I will tell you a few things, I love video games. More importantly than that. I love video game ART.
(I'm actually still not sure if it's more important. I need to get some fact checkers in here on that.)
I've studied game art for a long time now. During my secondary education I considered working in the industry under that field as a career path. While I've determined that might not necessarily be for me, I will do something which I've developed sort of a knack for along the way, talk. I love talking to people, also I love talking to people about stuff. And what is more fun than to write and discuss the STUFF you love most?
So, long story short. I'm an art-nerd-man-thing.
If reading about the art direction for various video games and game industry trends interests you, then you're in the right place!
A little about me!
Top 3 games:
- Jet Set Radio Future
- The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim
- BatMan: Arkham City
Current Location: Tempe, AZ
Place of origin: Lakenheath, UK
Currently Playing: Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Feature in progress: Conventional Art: Trade Shows and colored spot lights - a study
Strap yourselves in boys and fake gamer girls, it’s time for a history lesson. Allow for me to imbue you with the knowledge and origins of the infamous top ten list!
At the beginning of time, there were no numbers. People huddled around fires, desperate for a way to count themselves, and other stuff like piles of meat and clumps of fur. Then BOOM! God invented the TOP TEN: A glorious way to list out your top ten favorite things regarding a subject for all to see. These number would eventually give way to a few other numbers like eight, or the occasional three. The top ten was used original by Neanderthals to display to other cave-folk stuff like their top ten ways to give themselves a concussion with a rock, their top ten animals to do horrible sex things to, and their favorite places around the college campus to get hot wings. This served its purpose for like three hundred years up until the American Revolution when Samuel Adams would write the declaration of independence, which was essentially a top ten list of how to be cooler than British people. (It’s not that hard folks)
Just kidding. (Lived in England foureen years and they’re actually a lot cooler than they look.)
But anyways, so back to what I was saying. Samuel Adams, the founder of Microsoft, eventually took the idea of the Top Ten list and copyrighted it, knowing how much money it would make him in the future. He installed a software basis for DRM and other cool features that people would love, and began marketing the concept to nerds and gamers, who also, due to their natural predilection towards anally listing things (See: Serial murder victims, favorite corn syrup flavors, and pureed carbonated vegetable beverages) would grow to love it. Nerds took to the shit like a white person to a group of other white people when there are a lot of “ethnics” everywhere. Now you can find top ten lists littering every street corner, asking for your money, trying to sell you magazines you’ll never need, and basically making you generally uncomfortable most of the time… OH… oh whoops that’s actually homeless people in San Francisco. My bad.
Same thing really.
So here we go, this is my first contribution to the floating pile of internet garbage that is the lost continent of top ten lists. To be honest, I’ve always loved top tens. Stupid (fake and probably racist) history lesson aside, they’re a fantastic way to display your thoughts on a subject across a diverse and varied array of criteria. One of my favorites of all time has to be one Jim Sterling wrote about which Batman villains he’d like to see in the next Arkham Asylum series installment. Things like that are the top tens that we need more of. Those that look at stuff from a different perspective where there’s an untapped wealth of interesting and fun information awaiting it’s chance to shine. So in the same villainous vein, I decided to compile a list of my own. And without further ado, I give you:
THE ARTISTICLE TOP TEN VILLAINS WITH A SENSE OF HUMOR!
10. Sheogorath (The Elder Scrolls IV and V)
Otherwise known as the Deadric Prince of Madness, Sheogorath rules over the shivering isles with a strange and bewildering fist. You encounter him throughout the elder scrolls series in both in Obilivion, and Skyrim. This mad hatter of Tamriel introduces a strange variety of villainy to your experience, not necessarily through foiling your plans directly, but in that weird detached way that only an ancient demon god can understand. Confounding as an ice nut up a squirrel’s butt, he speaks mainly in riddles and rarely EVER gets to the point. Delightful conversation throughout my adventures landed this guy a spot on this list, though his lack of true despicable nature makes it hard for me to place him further down.
There’s plenty of fascinating back story on the guy you can find through the previous games. Morrowind references him along with several of the other gods as “The Four Corners of the House of Troubles,” due to his natural predilection towards jealousy and malevolence. As well as that, the Khajiit refer to him as the “Skooma Cat” which in our tongue would probably just be something like “The Patron Saint of Crack Heads.”
9. Dr. Frank N. Furter (No video games. I just fucking love this guy.)
So. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Where do you even fucking begin? I guess I could start by saying that even though he’s never been in a video game (except the one time I made him as a character in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon, and then again in City of Heroes) he still is one of the fucking craziest, most flamboyantly charming antagonists in pop culture history. I use the term antagonist because he’s not so much an evil villain, as just bat shit insane. After taking in a couple from the pouring rain, he proceeds to sing at them, subject them to bizarre seduction attempts, and then feed them a dead delivery boy. Things only get crazier from there.
