR seems to have had several cans of the stuff used on it already.

  17. Rath says:

    Speaking of Warren Ellis, I somehow managed to forget to read Freak Angels for nearly six weeks and have just caught up on some good stuff.

  18. Grunt says:

    I HATED Frank Sidebottom.

    Shame about Chris – never knew the bloke, nothing whatsoever against him – but Sidebottom was a creation I never saw the value of. Not funny, not meaningful in any way, from whatever skewed perspective you choose to look at him. Like Roland Rat and Grotbags – just another of those things in my childhood that I fervently wanted to stop being on TV.

  19. kwyjibo says:

    Dire England performance. Although that bullshit goal denial may have totally changed everything.

    • l1ddl3monkey says:

      Yeah – if that goal had been allowed we’d have been simply rubbish instead of appallingly bad.

    • Schaulustiger says:

      Why are the English so unbelievably hard on their national team? I don’t get it.
      Sure, you didn’t perform well in the group stage, but against both Slovenia and us Germans you had moments in which you showed that you actually can perform well and put alot of pressure on the other team. I’m quite sure that we would’ve won even with the 2-2 given (terrible linesmen performance by the way), but you would’ve gone out of the tournament with your heads up.
      We scored our 3-1 in a very important phase of the match and exploited your rather weak defense very well, but your side is not as bad as everyone makes it. With a more modern approach (system and player-wise), England could be a serious threat to every competitor.

    • drewski says:

      Don’t think England had a player who was better than mediocre.

    • Paul B says:

      @Drewski – Who’s Mediocre – is he Brazilian? (Arf – I’m here all week).

    • Chris D says:


      It’s probably because England is self evidently the greatest footballing nation on earth. Therefore any loss has to be down to incompetent management or players. That any other country might simply be better than us at football is clearly unthinkable.

    • TeeJay says:

      @ Schaulustiger: “Why are the English so unbelievably hard on their national team?”

      It doesn’t seem the same for England and UK rugby, tennis, athletics or various other stuff, where it’s either support or ignore, not so much “slag off / get angry”.

      My theory (as a casual viewer rather than a proper football fan) is that fooballers are seen as highly-paid “stars / celebrities” who are both idolised and villified, that the popular culture of UK football is an extension of the big-money, highly-charged national game, dominated by the richest Premier League clubs with a business model of buying in talent from around the world and selling the TV rights.

      Even when it’s a national team, the players are still just a collection of Premier League “individuals” rather than being genuinely “our team” and the weekly bitching, moody back-biting and gossip about contracts and salaries carries on even though everyone pretends that is a collective and national effort. Also even tho’ things have moved on a long way from the ‘hooligan era’ towards a far more inclusive family-female-minority-friendly culture, there is a still a residual ‘macho’ element, which is reflected in the way people express their criticism/feelings (ie “robustly”).

  20. SF Legend says:

    Yay, that’s me in the vid on the first Frozen Synapse link!

  21. The Archetype says:

    @Kieron, again
    What’s your criterion for saying something has changed society? I’d argue that the Rite of Spring for example, didn’t really change anything except what was acceptable musically.

    Also, when you talk about classical music, do you mean music of the period defined as classical, or do you use it the way most people do to mean the literate western art music tradition. If it’s the second one, that brings up some interesting questions, because modern art music’s trends towards improvisation and process and away from the score as the music itself are radically offensive to the values of the previous western musical tradition, but they don’t cause much offense because their audience is so limited.

  22. castle says:

    Really keeping my fingers crossed that Rockstar stays true to form and releases a PC port of RDR eventually. The lack of any official word makes me nervous, though.

    Also, thanks for the McSweeney’s link. Not only a good laugh, but it also led me to discover their current sale on back issues, with crazy deals like this and this. Good stuff.

  23. Sven says:

    The trouble with the Stuart Campbell piece is that he’s incredibly, amazingly, stupefyingly wrong. In fact he seems to be missing the point on purpose. Yes dragons lair is pretty, but it actually IS everything that is wrong with games. If he’d tried to compare it to Heavy rain (which is also rubbish) he might have done fine, but picking on half life first is just a blatant attempt at controversy (well won if i’m fair) and trying to link it to rythm action games is just laughable.

