Player character identification in video games is one of those topics which academia seemingly loves. There are reams and reams of papers dedicated to the subject. I’m never scared to dumb things down here at Dirty Feed, however, so let’s ludicrously simplify things. How I identify with a player character comes in two forms: they’re either not me… or they are me.
In Final Fantasy IX, I am Zidane, a cheeky chappy with a ludicrous tail who discovers he is an Angel of Death. In I-0, I am Tracy Valencia, with all the added anatomy and latent lesbian tendencies that part requires. On the other hand, in a game like Angband, I’m creating a character from scratch, not taking the role of a pre-existing character with their own story – and I tend to think of that character as an extension of myself.
With a life simulation game like Animal Crossing, it’s even more clear-cut. Sure, the world is absolute fantasy, full of talking animals: but I’m still called John. I can wear the kind of clothes I wear in real life, furnish my house like I would if I had endless money and wasn’t a lazy bastard. I’m not playing a part: that character running around on the screen is me.
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■ Posted 20th November 2013 @ 5pm in Gaming. No Comments Yet.
CLERK: Gordon Welsley Brittas, you are charged that you did on the 13th of November 1992 murder Julio Escobido, Eduardo Ramierz, Juan Mendosa, Robert Penchard, Ian Trahern – also known as Big Gary – and Raymond Watts… That you did have in your possession controlled drugs of class A, namely five kilos of heroin and an unknown quantity of amphetamines, contrary to Section 4 of the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971.. and that you did unlawfully cause Grevious Bodily Harm to Alice Whitely, Grace Beatty, Agnes Swinton and Doreen Lavern-Smith, all of the Whitbury New Town Sunshine Retirement Home, contrary to the Offences of the Person Act 1861.
When The Brittas Empire returned for its third series at the beginning of 1993, it clearly wanted to grab the viewer. Instead of Brittas merely sitting in his office about to start the snowball rolling on another day of calamity, it had him up in the dock on charges of GBH, drug possession, and a murder or six. For most shows, perhaps that would have been enough of an attention-grabbing opener.
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■ Posted 13th November 2013 @ 9pm in Best Of, Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.
On Friday, Challenge did the best thing since they acquired the rights to Knightmare again: the start of a repeat run of Les Dawson Blankety Blank episodes. I honestly – no joke, no exaggeration – count them as some of the best, funniest television ever made.
Sadly, take a look at the video above, taken from the end of the second episode. At 18 seconds in, I’m afraid I made an extraordinary noise.
To Challenge’s credit, they apologised – if only all TV stations would do that when things like this happened. Despite my childish headline, they get huge bonus points for that, and it’s something other channels could learn from. The problem is, it’s not even that unusual for programmes to be ruined in this fashion – and most of the time, there’s not a snifter of an apology.
So, a plea. To all television schedulers in this world – and, indeed, anyone who happens to pass an eye over end credit DVE offsets (they are generally scheduled these days, rather than an operator manually pressing a button) – please, please get this right. There is very little which hurts viewer experience more than misplaced credit shrinking over the final part – the climax – of a show. It absolutely kills it.
■ Posted 10th November 2013 @ 8pm in Television. No Comments Yet.
Two images of the Golden Gate Bridge. On the left, a fake picture posted by the Twitter account @HistoricalPics. On the right, the real picture which it took me all of two minutes to find.1
Unsurprisingly the account failed to post a correction, even with numerous people – myself included – pointing out that the image was fake. I say “unsurprisingly”, because the account smacks of the kind of thing that doesn’t care what it posts, as long as it continues to gain followers. The Twitter bio of the person who owns the account does nothing to dissuade that impression.
Let me be perfectly clear. If you post any kind of content to the internet – professional or amateur, paid or unpaid – and aren’t willing to post corrections when someone points out when you are wrong: you stink. Not only are you spreading misinformation rather than truth – the very opposite thing an account called “Historical Pics” should be doing – but you also come across as someone who is massively, massively insecure. You really think so little of yourself that posting the odd correction is just too much to bear?
That’s just… embarrassing.
■ Posted 27th October 2013 @ 5pm in Internet. No Comments Yet.
