So, yeah, I like haikus. Last time there was a haiku competition I was in the middle of a really busy period in work and I still managed to think up a few but this time round, well, I made a few more...
Here is the list. 25 so far...
Let me get this right;
Your friends all try to kill you
But this is still fun?
Run through a dark maze.
Pop pills, fluorescent lights glowing.
Now play some Pac-man.
Do you remember?
Black Yorda, sinking castle?
Running down the beach?
They will realise,
One day soon, that playing games
Won't make us killers
l4d "singles" haikus
Black I.T. worker,
Seeking girl with a shotgun
To cover his back.
Seeks mate for killing zombies.
Must bring own ammo.
Tattoed male seeks date.
Hates vans, planes, water, woods, malls.
Likes vests. No zombies.
Seeking friend with benefits.
Nude mod enabled.
General Gaming Commentary
In role-playing games,
Why is kleptomania
The sequel generation;
When will it all end?
Don't be a fan-boy
Seriously, why bother?
Gaming is all good.
I am ejected,
Team-killing is fun!
I will pick up anything
To put back the stars
Using two portals,
I will find my cake
I will not listen,
Though she is persistent;
That pesky fairy.
I yell "BOOM HEADSHOT!"
Into a small microphone;
I am so lonely.
He's in Bomberman, you know?
I have blown him up.
Shape of things to come:
"Two princesses, 1-Up" site
A giant turtle
Steals the princess, all the time,
Mario gets bored.
Insurance fraud scam
King Koopa is suspected.
Castles too fragile.
Toads have freaked me out,
Ever since I found out that...
Those are not their heads!
Driver, Plumber, Doc,
Mario does everything
To avoid marriage
Thwomps get just one chance
And normally fail to get
Hundreds of turtles,
Stunned by a viscious plumber,
Naked in the sun.
Fail to govern well due to
When I was a kid my parents disapproved of a lot of stuff.
I come from Northern Ireland, where everyone is pretty religious. It's just one of those things you deal with. This isn't a story about religion but it's important to understand that there were certain restrictions placed on my childhood, not huge ones, just... restraints. I wasn't one of these children who was allowed to go running about the streets with the other kids. My parents would much rather I stayed in the back garden. And it's not about me hating my parents and how bad a job they did raising me and my siblings. As far as I'm concerned, even if I was a little sheltered in comparison to my friends, it formed me into a force for good. But this is about my childhood and computer games, and religion and my parents played a large part in it all. With hefty quantities of religion, change is feared.
For my family, computer games were change.
I'll start at my first encounter. When I was very young indeed, a friend got a Pong console. I'd love to say I remember the name and manufacturer but I was a kid. I didn't care. It had two dial controllers, displayed in black and white on the TV and had a selection of games from the original Pong through to Squash (Pong with both bats on one side of the screen and a wall on the other). It was fun but, really, it's not exactly imagination capturing stuff, is it?
We were one of the first families in our town to get a proper computer; a BBC Micro B+ (note the +, it placed us above the normal BBC Micro B user.).
It had plenty of games and I even learnt to program in Basic to make myself a 2-player snake-clone. Elite was like playing a book; you used your imagination to fill in the blanks. I played Chuckie Egg for so long that after one go, I stopped playing because I knew that I couldn't do any better. I loved that machine.
My not-my-uncle-but-we-called-him-uncle-anyway, Les, let us borrow his C64 with Time Pilot and Twin Kingdom Valley. Everything was more arcade than the BBC, more action, brighter, more demanding. I can still vividly remember the noise and the anticipation of me and all my brothers and sisters when a Zeppelin was about to appear on screen.
Then a friend of mine got a NES.
And another friend got a Master-System. Then a Mega-Drive!
What were these "consoles" that played such flashy and fun little cartridges?! Sonic and Mario demanded my attention! As you can see, I wasn't the first on the scene for any of this. We didn't have arcades in my home town. I'd only seen a Space Invaders machine on holiday! Other children of the same age, those kids who were out in fields throwing rocks and burning things, they were the ones who got these magic boxes. I was fortunate if my older brother was forced to let me tag along when he went round to see his best friend, where I was like Tommy in front of a pinball machine, playing Columns by instinct alone because I'd never seen it before to practice. Friends would ask me round to complete levels for them.
My parents, despite all begging and pleading, would never, ever get me a video game console.
The BBC was brought into the house for education and word processing. Work came first, play was incidental, though it got a lot more attention from me gaming on it than it ever got the daisy-wheel spinning and bashing out pages of text. What we were allowed to watch on TV was carefully monitored. Programs my parents disapproved of, like Grange Hill and Motormouth, were blacklisted and switched in favour or Blue Peter or even mid-afternoon soaps. Sons and Daughters will have its own special hell if I get to rule down there.
