We Want Our Tea Back! 11.12.03

Greetings, my excellent friends. It’s Tea-Time once more, and there’s much to be said. Shall we continue?

As usual, it’s the Rugby

Well, looks like I called it right down the middle. Full credit to the Welsh, who pulled out all the stops and gave us something to think about. But despite what the Australians would have you believe, I still think we can beat the French and make the final. Never underestimate the power of years of national enmity. Australia/NZ is a hard one to call; two teams who know each other well, both fine teams, but perhaps not the powerhouses they once were. I have to call New Zealand to edge this one.

England vs New Zealand in the finals. You heard it here first!

Gaming news

Yeah, as if. Sorry folks, but there’s nothing of interest at all. The release of Mario Kart: Double Dash is about as good as it gets (which is pretty darn good news, just old).

THIS JUST IN!!!

In the absence of Lucard, I proclaim myself 411 PokeGod. If he wants the job back, he’ll have to battle for it :D

Pokemon Colosseum. New trailer. Woohoo!

In all seriousness, this movie just confirms just about everything I ever wanted in a Pokemon game. The graphics are amazing, the battles are being taken to the next level, and from the looks of things, the story’s going to be compelling. Oh, and finally, there’s a lead character who looks [i]really[/i] cool. Which is a nice change. UK release some time next year, and I can’t wait.

ECW Spotlight

The Temple Ov Thee Lemur. Techie humour comes in many ways, shapes, forms and flavours. This is a very British variant, courtesy of some very bored Southampton techies. See the results of some Largo-style 3xtrm3 b33r c00L1ng, or scan yourself to check for meme-virii, or examine the difference between US and UK Mars bars; whatever you want, it’s all right there, served up with masses of high-sarcasm British humour.

P1|\/|p0rZ

Cory comes up with the goods again. You’d never know he’d borrowed the Phone-It-In Machine.

Alex2 is still doing double-time. Give the guy credit, and hits.

Lee is playing lots of games. This is both good and bad. Read him, find out why.

Fred takes the mark of Kain, and anticipates a new Legacy.

Chuck has my inner Physicist worried about what happens when a Feud and an Anti-Feud come into contact.

Commentary

Games over the years have been called many things. Entertainment, hobbies, technological marvels, “kiddie cocaine” All kinds o’stuff. Noticeably absent from the range of comments is one which is getting ever more valid: Art. On the face of it, that might be a no-brainer: Pretty graphics = good, right? Yes, but that’s not all.

It’s true, certainly, that many games nowadays are what could easily be considered graphical works of art. As each new generation of systems comes around, developers can do ever more innovative and beautiful stuff. The old adage of ‘This generation’s cut-scenes are the standard of the next generation’s graphics’ was never truer than now: I look at the trailer for Pokemon Colosseum, and I think how far those graphics have some since Pokemon Stadium 1 for the N64; It’s breathtaking. So why is it that games so rarely get given the credit they should for being so pretty? Is it because “they’re video games, so it doesn’t count”?? From what I’ve seen, that sounds about right. It shouldn’t do, but it does.

But wait, there’s more. Graphics are all well and good, of course, but without sound, there’s nothing. And again, games have stepped up to the bar and vaulted it from a standing position time and again. There’s a reason why video game soundtracks seem to sell better in Japan than film ones; because the in-game music for a new RPG is, 99 times out of 100, going to be leagues better than any film scores available. And it’s not just RPGs, either: any great-sounding game can be easily justified as musical art. And don’t let anybody tell you they can “hear the artificiality of it”; it might have been true once, but not anymore, especially in this modern age of heavy post-production: Everything’s digital now. You hear an orchestral score playing, and you’re not going to know if it’s a classical music CD or a the soundtrack to a new game.

Still more? Oh yes. Consider for a moment what *really* makes a game. Yup, that’s right: Gameplay. It’s what it’s all about. And if a company can make a game that’s amazing to play, that in itself is a form of art. Programming is art in much the same way as sculpture is; you build something from scratch, and attempt to make it worthwhile. Whether it’s an image of a great war hero, or the new Mario game, the sculptors take their materials (be it stone, marble, or code tags), apply their tools (hammer, chisel, computer, compiler) and create something amazing. At the end, the product is there to be observed or played, accordingly. If it’s been sculpted well, it will be pleasing. It’s art in a pure form.

One parting thought, as well: It’s not just the game. The art can also be found in the playing. To watch world-class gamers facing off in Tekken, Mario Kart, or whatever, is to find the same art that can be found in a well-crafted martial arts display. Or a ballet. Or a well-presented play. Or any number of things.

Art is everywhere. Just because people don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. My encouragement to you is this: Next time you start your console, appreciate the fact that you have, in your home, a platform upon which great works of art can be made. And be glad of it.

And that’s me outta here. Keep it real, keep feeding back. And I’m gone.