C:\> cls LONDON G A M E S C:\> cd Alltherage\18_games_issue FRINGE C:\> 18_games_issue.exe SPECIAL! More >Articles MODERN >Nostalgia CLASSIC game >Gamer covers interviews by >Rubbishy the-minus layouts world.com inside! >Other C:\> dir. C:\> AHSAN EXE HELLARD EXE BELLINI COM JONES EXE FLETCHER HLP MINUSWORLD COM GREEN COM RUSSELL EXE HARRINGTON EXE 9 FILE(S) 1,234 bytes dave green on games What’s the worst game of all time? 3D reels, or 8-track cassettes, or Ma- What can video games teach us cintosh computers - but text adven- about life? With the help of his broth-tures were fairly rapidly replaced er Simon, London Games Festival by graphical ones like The Hobbit Fringe organiser Dave Green (also of and then even they started to seem NTK.net and snackspot.org.uk) talked like hard work to play, compared to to ATR about his wasted youth... the fairly instant rewards you can get in more action-oriented games. do you remember the first game Obviously I’m quite possibly misrep- you ever had? resenting an entire genre, but I’m perfectly capable of enjoying fiction First electronic game? I can’t be without needing to control or inter- completely sure but it was probably act with it - I’d rather see what the a close-run thing between a Bina- author thought should happen at tone Mark 6 TV game (4 variants of each point, rather than keep trying Pong, plus two “shooting galleries” to second-guess it... that you needed an extra light-gun for) - I think they were around in the late 1970s, then by around 1980 my In life, what have you learned uncle had an Apple II with 5.25-inch from video games? floppy disks full of mostly text-only Mostly, how to play video games, spectaculars like “Lemonade Stand”, but my own apocryphal contribu- where it forecasted the (fictional) tion to the “video games violence” weather and you had to decide how debate goes like this - once, in the many lemonade ingredients to buy offices of Amiga Power magazine, to maximise your profits. It was the we were reviewing a light-gun “Sim City” of its day, in a way: game like Virtua Cop where you (coolmath-games.com/lemonade) basically blasted away at bad guys that popped up on screen like an old-fashioned fairground shooting IFComp is just around the corner; what are your views on interac- gallery. tive fiction? A friend of mine claims he’d been Can I first just say that this is my playing it all morning and “getting personal opinion and not that of really good”, then a window-cleaner the Fringe or the wider London appeared in the first-floor window Games Festival but - I don’t get it! immediately behind the screen I mean, it’s great that people still he was playing on, and my friend create stuff for formats that no-one instinctively pointed the plastic gun really cares about - like ViewMaster at this new target in his field of vi- sion and let off a couple of imaginary up on take-off and never saw more sections, where we talk about games pretty much gone off the rest of the shots. Fortunately, the window cleaner than the first few locations. And it was as art, games as girlfriend substitutes, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy - the didn’t fall off his ladder in surprise or 30 quid, which was a lot of money in and games as… well, games.” Why? fake-CGI graphics in the G’Gugvuntts anything, but I’m sure there’s a mes- those days. Because, although it’s rarely discussed, and Vl’hurgs battle in the TV series look sage there somewhere. And just to get completely heretical the experience of playing videogames fantastic (then the entire battle fleet now, the graphics were cool but I never when you’ve just broken up with your gets “swallowed by a small dog” - tee- If you could only play one game for really rated the gameplay in Ultimate’s girlfriend is some of the most desper- hee!) the rest of your life, what would it Spectrum games, like Knight Lore, or ate, absorbing, world-ignoring videog- But let’s not overlook some of the AticAtac, or Jetpac, or Lunar Jetman, aming you can ever experience - am I great made-up games from more “liter- be? or... pretty much anything with a smug right, lads? Well, am I? ary” works: Azad from Iain M Banks’ Poker, specifically No-limit Texas Hold jetpack-wearing technocrat protago- Player of Games, Ender’s Game (from... ‘em - but against peoplerather than nist, I guess. Have you ever tried writing your Ender’s Game), and - my personal computers or online. As country singer own game? favourite of the lot - Spads and Fokkers Kenny Rogers has pointed out, it’s What do you think of second Life? from Dogfight by William Gibson and oddly analogous to real life - in Texas See: http://tinyurl.com/davesgame Michael Swanwick, which may still be Hold ‘em, there’s only two cards distin- are you offended they’re not ‘true the best piece of videogaming writing guishing you from the other players games’? What do you think of the new spore ever (I just Googled it and the whole and five community ones that every- Not really my cup of tea (at some story is online, I strongly suspect it thing? one can use (ahhhh, nature vs nuture, point in this interview, we’re bound shouldn’t be but there you go). do you see?), plus all the action is kind Oh God I’m not really coming across to find something I actually like...), I of related to player’s personalities and as a proper gamer here - I’m sure it’s think they’re basically 3D construc- Which is the best fictional comput- the balance between seizing the mo- great if you like that sort of thing, but tion environments, like virtual Lego - er? ment and biding your time. Or “know- it sounds like a lot of effort and I didn’t and real-life Lego isn’t a “game” per se, even like The Sims - was it just me, or ing what to throw away and knowing Well do you mean the best computer, but it’s still a brilliant toy. was it really difficult to find stuff to what to keep”, as Kenny puts it - also or the software it’s running? Fortu- Plus, that means that whenever blow up? nately, the movie Tron is very clear on excellent advice when clearing out a someone announces “We’ve built a this distinction, so I’m going to have fridge. million-dollar virtual shopping mall What is your favourite