Sunday, 4 November 2007

game city and other such fun

storm troopers love the wii, originally uploaded by spugmeistress.

so much fun it took me a week to recover! as it might you too after you read this mammoth of a blog post ;)

so, first things first - nottingham game city was the 25th to 28th october, nicely timed for my half term holiday, and it was ace. didn't make it to see the lost levels on thursday unfortunately but got the train nice and early on friday to arrive just in time for the lego star wars talk with jonathan smith from tt games. he showed us the new wii version of the complete saga, complete with wii lightsabre (tm) - a wiimote duct taped onto his son's red telescopic toy light sabre, showed us all the new stuff they've added to lego star wars 1 and 2 (including the ability to fly the millenium falcon round the pod racing circuit) and also talked a little bit about the upcoming lego indiana jones and lego batman games (on which ign mis-reported and got all the comics geeks up in arms - yes, including me). got to speak to him afterwards a little bit about educational gaming and how all the kids i've worked with absolutely love lego star wars and we love playing it with them because the co-op mode is perfect for teaching them how to work together (when they're not killing each other with force chokes that is, which i note features heavily in the new arcade modes). anyway, there was a star wars panel afterwards, mostly dominated by some bloke from SFX, i played around a bit on some of the indiecade games (cloud was fun until i kinda broke it), wandered over to the art of the game exhibition which was either smaller than i expected, or most of it was hidden away (flickr evidence suggests the latter) but there was some cool jon burgerman stuff there (he designed the game on exhibition in london last year). then it was 3pm, time for the unveiling of wii lego star wars: the complete saga on the mahusive giant screen in market square, and the chance to have a go on it! darth vader went on it first, against a random jedi (jedi won, not sure how staged that was), then they let the kids who had queued up have a go (all were absolutely loving it and hilarious to watch) and then i got to have a go against some random guy who was actually more enthusiastic about it than me (hard to believe) and i kicked his ass :) the controls were pretty easy to grasp, although i didn't get to try out the force moves cos aayla secura apparently doesn't have any, but she was pretty damn sweet with a light sabre. then i checked out the demo pods in the marquee they had in the square and spent the rest of the afternoon teaching some kid how to play guitar hero, which was fun!

saturday i had to get up *really* early to get the train to get there for 10 as not to miss the opportunity to drink tea and doodle with the aforementioned jon burgerman. ok, i don't drink tea, so i had hot chocolate instead and whilst i was waiting for them to go get some from the shop, i made some katamari damacy papercraft that had been left over from the wonderland craft session on thursday. met jon, who is lovely and did a sketch for my sister who is a huge fan, did some doodling, met a cool new friend called elsa (*waves* yay i wasn't the only girl gamer there on their own!) and was promptly late for the are you indie? talk with the also aforementioned indiecade people and alice taylor of the *also* aforementioned wonderland blog. who i got to meet afterwards and swap moo cards with, along with cory doctorow of boing boing fame! it was interesting actually, making the connection between indie gaming and the 'handmade' craft market in that you respond differently and accept different standards from them than you would to more commercial products - but also that indie games and webcomics can follow a similar distribution/monetizing model in that you can give something away for free, and still make enough back from your fans to keep going.

anyway, next was the big show. keita takahashi of katamari damacy fame did his keynote talk (which is best documented on the wonderland blog here) which was weird, funny, awkward, insightful and introduced by alice herself, giving a big shout out to etsy and the videogame craft phenomena which was nice! i haven't actually played much katamari, since i don't have a ps2 (yet) i've been limited to a quick go on someone else's psp, which allegedly is quite hard and not particularly true to the ps2 game (phew, i didn't just suck then), but it is a really fun concept, and the art and the story and the music and everything is just ace. keita ended the talk with a small demo of his new game nobi nobi boy (it means stretchy boy, amongst other things) which also looks kinda fun - any game in which you can give a pig a piggyback, eat it, fly up into the air and then poo it out and watch it float back to the ground has to be worth a go ;)

