Sunday, 1 December 2013

How video games changed the world.

For some reason, the actual title didn't leave a space between video and games so I'm proud to be different.

I would never normally cover a television documentary but as flying pigs are more common, I needed little persuasion.

Instead of gorging on 'entertainment' such as X Factor and I'm a Pathetic Celebrity, Get Me Some Publicity, switching over to Channel 4 at 9pm on 30 November ensured that we didn't miss a pixel as the history of interactive gaming and how it's changing how we work, communicate and play was given a two hour slot.

I respect Charlie Brooker and while praise can't really be lauded on Dead Set, Black Mirror injected humour that was darkly delicious.

When hosting the BBC's Gameswipe, he described 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand as 'charmless' and slammed the voice over provided by the aforementioned rapper and actor (if you can call him that) - a 'pussy'.

Most broadcasters would infer such an insult but he chose to launch one more direct than a homing missile.

Ha ha ha.  Nice one, geezer.

Now the satirical stalwart oversees a more ambitious assignment and with contributions from others, all big fish were deep fried. 

Starting from the top in 1972, mentioning Atari's Pong was obligatory, but why wasn't Table Tennis on the Magnavox Odyssey brought as the reason for its success?

It suggests research was indeed sound, but not meticulous.

Super Mario, Street Fighter II, WOW (World of Warcraft), Doom, Manic Miner, Tetris, Tomb Raider, The Sims, StarCraft, Shadow of the Colossus, Pac-Man, Mass Effect, Modern Warfare, Parappa the Rapper, Space Invaders and ultimate sandbox game Elite meant the importance of all generations was suitably covered.

While 99.99% of the world will know that WOW extends beyond a brief exclamation of astonishment, I have to allow for those who haven't left the confines of their cave.

Before Kinect, the Wii pioneered how games could be played without the sole reliance on a joypad or similar controller.  Twitter also sang louder than Tweety Pie.

When Monkey Island appropriately appeared, Ron Gilbert stated that he can't help linking elements of Pirates of the Caribbean to Monkey Island and reiterated the ride's inspiration.

This comparison was graphically portrayed on screen and while my feature didn't move, it was still better... lol

He concluded that events had come full circle, or under his breath (WHAT A FUCKING RIP OFF).

The controversial whiff of video game violence is never going to pack its trunk and say goodbye to the circus so franchises Doom, Grand Theft Auto and Mortal Kombat inevitably featured.

The cult voyeuristic shit storm Night Trap and Carmageddon were discussed but Postal, and more surprisingly, Manhunt wasn't dragged up (again).

With scenes of sex, sadomasochism and graphic depictions of gore, DOS point-and-click adventure Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh, should be tagged as being the most controversial video game of all time.

Whatever your opinion, it was neither discussed or shown.

It was debated with a smattering of intelligence but some comments made by non-distinct others left a sour taste.

One leading figure labelled parents as 'lousy' if they allowed their 'beyond eighteen year old child' to experience GTA.

Who the fuck do these people think they are?

That aside, the press has always churned out more shit than the bottom of a rabbit's hutch (the Manhunt saga) and feed off people who have long since already made their minds up.

Rockstar are beyond accepting that any crime graver than slipping on a banana peel will be blamed on their smash hit series.

Of the London stabbing, the victim had been shopping for the latest title in the Grand Theft Auto series, and was robbed of his purchase by the attackers.

So the motive was robbery but I'm sure the vast majority read something like 'person stabbed, violent video game responsible'.

End of discussion and a case more closed than Alcatraz.

Suffice to say, the bandwagon was still jumped on.

Hypothetically speaking, if it was the latest title in the Super Mario Bros. series, would they have bothered slipping that in?

Negative.

Of course I wholeheartedly sympathise with the guy and hope he made a speedy recovery.

Reportedly costing £170m to make, GTA V is the most expensive video game of all time.

Before moving on, Brooker spoke about Mortal Kombat 9 and a fatality that he stated went too far, or words to that effect.

Kung Lao provides an alternative Hat Trick by slamming his fedora into the floor (promptly becoming a circular saw), and starting from crotch upwards, completes the process of splitting the vanquished in two.  The blooded strips are then held up as trophies.

Incidentally, this move can also be performed in Shaolin Monks.

Since its arcade birth, this has always been the franchise's selling point so to me, should be met with little surprise that for this super advanced iteration, much energy was concentrated on ensuring that the punishments on show are the most shocking yet.

The majority of which should be applauded for their grisly creativity in regards to dismemberment and mutilation.