fictional to go for the Master Control Program in Second Life, complete with work- computer game? (eg. the one elijah - played by David Warner, designed by What’s the worst game you’ve ever ing eco-system,” I can always mentally Wood plays on in Cafe 80s or space Jean Giraud Moebius, and he even has come across? substitute “in Second Life” with the machine in soylent green or Wes- his own prophetic-for-its-time laser- Around 1988, my brother and I had phrase “out of Lego”, and then carry ley’s weird addictive headset game powered supermarket-style self-scan- an Amiga “Cinemaware” game called on with my day. in star Trek) ning checkout which he uses to distint- Rocket Ranger (along the lines of Thanks for the suggestions! My brother egrate Jeff Bridges at the start of the 1930s jetpack superheroes like King Of also suggested “Domination” the 3D film - talk about an “Unexpected item What are you looking forward to in bagging area!” Plus the MCP has the The Rocketmen and The Rocketeer), most at the London games Festival? electrocution deathmatch played by which looked amazing but played Sean Connery and Maximillian Largo best catchphrases too: “End of line!” Lots but I’m particularly intrigued like a pig. There was one particular bit by Infinite Lives: How Video Games in the casino in the rogue Bond movie London games Fringe, oct 25-nov 2 where you had to press a key at just Hacked Literature (8pm Fri 31st Oct, Never Say Never Again, and - while I’ve www.londongamesfringe.com the right time in order to fly to differ- Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, £3 ent locations - we never got the hang on door) - “a mix of stand-up, perfor- of it and consequently kept blowing mance poetry, music, and interactive BreugeL’s games The stereotyped image of a Bruegel synonym for folly, and it is as a theatre of “Life itself, Bruegel ‘The playing of children’, mused A truth is revealed when the adult seems to be saying, painting is a bustling canvas packed with folly – the folly of the adult world – that the Michel de Montaigne in book I of world is reshaped into children’s slides inevitably from incident and populated by a multitude of painting must be understood. The paint- his Essays (1575), ‘is not just play; play, a truth that adults may not innocence into chaos, rotund peasant figures. His pictures seem ing shows a view of a town, with a river, hurried there by chance it’s the most serious thing they do’. wish to acknowlege. Child’s play to be theatres of vulgar amusement: his trees, a main square and streets crowded and thoughtless folly” Serious for children, utterly is truly a ‘re-creation’ as well as a first biographer, Karel Van Mander, wrote of with life. It is an inverted reflection of the absorbed in an activity that, for ‘recreation’. his works in 1604 as ‘burlesques’, his fig- adult world: a town with no adult authority, them, is not an alternative to life In late medieval and early ures as ‘higgeldy-piggeldy’, and remarked entirely populated by children. There are but is the business of life itself; and modern Europe children’s games that ‘one sees few pictures by him which a nearly one hundred identifiable games in serious for adults too, for child- were often used in literary and spectator can contemplate without laugh- progress, many of them instantly hood’s games are a mirror for the artistic form to teach lessons about ing’. Children’s Games, with its countless recognizable: adult world. Children, warns human society. Psalters and bre- tiny figures engaged in numerous types of marbles, Sebastian Brant’s 1494 moral al- viaries, books of hours and secular games and play, certainly appears to fit this skittles, blind legory The Ship of Fools, mimic the prints frequently featured children stereotype. Yet, as with all Breugel’s work, it man’s buff, adult activities they see around at play as a means of commenting is a profoundly serious image and a rigor- playing with them: ‘In children’s presence take on the passing of time, the phases ously organized one. It has a moral to teach. hoops, rid- great heed / They’ll copy you in of life, the role of folly and chance The Flemish title of the painting is Kh- ing a hobby word and deed’. in human activities. It is within inderspell, which is directly translated into horse. The The suggestion is that the this context that Pieter Bruegel’s the accepted English title of Children’s games chosen, child’s interpretation of the adult’s painting of 1560, Children’s Games, Games. In Flemish literature and proverbs, however, and the action will reveal the latter’s folly. should be approached. however, ‘khinderspell’ is also used as a manner in which they are represented, are not random. This resolved in favour of a flowering of fertil- the wheel of life with all its associations of corner a boy blows bubbles, signifying the is not a mere catalogue of popular ity and the affirmation of life. It was the chance. Then the games on the right-hand transitory nature of life and the emptiness juvenile recreations. year’s love-fest, a season for lovers, a time side of the canvas become darker and more of material possessions. On the right, two for courtship and conception. violent: rough-and-tumble predominates, boys with building bricks argue, the It is important to note that a specific with the harsh play of hair-pulling, bricks scattered around them time of year is shown. The rich foliage of The children who crowd Bruegel’s pushing and throwing games, in a meaningless, disordered the trees and the presence of character- painting act out these very adult notions and running the gauntlet. Blind jumble. In the left middle istically outdoor activities such as swim- in their childish games, and as they do man’s buff gives way to the ground two girls joust ming shows that it is midsummer, and so they demonstrate their inherent folly. rougher and more frighten- with rakes, their mock other clues enable a more precise iden- Their games reveal that the rituals which ing forms of blindfold games fighting subverting tification of the date. In the upper right a lie at the heart of the adult world, those known as ‘blind hood’ and both the chivalric and bonfire