DIS­PATCHES CHRIST­MAS

EDGE - - DISPATCHES CHRISTMAS -

Sab­o­tage

What’s this I’m hear­ing about Game stores at­tempt­ing to charge for PlayS­ta­tion VR test ses­sions? Strike me down, but that doesn’t seem like a very ef­fec­tive method of – for the lack of a bet­ter word – ‘sell­ing’ this con­cept to the gen­eral pub­lic. In some re­spects this kind of ac­tion is sort of ex­pected from the na­tion’s least favourite videogame out­let. Their prices for trad­ing in games, for ex­am­ple, of­ten end with me ex­it­ing the store with games still in hand.

In all se­ri­ous­ness, I can’t imag­ine that Sony has given Game its sup­port for do­ing this. It leaves a bit­ter taste in my mouth, es­pe­cially when Sony is of­fer­ing the same for free via their very en­joy­able Fu­ture Of Play UK tour, which I tried out in Bris­tol.

Ob­vi­ously, those of us that keep up with the cur­rent and top­i­cal de­vel­op­ments that sur­round all things gam­ing and vir­tual re­al­ity through read­ing this very mag­a­zine won’t be in dan­ger of fall­ing for the trick, but my worry goes to all of the in­no­cent mums and dads who may be duped by their younger chil­dren. This at­tempt by Game to make a quick buck has led me to ma­jorly ques­tion their abil­ity to work in the gamer’s best in­ter­ests, and as some­one who is still de­bat­ing whether or not to take the plunge into VR, one thing is for cer­tain: if I do, I won’t be pur­chas­ing it from them. Aaron Pot­ter

“At least know what you’re get­ting. Well, un­less you’re get­ting dodo feath­ers” We low­ered our ex­pec­ta­tions of the na­tion’s big­gest game re­tailer a while ago, but this took us by sur­prise nonethe­less. VR gives the high street its first real com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage in years, and Game is throw­ing it away for the sake of a few fivers. Weird.

Me, my­self and I

We agree that videogames can ex­plore dif­fi­cult ques­tions. BioShock tack­led ob­jec­tivist phi­los­o­phy, Deus Ex looked at power, Planescape: Tor­ment ex­am­ined mor­tal­ity, and dozens of other games tackle as many dif­fer­ent themes. But games also raise in­ter­est­ing is­sues. I don’t mean that they af­fect play­ers’ opin­ions or stir up con­tro­versy, though of course they do all those things. And I don’t have in mind a phi­los­o­phy or a crit­i­cal the­ory of videogames here. I mean that there is some­thing about videogames that raises unique is­sues for ex­ist­ing dis­cus­sions – even those that, on the face of it, have noth­ing at all to do with videogames.

Here is an ex­am­ple from phi­los­o­phy and lin­guis­tics; it gets very spe­cial­ist very quickly, but the gen­eral de­tails are good enough. The ex­pres­sion ‘I’ ap­pears to have a sta­ble mean­ing: it ap­pears al­ways to pick out the speaker, but it may pick out dif­fer­ent speak­ers ev­ery time it is used. Sup­pose that Larry and Ch­eryl each say, “I am play­ing Dark

Souls”. In each case ‘I’ picks out the speaker, but it picks out Larry in one case and Ch­eryl in the other. The ortho­dox view is that this is all ‘I’ does, but there is also a wide va­ri­ety of counter-ex­am­ples. Sup­pose you say, “I’m out of petrol”. You al­most cer­tainly mean that your car is out of petrol, not that

you are. The sce­nar­ios we have here are dis­tinct: in the first, ‘I’ picks out the speaker; in the sec­ond, some­thing other than the speaker. Videogames cre­ate a kind of mixed sce­nario, where from one point of view ‘I’ picks out the speaker, but from another some­thing other than speaker.

Sup­pose I’m play­ing Dark Souls and ‘You Died’ flashes up on the screen. I say, “I died”. Ob­vi­ously we judge that what I say is true. But now ask your­self what ‘I’ iden­ti­fies here. If it picks out me, then ei­ther I’m dead or what I say is false. If it picks out some­thing other than me – say, my avatar in Dark Souls – it seems to take some­thing away from my

fail­ure. It’s as if ‘You Died’ is not some­thing I re­ally need to learn from. So nei­ther the thought that ‘I’ picks out me nor the thought that ‘I’ picks out some­thing other than me sits very com­fort­ably here.

The ob­vi­ous ques­tion now is: what is it about videogames that raises this sort of issue? The an­swer seems equally ob­vi­ous: in­ter­ac­tiv­ity. It is be­cause videogames in­volve a real-life ob­ject – the player – in sim­u­lated en­vi­ron­ments from which cu­ri­ous is­sues for ex­ist­ing the­o­ries of lan­guage, thought and other ar­eas arise. The chal­lenge is to get gamers and the­o­rists to ap­pre­ci­ate that there is some­thing very cu­ri­ous go­ing on, and to be­gin look­ing at it in more de­tail. Dr Leo Tarasov

They rem­i­nisce over you

Back in Oc­to­ber 1993, my only sources of gam­ing news and opin­ion came from word of mouth at school and the spe­cial­ist press. Com­pared to the con­stant feed of in­for­ma­tion we have to­day, it was a bit of a dark age, but that just made the an­tic­i­pa­tion of the lat­est news and re­views so much greater. Of course, the ob­ses­sion over mea­sures of qual­ity – marks out of ten, per­cent­age scores – was just as ev­i­dent in 1993, but with more faith placed in the mag­a­zines, and less dis­pos­able in­come in our pock­ets, we had to trust these mea­sures. To­day we live in a world where you have to go out of your way to avoid find­ing out too much about a game, and where leaks and paid ex­clu­sives are com­mon­place. It’s a tes­ta­ment to the qual­ity of mag­a­zines such as Edge that read­ers will still pa­tiently wait for monthly opin­ions and news while con­fused ru­mours and hur­ried opin­ions are else­where.

