My Favourite Game

Peep Show writer Jon Brown pines for the golden age of ar­cades


BAFTA-win­ning writer Jon Brown’s CV in­cludes Peep Show, Veep and the 2014 film Cuban Fury. He once worked as a game journo, and to­day he has two in-pro­duc­tion come­dies that he hopes will break new ground for games on TV. How has writ­ing about games af­fected your re­la­tion­ship with them? I used to play loads grow­ing up, but when I was do­ing it for a liv­ing I stopped en­joy­ing it for a while be­cause it was more like work than fun. It’s weird hav­ing not played any­thing for five or six years and then catch­ing up on what’s go­ing on and see­ing noth­ing much has changed. I came back and my heart sank. It’s just like, oh, we’re still do­ing this thing, are we? There’s a big cutscene that I can ba­si­cally ig­nore be­cause I know at the end of it there will be an ar­row telling me to go over there and fetch some­thing. What would you pre­fer to see? As a con­cept, No Man’s Sky is re­ally im­pres­sive, but in­stead of cre­at­ing an en­tire galaxy of unique plan­ets, just make one town that feels real. I’d pre­fer to play that. I feel like games need to think smaller – there are so many games that have huge sto­ries about im­por­tant things that I just do not give a shit about. I’ve played quite a lot of As­sas­sin’s Creed, and I still couldn’t tell you what the An­imus is. All I know is that every time I go back into the old bit, I’m like, ‘Oh, this is re­ally good!’ Fo­cus on smaller things – just make a game about two peo­ple or a fam­ily. When some­one tells me that there’s 400 hours of game­play I just think, ‘Oh, fuck that – I don’t have 400 hours!’ You should give Ev­ery­body’s Gone To The Rap­ture and Fire­watch a go. I will! I re­ally like Mario Sun­shine, too – that’s maybe the last game I fin­ished. Those kind of games that are just re­ally well con­structed. Ob­vi­ously the story is to­tally shit, but it’s not about that – it’s just a bril­liantly put to­gether piece of pure fun. I’d rather play that than try to com­mit to some enor­mous epic. You’re back to work­ing with games, through your forth­com­ing series. I’ve got a cou­ple of projects at the mo­ment that in­volve gam­ing. There’s the Chan­nel 4 show about a gam­ing startup, and then there’s an­other one with Sam Bain and Jesse Arm­strong’s pro­duc­tion com­pany – a half-hour com­edy for E4 about peo­ple who play lots of games. So I’ve been meet­ing up with indies and peo­ple that are in­volved in the scene, and some­one sent me a link to this thing called live cod­ing. It com­pletely blew my mind – just watch­ing this guy at his desk­top talk­ing me through what he’s do­ing. I’m just like, “Where do we go from here?” For me, this whole Twitch thing and watch­ing peo­ple play games, I don’t un­der­stand it. It’s fuck­ing weird. Some­thing I was watch­ing had 300,000 sub­scribers – I’ve worked on TV shows that have had fewer view­ers than that, and have taken six months to write and cost prob­a­bly half-a-mil­lion pounds. And these peo­ple just sit there and have more view­ers. I mean, that’s amaz­ing. How did the Chan­nel 4 show, Loaded, about the game startup come about? It’s an adap­ta­tion of an Is­raeli show about peo­ple who sell their fitness app startup. When it came to de­cid­ing what their com­pany does, I just thought I’d rather write about an indie games com­pany. I’ve al­ways wanted to write some­thing about games on TV that re­ally feels au­then­tic, and isn’t just knobs in their bed­room. Di­rec­tors think that show­ing peo­ple play games needs to be re­ally vis­ual, so they make them sit there with their con­troller and they’re swing­ing it about, and some­one scores a goal and ev­ery­one jumps up… It’s like, yeah, that isn’t re­ally what it’s like. So it feels that there’s this big area that peo­ple haven’t writ­ten about prop­erly yet.

“I’ve al­ways wanted to write some­thing about videogames on TV that re­ally feels au­then­tic”

How about your favourite game of all time? There was a time when I was young, when arcade games were so glam­orous and so un­ob­tain­able, and OutRun in par­tic­u­lar was the ab­so­lute def­i­ni­tion of that. A red Fer­rari, a dude and a blonde wo­man out on the road, and the sun was pretty much al­ways out. Quite a re­duc­tive por­trayal of women, I’d say, but I sup­pose when you reach the fin­ish line you fi­nally get to see that she has a face. So that’s quite good. I was think­ing it would be quite a sub­ver­sive twist if you get to the end and you see that she’s ac­tu­ally the one with the steer­ing wheel. But, yeah, that golden age of arcade games – it’s kind of sad that you don’t re­ally get that any more.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.