can be seen, along with a proces- governing the relations between men ‘around the the gendered order of sion of children wearing paper crowns and women, are themselves playthings of blind man’. society, while behind and carrying loafs; baskets of flowering foolishness and chance. herbs can be seen hung outside some Further down the street is them, against a wall, a On the left a game of blind man’s buff boy busily defecates, re- of the houses. As contemporaries would the St John’s Eve bonfire and its is in progress, representing courtship: one minding the viewer of what have recognized immediately, these are associated celebrations, but the person groping for and seizing another all the world comes to in the activities characteristic of midsummer, festive mock processions are sur- in a game of blind chance. Courtship end. and in particular of St John’s Eve and St rounded by fighting and violence. Life itself, leads to wedding and to baptism, and John’s Day, the 23rd and 24th of June. Bruegel seems to be saying, slides inevitably At first sight Bruegel’s Children’s Games also on the left-hand side of the painting from innocence into chaos, hurried there by might appear to represent a lost world of The midsummer revelry that we find a wedding and a baptism pro- chance and thoughtless folly. innocence, where children live out their coincided with St John’s Day was a cele- cession being acted out. These activities bration of the richest and most plenteous may seem purposeful, but at the bottom Other figures scattered around the can- days in endless play – a representation of time of year, a time of fecundity, when the left of the canvas, in their path, girls play vas emphasize the point. On the left, a boy the happy state that all must leave behind natural world was present in all its rich- knucklebones – a game of crude chance raises his popgun to shoot an owl, the em- as they grow to adulthood and maturity. ness. It was a time for lovers, associated which was strongly associated with love blem of wisdom. From a window above him Yet its message is in reality quite the op- with courtship, when the eternal tension and marriage. A girl who was unlucky at another boy looks down on the scene, his posite. The games of children show us that between life and death, fertility and bar- knucklebones would be unfortunate in face hidden behind a mask that shows not the adult world is no more than a game renness, summer and winter – a tension courtship and marriage. And inside the a child’s face but that of an adult – are all itself, and that all the roles and activities represented, perhaps, in the tug-of-war house on the left more girls play with adults, then, merely children, wearing masks which adults value are mere instances of game that occupies the front centre of dolls, making a plaything of parenthood, that emptily mimic maturity? Elsewhere play. Bruegel’s playful children teach their the canvas, and which can be found in and indeed of childhood itself. Moving small figures totter on stilts, representing adult viewers a lesson, with their mimicry other Bruegel paintings such as The Battle across the front of the picture, spinning the folly of conceit, while acrobats view the of the grown-up world: that all is folly, futil- Between Carnival and Lent (1560) – was tops and hoops echo the concept of world upside-down; in the bottom left-hand ity, and the chance of the game. Amongst other things, Ralph Harrington is an academic. Read more of his ideas on greycat.org. that happens. I don’t really know what virtual ten pin bowling, as I am rubbish goes on, but I can hear hoots of laugh- at the real thing. I didn’t pursue it. The ter, shouting, arguing from behind the Wii fit then came onto the market, but door. All I know is that it’s saved us a we weren’t going to be caught a second fortune in holidays and outings as the time – they were firmly told that if they ladies now prefer to spend their free wanted it they would have to club to- time in week old underwear and pyja- gether and pay for it themselves. We still mas sitting in a darkened room creating don’t have one. This is for two reasons. horrible lives for characters that eerily They haven’t coughed up, and you can’t resemble people they dislike in real life. get a Wii for love nor money. That’s nearly everyone they know, judg- It turns out Daddy played with the ing from the complaints I have to listen Wii the most. He is often caught flailing to on a daily basis. his arms around late into the night, play- Until now, Daddy has been the sup- ing golf. THe sIms guIde To Happy FamILIes plier of these games. The ladies gang Indeed, he developed the infamous up on him in W H Smiths and he is pow- Wii Shoulder, much to my amusement. erless to resist their demands for new Other injuries have been suffered due (Or ‘How we learned to love computer and one game. I found myself asking for versions of the Sims. Unfortunately I to the Wii. Any passers-by have to be games’) a handset in Woolworth’s, and off they got caught up in this cycle of intimida- extremely careful to keep their distance I thought that we were safe, having went, charging into a mystery world tion when I joined the millions of frantic from a flailer as sudden arm movements three daughters, from the dreaded gam- that the adults couldn’t understand. parents last winter trying to source a can cause all manner of upset and bruis- ing industry. On entering our living room, They spent hours willing a small dragon Nintendo Wii for Christmas. I signed up es. Not good at all, I can assure you. many visitors would express surprise through any number of obstacles, en- to all the find a Wii websites, sidled up The Wii now sits gathering dust in at the lack of gaming machinery – the couraged on by a young neighbour who to spotty greasy youths in game stores our sitting room, its novelty long waned. wires, the boxes, the handsets, the empty was too shy to play himself, but was an around London, all to no avail. Finally, Us parents are now bracing ourselves drinks cans. OK, so we did have empty expert at telling others what to do. just when I was about to write an IOU for the next big thing. It’ll be