I loved this movie as a kid growing up. (Probably explains a lot about… things) So I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had to put Frank on the list. He was actually the second villain I came up with. I’ve never actually been to a live showing of the movie, but I’ve always wanted to go and dress up as him myself. Seems like an amazing time.
8. Hades (A phuk-ton of Kingdom Hearts Games)
James Woods, who doesn’t love him right? The man has illustrious film past, crowned by what every actor eventually hopes to attain, a guest role on the popular animated sitcom, Family Guy. Well before all that, when I was a mere… ten years old or something, my uncle took me to see the animated Disney film sensation that was “Hercules”. It immediately became my second favorite Disney flick of all time. (We’ll learn about the #1 spot later) Danny Devito, Bobcat Goldthwait, and RIP TORN. RIP. MOTHER. FUCKING. TORN. All of them lined the screen to form what would later be the B-team of my favorite aging, Caucasian male actors of the mid-to-late-nineties. An illustrious position I know.
ANYWAYS. On to why Hades has a spot on this list in the first place. Charmingly slimy, Hades has that swagger that you know comes with the title of “Greek God” alone. I mean the guy had all the power to light a cigarette with his fingertips, the ultimate bar pick up (I’d assume), yet confined to the underworld to rot. His nefarious roles throughout the Kingdom Hearts series were extremely amusing and never once during my childhood dreams think I would see a pairing of super stars on the screen such as Cloud and him, but jesus when it happened, I nearly cried adolescent tears of man-joy. Witty, loud mouthed, and sinister to a tee, I love every second the dude's flapping his flaming lips.
Major to props to J. Woods as well for voicing every game appearance of the character up to Re:Coded as well!
7. HIM (The PowerPuff Girls Battle HIM)
A lobster. A ballerina. A fucking nightmare sandwich. "Him" was my first brush with sexual androgyny as a child and I loved every second of it. The fact that I couldn't tell if he was a dude or a lady trying to sound like a dude made him terrifyingly confusing and completely hilarious. He’s only really appeared in one game, but his ability to crack joke after corny joke in the direction of the power-borne trio made me crave every episode of the show he wound up in, and landed him a pretty lofty spot amongst my list. I did a little background research on the guy before writing the article and found out he was actually based off of the Blue Meanie from the Yellow Submarine film.
I remember one episode in particular, probably my favorite episode of all time, when the Gangreen Gang get a hold of the Mayor’s hotline and they keep prank calling everyone in Townsville. Eventually the Villains get fed up, and led by HIM himself, break into the mayor’s office. I recall during the episode seeing HIM dressed in a jazzersizing outfit and losing my shit as a kid. It was the funniest thing I’d ever seen in my life. To this day my sister and I will still yell “Well HELLOOOOOOO girls!” At each during family get togethers.
6. Team Rocket (All that Pokemon Junk)
The sexually charged duo, dressed in latex coats, and touting the only speaking Pokémon throughout the entire first season of the show had a fond spot in my heart. I remember at one point as a small child taking the time to memorize the entire intro they chanted because I thought the kids on my school bus would think I was cool for it. That… didn’t work out as well as I thought it would. But anyways, the perilous pair always had the WORST jokes up their sleeve and didn’t flinch for a second when unleashing them all over Ash’s face and chest. To make things worse, they rode around in a giant balloon shaped like a Meowth head, as if that wasn’t the most conspicuous way to travel ever.
I think that these guys are some of my favorite villains because they are these ill-motivated jerks at the beginning who allude at several points throughout the show that they want to EAT Pikachu. This eventually deteriorates by what would become a surprisingly existential side-plot where they question their very allegiance to Giovanni and eventually go their own way, helping Ash and the team whenever they can. I’m not sure if they’re still a staple of the games or the tv show, but I know their appearances throughout the Movies 1 and 2 were more than welcome to my 12 year old eyes, and sense of humor.
BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU. He turns a whole city's population into chocolate. Then eats them. Shut up.
4. Oogie Boogie (Kingdom Hearts… again)
The burlap menace from my childhood returned to haunt my dreams once again when he appeared in the Kingdom Hearts series. Now let me tell you something. A lot of people will say they loved the Nightmare Before Christmas movie when they were a kid, and though I cannot say that I ever bought any of the hot topic merchandise, or went to the 3D re-release… I can sing just about every candy-forsaken song in that movie from start to finish (except Sally’s songs because she’s hella lame). I was frightened as all get-out of this guy when I’d watch the movies back-to-back-to-back when I was younger, but eventually grew to find his overzealous nature hilariously amazing.
