So I’ve been gaming on Sony platforms for the last decade and there’s a whole world of PC games that I’ve missed.  I’m a geek, so I know the culture, what jokes to make (the cake is a lie), but I suspect your supposed to play games and not just use their language as social camouflage… Well maybe.  There’s an idea from The Arts that I’m about to fling about without crediting anyone, it’s the Deficit Model of Culture.

Well, maybe that’s what it’s called.  I’m not going to check.  I could google it and find out it’s called something different.  But then again I could have capitalised ‘google’.  And not have begun that last sentence with a ‘But’.  Or that one with ‘And’.   I could have include the full-stops within the inverted commas, I could have spelt it ‘capitalized’ and then explained the joys of Elizabethan zpellings. Yes.  I could have used Google and Wikipedia and given you a pointless repetition of whatever piece of thing I originally half-remembered.  Then I’d be doing what the Internet calls “research”.  Yes,  full quote marks that time.   It’s not research most of the time, it’s copying and pasting.  That’s only one step up from colouring in.  Or coloring in if we’re getting all Tudor about it.   Right, onwards.

What does it mean to be an educated, cultured person?  What education must one have had?  What culture must one have absorbed?  This is the idea behind the deficit model.  That there is a body of work that constitutes CULTURE and you need to collect all the stickers to put in the culture album or you’re a pleb.  Arguments can then occur as to what constitutes proper culture and what should be included in the canon.  Long arguments into the night available.

Never mind the rights and wrongs (yeah, sorry to bring that all up) the real question is what are the CLASSICS that must be included in the canon for the deficit model of gaming culture?  Blimey.  I’m not looking now, but we all know have many manifestos and screeds there are about the nature of games.  I dare say I’ll do a proper one later.  Chess and hide-and-seek pre-date cinema and the novel.  Video games must be a new art-form, they’ve pissed off so many people.  Video games are still young enough that it’s possible we haven’t actually had the classics yet,   or maybe the best ever game was written by a 9 year old in Bulgaria in 1989.  only future archaeologists will know…

Right now though I return to gaming on a proper computer with a keyboard and everything and find that the scene has evolved in rather wonderful directions.   There’s the apparently thriving indie scene where the most serious and the most frivolous rub up together.  Kind of like animation really.  On the one hand you have kids cartoons, and on the other there’s sombre grim Eastern European worthiness.  There are also huge Hollywood blockbusters with massive development and marketing budgets.  They are often great fun, and occasionally surprisingly actually “any good at all”.  Somewhere in the middle must be the art that’s officially good for you but is also actually entertaining.  Something like the work of Iain Banks (maybe even Iain M. Banks) or Alfred Hitchcock.  Cultural artefacts that neither shame nor bore.  There’s no shortage of books one ought to read.  How many do you have in your house?  You don’t have to count The Bible or Ye Compleat Workes of Shakezpeore. What games are by Stephen Poliakoff?  Aw dammit I just googled his name to see if I’d spelt it right and I actually had done.

Look.  The upshot is that I’m turning a challenge into a problem.  No, er… life is full of problems and our mistake is to always view them as puzzles?  No.  right.  I have not had a PC and I have missed some great games but the advantage is that, with hindsight,  it’s easier to recognise which ones are the classics, and they’re also cheaper.

I’m playing old games.  I’m going to write about it.  If I ever press publish.

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I’ve never really had a PC that I could use for games before.  I carried on using an Amiga for far longer than most people. So for the last 10 years or so I’ve played games on Playstation and used computers for work.  It was a fair distinction, it stopped a certain amount of procrastination, and provided a level-playing field for online play.  Now I finally find myself in a situation where my computer is better than my console.

I had made a deal that I was allowed to buy a Playstation 3 when I submitted my PhD thesis. Sony and I then engaged in a game of chicken. Each of us announced delay after delay until finally Sony broke and actually released the console. I had won. Or lost. Or something. The PS3 remains, I think, surprisingly expensive compared to the Green Other. Shrewdly, I went mental and ran away from my PhD. This does mean the I haven’t submitted anything, so feel that I am not really entitled to a PS3. I might instigate a new deal with myself about that later.

A deal I did make with myself was that I would build a nifty pooter as soon as I made some money from some job or other.  Like so many unemployed roboticists before me I found work as an archer in a Robin Hood film, so thanks to Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott I finally made the dosh to build my lovely Monster.  So now I have a decent PC that can actually run games that are worth running, and having been on the other side of the gaming pond for a while, I’m interested to see what’s here.