Technology has moved on.  Video games have moved on.

Gone are the days of Palace's Barbarian as decapitation was crudely depicted by connecting with a move known as the flying head chop, resulting in a very brief and discoloured blood spurt from a bunch of blocks.

Back in 1987, more fuss was made over Maria Whittaker appearing on the sleeve art.

That's the truth.

Regardless of what 'act' exist in the games of today, any suggestion that pixels turn normal people into homicidal and bloodthirsty maniacs is unfounded and remains complete bollocks.

Games are slapped with PEGI 18 for a reason - to be played solely by adults.

If parents continue to buy GTA, Mortal Kombat, COD or games of a similar nature for their children to play, that's very irresponsible but what can be done?

Not a great deal.

Retailers have become more vigilant and more often than not, will insist on proof of age because it'll be hammered into them that if they don't, it's more than their job's worth.

While browsing in Asda, I was approached by a kid who asked me to buy him GTA V.  As my views on this matter are rather vociferous, I politely refused but then received shit which was apparently justified.

Shortly after, he walked away rather pissed off.

Oh well.

It threatens to escalate in becoming the new 'will you go in shop for some cigarettes and/or booze?'

Back to the show.

At some point, there was also talk of 'addiction', stereotyping females (Dead or Alive) and Rhianna Pratchett (writer of the new Tomb Raider reboot), spoke of Lara transforming from an icon to woman, while discussing the controversy surrounding her being a victim of sexual assault.

Shortly before the show's end, a certain PS3 exclusive raised its magnificent head.

If Uncharted was great then The Last of Us is nothing short of mesmeric.

Hollywood must do the right thing and not adapt it for the big screen.

Naughty Dog deserve every drop of praise for an intelligent and emotionally draining thrill ride that is so much more than zapping a bunch of hostile humans and feeling the terrifying brunt of those infected by a mutated strain of Cordyceps.

Not that others were expendable but Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson gave Oscar-winning performances and seamlessly voice serene emotion for every word that leaves the lips of Joel and Ellie.

It is the ultimate depiction of survival as art direction, character development, script, soundtrack, action and the feel of desperation is palpable.

This is surely the most mature video game ever made.

Stealth kills are 'borrowed' from Manhunt, just like Rockstar 'stole' from Metal Gear Solid.

However, compare the principle to the penultimate scene in Manhunt to when David is stalking Ellie in the restaurant, as you are required to sneak up and stab your aggressor three times.

David is Piggsy and Ellie becomes Cash.

I'm not criticising an otherwise perfect game but if I can associate anything with something, I'll emphasise this in bold.

Speaking of Metal Gear, that was one franchise that should have definitely appeared but didn't even manage a passing reference.

Discussing how SNK and the Neo Geo took on the might of Street Fighter II would have done more good than harm.

You may not think it but Samurai Shodown should be there as without it, Battle Arena Toshinden and more importantly, Namco's hugely successful Soul series wouldn't exist.

Yeah, I maintain that.

Contra somehow managed to stay permanently hidden and while Metal Slug obviously kicks ass, there is a time and a place...

Other notable absentees range from Portal, R-Type and Alone in the Dark.

Hmmm, did Resident Evil (which is a hi-tech remake of Sweet Home on Famicom) really deserve to be left out?

Probably not.

I'm sure you could make a case for many others.

Before Brooker's final thought, discussing the new consoles rounded off a televisual feast.

I hope it didn't go unnoticed but using a remixed version from the Game Boy version of Robocop for its title theme was a nice touch.

Thankfully though, it didn't go On and On like Ariston.

Unless already got, the PS4 and Xbox One will be very difficult to get hold of for Christmas but the prudent should wait because although the PS3 and 360 are now outdated, they're far from obsolete and Sony and Microsoft should continue to offer support until at least 2015.

In my infinite wisdom, developers must be given time so a new system's true power can be exploited to its fullest potential which is why I advise against jumping straight in.

When they venture down the same road as the Wii, we'll see a noticeable, if not significant price drop.

To me, a 500GB PS3 with either GTA V or The Last of Us for under £250 is a steal.

I'm sure the 360 has equally attractive looking and even cheaper bundles.

Nintendo waited far too long to sail the HD revolution and because of this, the Wii U will surely struggle to survive beyond 2014.

They may prove me wrong but I think the writing has already been written on the wall with a permanent marker.

Killer apps are the key to win over the consumer so let's see who gains the upper hand next year.

Whatever happens, exciting times lie ahead.

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