The fact that he’s a lecherous cheater and a horrible sportsman make me find him pretty identifiable. We all want to slam the table when we come up with “snake eyes” on life, and Oogie just does it. He doesn’t care, that fucker is MADE OF BUGS. He used to have his own holiday called “Bug Day” but for obvious reasons people hated that… so he became evil. Can you blame him? When you’re made of bugs, that’s basically all you can do. Either way, I’d play a whole game consisting of only The Boogie Man, where Oogie is the only character, and you just run around stomping on things going “EEEEEEEEEHHHUUULLEVUN!!!”
3. Every Villain from Resident Evil 4
Good god. Remember that one time in Resident Evil, where Leon is talking to Saddler and he says: “Having a senior moment?” Because I do, and it was probably my favorite line in a video game up until I played the portal series. The villains in Resident Evil 4 are really where it shines because let’s face it, Leon isn’t any kind of hot shit. Saddler, Salazar, and Krauser make up for a shining crew of menacingly magnificent straight-off-their-rocker bad dudes. The comm-link conversations they have with Leon border on late 80’s action movie dialogue, but the fact that it’s completely self-knowing makes it all the better.
The various corny bits of conversation here and there are really something that you have to take in over the course of the whole game. I love the fact that half the time it doesn’t seem like any body’s really taking themselves too seriously, and Leon absolutely rolls right along with it. Salazar was probably my favorite simply due to his super bizarre back story. A twenty year old midget from the 1600’s infected by an ancient demon parasite pitching a hissy-fit because you didn’t just LET him kill you.
2. The Joker (All the batman games, you jerk.)
DEAR GOD. How do I even sum up a character of this magnitude. Probably the most illustrious fictional villain of all time! I say this in large part due to the fact that he has the massive sense of humor thing going for him. I began writing this article BECAUSE of my love for this guy, and everything else fell into place. I was thinking one day about why I loved him so much, or why anyone loves this character at all, he’s just a pasty dude in a suit with no real discernible powers or advantages except one, his ability to joke. This puts him at a pedigree above those like Lex Luthor, or Doc Oc. His ability to crack a joke, makes him a bit more relatable, yet somehow more sub-human as well. His maniacal laughter echoes through your head, and is in large part probably responsible for many people’s fear of clowns to this day I suspect. (Along with movies like IT!)
He’s been in too many games to list really. His appearance in the DC vs. MK series was priceless as that finishing movie was as brutal as it was darkly humorous. His most recent role throughout the Arkham games, helmed by voice actor and famous Jedi, Mark Hamill, gave even the late great Ledger a run for his money. (And in a lot of ways trumps the pants off of him) Apples and oranges though I guess. The J-man will forever be engraved in each and every one of our hearts as a pivotal piece in the puzzle that makes up the thick tapestry of nerd culture, following one motto that has inspired me and many others to take to the entertainment business:
“Make ‘em laugh. Make ‘em laugh. Make ‘em laugh.”
1. GladOS (Portal 1 and 2)
Frequently I lay in bed at night looking up at my ceiling thinking to myself “What would I sound like if I was a 40 year old computer woman trapped for eternity in a science testing chamber?” Well I can tell you right off that it would probably be less like GladOS, and more like Rosie the robot. Really though, I cannot convey the amount of love and admiration I have for the giant upside down sadistic robo-lady. In highschool I played through portal about four times. This is probably (barring Jet Set Radio Future) the most amount of times I’ve ever played through a game. These play-throughs were back-to-back mind you. I played for hours on end trying to beat my high scores. I never did this in games as I really hated time limits and battling them for success, the one excuse I had, GladOS.
The writing for her… well… it’s hard to call it dialogue. More… the writing for her pointed monologues were always witty, sharp, and biting, yet you couldn’t help but come away grinning every time. I would laugh until I was blue in the face at the jokes she’d make throughout that game, and I still consider myself generally a horrible person that I’ve only made my fiancé play through JUST the first half of 2 with me. It was the first game since I bought that “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” game boy color game, that I couldn’t stop myself from beating in one day. It was too glorious. Everything she has said has influenced the standard to which I hold up all comedy writing in video games, or ANY form of entertainment, to this day. I hope to god that we see her in games past 2 as I can’t go the rest of my days re-listening to Ellen McLain speak at conventions and use my imagination to overlay a synthesized voice in my head forever. I’ll go mad… but then… I guess that’s what she wanted all along… huh.
/Turns away from 1980’s tv-big screen back across a desk with placard on it which reads “Bungus Master”
Gee. Hasn’t it been a journey and a half? We’ve really learned a bit about ourselves, some whacky villains, the number ten, and all the numbers that come before it. I hope you’ve enjoyed our lengthy foray into my psyche. I know you didn’t ask for it. But I gave it to you anyways, so suck it up.
ANYWAYS. You know I like to go out on a question, and this one’s probably pretty obvious.
If you had to have any villain moles- Woah whoops. Stupid cue cards. Again.
If you had to choose any villain who had a flare for the comedic from your past gaming experiences to be the best man/maid of honor at your wedding, who would it be and why?