17 articles Articles posted in Writing

Anna Anthropy’s ‘Rise of the Videogame Zinesters’ is pretty awesome

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This book right here is one of the best I’ve ever read about videogames. And I’ve read a whole bunch of them. It’s such a tightly-written, enthusiastic, motivating manifesto, it only takes about two chapters before you’re eye-buggingly pumped full of revolutionary energy and optimism about the future of videogames.

Anna “Dys4ia” Anthropy’s simple but excellent point throughout is that games are catering to a horribly narrow group, because they’re being made by young men who like the videogames that are (and have always been) made for men who like videogames. That needs to change. Anna wants game creators to proliferate now, and she’s dragging you along with her: almost literally, because about half the book is a DIY guide/clarion call to getting the reader started building their own games. It’s hypnotisingly hard to resist, as though Paul McKenna had written “I Can Make You Write Videogames”.

Unlike many books that drone on about their simple agenda forever, and many videogame books that tread slowly and predictably along the well-worn paths of familiar industry lore, Anna stomps purposefully along the shortcuts and the desire lines, racing through videogame history while effortlessly sucking you into the idea of the democratization of the medium. It actually makes you excited about playing all the amazing, surreal, groundbreaking, ingenious games that Anna’s dream community of hobbyist game makers hasn’t even invented yet.

Midway through, there’s an almost throwaway but incredibly profound point about how Blockade/Worm/Nibbler has, thanks to endless knock-offs and Nokia saturation, become generically described as “the snake game” wherever it appears — it’s become a kind of “folk videogame”, in the same way that we treat Chess as a generic, ever-present concept rather than the singular idea of long-forgotten inventors. I’ve never read anything that’s given me such a sudden and magical certainty that videogames are, one day, destined to match the cultural importance of traditional art forms.

Oh, and very early on Anna’s careful to namecheck the late, great Fukio “Rainbow Islands” Mitsuji (who amazingly didn’t have a Wikipedia page until yours truly created one). Full marks all round.

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Goodbye Nintendo Gamer – director’s cut

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My little goodbye for the final issue of the late, great Nintendo Gamer/NGamer/NGC/N64 was shortened a bit for space reasons. Which means my amazing joke about the R-Type robot on issue 7’s cover was lost to the ages. Until now! Here, I give you the uncut version, and get a little bit sad again about the closure of the mag.

And I meant “space lips”, not “space moustache”. Tsk.

Cripes, I’d forgotten that the cover logo once featured the robot from R-Type, of all things. That’s the beauty of being the Editor, readers — you can do what you want!

I miss it, you know.

Helping launch NGamer and steering it through its first couple of years was an absolute honour. Scary, too — how was I going to live up to the legacy of Super Play, N64 and NGC? The answer: cheat. I had the best team and the best readers in the world — so I could basically just sit back and watch 100 pages of peerless magazine magic materialize in front of my eyes every month.

What I loved most were the tiny things that took a preposterous amount of work, like Chrissy wearily photographing all 97 Nintendogs costumes or Matthew trawling through blurry Mario Galaxy preview video for a scoop (and only finding a “space moustache”). That was the special stuff, because it made the mag feel as full of secrets, surprises, love and care as a Nintendo game.

So I’m sad as anything to see it all end. But Nintendo Gamer’s spirit lives on, readers — in your hearts and in your souls! And on your bookshelf if you keep your old copies of the mag, natch.

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TimeSplitters 2 retrospective for NGamer

viewerMy TimeSplitters 2 retrospective for NGamer magazine is up on Computer And Video Games.

You know, I don’t think I ever did complete the Robot Factory level. But I still loved that game to death. It’s the only GameCube game I’ve kept to this day. That dinky little GameCube disc looks really silly slotted next to all the proper-sized games and films in my DVD wallet.

I was thrilled to be able to speak to the legendary David Doak and Stephen Ellis for this feature. And I have to apologise to the lovely Karl Hilton, who contacted me after reading the feature and made me wish I’d had the foresight to ask him for an interview too. Once I get some time, I’ll upload the complete interviews.

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MinecraftEdu feature for Edge

Minecraftedu-1My feature about MinecraftEdu from the September issue of Edge has been published on the magazine’s website: Minecraft in the classroom. (The print version has the proper headline: ‘School of rocks’. Possibly my best ever work.)

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Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise review

viewerMy Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise review for NGamer magazine is up on Computer And Video Games.

Reviewing a fantastic game like Beat the Beat is always harder than you’d think. When I was a young, smooth, narrow person working for Arcade magazine in 1999, I got given Super Mario Bros Deluxe on Game Boy Color to review. So all I had to do was create a fitting critique of one of the greatest and most influential games ever made. In 200 words. At a time when I still didn’t really understand semicolons. “They should have sent a poet”, etc etc.

Anyway, Beat the Beat is brilliant.

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