Consoles were something to be feared. They served no purpose, glued kids to the TV for hours at an end and were the stories were totally incomprehensible to them. Well, most of the time they were totally incomprehensible to me as well. I still have no idea why Mario is so happy and concluded long ago that Luigi is either his love-buddy or his crack dealer. But, yeah, as older generations feared what rock music would do to their sons and daughters, so my parents refused to see the good in gaming, regardless of my passion for it. I had to get my gaming fixes another way.
Our camping trips consisted of me saving what little pocket money I had to sit in the arcade in the campsite, playing Arkenoid, Hunchback, Space Harrier, Gauntlet, Golden Axe, Double Dragon, Pac-man and Bomb Jack. One of my favourite breaks was when I discovered the original Street Fighter in the kids room of the bar.
Back home, I would steal into the local leisure centre after school because they had a Street Fighter 2 machine. I would sneak into pubs to play the single arcade machines and eventually into a local seedy arcade that was filled with slot machines and a few token games (1942, Shinobi with the jump broken and King of Fighters). One night, I wasn't home at 7pm and my parents went out looking for me. My father dragged me from the smokey pool room and flashing lights after someone at school ratted on me. He just couldn't comprehend why I wanted to be there, as I wasn't there with friends or trying to fit in with all the cool smoking kids who hung out there. Hell, I didn't drink then and I don't smoke.
When I hit 15, I'd still never had a console.
Something had to give.
My parents were not bad people; I love them dearly. They just had a very low opinion of consoles. They were the kind of people who thought that people could sit around with the TV off and have conversations, like in the old days. All that ended up happening was we'd sit there in silence, wondering what we were meant to be talking about. One thing they always promoted was the concept of money being your own. Once they gave you a little pocket money, you could go and spend it on sweets and toys to your heart's content and they wouldn't complain (though they might comment on the quality of the rubbishy toys you were intending to buy for 50 pence, and were right to do so most of the time!). So when my older brother got a job at a local bar/restaurant as a waiter, I saw my chance.
I asked my parents if I could get a job there too.
They weren't happy about this. After all, I was only 15; working in a place filled with alcohol and drunks couldn't be a good thing. I said I'd try getting a job stocking the shelves and cleaning up so that I wouldn't be waiting or serving behind the bar. They knew the people who ran the place and my home town, hell, my country! is small enough that they knew I'd be ok there. They drove me down to the building and I went inside, cap in hand, to ask if they had any need for someone to do that sort of thing. Turns out someone they had doing that job was leaving so when could I start?
It was the lowest paid job you could possibly get.
There was no minimum wage back then. Employers could pay you whatever the hell they wanted. I think I started on £1.50 an hour and worked my way up to £2.20 after about a year. It was tough work too! Early starts, heavy lifting, picking through broken glass with your bare hands....
I AM NOT KIDDING!
This was one of the main parts of my job! Sorting out bottles into their various different recycling bins from all the waste bottles from the bar. I was treated like crap for the most part and hid myself in the basement to avoid the more ridiculous tasks such as slopping out kitchen waste into one of the skips or raking the pebbles in the car park. I could only work weekends as well, thanks to school. I made it my own, though, and knew the job better than anyone else.
It took me most of a summer to save up enough for what I wanted but, that summer, near my birthday, I announced to my parents that I was going to get the best and most expensive console I could find and there was nothing they could do about it. They had watched me working in the bar, driven me home while I was biting back tears over some of the bullying I'd had. They'd watched me devote every weekend, saving every penny I could scrimp together and they knew how much I wanted it. They drove me to the electronics store and helped me carry the package to the counter, so that I didn't drop it. When I got to the till, there was a problem.
I was £10 short.
I felt the tears well up. I'd worked so hard! It would take another full weekend of work before I could get that sort of money together and then I'd have to get my parents to take me to the store again, which was quite a trek from home. It could easily be almost a month before I could get this chance again.
My dad smiled down at me and handed me a crisp new ten pound note. "Don't tell your mum, ok?" he whispered to me. I almost jumped about the store!
My dad was my hero then, is my hero now, always will be.
I took it home and unpacked. I played and let the others play, sometimes. I learnt about "the zone" and playing computer games without sound to guide you. I became master of every game I played, with even my older brother defeated constantly due to the sheer volume of practice I put into it. My local video-store started renting games out and by the end of the year I'd played them all and knew the owner well. I read all the magazines, knew all the secrets, waited impatiently for new releases and even started designing my own games, filled with giant robots and colourful cartoons. This first console, this wonder of my childhood fuelled much of what I am today.
I earned my right to game; it can't be taken away from me.
What was it? Does that matter? I've heard similar stories from many people over the years, whether it's been saving up for a bike and eventually buying a shiny new machine through to people who've put pennies into jars for a year to get it all together. One thing rings true through it all: if you earned it, it was worth so much more than what you paid for it.
This is what set me up to eventually do what I do now. All that "wasted" time in front of consoles and in dodgy arcades actually paid off. I never thought it would. I just loved gaming.
P.s. It was a SNES. The Starwing bundle. I was the first kid in my town to have a cartridge with a Super FX chip.
