We Want Our Tea Back! 12.17.03

So this is what I get for not proofreading my columns once they get posted. I had a whole nice slab of commentary that was supposed to accompany last week’s column, but it got… lost somehow. No idea on the cause…. I blame Pankonin, ’cause everybody else seem to (KIDDING! Except about the everybody-else-blames-him part). Anyway, I apologise. not that anybody really cares, but anyway. Apologising makes me feel better.

So, this week, you get last week’s commentary, along with the usual bits’n’bobs… Thus I get more time for my programming assignments and my Black-Ops (which will carry on apace, just as soon as I can actually find where my blog is supposed to be… The URL is hiding ATM)

Well, on with the show. First up, I saw the third LOTR film today (Wednesday)… Better than the second, probably better than the first. Deeper thoughts will be Blacklogged at a later date once I’ve seen it another couple of times.

NEXT!!!

Gaming News

Or rather not. Turns out there’s naff-all going on in the UK gaming scene except the crowning of the national Halo champion.

UK Release Dates

Nintendo have spilt some beans on some future UK release dates. Here they ar3e

Gamecube

World Racing – TDK : January 2004
James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing – EA : 20th February 2004
Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life – Natsume/ Ubisoft : 15th February 2004
Kirby Air Ride – Nintendo : 26th February 2004
Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles – Nintendo : 11th March 2004
Spawn Armageddon – Namco/EA : 5th March 2004
R: Racing – Namco/EA : 19th March 2004
Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes – Konami : March 2004
Scooby Doo! Mystery Mahem – THQ : March 2004
Sonic Heroes – SEGA : Q1 2004
Puyo Pop Fever – SEGA : Q1 2004
Pokémon Channel – Nintendo : April 2004
Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour – Nintendo : Q2 2004
Pokémon Colosseum – Nintendo : Q2 2004
Phantasy Star Online III: C.A.R.D Revolution – SEGA : Q2 2004

GBA

Need for Speed Underground – EA : 16th January 2004
Yu-Gi-Oh! The Sacred Cards – Konami : 30th January 2004
Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town – Natsume/ Ubisoft : 15th February 2004
Sword of Mana – Nintendo : 18th March 2004
Sabre Wolf – THQ March : 2004
Sonic Battle – SEGA/ THQ : Q1 2004
Metroid Zero Mission – Nintendo : April 2004
Donkey Kong Country 2 – Nintendo : Q2 2004
F Zero 2 – Nintendo : Q2 2004
Boktai: The Sun is in Your Hand – Konami : Q2 2004
Shining Soul 2 – SEGA/THQ : Q2 2004

Well, it looks like I won’t be able to get Pokemon Channel, since I’ll be saving my student loan for Colosseum and Crystal Chronicles. Probably Shining Soul 2 as well. But see how late they all are? Once again, UK gets the shaft. and people wonder why there’s no real gaming news over here.

Credit: cubed-3.co.uk

Hrmn, what’s next? Ah yes…

Let Slip The Pimps Of War

Lucard is catching up for lost time. You’ve probably read him already, but if not, here’s here, here and here. I recommend the third one most, ‘cuase hew’s actually willing to put aside his Anti-England bias and say something nice about me for once

Hail the Return Of The Platt No more thumbs, but the best is yet to come.

Lee is doing a re-org. Come read the Last Otaku.

Cory and Fred are done with education. I’m fed up that I have another year and a half of hard graft left before I can start doing military research projects.

Alex W is WORLD-CLASS. It’s official. so read him ’cause you know you want to.

It’s Ron! Back from the dead? Back from hiatus? Back away slowly and carefully? Only one way to find out…

Damn, I need something else now. There’s never an International Sports Tournament around when you need one….

Commentary

It has been said that the true impact of a medium can only be seen in the inspirational impact it has on the world around it. If this is true, what sort of inspiration has video gaming provided elsewhere? And we’re not counting the tendency of programmers to “take inspiration” (or “steal brazenly”) from other games, either.

Perhaps the most obvious occasion where games and gaming have influenced other media is in the visual sphere, particularly with regard to films. Recent efforts like Tomb Raider (and I so wish I didn’t have to mention that one) are the successors to films like Streetfighter (ugh) and Mortal Kombat (surprisingly good). In Japan, the phenomenon is even more pronounced; anime movies and series based on video games can be huge business (the SF2 Animated Movie, for example; Wow!).

It’s also well-known that in Japan, many amateur writers/artists will utilise characters from video games and draw their own stories based upon them. In recent years, this trend has been carried online, with the rise of web-comics allowing a far wider distribution of a small-scale product. Examples of this “borrowing” a game or series for inspiration would be 8-Bit Theater and Secret Of Mana Theater. However, the inspiration does not stop there; even if the focus is not directly derived from a game, gaming in general can still provide the central focus (Ctrl+Alt+Del being a good example). Finally, sometimes, gaming is side-bar (but an important one) to the main themes (cf Megatokyo, where gaming is a part both Piro and Largo’s lives, but in different ways).

A far less mainstream avenue of inspiration is found in an audio context. Game music, when well-composed, can be a beautiful thing, so it’s no surprise that some musicians will take tracks and sample or remix them. Sadly, this happens very rarely in the UK (the most notable one was 10 years ago, when a dance music DJ sampled the A-Type music from Tetris on the Gameboy), but it happens in Japan far more, and there is always the hope that someone will release something over here.

Another, more well-known avenue which gaming can inspire, is of course the written word. One need only type the words “Fan Fiction” into Google, followed by the name of a well-known video game series, to see the extent to which gaming can play Muse to aspiring writers. Whether it be additional back-story to a Shining Force game, or an untold tale of Pikachu’s adventures, game-inspired writing is all around. And that’s to say nothing of the more factual style of writing to be found in Lucard’s and LiquidCross’ histories of Shining Force and Mega Man respectively.

Why should this be so? I think that answer is related to the comment I made a few weeks ago about the Art Of Gaming. People may often find inspiration in something they consider “beautiful” or “worthwhile”, because they look at it and they see what they like, and they take part of that away with them and use it in their own work. Or, perhaps, it’s related to the freeing of the mind; when one plays a video game, while the motor cortex and senses are hard at work playing, the creative areas are allowed to wander free, to more interesting places; the places where inspiration is found. Perhaps in the end, it’s just a matter of gaming offering people a way to open their minds to the little particles of inspiration whizzing through the universe that just sometimes happen to intersect with a person’s brain (joke copyright Terry Pratchett)

Well, brains is squeezed of creative juices for now. So I’ll thank my own muses for this piece, my friend Chris and my girlfriend Vikki, and I’ll bid you all a fond farewell until the next time. I’m off to waste time playing video games find inspiration for my next column. Peace!