Of course, opin­ions that take their time to emerge aren’t al­ways flaw­less – every­one has had their Turok 2 mo­ment, af­ter all – and some­times a game’s true colours won’t be­come ap­par­ent un­til long af­ter you think you’ve seen ev­ery­thing. In this in­stance, some­times it’s bet­ter to have a broader range of opin­ions, be­cause there’s re­ally no ac­count­ing for taste. Edge it­self has handed out 5s and 6s to games that I’ve con­sid­ered wor­thy of higher scores, or been more for­giv­ing over fea­tures that might be deal­break­ers for other peo­ple – but all of this at least helps gamers to have an in­formed opin­ion, and when a mag­a­zine re­spects the in­tel­li­gence of its read­er­ship, the read­ers will re­spond in kind.

Three-hun­dred is­sues on, Edge might still not be for every­one, and that’s fine. Maybe the In­ter­net hive­mind can chime with a gamer’s opin­ion more than a mag­a­zine can at times, but when that mag­a­zine stands firm in its opin­ions, likes and dis­likes, you at least know what you’re get­ting. Well, un­less you’re get­ting dodo feath­ers or a weird Nin­tendo DS flap on the cover. Then it’s any­one’s guess. Dan Gas­sis

’93 to in­fin­ity

As Edge ap­proaches another land­mark, I thought I’d take a mo­ment to think back to issue one and the im­por­tant role videogames have played in shap­ing my life. My first ex­po­sure to Edge pre­dates E1: a work col­league was friends with a mem­ber of the orig­i­nal de­sign team, and gave me a copy of issue zero. I knew it was some­thing spe­cial, a pub­li­ca­tion that could re­port on my hobby with the ma­tu­rity and re­spect it de­served.

In the years be­fore the In­ter­net, Edge was my only source for se­ri­ous gam­ing news and I ea­gerly awaited its ar­rival, vis­it­ing my lo­cal newsagent daily as the on-sale day ap­proached and de­vour­ing each new issue in a sin­gle sit­ting, be­fore re­turn­ing again and again to pore over what the Fu­ture Of In­ter­ac­tive En­ter­tain­ment had in store. I’ll ad­mit there’s a part of me that is nos­tal­gic for the mys­tery and ex­cite­ment of those pre-In­ter­net days.

Edge was by no means my in­tro­duc­tion to gam­ing. How­ever, E1, pub­lished as it was dur­ing my early 20s, co­in­cided with my first real dis­pos­able in­come and a grow­ing de­sire for a more ma­ture ap­proach to gam­ing.

In­deed, rather than my hav­ing grown out of videogames, videogames have grown up with me. More than any other medium they have been the sound­track to my years and

Edge has been there ev­ery step of the way – a con­sis­tent pres­ence through the ups and downs of life. The old Edge fo­rum led to last­ing friend­ships and in­di­rectly to meet­ing my won­der­ful wife, a non-gamer who has never once be­grudged the time and money I have spent on my hobby be­cause she can see the im­mense plea­sure it brings me.

It’s im­pos­si­ble to cap­ture the as­ton­ish­ing artis­tic and cre­ative tra­jec­tory doc­u­mented in the 299 is­sues of Edge in this short trib­ute. But if you had told me in the early ’90s the in­cred­i­ble Ridge Racer ar­cade vi­su­als on the cover of E3 would soon be com­ing to home con­soles, or the pre­ren­dered Wipe­out im­age on the cover of E21 would one day look prim­i­tive next to its re­al­time se­quels, I would have prob­a­bly ex­ploded with ex­cite­ment.

The idea that gamers across the planet would bat­tle and co­op­er­ate with each other in mas­sive on­line worlds, or that fans would fill sta­di­ums to watch their gam­ing he­roes bat­tle it out on gi­ant screens – it would have seemed about as likely as The Lawn­mower Man be­com­ing a re­al­ity. Yet here I am, one month from E300 with my PSVR, and I’m 24 all over again. It’s as­ton­ish­ing, I love it, but I also know I’ve been here be­fore. This is just the be­gin­ning. E600 is go­ing to be a bel­ter! David Steer

Due to our fa­mous mod­esty, we have to cast aside dozens of let­ters con­sist­ing of un­re­lent­ing praise each and ev­ery month, but you’re only 300 once, so we’ll let this one in. En­joy your New 3DS, David, and thanks for join­ing us for the ride.

Hmm. Lots of let­ters from doc­tors of late. An in­ter­est­ing point, Leo, but would you mind hav­ing a quick look at this rash? Come on, Street Fighter III: Third Strike was a 6, as you know full well. As for Turok 2, we sim­ply have no idea what you’re on about.

Issue 299

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