Christmas drinks cans around, along with empty The ladies then moved on to com- from Santa, John Lewis had some on soon – what is it? And where won’t we crisp packets and plates full of crumbs, I puter games – I blame the BBC for entic- its website for about two minutes and I be able to get it from? must admit, but no games paraphernalia. ing young children into their websites managed to bag one. When they were younger, we skipped and showing them the world of gaming. The screams of joy that wafted up- the computer games corner in the shops My children certainly got hooked, and to stairs on Christmas morning were almost with a smug smile as we witnessed other this day they’re still wriggling at the end a pleasure, tinged with the feeling that parents parting with huge sums of cash of that line. we’d been sucked into another scam. for a small box with death car raider, or Club Penguin is a current favourite. And we had been so proud to resist that some similar title, written on it. Our chil- Although it has to be played with the vol- whole business with the Teletubbies all dren ume turned down – has anyone thought those years ago! demanded Disney videos, vast amounts how irritating that tinny music is? For about a month, everyone who of stationery, but no games. We were The Sims plays a huge part in our came through our door had to have a go fleeced in our own way. on the blessed thing. Even I was per- Sylvia Bellini occasionally blogs at lives, especially during the holidays. It suaded to flail my arms around in an at- milenadellefortezze.blogspot.com Then some kind soul took pity on the allows the player to create a complete ladies and gave them an old PlayStation fantasy world and control everything tempt to bowl. I was even as rubbish at Not only do we indulge in the sorts say “Where to?” and they reply “Drip- of games which have rule-books and ping gobbets of time waltz with my Associations and special equipment paranoia”, they have blatantly broken and torn hamstrings, we also play the rules of the Taxi Journey game - many more subtle games, known as although they may be abiding by the “mind games”. These are generally re- rules of the Budding Surrealist Hop- garded as being less fun, and certainly ing For A Grant From the Arts Council less sportsmanlike, than, say, rounders game. In this situation you may choose or kickboxing, yet have proven im- either to consider the game a forfeit mensely popular, especially with cou- and throw them out of your cab, or to ples, who are often immersed in mind “play them at their own game” by driv- games even when they ought to be ing them to the pomegranate planet concentrating on doing the shopping of unreason and charging them four or walking the dog or not screwing up nightmares and a goldfish. You might their kids. even get a grant yourself. So much so that an official (Interestingly, if someone gets into version is expected to hit the shelves your bed and you say “Where to?” and this Christmas. It will automate the they reply “Walthamstow”, then you’re previously vague points-scoring sys- playing another game entirely, even tem and play appropriate celebratory though exactly the same conversa- sound effects with flashing LEDs when tion transpired as in the first scenario particularly spectacular moves are we considered. This raises fascinating THe games peopLe pLay completed, such as the risky “You’d do questions about the effects of context it if you loved me” manoeuvre or a on the implied rules of games with The temptations of the game are daily burned down by Chartist mobs, successful response to the “What do identical content, and even more everywhere. When we’re not carving stolen by lowlifes or simply fell down you mean by that?” gambit. fascinating questions about your increasingly irritated numerals into because they were rubbish), consum- personal life.) Sudoku grids, we’re trying to think of ing a small quantity of thin gruel and Another important human activity a nine letter word for ‘sock’, and when then heading out to the local tavern to which has been regarded as a game One thing that distinguishes lan- we’re not massacring our children knock back eighteen pints of adulterat- is our use of language, particularly by guage from most games is that it is at Grand Theft Auto we’re prancing ed ale, get into a fight and be knocked the later Wittgenstein (but not by the usually engaged in for some external around our living rooms clutching a unconscious for half an hour before early Wittgenstein, who had just wo- purpose, not just for the sport of it. You Wii or participating in board games having to get up for work again. ken up so was far too grumpy to talk don’t go into the greengrocer’s merely which shackle our self-esteem to our about games). Language does share for a bracing round of Haggling For capacity for remembering terrible pop Now we have more free time than some features in common with games Parsnips, and then home for another songs from 1987. our ancestors would have known what - it can be used playfully, competi- hungry evening without parsnips. The to do with, we can really enjoy it by tively and according to particular sets parsnips are key. It’s something to do with our not playing relaxing online games which of rules in different contexts. For ex- having to work twenty hour shift down simulate the simplicity of an earlier ample, if someone gets into your taxi Perhaps we could try to see the ul- t’pit anymore. Back in the day, our age, such as the ever-popular “Twenty and you say “Where to?” and they reply terior benefits of our language games recreation consisted of trudging the Hours Down T’Pit”, now featuring add- “Walthamstow” then you are playing as trophies, prizes for our mastery of fifteen miles back to our rude hovels, ons for Trudging, Hovel Construction, the Taxi Journey game. However, if language gamesmanship, thus render- rebuilding our rude hovels (which were Gruel and Brawling. someone gets into your taxi and you ing the purchase of a bus ticket or a treadmill job in customer service just a little more exciting. Or perhaps a game where conversations start at the end, with decisions made or tears IvF Is TurnIng me InTo a paedopHILe shed, and work back to greetings and awk- We’re all aware of the game ‘would beauties lined up for me to sleep with But if language is a game, isn’t there a ward small talk. Or a language game where you rather.’ It has a simple format - would (along with a pre op shemale), but also danger of stifling conformity creeping in? To every statement draws upon the rich seam of you rather a or b? The fun in the game that due to biology the choice is often succeed, you must “play the game”, do the wisdom and imagery contributed to our cul- comes from choosing two options that quite difficult. Sure, if I head back to same as everybody else, only better. Well, ture by the vintage sit-com “Open All Hours”? you’d rather not do – would you rather Aldershot, the thirteen year difference why not express yourself by making up your The only limit is your vocabulary. suck the sweaty goodness from a tramps between mother and daughter presents own games? Other people are sure to be pants, when he’s just finished a mara- a fairly easy choice, until the daughter drawn into your new language games so And just think, if you pep up your lan- thon (the run, not the eighties chocolate hits at least their late teens. If you head long as you make them fun enough (either guage game, you won’t have to waste so bar) or lick out the nose of Pete Doherty, to Hampstead though or the baby boom- that or you’ll be regarded as clinically insane much playtime on other recreations, so you’ll when he’s decided to resolve a heavy ing Hearn Hill, where first time mothers cold, with a coke fuelled binge in heav- are reaching their mid to late thirties, the and studied with clipboards, depending on increase your free time enormously. You ily dry iced room, before being given choice between a fifteen year old what sort of crowd you run with). What about might even get some work done. a bloody nose by a passing paparazzi daughter and her fifty three year old a language game where every third syllable (granted Doherty could probably be mother is slightly more tricky and thus must be the name of a fruit, and every eighth Emma Russell juggles the used for both rathers.) the fun in the game. syllable must be the name of a musical in- complementary pursuits of coding strument, which your opponent must then When playing this game it’s para- On January 17th 2005 Adriana imitate during his next utterance, whilst eat- and stain glass - check out her site: mount that every option is considered Iliescu, a Romanian lecturer, gave birth to ing the relevant fruit salad? holyfool.co.uk in some detail, visualising each scenario twins. Now this isn’t a remarkable fact in and assuming that when you finally by itself, but, by the magic of IVF, Adriana reach the doors of hell, you will have to had become a mother at the age of 67. enact all of the answers you have given. Now I’m not going to state that I’m not It can reveal quite a lot about someone’s a paedophile, solely because whenever personality, should certainly be used in I hear people say ‘I’m not a …’ it tends job interviews and I don’t believe you to be followed by a story or view that truly know someone until you know demonstrates that they clearly are … I whether they’d rather sleep with a have snogged a thirteen year old before beautiful shemale, who was pre op or a in a bar, when I was of legal age, but lesbian who’d taken so much testoster- that was more down to mood lighting, a one she looked 100% male, but still had few drinks and the belief that she was at a heavenly highway. The game is great least 17. Romania is a place I know well for long journeys, drinking games etc. and often visit, but that’s going to have etc, but there’s no real point in playing it to stop. I can’t risk being faced with the by yourself. choice between a ten year old and a 77 year old, a fourteen year old and an 81 When I’m bored and people watch- year old. I honestly don’t know what I’d ing, instead I play a similar game called choose, especially as whatever I chose, I’ll ‘higher or lower.’ It only works with no doubt go straight to hell for it, where mothers and daughters or fathers and of course I’d then have to enact with my sons and you have to decide who you chosen lucky lady! would rather sleep with. The beauty of the game is not only the knowledge that David Hellard is single and available to when I head to hell I will have a bevy of book for children’s parties BIOSHOCK VIDEO COMPUTER SYSTEM GAME PROGRAM 1 PLAY TRAVEL TO UNDERWATER CITY COLLECT ADAM, EVE & MONEY MODE WATCH OUT FOR BIG DADDY 1 PLAYER AT A TIME USING DUAL ANALOG CONTROLLER ATARI MODERN CLASSICS THE MINUSWORLD.COM InTervIeW WITH THe-mInus WorLd.Com Does Drugs” jokes. tance between your bed and your laptop. They’re the guys behind the popular that video game journalism had become Atari modern classic game covers you too serious for itself and that there was Can you tell us a bit about the background Have you ever got into trouble for something to the site and yourselves? you’ve published on the site? might have seen doing the rounds on the way too much inherent hilarity in this web recently (see above - and our cover!) medium to go ignored. The core group of us here are mostly com- Not really, but we’re trying as hard as we can. Their site is packed with very funny and Somebody needed to drag things Our favorite moments are when we catch often very impressively-designed pixelly into the spotlight and remind gamers prised of disgruntled graphic artists and some e-rage from a commenter who didn’t spoofs and they took time out of their that the big picture is about having fun. writers who wanted to break off on their realise a “news story” was fake and that he’s busy retro-gaming schedule to talk to us. The site name an odd reference to a own and start something original. Some- reading a comedy site, even though it’s bla- Meet The -Minus World. glitch-world in the original Super Mario thing we were all passionate about. tantly labeled as such. Bros. The name became a metaphor for For anybody out there stuck in the How did the-minusworld start up? our sites’ focus: exist on a completely cubicle with a great idea, we urge you to