Edge read­ers share their opin­ions; one wins a year’s PlayS­ta­tion Plus


Sil­ver screen (shower scene)

It seems that games and gam­ing are fi­nally be­ing ac­cepted as a sta­ple of pop­u­lar cul­ture, achiev­ing a level of ubiq­uity that means that, even if you aren’t play­ing them, you cer­tainly can’t avoid them.

E3 gets men­tioned in main­stream media; games garner in­creas­ing col­umn inches in news­pa­pers, and gam­ing fes­ti­vals are now a thing. So far, so good, for our favourite hobby. But there is some­thing miss­ing, so ob­vi­ously and con­spic­u­ously ab­sent. I am talk­ing, of course, about games on TV.

Old peo­ple will fondly re­call the likes of GamesMaster and Bad In­flu­ence, an in­no­cent time when game cri­tique was lim­ited to graph­ics, sound and ‘playa­bil­ity’, what­ever that was. On re­flec­tion, how­ever, there hasn’t been much since. Videogame Na­tion was a de­cent stab at a more rounded and ma­ture show, but was hid­den away on Chal­lenge, and has been killed off.

En­cour­ag­ingly, Dara O’Bri­ain’s Go 8 Bit is a great ex­am­ple of how games can be neatly in­te­grated into an ex­ist­ing for­mat – in this case, the com­edy panel show – to great ef­fect. What a pity it’s hid­den away on Dave, and too few peo­ple seem to know about it.

If gam­ing has truly hit the main­stream, then it seems strange that it has yet to pen­e­trate main­stream TV. I feel there is a place for it, even in the days of YouTube chan­nels and so­cial media. What do you guys think? Will we see a game pro­gramme on TV fronted by Mr Nathan Brown?

BBC Three’s re­cent broad­cast of the Gfin­ity Elite Se­ries of es­ports tour­na­ments gets to the heart of the prob­lem from one side. Go 8 Bit comes at it from the other. New­com­ers are baf­fled by any­thing too tech­ni­cal; old hands put off by things they deem to be too

Thomas McInnes sim­plis­tic. Per­haps a mid­dle ground could be found, but would that serve both groups, or sim­ply leave both dis­sat­is­fied? As for our ‘es­teemed’ editor play­ing a role, we can’t see the net­works go­ing for it – but maybe we’ll get some new head­shots done just in case.


Your ar­ti­cle Ma­chine Lan­guage (see E308), about game di­a­logue AI, was sim­ply fan­tas­tic; a prime ex­am­ple of why I look for­ward to each of your is­sues. But half­way through the ar­ti­cle, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gloom.

For years I’ve yearned for char­ac­ters in games that were more than things to trade with or de­stroy. And yet, I now feel like maybe that’s just what they’re best off do­ing. Videogames are good at deal­ing with data. Trad­ing comes nat­u­rally to com­put­ers, hence our games are full of sta­tis­tics to jug­gle around. Even bet­ter is data in the form of co­or­di­nates, i.e. move­ment: con­trollers al­ways have D-pads and sticks be­cause their in­put (and the screen’s out­put) is quick and in­tu­itive. With move­ment, we de­stroy char­ac­ters in games. With trade we gain from them. For years on end, I blamed the medium and its lack­lus­tre AI for stick­ing to these two forms of in­ter­ac­tion. But I’ve re­cently been con­sid­er­ing other ways we play other types of games, and things aren’t that dif­fer­ent. Sports are about move­ment. Board games are about trade and move­ment. Kids spend most of their time in the play­ground try­ing all sorts of new ways to move their body. And when it comes to adults, what are the most pop­u­lar out­ings for com­pany trips? Move­ment in the form of kart­ing, Seg­ways, GPS/AR games, and bowl­ing. Now there are pop­u­lar games which ac­tu­ally in­volve talk­ing with oth­ers: Were­wolf, Mafia, es­cape rooms, and Dun­geons & Drag­ons come to mind, but that’s all I can hon­estly come up with.

“I’ve yearned for char­ac­ters in games that were more than things to trade with or de­stroy”

The truth is, it seems we sim­ply don’t want to do too much talk­ing. We just want some­thing sim­ple, some­thing easy to grasp. Per­haps we might even want pas­times that are less like the daily strug­gle we have with real-world peo­ple.

I feel bad writ­ing this, be­cause I re­ally want videogames to achieve the sta­tus of other arts. But maybe we’re look­ing at this the wrong way: maybe it’s lan­guage that should try to be more like games. We spend so much time talk­ing with each other, yet we still have wars and peo­ple vot­ing against their own in­ter­est. I’ve read more than 1,000 works of lit­er­a­ture, but I’d sooner share my five favourite videogames with friends than my five favourite books. Hur­ray for Emily Short and Mitu Khan­daker for their ef­forts; I’d be hap­pily proven wrong. But for now, I think it’s only fit­ting that I’m feel­ing more hyped for yet an­other ver­sion of Metroid II than I am about Spir­itAI. Robert Au­gust de Mei­jer

Weak be­come heroes

I want to tell you a story about how gam­ing changed my life, how it saved my life, and how it helped me through the hard­est times in my life.

