Monday, August 31, 2009

"Would You Like To Play A Game?"


It was the President Madagascar meme which first put me on to Pandemic 2 - a free online Flash game in which you play the part of a global pandemic, with the aim being to wipe out humanity as quickly as possible. The joke is that Madagascar has only a single seaport as a point of entry in the game, and the government there is extremely quick to shut off all communications before your virus arrives. For the record, I have yet to win the game, although I did manage to wipe out everyone apart from Japan, New Zealand, and (of course) Madagascar.

The topicality of the game put me in mind of a text-only game from the 1980s - which I cannot find mentioned anywhere on the internet - which allowed you to simulate a nuclear exchanged between the US and USSR. It did a very nice job of re-creating the mindset of MAD: launch everything you have at everything they have in the first wave, and hope that you still have something left at the end to technically make you the winner.

It also made me think that topicality in games was something that we didn't have for quite a while. In the glory days of the British computer game industry in the 1980s we had plenty, with Harrier Attack and Wanted: Monty Mole springing to mind. I suppose the small size of games then made it easy to produce them quickly, while events were still recent. As game have gotten more complex, the development time has increased markedly. Flash games seem to have provided a new way of producing things quickly, though.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Academic Comedy

Yesterday brought the revelation that my internal examiner is a big fan of BBC Three's not-as-good-as-Boosh-or-Conchords-but-still-good-fun comedy We Are Klang. This is funny both because he himself reminds me a lot of the guy in it who plays the teacher in The Inbetweeners, and because I suspect the programme represents his view of the department.

There's also the matter of this little gem on prehistoric art from my external examiner's 2007 book:

And the men are usually phallic. Why? Presumably not because they fought battles in that state; apart from the obvious discomfort and impracticality, one would think it would be physically impossible to sustain such a state during combat (it seems unlikely that experimental archaeology will come to our aid in this instance).
He wasn't that bleedin' funny in the viva, let me tell you.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Don't You...

I think I first saw The Breakfast Club when I was about 15, which is probably the perfect age at which to do so. A few years later, when I was at university, I forced some of my friends to watch it. They didn't get it, I still did. These things stay with you: I'm considering re-creating the Judd-Nelson-on-the-football-field pose here in Liverpool when I finally get the thesis re-submitted.

It's easy to get caught up in the 80s nostalgia element of the John Hughes films, but they're more than that. I reckon they're streets ahead of most films made for a teenage audience today, at any rate.