Sunday, 8 April 2012

Art I found on an ancient USB drive.

My A-level Politics class. When I was 18, the UK had this system (though for all I know, it still does), whereby you took 4 subjects at age 17, doing a year of each, and then dropping one after a year so you could concentrate on your three best subjects in order to get into university. I took English, Biology, Art and Politics. English because I was good at it, Biology because I was told it was good to have a science (that's rubbish, teenagers of today. It's good to have THREE sciences, because then you can actually get a job after you graduate), Art because I wanted to go to art college, and Politics because the teacher was notorious for letting his students eat biscuits in class.

Becca, me, Faye, Da-Hae

I planned to drop Politics, but after three miserable months of inhaling white spirit and failing to be inspired by my own enormous oil paintings of paperclips (yes, really), I tearfully admitted that Art was going to have to go. Cue two years of eating biscuits, doodling in class and getting dreadful exam results.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Tetris is a metaphor for life. Apparently.

Last week, I wrote about how it isn't doesn't always do games a favour when you try to delve too deeply into their symbolism, or lack thereof. So it is appropriate that this month's EDGE devoted a double page spread to "gaming's most perfect and mercurial artifact," Tetris' long block.

"Tetris imitates life." declared EDGE. "You build an even, supported structure out of the raw materials of daily existence, and react to the challenges that befall it. You clear away the detritus to begin anew. Nothing in life is certain, but your hope is at some point that missing piece - that lover, that raise, that child, that job - will appear and fall into place."

The article goes on to compare the long block with the aforementioned lover/raise/child/job, and concludes by equating creator Alexey Pajitnov's assessment of the game ("you play on the edge of your abilities") to "a life well lived".

I don't disagree with EDGE, but I think their comparison of a puzzle game to "life" is a comparison you could make to pretty much anything, especially a game. I'd hesitate to call the article pretentious, but... no, actually, I wouldn't. The article is pretentious.

But it's in EDGE, and if silly articles about Tetris is the price I have to pay for thoughtful,  well-researched articles about the psychology of gamers' avatars and retrospective interviews with the makers of classic games that I'm unlikely to find anywhere else, then fine.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


When I started writing this blog, I had just finished my degree, and I wanted to write about video games with the same intellectual rigour as I had been writing about books for the previous three years, for all the good that did the world. I don't know why I'm reminding you of this, since it's so incredibly embarassing, but the slogan under the Well-Rendered logo at the time was "On a quest to re-shape the language of video game journalism".