Obscure Gamer – Get Together

Next weekend I’m off to Manchester, for two reasons. I’m going to spend most of the weekend in a pub, although I will take some time out on the Sunday to go around an exhibition at the Urbis centre. You are probably wondering what this has to do with gaming. The answer is that the pub is hosting gaming event “Console Combat” – http://www.consolecombat.co.uk – and the exhibition is called “Videogame Nation” – http://www.videogamenation.co.uk

I’ve been to quite a few gaming events over the last couple of years, most of them connected with retro gaming. And yes, holding an event in a pub/hotel is a lot more fun than a dingy village hall or cavernous exhibition centre. (Although it did give me great pleasure at the Micro Mart Computer Fair at the NEC back in 2003 to see vintage machines still running and an Xbox demonstration pod regularly failing). This social sort of gaming is a real blast, leading to surreal moments such as sitting opposite programming legend Archer Maclean for a curry.

The Lass O’ Gowrie has been holding regular retro nights, letting players get hands on with a great collection of old games. And I’ve been a regular at the Retrovision events in Oxford, getting the chance to meet Jeff Minter and play on a huge range of machines from the Atari 2600 to the latest PS3 games. Best of all, several of these events have done their bit for charity – 2005’s Retro Ball raised money for the Everyman cancer charity, and this year’s Byte Back gave over £2000 to the RSPCA and a local hospice. There are still tickets available for Console Combat, so if you can get to Manchester for the 25th and 26th of July I will see you there.

As for the exhibition, it’s a look at how Britain has been at the forefront of videogame development. Organised by David Crookes and sponsored by Retro Gamer / Imagine Publishing, there are games to play, displays of game artwork and behind the scenes information, a look at the history and culture of videogames and a series of live events where famous members of the industry talk about the past.

And that is important. Videogames are now an important medium, and its history needs to be preserved. It does still seem odd to me that the toys and games I played with as a child are now sitting in museums, but we need to tell the story of how the industry went from simple white bats on a black screen to photo-realistic 3D first-person shooters. The exhibition will also be a social experience – watching others play is fun, and challenging a stranger to a game is a lot better in the flesh than online.

The Videogame Nation exhibition is running until the 20th of September, with special events being held on Sundays. For more details, check out:

http://www.urbis.org.uk/page.asp?id=3296

Get Together

Next weekend I’m off to Manchester, for two reasons. I’m going to spend most of the weekend in a pub, although I will take some time out on the Sunday to go around an exhibition at the Urbis centre. You are probably wondering what this has to do with gaming. The answer is that the pub is hosting gaming event “Console Combat” – http://www.consolecombat.co.uk – and the exhibition is called “Videogame Nation” – http://www.videogamenation.co.uk

I’ve been to quite a few gaming events over the last couple of years, most of them connected with retro gaming. And yes, holding an event in a pub/hotel is a lot more fun than a dingy village hall or cavernous exhibition centre. (Although it did give me great pleasure at the Micro Mart Computer Fair at the NEC back in 2003 to see vintage machines still running and an Xbox demonstration pod regularly failing). This social sort of gaming is a real blast, leading to surreal moments such as sitting opposite programming legend Archer Maclean for a curry.

The Lass O’ Gowrie has been holding regular retro nights, letting players get hands on with a great collection of old games. And I’ve been a regular at the Retrovision events in Oxford, getting the chance to meet Jeff Minter and play on a huge range of machines from the Atari 2600 to the latest PS3 games. Best of all, several of these events have done their bit for charity – 2005’s Retro Ball raised money for the Everyman cancer charity, and this year’s Byte Back gave over £2000 to the RSPCA and a local hospice. There are still tickets available for Console Combat, so if you can get to Manchester for the 25th and 26th of July I will see you there.

As for the exhibition, it’s a look at how Britain has been at the forefront of videogame development. Organised by David Crookes and sponsored by Retro Gamer / Imagine Publishing, there are games to play, displays of game artwork and behind the scenes information, a look at the history and culture of videogames and a series of live events where famous members of the industry talk about the past.

And that is important. Videogames are now an important medium, and its history needs to be preserved. It does still seem odd to me that the toys and games I played with as a child are now sitting in museums, but we need to tell the story of how the industry went from simple white bats on a black screen to photo-realistic 3D first-person shooters. The exhibition will also be a social experience – watching others play is fun, and challenging a stranger to a game is a lot better in the flesh than online.

