My Favourite Game
Qs for QI Elves Dan Schreiber and Andrew Hunter Murray
Dan Schreiber is a writer, standup comedian, TV presenter and producer, while Andrew Hunter Murray is a writer for Private Eye who also performs on stage. They’re also both part of the team of researchers behind UK panel show QI, and co-host – along with James Harkin and Anna Ptaszynski – its spinoff podcast, No Such Thing As A Fish. Here the pair discuss arcade humiliation, installation woes, and exploding bananas. What’s your favourite videogame-related fact? Dan Schreiber I love that Nintendo used to run love hotels – that’s incredible. It’s not your usual company trajectory like, I don’t know, ‘We’ll start with model cars and then we’ll make real cars.’ I also really like that Robert Ballard, a leading oceanographer who discovered the wreck of the Titanic and also hydrothermal vents, only employs gamers to drive his submersibles because they’re the ones with the best reactions. Isn’t it also true that Aerosmith earned more money from Guitar Hero than any of their actual albums? Andrew Hunter Murray Yes! A huge amount more – by an insulting factor. What kindled your interest in games? AHM For me it was the CD-ROM version of Encarta. DS That doesn’t count as a game! AHM Wait… They had these little educational games on them. Ultra-simple – you’re in a room and you have to answer a question about something in the encyclopedia to move into the next room. DS I still use Encarta for my research – it’s my primary source. AHM There was also a game where you play as two monkeys throwing exploding bananas at each other. My father liked me playing it because it teaches you physics, because you have to take into account trajectory and wind speed. All very exciting… and educational. DS I had Duck Hunt, but I never got to play it because I could never tune the channel properly. That’s my first memory. After that it’s just getting my arse kicked in every single game, like Street Fighter, because I grew up in Hong Kong where all you did if you were a kid was play games. It was a terrible, terrible introduction to games. I went to high school in Sydney, and as far as I know I’m still the reigning Ms Pac-Man champion of the Avalon RSL, which is the Australian equivalent of Royal British Legion Clubs. AHM I never bought the new expensive games, so when Deus Ex came out for the first time I spent a lot of time pretending I’d played it, while my friends talked about the levels they were stuck on. I was still buying all the cheap £5 games in Game in the bargain bin, so I was playing Might & Magic VII, which to this day I’ve not completed because there’s a bit where it gets really hard!
“I love that Nintendo used to run love hotels. It’s not your usual company trajectory”
Do you prefer any particular genres? DS Yeah, I love sports games. I used to love going and standing on a pair of skis in the arcade. I loved any kind of racing games, basketball games, soccer games… Yeah, sport’s my thing.
AHM I like blowing stuff up. I like shoot ’em ups. I can’t get enough of them – they’re so simple and satisfying. DS I used to play Star Wars Episode I:
Racer non-stop. That’s an amazing racing game – everyone knocks The Phantom Menace, but some good came out of it.
What are your favourite games?
AHM My favourite game is Final Doom, which I never managed to load onto my computer and play. I loved Doom and Doom II so much, but I could never get the third CD to work. That can’t be disappointing.
DS How can that be your favourite game?
AHM Because it’s a potential game. It’s a game of anticipation. I’ve never played it and I probably never will, but it can’t be disappointing. DS That’s a terrible favourite game.
AHM OK… Transport Tycoon [laughs]. DS I struggled to pick just one. It was nearly Mario Kart on the Wii U, because I think it’s the best game ever made. But the one game I still play competitively is
NBA Jam on the SNES. Every so often I enter an NBA Jam tournament at retro arcade bar Four Quarters in Peckham Rye. You get given a team over Facebook and enough time to buy a retro jersey, so when you play you can be dressed as the players. You go down and there’s a whole chalkboard of playoffs and lineups and we made it three rounds in, last time – it was quite tough competition.