    Dragons lair is evil – live with it…

  24. Noc says:

    Here’s the way I see it.

    Anything with any aesthetic qualities is, technically, art. However, for a great many things, their artistic merit isn’t really important.

    So, for instance, the user interface of a computer program is most definitely art. It’s explicitly an aesthetic visual creation: saying that it, for whatever reason, “doesn’t count” is honestly kind of pretty stupid.

    On the other hand, a lot of GUIs are really, really ugly. Especially old-school ones where there weren’t really a lot of colors to choose from or memory to waste on Pretty Graphics. And while these may make me twitch and feel physically ill to look at, it’s not really a big deal, ’cause they’re meant to be functional first and art second. They are art, and are really bad art, but it is not important to their purpose that they be good art.

    Contrast to: Food is not music, music is not food. I cannot complain about music taking too long to cook, or leaving an icky aftertaste, or making me spend the next several hours voiding my intestines. I can also not complain about my food starting off really strong but kind of losing focus near the end, or being jarringly aharmonic, or having whiny self-indulgent lyrics I can’t identify with. Because food is not music, and vice versa. They are labels that cannot be applied to each other, as opposed to a label which is applicable but simply unimportant.

    The end result of all this, of course, is that simply being Art does not give something merit. Actually being any good gives something merit. It is entirely worthwhile to ponder what it is important for art to be, and what aspects to value over others, and so on: but arguing whether or not something counts as art as if simply “being art” is important is really, really stupid.

    • Noc says:

      Which was meant as a reply to that line of conversation above, incidentally.

      (And I should probably amend “Really Stupid” to “Sort of missing the point;” I have just been party to this particular argument enough times that I have sort of gotten sick enough of it to let my mouth run off with me. Sorry.)

  25. Nobody Important says:

    Art is a nebulous word that means absolutely nothing because every half-pint consumer of media has their own bullshit definition.

    Do games = art? Considering the “Games” definition is equally nebulous (define “game”) then I’d say, sure, take your recursion and endless nothingness and throw it in a big pot of pointless.

    • Baboonanza says:

      “Art is a nebulous word that means absolutely nothing because every half-pint consumer of media has their own bullshit definition.”

      What made Art an ill-defined nebulous term was actually atists and critics deciding that any old crap put on display was ‘art’ as long as the artist can come up with some bullshit explanation for their motivation fro creating it.

      The fact that every ‘half-pint consumer of media’ has their own view on art is because the modern artists and critics have been telling people that all sorts of things are art. When you are told that some random pile of bricks on a gallery floor is art, but to you it just looks like the builders didn’t finsih their last job it forces you to come up with a definition that works for you.

      So the whole debate is really a symptom of a dislocation between modern art and the general public, which is pretty sad because it means that there is little chance of modern art ever impacting wider society. In that respect it is a dead medium, but that is not the ‘consumers’ fault – it’s the industry’s.

      IMHO, obviously.

  26. Irish Al says:

    I’m with Frank Zappa on the subject of art. If someone does something and decides to put a frame around it, literally or figuratively, and say “this is my art”, then it’s art. Whether it’s good or bad art is the next question.

  27. Someone says:

    About this whole “games are art” thing… You should all read this:

    link to

  28. Dude says:

    Art is whatever gets you laid, man.

  29. godwin says:

    Hay guys, is this a game? Is it art? But it says it’s a book and website! Confusion! Sadface.
    link to

    Can we please just give up on trying to define things for OTHER people? Point them instead to things they can read and look at to better inform themselves and decide for themselves what something might or mightn’t be. This usually is a lifetime process, because hey, things change, and views can change. 100 years ago, not just anything could be art. 60 years ago, you had to be a middle-aged white male in New York in a specific circle making paintings for your art to have any ‘relevance’ for years to come to other people who wanted to find out what ‘art’ is or should be. 50 years ago, it’d be unthinkable to suggest that there was any other better kind of art than this, but hey, people did exactly that. These things are still in flux today, please open your minds to differing views and exploring ways of seeing. Plurality is the word. There is no singular narrative in this world.

  30. tab says:


    now i question the quality of my dice. have my friends been laughing behind my back all these years over my substandard dice?