The Videogame Nation exhibition is running until the 20th of September, with special events being held on Sundays. For more details, check out:

http://www.urbis.org.uk/page.asp?id=3296

The Incredible Child-Nip

Catnip Cat

Hello ladies and gentlemen J.A. Laraque here to tell you about the incredible new product from Spore Co. called Child-Nip.

Friends, have you ever been at the movies on a Saturday night watching a great R-rated film only to have it ruined by some little punk who shouldn’t be there anyway? In the past their mistake in non or misuse of conception prevention was your loss as well, but not anymore.

This handy dandy little spray is no bigger than a can of mace and is your tiny answer to a large child problem. Just a twist of the cap and a press of your finger and little Timmy is off to la-la land for up to sixty, that’s right, sixty minutes.

Now I know you have questions. How does it work? What’s in it and is it legal? Let me answer those questions by telling you that our special spray release uses hidden ninja technology meaning that nobody will ever know what you did. Do not worry, the little terror will not be permanently harmed and the ingredients are all-natural and specifically designed to work only on minors fifteen and under.

Still not convinced, then listen to these testimonials.

Bob K. From Richmond, Virginia writes:

Before Child-Nip I could never go to a movie on opening night, but now I keep a can taped to my wrist for quick release action. I started a website to document how to use Child-Nip without anyone knowing. So far I have Nipped over three hundred and twenty-eight kids. Thanks, Child-Nip.

Child-Nip is also available for parents.

Carol F. From Chicago, Illinois writes:

They say that because you spent the night with the starting lineup for the Chicago Bulls that you deserve what you get, but thanks to Child-Nip the pain is soothed like when I drink or smoke or cut myself. I upgraded to Child-Nips time-release system which you can mount in any room in your house. When the horrors of my drunken mistake get out of hand I send them to the night-night room and give myself an hour break.

Yes friends, Child-Nip is your little miracle to take care of those little bundles of joy. How much would you pay for that? Call in the next thirty minutes and we will double your order and add the time-release kit for no extra charge. So call now and remember: if you get caught, you don’t know us.

Myspace Interview – Hero’s for Hire

So, who are you anyway?

Hero’s for Hire had its roots in a relationship I thought was beautiful in my mind. Little did I realize the girl I was dating was just using me to make her boyfriend bad. I sucked with girls and was a dork in highschool, didn’t even have a girlfriend until I was a senior. Then I dated this one girl who dumped me after a week, saying we didn’t see eachother enough. What really happened is she stole my virginity to piss off her boyfriend, which worked, dumped me and went back to him. So being a musician I wrote a song to cope. This song I called “The Whore Song” it became very popular and then I started the band, which has been around for 2.5 years. I (Charles Diamond) play guitar and sing, Vince Caiafa plays
drums, and Dave Morris plays bass.

Describe your sound for us.

I would categoize our sound officially as pop/punk/alternative. Imaginitively as a three legged grey hound chasing a bus. Poetically as some sort of highcue or however the hell you spell it, politically as against the man, and realistically as motivational.

So you rate yourself then?

I have no clue how we would rate ourseleves. We basically go on stage and make complete fools of ourselves by using the must horrible language we can think up and pray we hit the right notes. More often than not we make fun of eachother as best we can. I made Vince drink his own pee once and that is a popular topic.

Who are your influences?

One of my musical secrets is that a lot of the stuff I write has to do with me. I get myslef a warm hot cocoa, put on my slippers, head to the basement, throw on the thong song and play the whole thing a luff.

Tell us one of your musical secrets.

One of my musical secrets is that a lot of the stuff I write has to do with me. I get myslef a warm hot cocoa, put on my slippers, head to the basement, throw on the thong song and play the whole thing a luff.

What’s your claim to fame?

My claim to fame is that I have two different colored eyes. Which happens to be a great pick up for the ladies.

Musically, where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Hopefully the future has bigger shows, more albums, more fans, more touring. dogs humping Dave, me humping dogs, and Vince doing the crab dance. We always try new things while still playing the music we love with roots in punk, but in 10 yrs we might be playing music that gives people a feeling they have never felt before and really inspires them!