People are really starting to get into the idea of superhero movies putting butts on seats. Here's a little trailer...
but there's lots (LOTS!) more in an extended trailer if you follow this link.
I like the look of this and think it could turn into a cinema-watchable movie! =)
Now, I like games where I feel like a real, full blooded superhero and I'm beginning to think that, much like the movie industry, the games industry is starting to get on board. Superman games pretty much reek of badness at every turn but Hulk, Spiderman and Batman have all had successful outings as video games. Sure, they've also had their ups and downs but it was getting to the point where I don't wince every time a new Superhero game gets announced.
And then somebody decided that pitting Batman against Sub-zero was a good idea.
I mean, everyone loves Batman! I remember a few years ago when 1Up ran competitions to find out if there was anything in the universe he couldn't beat (he'd already notched up The Phoenix and THE SUN - that's the ball of flaming gas that we revolve around rather than the newspaper with the Page 3 girls). Now, not only are they releasing a Mortal Kombat game that features the heroes of our youth being pitted against crappy video game stereotypes (and taking out the Fatalities - the only real reason to play MK games in the first place) but they're also expecting us to accept things like Batman getting beaten!
This does not stand well with me. I've never been a big fan of MK but all sorts of crazy match-ups come to mind. Hell, Superman is going to be in this game. What're they going to do; limit his powers so that he's not really Superman any more.
I consider this whole concept to be full of error and fail. Do you agree?
So, yesterday, the Sega Racing Studio in Solihull closed. There were various different reasons, some of which I was privy to thanks to working with people who used to work there and others who are friends of mine. It all boils down to profitability and, sadly, the studio had something of a dry patch in that respect.
I think it’s because Sega Rally skipped a generation.
Gaming “generations” are a lot quicker than human biology. Those halcyon days when we had all the time in the world to kick around playing games and throwing snowballs at each other quickly pass into the bleak world of employment and the search for a partner. There tends to be some defining games within that short period where we had loads of time to spend playing them and, way back in the arcades of my youth, Sega Rally and Daytona were the coin munchers of choice. They were premium games; costing two or three times more than a regular coin-op but rewarding the player with a comfy seat, force feedback and twin-screened vs action. A lot of the time they were also the games where it didn’t matter about the leaderboard, the length of the game or the arcade you played it in.
It was about the experience.
Music would pump all around you, mixed with occasional, outrageously bad commentary, spurring you to the finish. You were totally focused on the screen in front of you, watching the world slide by, feeling the impact of your friend trying to get past....
It makes me kinda sad thinking about it.
I’ve been in arcades recently and the atmosphere has changed. Aside from the light-gun games, there’ll be a few teenage girls on the DDR machines and some tracksuited, fluffy-moustached youths losing money into machines with flashing lights and the promise of a jackpot. The seats of the racing games lie empty, unless someone needs a place to sit with their chips and chat to their friends.
Kids today get the games pumped directly into their veins; they’ve no need to hunt, skin and cook their fun. Sure, they’ve missed out on a great experience but with so many others to be had, who’s to say they don’t have it better? No watching a machine munch your coins and going back to the one game you could afford for the system with the same processing power as your video recorder? They could be onto something...
Sega Rally had so much competition by the time it tried to rejuvenate its market that it never quite made it into people’s hearts in the same manner as the arcade era. It used to be that having the console version reminded you of the arcade. Now it’s just another game...
Anyway, when a studio like Sega Racing closes its doors, the vultures start to circle. With the amount of talent available from such a prestigious company, the stragglers will be picked off before they finish realising they’re unemployed. All the other studios in the UK smell blood and start circling the bodys, waiting to pick off the stragglers. Some are nice about it, like the nymphs of the forest, calling the unwary into the green, while others are the devil with a contract, plying the redundant developers with alcohol and promises. It works out well for those with contacts and those employed elsewhere with bounty schemes for inviting new talent.
The UK is a rollercoaster for smaller gaming studios and it only takes a few titles to get canned, delayed or go astray for everything to fall down around your ears. Sometimes it takes a fall or two to make you realise how lucky you are to be in a stable company.
Ok, so it might well be. I think I'm late for the competition! That's ok though, if I am, I am.
I've had this little beauty for a few years now, though the monitor is less than a year old (and not very good).
2.66 Smithfield running at 3.00
7950GTX Graphics Card
1mb of 6400 mem
250 gig HD
The blue lights are a fan controller that does virtually nothing but it's got a Zalman MASSIVE fan and heat sink inside, so I can overclock up to 3.6 if I want without having it sound like a Xbox 360 or jet engine.
Also on the desk, Printer/scanner, Photo-printer, 360, 2.1 speakers, lovely Firefly Blood Orange and Manuka Honey drink, loads of DVDs, CoD4 box, laser pen, the bottom of an official Sony duck, GBA SP, packet of honey biscuits (empty), remotes and a graphics tablet!