Very Very Gaming Show – Episode 3

We’re late this week thanks to a combination of technical issues and academic deadlines. But we pulled it off in the end, and I am proud to present our biggest and brashest episode, which commences with a discussion of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee. A wildly ambitious, creative and unique game, Abe’s Oddysee is also remarkably difficult, a fact which does not escape us. Still, the difficulty alone doesn’t detract from this game’s many achievements as our discussion makes clear.

After a quick break Tommy Wiseau fans prove intent on transforming the Very Very Gaming Show into the Tommy Wiseau Show. Adrian impersonates numerous quotes from infamous cine-disaster The Room, and mayhem ensues. The detour doesn’t last long, and what Maya dubs “the great debate” gets the show firmly back on the videogame track. That’s right, we delve into the minefield that is modern vs. retro videogames. Our trusty guides through this enormous subject are two grizzled veterans of the videogame blogosphere: We Are Finally Cowboys and A Most Agreeable Pastime. The former’s post detailing why he gave up on modern gaming takes us through the first half of the discussion. What drives people to stop buying new games and turn to increasingly outdated technology for entertainment? Turns out there are many possible reasons, although Maya is quick to put it down in Adrian’s case to a hipster mentality.

We conclude the discussion with A Most Agreeable Pastime’s argument about the dangers of letting videogames define you. We find ourselves mostly in agreement, and point to the importance of blogs in doing away with the elitist attitudes prevalent in online videogame communities. Viva la inclusivité!

And that’s the show. We’ll return again soon (hopefully on time), and if you have any comments or suggestions on the show, please drop us a comment!

Episode 3: The Great Debate

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  1. Sir Gaulian

    Great podcast. Extra points for the accent (and for calling out one of my posts).

    I’m not sure there’s a simple answer to the “are old games better than new ones” question. I think there’s been a fundamental change in what console games expect of players. In the past I’ve written about how games have moved on from a simple input/output relationship with the player, to one where players are expected to understand the ‘rules’ of the game – that is, how the game world and AI react to the player. It was something that I think really came to fruition in the PS2/Xbox era, i pinpointed the first Splinter Cell, but no doubt it was a gradual change.

    I think it comes down to why you go to video games. I think that the ‘escapism’ argument has had too much weight put on it in recent years, and the resurgence of the indie/demo scene is one that has to some extent (at least in the early days) thrived on fun and simplicity. That was the primary purpose of so-called ‘retro’ games, and because of that the intent of designers was one simple of tactility – that is making a fun game.

    In the end both have their place.

    • veryverygaming

      Thanks for the complimentary remarks (both on the accent and the show itself!), plus thank you too for such a considered response. It is surprisingly difficult to put into words exactly why I hold a particular preferences about games that can be put into those categories of “new” and “old”. Of course whatever you way you try and hedge it, it doesn’t quite work. For instance, I had the pleasure of playing Rayman Origins for the first time the other day and I was mightily impressed with it, and it seems to take everything I enjoyed about the 1995 original and improves on it.

      In general terms I agree with you that there are new emphases in games which will inevitably alienate some and draw in others. I hope I made clear on the show that a large part of the reason for my own reticence to engage with new games has to do with wider gaming culture rather than something intrinsic to the games, although there do seem to be a number of shifts there too. You make a good point about Splinter Cell – and actually your recent post on your blog makes a real case for Ubisoft being one of the most influential publishers of the past 10 years or so (Splinter Cell, Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed combined make for an intimidating roster, and are all telling of Western devs’ catching up with and overtaking Japanese development generally). Open world games too like GTA have really had a massive impact on games outside of the genre too, no doubt influencing something like Skyrim for instance – and jeez, even the new Zelda’s trying it, which will be nothing else if not interesting. I would assume too that the emphasis in many older games on a tactile response had a lot to do with arcade culture, which thrives on “pick up and play”. Or perhaps also it reflects technological limitations of the day which leave it mostly up to the player’s imagination to fill in gaps where the fully voiced cutscenes might’ve been!

      It’s a fascinating topic, so I have no doubts it’ll come up again on the podcast as we go forward, although our discussion of Assassin’s Creed in the last episode was pretty telling of just how out of touch we both are with modern games. Guess I ought to go out and grab a PS4 while it’s still hot…

      • Sir Gaulian

        Of course its partly in the eye of the beholder. Being a 30-something, old or “retro” is a very different proposition to, perhaps, what a pimply Call of Duty playing teenager would consider it.

        And Rayman Origins is amazing – but the sequel is even better!

    • veryverygaming

      I’m pleased to say that I stumbled upon my old copy of the original Splinter Cell on Gamecube at my parent’s house recently. It’s been so long I’d completely forgotten I had it! Anyway, I remembered your comment and so I grabbed it and it’s now on my to-play list. I’m not a big stealth fan but I have fond memories of it. Anyway it’ll be a chance maybe to engage with your thoughts on the game – certainly, from what I remember, I think you’re right that, while it obviously takes a lot from Metal Gear Solid and prior stealth games, there’s something more “modern” going on in the player-game interaction.

      • Sir Gaulian

        Look forward to seeing how you find it. It’s not ‘retro’ by any stretch of the imagination, but it was for me a turning point in how I viewed games – but more importantly how I found myself interacting with them.

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