do What kind of things tend to be the most Where does the name come from? different and disruptive sub-level to the the same. It’s liberating, empowering and popular? usually comfortable method of tackling you can work in your pyjamas. It’s nice when The site started with the basic notion gaming. Plus “Little Mac From Punch-Out your morning commute consists of the dis- Spontaneity is something we pride ourselves in, but the more we grow, the more our jokes, too. sible. The Atari Modern Classics piece, video game journalism approach to we understand what people tend to What are the best and worst sug- for example, took around 3 hours per just walk away and leave gamers bored gravitate to more frequently. Making gestions you’ve been sent in by ‘the completed image. Picture meticulous and sleeping at their keyboards. This children’s activity books out of violent public’? attention to detail getting in bed with industry is about entertainment at its games is one of our signature trade- The best? We hired one of our blog- rampant insanity and you’ve got our core, and ultimately, retaining that is marks. We also love to mesh the worlds gers instantly based on an article pitch work ethic down to a T. more important to us than anything. of video game characters with reality about Lego movie-based video games and emphasize their struggles. Some- That’s why we never forget that that need to be made and the article do you have any plans for the site in gaming is supposed to be entertain- body should be looking out for them, was a big hit. The worst? We got a the future? ment, first and foremost. But even right? butchered, typo-ridden trainwreck of We’re not stopping anytime soon, if when it gets serious, we want to be an email from a “writer” who said she’d ever. We’re way too against the typical around to remind people that it can Looking at pixel parodies it seems lose her apartment if we didn’t hire like some of these games are more her on the spot. Hopefully her current than distant memories to you. do Check out more of their work at the-minusworld.com cardboard box mansion is comfy and you guys play a lot of retro games in we wish her all the best. your spare time? We’re pretty rabid classic gaming fe- are you worried about the new tishists at heart and on a night of great prince of persia film? do you think accomplishment, you can catch us Jake gyllenhall will be able to do the winding down with a complete co-op slidey foot thing? playthrough of Bubble Bobble or the Extremely worried. Then again, his original Contra. Obviously, we instantly sister banged Batman, so maybe a fell in love with Mega Man 9, despite magnetic attraction to death defying how much it tries to kick our asses. acrobatics runs in the fam. I saw the letter from pacman to namco and it made me cry a bit. What do you think of the new wave What do you think of those joysticks of mario games, super mario galaxy etc? that you plug into your telly? If our website had a girlfriend, we Anything that gets modern gamers to would cheat on her to be with Super respect the roots of what made their Mario Galaxy. It’s that good. favorite facet of entertainment cool gets a thumbs up from us. Every child How long does it take you to work should experience the gaming golden up one of these images? era before they jump into Halo Laser A lot of gaming blogs use public art as- Eye Surgery 3D Projector VIII so that sets to illustrate their articles but we’re they can learn from the its humble much more hands on and like to high- lineage. They’d understand more of light original artwork as often as pos- parLour games of a category of concepts known as ‘oxy- nation of Rohypnol, scrumpy and phero- hootenanny or shindig, remember to take morons’. mones and lock them in a cellar together? with you a jumbo bag of tea lights (avail- If needs be, I’ll play chess. I could prob- Or hold a weekly Fight Club in the village able from Ikea) and one of those pump- ably learn to like bridge if I could begin hall for friends and neighbours to over- action water bottles for misting the leaves to grasp what was going on in the typical come their natural shyness and reticence of plants. game. But no part of me will ever experi- in an atmosphere of cathartic bare-knuck- ence an urge to doodle competitively, At the first hint of organised fun, led bloodletting? excuse yourself for a trip to the loo, locate whisper anything to anyone on cue, or divest myself of all dignity or discretion as And if that works out, can this impa- the fuse box for the house and apply a part of some scheme to break hypothetical tience with the natural pace of events few determined squirts of atomised H20. social ice. be profitably applied in other areas? For In the subsequent blackout you’ll need instance, who has the patience to listen to come up with your own story as to I suppose to the careless observer, to a hushed TV commentator announce why you happen to have a hundred little quiet conversation seems awfully reserved the appearance of a hesitant badger on candles in your possession, but any of and perhaps superficial. I mean, how can the grainy, light-enhanced footage of a the twinkling circles of light cast by the Consider these phrases: “Darling, I’m you really know what someone’s made of unexpectedly pregnant,” and “Not so fast. hidden camera? Let’s bulldoze the tops off dozens of tiny flames provide the ideal until you see them pass a tennis ball to a those badger sets and haul the buggers atmosphere in which to recount your I’ll need to see your papers,” and “I thought stranger using only their chins? rather than relax among friends we could out by the scruffs of their necks on a nice formative experiences in tornado-ravaged all play a game.” Depending on your view- But as far as defining or revealing situ- sunny day so that we can get a proper Oklahoma where travelling with a boot point, you may find some or all of these ations go, this is pretty weak stuff. If you look at them. full of tinned beans and kerosene lamps phrases chilling. Or not. For instance, if can’t bear new relationships to take their Likewise, why not combine newspa- was considered very much the norm. you’ve