Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I thought it was funny, but it seemed to miss its own point.

At the beginning, Brooker seemed to complain that TV's traditional portrayal of games as unnecessarily violent or pointlessly boring was unfair; he then went on to spend the next 45 minutes showing how unnecessarily violent and pointlessly boring games have become, despite the technological improvements.

The target audience is a mystery as well - the beginners guide to genres was obviously to pull in casual or non-gamers, but then it's intercut with a frankly horrific couple of scenes from Wolfenstein where the player brutally dismembers Nazis with an axe.

I know that Charlie Brooker delights in pointing out the contradictions of media (which is what made Screen- and Newswipe so good), but it just seemed to confuse the show's message - assuming it had one. Personally, I'd have preferred to see a comparison between the mainstream assumption of what games are, the common denominator stuff that encourages that perception, and the stuff that shows what videogames can do to properly engage the player. Where was Shadow of the Colossus? Okami? For all the talk about violence, why was there no mention of games where avoiding conflict is more desirable and rewarding than direct confrontation with your opponent - like Arkham Asylum, or the MGS series?

Maybe it was too much to expect from Charlie Brooker*, but I was hoping for a show that I could give to game-skeptics to say, "Here's what gaming is really like" - instead, it would probably just confirm their suspicions.

*I like Brooker, don't get me wrong. But he has a penchant for the melodramatic and hyperbole, which is already in plentiful supply when it comes to the discussion of videogames and their content.

I found this quote about Gameswipe in the comments section on another blog, and thought it was quite good:
One of the things Rab and Ryan used to get absolutely spot on with Consolevania and VideoGaiden was trying to show the viewer what their experience of playing a game was like. That’s what you need to get across in a TV show about games, the other stuff is windowdressing, or bullshit. Playing games is all about the experience.
I think that is what was missing - it was too much about the public perception, and not about the gamer's perception. An explanation of why we love games, in my opinion, would have done a much better job of getting a positive point across than a series of people complaining about the worst bits of the games they play.

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