Myspace or Facebook?

I think at present myspace has better features and opportunites for bands to spread the word about themselves. But, Facebook is catching up.

Obscure Gamer – Redesign Rejection

There were rumours about Sony redesigning its hardware in the run-up to E3, and they proved to be true. The PSP without a UMD drive emerged, but the slimline PS3 (not PSThree, that would be too hideous for words) did not. Will it make a real difference?

There’s no doubt that upgrading and improving a product is a good idea. The question is how quickly you do it. Apple got the consumers hook, line and sinker with the iPod range. The original was a fantastic piece of design and genuinely a step forward for music players. But the Shuffle has little or no appeal for me, and as much as I would like a touch-screen music player that also plays games, the price tag remains high. Not to mention the lingering concerns about battery life, reliability, repair and my general apathy towards paying for downloaded music.

But what about gaming machines? Nintendo’s DS is now on its third iteration, attempting to catch the consumer’s eye with its new “DSi”. I for improved, or just I for “I think that white shiny thing is rather nice, what does it do?” The cameras are low-powered and limited so far in what they can do, the software line-up has not been overwhelming (particularly one game I would consider getting, the latest Wario Ware) and there have been complaints about the download store. The Lite was a step forward from the original, but the DSi still has a lot to prove.

Sony had its own trials and tribulations with upgrading. The original Playstation went through several hardware revisions before becoming the PSOne. This was a nice idea, making it portable with the option of a small LCD screen. But the revision of the PS2 to become a slimline model seemed almost pointless – until you realise that it has given the machine an extended shelf life. It almost looks like a new machine, and consumers (especially in America, it seems) are still buying it. Why not, with cheap games abundant?

But it’s going to make more than a redesign of the hardware (or rumours of another price cut) to perk up the PS3. It’s the games we want to play on it that need improving. The PSP’s struggles – the UMD format, the analogue sticks – will not be fixed by this makeover, and baffling decisions (such as the lack of online play for the recent Monster Hunter release) continue to drag the format down. Even the prospect of Rock Band and Little Big Planet may not be enough.

Oh, and Microsoft, don’t worry about redesigning the Zune. I still won’t buy one.

Redesign Rejection

There were rumours about Sony redesigning its hardware in the run-up to E3, and they proved to be true. The PSP without a UMD drive emerged, but the slimline PS3 (not PSThree, that would be too hideous for words) did not. Will it make a real difference?

There’s no doubt that upgrading and improving a product is a good idea. The question is how quickly you do it. Apple got the consumers hook, line and sinker with the iPod range. The original was a fantastic piece of design and genuinely a step forward for music players. But the Shuffle has little or no appeal for me, and as much as I would like a touch-screen music player that also plays games, the price tag remains high. Not to mention the lingering concerns about battery life, reliability, repair and my general apathy towards paying for downloaded music.

But what about gaming machines? Nintendo’s DS is now on its third iteration, attempting to catch the consumer’s eye with its new “DSi”. I for improved, or just I for “I think that white shiny thing is rather nice, what does it do?” The cameras are low-powered and limited so far in what they can do, the software line-up has not been overwhelming (particularly one game I would consider getting, the latest Wario Ware) and there have been complaints about the download store. The Lite was a step forward from the original, but the DSi still has a lot to prove.

Sony had its own trials and tribulations with upgrading. The original Playstation went through several hardware revisions before becoming the PSOne. This was a nice idea, making it portable with the option of a small LCD screen. But the revision of the PS2 to become a slimline model seemed almost pointless – until you realise that it has given the machine an extended shelf life. It almost looks like a new machine, and consumers (especially in America, it seems) are still buying it. Why not, with cheap games abundant?

But it’s going to make more than a redesign of the hardware (or rumours of another price cut) to perk up the PS3. It’s the games we want to play on it that need improving. The PSP’s struggles – the UMD format, the analogue sticks – will not be fixed by this makeover, and baffling decisions (such as the lack of online play for the recent Monster Hunter release) continue to drag the format down. Even the prospect of Rock Band and Little Big Planet may not be enough.

Oh, and Microsoft, don’t worry about redesigning the Zune. I still won’t buy one.