next up was a talk entitled 'my mum' by ste curran of which was basically about how his mum used to love gaming back in the pre-atari days, fell out of love with it when the industry got a bit teenage boy-focussed (guns and shooting and driving and killing people) and how he got her back into it (and got less bored with gaming himself) through the wonder of animal crossing (aka the 2nd best game ever). and how games should be broad enough to cater to everyone and not just teenage boys. kinda preaching to the choir in places, well especially to me as i did an internal 'yay!' at every example of what gaming can and should be doing, but nice to hear someone in the actual games industry be sticking up for the gamers who aren't all about the fragging. and also, to be termed a 'hardcore' gamer, cos yes, i have been known to import games from japan (even if it was donkey konga) and although the types of games i like best are usually lumped in with gimmicks and casual games, i do care about them alot. so much so that i'm half tempted to try and get into the industry myself, but that's a whole nother story... rushed straight out of that talk (which i have to note, was in one of the smaller screens of the broadway arts cinema, with stripey two seater sofas instead of chairs) and into the ARG talk, with guy parsons masquerading as an unfortunately-unable-to-make-it dan hon
from mind candy (the people who did perplexcity of which i was a (small) part of). so not much i didn't know, but nice to see guy again, and reminded me why, despite the bitterness surrounding the later stages of PXC, args are actually really fun. then a quick dash to page 45, the best comic shop in the world, where i got issue #1 of suburban glamour (click for preview) which i read on the way home and is absolutely gorgeous (and brilliant) and back to manchester for...

arcade fire at the MEN with my mini-me (little sister)! which was *awesome*. how they managed to make a huge arena feel like the manchester academy i don't know, but i'm terribly grateful as i nearly cried when i couldn't get tickets to see them last time round at the apollo. pics on my flickr, but nowhere near as good as the ones my sister took (she is an amazing photographer). got a nifty lenticular poster of the neon bible too which is now up in my room and looks like the neon sign is lighting up when you see it from different angles. i love neon :) i wish i was in the arcade fire, they looked like they were having so much fun. and i wanted the singy girl's boots.

sunday time! the trains were rubbish on sunday so my mum graciously offered to road trip with me so she could go shopping whilst i geeked out. due to rubbish traffic over high peak i missed the first 20 minutes of from russia with love: the documentary the bbc made about the politics, rights wars and general hilarity surround the birth and rise of tetris. quite funny to see how serious it got over one little computer game, that turned out to pretty much be one of the key reasons nintendo, and the gameboy ever got so big in the first place. there was an interview with the guy who made it, alexey pajitnov, afterwards which was just brilliant - he is such a lovely lovely man, who incidentally, plays with his pipes to the left (yes i asked the silly question, everyone laughed, it needed to be done.) i also got to ask him later on which version of tetris he deems to be the most definitive, to which he said the gameboy one, which was nice cos i totally agree, and was bewildered at the weird version they had in the cabinet downstairs where a guy was attempting the tetris world record. there was also a smaller talk downstairs afterwards where the *real* tetris nerds got to geek out even more about versions and rules and whether the s or z block is better (alexey said s, i think i agree) and inbetween there was a giant queue full of people wanting to shake his hand and i think he was a little bit astonished all these people wanted to talk to him! i got my tetris cart signed and couldn't actually believe how excited i was about it.

after that it all felt a little bit of an anti-climax, but fortunately i had more fun in store in the form of my good friend john who was in town visiting and we hung out and watched neils' hole in my shoe song (very topical for me at the moment) on youtube, and on monday went into manchester for a spot of shopping and hanging around in arty cafe's and finding john a new hat (and a lovely one it was too) so yes, there's more pics up on my flickr if you want to go have a look, thank you if you've managed to keep reading this far, and i'll update with more recent news later in the week!


Daisy said...

Game City sounds awesome!!! I'm very jealous, but I feel like I was there after reading your very good account of happenings there so muchos kudos for that ^_^

marmalade girl said...

Hey Rach, sorry I've been sooo lame about emailing you. Found your comment on Wonderland.

It was cool to meet you and great fun was had by all. I'll pop you an email as soon as I find your moo card again in the chaos that is my desk *the shame*.