It all started in school, as the tried and true ‘get­ting bul­lied’ story al­most all gamers have felt. This was also around the time of

GTA: San An­dreas’ re­lease, and I would use this game to get my anger out. I would kill with no re­grets, no re­morse, and no real-life reper­cus­sions. The digital peo­ple of San An­dreas didn’t know what hit them; a tor­rent of rage poured onto them, nev­erend­ing in its thirst for blood.

This con­tin­ued into GTAIV, but with bet­ter re­ac­tions (with the Eupho­ria rag­doll­physics sys­tem) I got even more en­joy­ment and vent­ing abil­ity from the game.

Time goes on and I steadily get bet­ter, be­com­ing less an­gry. But the world had other plans and my mum passed away. I was about eight years old.

Skip many years into the fu­ture and the re­lease of Life Is Strange. Through events in the end­ing, I got to pick if some­one I loved lived or died. It is the sin­gle hard­est thing I have ever had to do, since it di­rectly ties back to my want­ing to go back and save my mum. The help­less­ness I felt about not be­ing able to save her. Af­ter mak­ing the choice I had a mini-break­down be­cause I picked not to save the per­son I loved. I didn’t want to be the one to con­demn thou­sands of peo­ple to their deaths out of self­ish­ness.

It helped me truly come to terms with what had hap­pened. Af­ter many years of be­ing down, hit­ting the ab­so­lute bot­tom and com­ing back up, Life Is Strange (like GTA) gave me a re­lease I had never felt be­fore. Games are life. They are love. For me, at least. Pierre Fou­quet

Please stay

Ever since I dis­cov­ered Doom on a share­ware disc circa 1995, I’ve loved first­per­son shoot­ers. I was thrilled by the ra­zor-wire ten­sion of Alien: Tril­ogy, the in­som­nia, es­pi­onage and art of XIII, and the block­buster roller­coaster ride that was Call Of Duty 4:

Mod­ern War­fare, a game which mar­ried story, game­play and pro­gres­sion seam­lessly.

Nar­ra­tive, con­trol, bal­ance, graph­ics, pro­gres­sion; they’re all a key part of what makes the FPS one of the most pop­u­lar and en­dur­ing gen­res, but not ev­ery evo­lu­tion­ary leap the genre makes is – par­don the pun – killing it. The grind for pro­gres­sion is putting the bore back into war. The me­chanic’s there to en­gage the player over a longer pe­riod of time, but is it an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence, or just an addictive one?

I re­cently sunk 50 repet­i­tive hours into the Ghost Re­con Wild­lands ‘cam­paign’. The ex­pe­ri­ence was thread­bare, but I pushed on be­cause I thought there had to be more to the game than the same cy­cle of am­bush, fire­fight, loot-crate, lack­lus­tre cutscene, lather, rinse and re­peat. Turns out I could have had pretty much the full ex­pe­ri­ence if I’d just played the beta; out­side of the con­stant grind for new gun-loot and skill up­grades there was only the thinnest of game­play ex­pe­ri­ences to be had.

Bat­tle­field 4 shares the same core game­play DNA as Wild­lands: the longer you spend in the game the more up­grades and cus­tomi­sa­tion loot you’ll earn. I’ve ground away 246 hours in Bat­tle­field 4 but I’m in­creas­ingly of the opinion that it’s time to hang up my in-game irons.

I think I stopped ac­tively en­joy­ing BF4 some time ago, but the grind for guns kept me in the mul­ti­player lobby long af­ter I should have walked away. Maybe grind­ing for pro­gres­sion is just a cyn­i­cal me­chanic; maybe I’m a sap for go­ing back again and again. Ei­ther way I’ve de­cided to set my sights on a richer ex­pe­ri­ence. Ian Bruce

What makes Spir­itAI so in­trigu­ing is not just the prob­lem it is try­ing to solve, but the an­gle from which it is ap­proach­ing it. Like most great works of in­no­va­tion within games, it starts from the hy­poth­e­sis that things can be made bet­ter. While we agree the world will con­tinue to turn if Spir­itAI fails, we cer­tainly hope to see it suc­ceed. A heart­warm­ing tale, for which many thanks. Your sub­scrip­tion to PlayS­ta­tion Plus is on its way, which should set you up nicely for things to kill – or save – over the next 12 months. One day, though, you’re go­ing to have to fill us in on the in­ter­ven­ing years. We as­sume one doesn’t change from mass mur­derer into saviour overnight. Don’t leave us hang­ing like that: what richer ex­pe­ri­ence could there pos­si­bly be than watch­ing a se­ries of XP progress bars go­ing up while grit­ting your teeth at a se­ries of rub­bish loot drops? It’s a sad re­al­ity of the medium that one good idea gets bor­rowed, ex­panded and reused un­til ev­ery­one’s sick of it. The on­line game pro­gres­sion sys­tem doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon. If you turn up some­thing bet­ter, please let us know at the usual ad­dress.

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