“On the 22nd Nov 93, an event was to happen of such earth-shattering proportions that it was to shatter the earth to its very proportions…”
Or maybe that should be 4th Apr 94. For that was the day Smashie and Nicey: The End of an Era was first broadcast on BBC1: a spoof documentary featuring your favourite loveable Radio Fab DJs… acting not quite so loveably. Not that “spoof documentary” feels like an adequate description for this trawl through four decades of British pop culture – which, with absolutely no hyperbole, is one of the funniest, most affecting, most beautifully made pieces of comedy I have ever seen. If Norbert Smith – a Life is the best thing Harry Enfield ever did solo, then this is the best work Enfield and Whitehouse produced together.
Following on from the broadcast, the special was released on VHS: and rather than just the usual odd bit of music substitution, it was actually an entirely different, longer edit – a full five minutes longer, in fact. If you know me or this site even slightly, you can probably see where this is leading. So join me now, as I detail every single last difference between the two versions – and if you never saw the VHS edit, enjoy some extra moments of pure joy.
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■ Posted 23rd October 2013 @ 1pm in Best Of, Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.
I’m sure nobody reading this needs a rant about what a dreadful company Wonga is. You can get that better elsewhere, and it’s not my speciality.
I do feel moved to comment on one of the ads in their latest campaign, though. Our three heroes (Betty, Earl and Joyce) have recently gone CGI, and had a bit of a personality revamp; Betty in particular has gone from being a bit of a grouch to being sweet and lovely, thereby taking away the single interesting thing about her in previous campaigns. But I digress.
The big idea in this ad is that Earl is pretending to do a magic trick: the phrase NO HIDDEN CHARGES fails to disappear. As Joyce irritatingly points out, that’s supposed to be the point – that Wonga aren’t hiding anything to do with their charges. A fairly tedious idea for an ad, but I suppose it gets the job done.
Except that they can’t quite stop with the idea of a failed magic trick. They need to add a bit of extra visual pizazz. So in the last few seconds, despite the point of the advert being that Wonga don’t hide anything, Earl manages to create a hidden rabbit from his hat. At the exact point where Joyce is saying the selling point of Wonga is that “there are no surprises”.
Not only does it ruin the their message, it actually manages to put across the exact opposite of the intended idea. The ad is now saying that Wonga will tell you that they don’t intend to give you any hidden charges, right up until the last minute – and then will land you with a big surprise right at the very end. The exact idea about the company that the ad was supposed to counter.
Brilliant Wonga, well done!
■ Posted 29th September 2013 @ 9am in Adverts. No Comments Yet.
In September 2005, me and a group of friends set up a site called Noise to Signal. Its initial inspiration was pretty much “Ganymede & Titan, but talking about other media things other than Red Dwarf“. We had so many plans for it. It was going to “rock”, as I believe the kids all say.
In December 2009, it closed. And once it closed, I never got round to converting it to a static website, as I’m a lazy shit. Eventually the inevitable happened: a couple of months ago, I got a complaint from my hosting company that someone had hacked it and was using it to send spam emails, so I was forced to take it offline. Today – after some appropriate nudging – I finally got round to fixing it, and the site is now back online.
Of all the projects I’ve been involved in, Noise to Signal is the one which always makes me feel a little sad. The site never reached its true potential. There were some great writers, posting some brilliant articles – and after shaky start and an early revamp, the design of the site really worked well. (I’m especially proud of that final design, now preserved as the archive.) But the site never quite… flew.
The question is why, of course, and I can only speak for myself. I came to the conclusion that the problem with NTS was that the remit was just too wide, and the tone inconsistent. By trying to cover everything, we ended up covering nothing well – there was very little consistency in the output. This would have been mitigated somewhat if we’d had a large quantity of output, but apart from a few busy months, we never quite reached critical mass. (I take a large amount of responsibility for that, especially in the site’s later years – I just plain didn’t write enough, and often didn’t write what I promised.)
Ganymede & Titan always had a tone. NTS never quite found one.
To be brutally honest, despite my regrets about NTS, I’m far happier doing my own site now. Dirty Feed is far less ambitious than Noise to Signal ever was, and is never updated enough, but it certainly is more consistent in tone. And whilst I wouldn’t want to overstate the amount of drama behind-the-scenes on NTS – though there was a particularly thrilling midnight change of server and account block – there was inevitably some, and it could grow tiring. I like having to answer to nobody but myself.