been secretly hoping to start a fam- gentle and sedate course, then at least per obituaries with personal ads? “The Or you could recall how even exten- ily and you’re such a fan of a well-regulated contrive a really effective way to strip all dearly departed leaves behind a devoted sive de-programming hasn’t quite erased society that you wouldn’t want anyone social veneer from the human psyche. Sign wife of twenty years (GSOH, non-smoker, the effects of five years in a survivalist cult. to be allowed to flee elsewhere, yourself up your party guests for a tour of duty in WLTM professional gentleman, ideally The danger here, of course, is all manner included, then you’ll probably find the first Iraq, for instance. Or arrange a sailing trip with probate experience.)” of follow-up questions and background two utterances reasonably comforting. around the coast of Australia and scup- In fact this instant-results-oriented queries, which if you’re not very careful But you’ll still have trouble with that per the boat in shark-riddled waters. Lead might lead to an evening of story-telling third one, surely. After all, don’t people get a doomed expedition to the Antarctic for approach to the gradual unfolding of life’s little ups and downs has already given and conversation, with the party frag- together for the purpose of flirting and a group of old friends from work and/or menting into numerous intimate little gossiping and catching up and getting to university and see what a few months of us gardening shows which avoid any need for nurture or the unhurried turn groups, each no bigger than the range of know each other better and creating new frostbite and surviving on raw seal blubber a handful of candle flames. friendships, as opposed to, say, attempt- does for any lingering standoffishness. of the seasons and instead hammer in a ing to mime the phrase One Flew Over the few hundred pre-grown shrubs while the And if that prospect suddenly seems What I haven’t figured out is whether Cuckoo’s Nest in under a minute to a drunk the impulse to create socially undignified homeowner is at the shops. And it can’t daunting you can always hedge your bets stranger. be long now before Time Team takes a by also carrying around a few battery- situations for fun is a form of bullying or leaf out of Brainiac’s book to produce an powered floodlights and a thunderously You see, ‘games’ – at least the ones that simply comes from a well-meaning over- involve groups of people combined with a correction when faced with the prospect archaeology show with its own resident high-end karaoke machine. strong theatrical element – are really just of a lacklustre gathering. Is it simply impa- explosives expert. one subset of activities known collectively tience? In which case, should you go one But it’s possible to fight back. Next rob Jones lives in the Cotswolds and as ‘organised fun’ – which in turn are part better and dose your guests with a combi- time you’re invited to a dinner party, writes thrillers. his calls and knee him in the balls if he tried they look glassy-eyed and scary to me, to sleep with you on the 53rd date. It was a like members of some cult. A month or so fascist, reactionary doctrine claiming to be a ago Ellen Fein managed to nab herself an- solution to a problem that we all recognise: other victim, sorry husband, using her tried men generally don’t like women who like and tested rules. She’s married (again). And them. Did you ever play kiss chase in the I’m not. playground at school? That is what modern dating is like. If you like a guy and try to go But somehow I feel the better person as kiss him, he’ll run away screaming. Okay, at least I know that when I do find a man it’ll he won’t, he’ll kiss you back, shag you and be not through game-playing but through never call you again in case you invoice him sheer bloody-mindedness. And we can all for services rendered. admire and applaud that. Admittedly some women (aka me) do Any potential husbands can send in a CV to have a tendency toward stalking that can Tania via her website taniaahsan.com be reigned in by adhering to ‘The Rules’ but all that pent up “Why hasn’t he asked me marry him yet? We’re already at the mains course of the first dinner date. What a time-waster!” aggression has to come out somewhere. Surely it is better that us crazy women stay single and psycho than that we give the impression that we’re unattainable sane people only to ensnare some poor bastard who then has to spend the rest of his life acting like that cat in THe games oF Love the Pepe le Pew cartoons? “Two weeks later, I was In the game of love, if you don’t play Rules for Marriage: Time-Tested Secrets I am ashamed to admit that I tried screeching down the you won’t win. Tania Ahsan rolls the for Making Your Marriage Work’ was the rules out on my lukewarm fiancé phone at him about not dice and lands on some home truths released; yes, most people guffawed at the time. The two weeks I did the being committed and and said unkind things. However, the rules was the two weeks that he was calling off the engage- Just over a decade ago, the publish- ladies brought it upon themselves. The most loving, attentive and fiancé-like ment and going out ing world happened upon the phenom- Rules was probably the most heinous, toward me. Of course it didn’t last be- to get a crew cut enon that was ‘The Rules’. This book evil thing to be published in the 1990s cause – like a faddy diet – you simply hairstyle etc” was a precursor to such weighty tomes (unless you count the Satanic collabora- can’t do the rules forever so you go as ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ and the tion that was The Celestine Prophecy); back to cakes and pies and undo all catchily-titled ‘The Player’s Handbook women were encouraged to play games the weight loss and then some. So two Volume I: Pickup and Seduction Secrets to win a man and there were instruc- weeks later, I was screeching down the for Men Who Love Women & Sex (And tions on what to do to trick and manip- phone at him about not being com- Want More of Both)’. ulate him into marrying you. mitted and calling off the engagement and going out to get