Occasionally, one of us has the idea to do something with the site again – most recently, I brought up the idea of resurrecting the site as a group podcast. But every time, we realise we don’t have enough time to do the site justice. And the part of the spirit of the site lives on, as individual projects: here on Dirty Feed, on Seb and James’s Alternate Cover, on Tanya’s Gypsy Creams, on Phil’s Noiseless Chatter, and on Unlimited Rice Pudding.
I’m proud of the archive we left behind. It’s not all gold, but there’s some lovely stuff buried away in there. So if you get the time, have a peek through the site’s archives – and the final article, The Best of NTS, has links to some of the stuff we were happiest with.
Maybe it never worked quite the way we wanted it to. But I hope we left something behind that was worthwhile.
■ Posted 4th August 2013 @ 5pm in Internet. 2 Comments.
Yesterday, I went to the third audience screening of That Puppet Game Show – BBC One’s great Autumn Saturday night entertainment hope, co-produced with The Jim Henson Company. Official synopsis time:
“Each week two top name celebrities will be plunged into That Puppet Game Show – a unique world of puppet comedy and madcap games. As the only humans who appear on the show, the celeb contestants will be going head to head in a number of games, hoping to win £10,000 for their chosen charity. They’ll compete in subjects such as sport, science, celebrity, nature, music and mental agility. Each of the games is run and hosted by a different puppet character, who is an “expert” in their field. But that’s only half the story…
In a unique twist, That Puppet Game Show is the first gameshow to include a backstage sitcom. It features all the puppet characters that we’ve met onstage and more, like the producer Mancie and the bullish Show Executive, Udders McGhee. Combining the comedy traditions of The Jim Henson Company and a top celebrity based gameshow ensures that this will be an amazing event, not to be missed!”
Does the show live up to the breathless copy above? Here’s my lazy, bullet-point-ridden report.
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■ Posted 21st July 2013 @ 9pm in Television. No Comments Yet.
If you’ve been wondering why Dirty Feed has been updating even less than usual recently, that’s because I’ve been busy redesigning Gypsy Creams, my darling girlfriend’s site based around 1960s magazines. There’s all sorts of amazing stuff there – and posted as part of the relaunch is this great interview with Simon Dee from 1969 – but one of my favourites is still the very first thing ever posted on the site.
(Sadly, it’s not currently very mobile-friendly. Yeah, I know, I know. It SHALL BE FIXED. Apart from that, if you have any suggestions regarding the site design, let me know below.)
Right, back to getting this place updated. I’ve been building up plenty of things to be annoyed about, don’t you worry your pretty little heads.
■ Posted 7th July 2013 @ 3pm in Internet. No Comments Yet.
One day, I will get this jingle sung to the title of this post; something I love about running this site is detailing lovely pieces of television ephemera. Recently, I got a great email from Paul Hudson, who worked for the BBC VT department in the 70s, and he sent me a couple of things you might find of interest. I certainly did.
First up, a couple of canteen menus from the BBC’s Wood Norton Training Centre, from June 1971. (Look, you know the kind of site this is by now.) I rather fancy the Bilberry & Apple Price myself. Only 6p! Rather tastier than anything hot served up at my workplace. Which wouldn’t be difficult, seeing as absolutely sod all hot is served up at my workplace.
The other piece of interest is the front page of a script for Braden’s Week – a consumer affairs programme which was a forerunner to That’s Life! What I love about this is that script pages tend to make appearances for what are ill-advisedly called “cult” shows – Doctor Who and the like. It’s lovely to see an example for the kind of workhorse show the BBC made which were popular, but rarely talked about now.
Thanks hugely to Paul for these scans. I’m always interested in things like this, so if you have anything rattling around in an obscure box somewhere, and the inclination to scan it in, I’d love to hear from you. I guarantee you it’s more interesting than the kind of stuff I find in my boxes. They’re more fun when you worked for the BBC in the 70s.
■ Posted 22nd June 2013 @ 9pm in Television. No Comments Yet.