a crew cut hair- The Rules was written by Ellen Fein In 1995 many young women start- style etc. and Sherrie Schneider. Ellen Fein sub- ed doing the rules. Suddenly the way sequently went through a very messy to express how much you liked a guy The only people who can perpetu- divorce just as their sequel book ‘The was to ignore him studiously, not return ally do the rules are the authors and peTer FLeTCHer’s geek mIsery memoIr I think it was for my eighth birth- day Night Fry that I have just listened to to the weekend video club meetings day that I received a pair of binoculars. on YouTube first entered my conscious- that clustered in the outer lying suburbs, They were not toy binoculars but proper ness over half a life ago. and so I was excluded from the informal grown-up binoculars, hefty, with a binoc- It is the fate of binoculars never quite education of Escape from New York, or ulary smell. Naturally I was very pleased to live up to the excitement that their The Life of Brian, or Porkies, and from the with them, but I was also distracted by acquisition generates. They are in this Monday conversations as the retelling two items that I found in the box. respect very much at the same end of the lubricated and reinforced the social net- works of the video-owning classes. postscript The first was a small sachet of gran- toy box as spy kits and invisible ink pens, ules which ate moisture that would oth- or walkie-talkies, wherein their potential I once forced my way into one of these My parents are now almost com- erwise get inside the lenses and spoil is never fully realisable in the eight-year- sessions one afternoon by resolutely pletely retired – my father has a part-time them. I would of course go on to encoun- old universe. Who is to be spied on, what staying on the bus as the others talked job as a tour guide at Mother Shipton’s ter many more of these granules over the secrets are to be encrypted, who will hear excitedly of a trip to the video shop, and Cave in Knaresborough, and my mother years, in leather goods, in the packaging my over-and-out? It doesn’t matter. The then more or less just following them is the pre-recorded voice of Mother Ship- of gadgetry, even in drawers, but this function of these playthings is not to be ton that you hear if you press the but- home. They didn’t seem to mind, but the was my first exposure to them. You never found in their use, but in the giving and ton when you go inside the cave itself video that we shared was King Frat, forget the first time. the receiving, and in the first heady mo- (“I’m not a witch”, she cackles, putting and I always got off the bus at my own ments of possession. you in fear of your toes). In any case, they The idea of these moisture eat- stop after that. have quite a bit of time on their hands ing granules intrigued me, as did the Those childhood years of Action Man I was further deprived of the natural which they occupy with pastimes typical thought that moisture might get inside and espionage were rich and fun, but as recourse of the awkward and excluded amongst those of their generation - bits the lenses and ruin the binoculars. Where a teenager I was deprived. Attending a teenage male, as our house contained of gardening, DIY, medium length walks did this moisture come from? But what school alongside fifteen hundred boys, neither computer nor computer games - you know the sort of thing. My father is fascinated me more than the granules, my only exposure to girls were the console. Actually strictly speaking it had a helpful and jolly fellow, and will often perhaps more than the binoculars tantalising glimpses through the bus contained a ZX81, but once I had combine earnest nature study (befitting themselves, was the other item, the five or car window as the traffic inched its deployed the customary two line program a man with A levels in both botany and year guarantee. way up the Palatine Road, the whining zoology) with popping round to a friend’s to fill the left-hand part of the TV with my I was eight years old, and this felt to school-boy, with his satchel and shining house to help them, say, hang a picture. name, the device lost its novelty and was me like a ridiculously exuberant promise morning face, creeping like snail unwill- Thus it was that a while ago my mother put aside. For some reason this dipping of from the manufacturers, a Lifetime Guar- ingly to school. Shining with grease and on inspecting my father’s knapsack was the toe into the lukewarm waters of early antee in all but name, and it made me spots, of course. horrified to discover that it contained ‘80s home computer did not progress into dizzy. Looking forward in time as an eight I was not even able to take solace the more fruitful areas of Spectrum, Com- simply a pair of binoculars and a hammer, year old I was holding the binoculars the in technology, as the other boys did. modore 64, or even Atari. Space Invaders, and that he had apparently been walking wrong way round, time stretching out Our household budget somehow never Pac-Man and Defender were therefore around the village for several days, impossibly in front of me. Reversing the stretched to one of the VCRs that were holiday amusement arcade treats only, cheerfully innocent of the sinister inter- perspective as I prepare to enter middle laid out, with their gaping cassette trays, pretation that might be put on this but my lack of practice meant that these age, the telescopic lenses have a fore- in the Littlewoods catalogue. This, com- rudimentary cargo. machines just ate my money, and I always shortening effect, as, for example, I blink- bined with my relative geographical Peter Fletcher continues his sad life on felt more comforted by the capitalist al- ingly realise that those episodes of Satur- isolation, meant that I was never invited legories of the coin nudging cascades. joyfeed.com Dan O’Brien writes Oblomovka.com, co-produced the hibernating newsletter NTK.net and is a well-known digital rights campaigner, currently working for the EFF. Dan offered this article for a zine your editor made years ago that never got off the ground.
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