How Video Games Changed the World (2013) Movie Script

for years the domain of outsiders
and geeks, and people who look
a bit like owls.
Somewhere down the line,
gaming went mainstream
and now everyone plays them
18 hours a day, even George Alagiah.
And while that is a lie, games have
infiltrated popular culture
and fundamentally changed the way we
interact with the world.
Yes, really.
Now, tonight, I'll share
my personal,
possibly bull-headed selection of
the 25 most significant games that
ever there were, and we'll be
hearing from videogame insiders,
videogame likers, and some
reassuring, friendly, familiar faces
so easily spooked viewers don't
shit their own kidneys out
with terrified indignation.
We'll show you games that broke
out of the pixelated ghetto
and romped across
mainstream culture.
We'll see games that will make you
feel guilty, or make you cry,
or even introduced you
to your soulmate.
In fact, we'll show you nothing
less than how videogames
changed the world...
because that is the title,
so we have to.
Today, in 2013, games are almost
as commonplace as shoes.
Practically everyone plays them
in some form.
Even bacon replicant David Cameron
was reportedly addicted to the
jolly food slash 'em up
Fruit Ninja on the iPad.
But games weren't always as
graphically staggering,
painstakingly realistic,
or conceptually sophisticated
as they tend to be today.
No, they had to start somewhere.
Gaming's Big Bang happened in 1972
with the release of a simple
looking tennis simulator,
a game called Pong.
Pong, of course, was very simple.
You know, it begins with a black
screen, as all great moments do.
It's meant to be kind of table tennis
but it was like a moving white bar
that would go up and down,
and you could bounce
a ball from side to side.
But it was so limited,
so kind of basic in its function,
and yet, curiously, satisfying.
Pong wasn't the first videogame
but it was the first truly
successful one, and it contains
much of the same basic DNA as almost
every game that followed.
It was co-created by Atari founder
Nolan Bushnell
and programmer Allan Alcorn.
Without these two legendary figures,
there would be no videogames
industry at all.
I had completed the design and
we said, "Well, it plays pretty good,
"let's put it in a box and see
if anybody plays it."
And all it had was the name
Pong on it. There's no instructions,
there's just a coinmach.
And Nolan and I carried it over to
Andy Capp's Tavern,
put it on a barrel, and within
a short time, within a week or
so, the thing stopped working,
and so I went over to fix it...
That became full of quarters.
Yeah, I opened it up
and the quarters just gushed out,
filled my pockets with quarters
and came in the next day and said,
"Nolan, I think we've got...
Something is going on here."
And you go, "Hmm."
Pong was incredibly simple.
Everybody knows how to play
ping-pong. It was a very stylised
version of ping-pong on a TV.
The controls were simple,
just a knob each to move the paddle.
There was also hidden depth.
The power allowed the ball to come
off the bats in different angles,
depending on where you hit it,
so it introduced this whole
idea of skill and strategy, which is
really, really important.
Yes, it's hard to remember now,
but in 1972 this was cutting edge.
You know, I found the graphics
on Pong,
the little players, the little lines,
they moved quite smoothly,
it was quite impressive,
and the ball moved smoothly.
By ball, I mean square!
We didn't make the ball square
because we thought that
a square ball was cool.
It's the only way we could do it,
and so, you know, in some ways,
I'd say the first 10
years of the video game business,
we were always bumping right
up against the edge of the
technology that was allowed to us.
'You are watching
the most exciting game
'you'll ever see on your TV set.'
Technology may have held
the graphics, back but soon,
the rise of cheap microchips created
a wave of Pong-like imitators
you could plug in and enjoy in your
living room,
revolutionising home entertainment
at a stroke.
'Oops, a goal.'
Until Pong came along, you would
have to sit there and withstand
whatever the TV threw at you,
which in the '70s
was only a handful of channels.
It often meant a choice between
a documentary about bricks
or Jimmy Savile.
Now, suddenly, there was
a box you could plug directly
into your TV and take control.
At the time, the very idea of that
was mind-manglingly exciting.
That was the revelation,
the fact that you didn't feel
passive for the first time.
Not that you don't mind being
passive with TV,
but for the first time you were
doing something here that
translated into something over there
and that was kind of mind-blowing.
So I think it was just the miracle
of being in the TV and operating
something from your couch which was
the game changer for me.
I can remember gathering around it
with my whole family,
it was like the piano
in the 1940s or the Victorian era.
We all gathered around
and were amazed at this
idea of interacting with
the television screen.
Even though the graphics were
profoundly simple, there was
that sense that this was a whole new
thing that was happening.
Trad TV was clearly
so rattled by the obvious threat
posed by the technological
upstart, it made desperate
attempts to incorporate the new
enemy into its flagship
entertainment shows.
When Pong came out they tried to use
it as part of a live TV thing,
and I know I am not imagining this,
with Bruce Forsyth.
- Nice to see you to see you...
- Nice!
Well, what else could I say?
Bruce Forsyth had jumped ship from
BBC to ITV for a huge pay packet,
there was a huge story about that,
and ITV gave him
the whole of Saturday night.
And the competition they had,
they had people using a
voice-operated form of Pong.
I know I've seen this.
You're looking at me like I'm
hallucinating, but I have seen this.
Ladies and gentlemen, tele-tennis.
And even as a kid I was thinking,
"Wow, this really doesn't work."
In the years following Pong,
amusement arcades filled with
coin guzzling monoliths became
a common sight, but in 1978,
the success of one title
catapulted gaming out of the dark
and further into the mainstream.
This stark, bleak, humans vs aliens
fight-to-the-death quickly
hoovered up coins worldwide.
What Space Invaders did was it took
arcade machines out of those
arcades, out of bars and suddenly,
they were in restaurants
and cafes,
places where families could go.
I think it was the first
game that really did that.
It took games into the mainstream.
I can remember the first time
I saw Space Invaders.
It was at the Silver Blades
ice rink in Birmingham.
We were on a school trip,
on Thursday night,
and I remember seeing this game
and putting 10p in the slot and it
was like a revelation to me,
it was the most amazing experience.
And from then on in,
Space Invaders was my life.
You would get 40p dinner money
each day
and you could go down to the cafe
down the hill
and get beans on toast for 20p and
have two games of Space Invaders.
The pace of Space Invaders
was beautiful.
As a newb, who had never played,
you know, an arcade game before,
you could walk up, put 10p in,
and you could play for, like,
five or ten minutes
without being annihilated.
And that pace meant that it
drew people in.
It also satisfied something which
gamers seem to enjoy - attrition,
cleaning something up.
You have this block of stuff which
had to be cleared away.
It's odd, because it is something
you can never win. You clear them
up, there's a little pause
and they all come back again.
But somehow, you want to keep on
doing it.
Mastering Space Invaders became
an overriding obsession for many.
This is one of the first published
books by revered author Martin Amis.
It's Invasion Of
The Space Invaders.
A surprisingly in-depth
collection of his arcade tips with
a foreword by Steven Spielberg.
Martin Amis has since
disavowed his involvement
in the Space Invaders tips scene.
And the game's appeal wasn't simply
restricted to the
nature of its challenge. The sheer
experience was equally important.
This was the first game to evoke
a distinct mood and tone.
The music sped up as soon as aliens
got closer to you, and it was like
that excitement and that,
"Oh, this is really responding
to what I am doing."
It's like a heartbeat when the Space
Invaders are coming down the screen.
It's, "Dum, dum, dum, dum."
It accentuates your own tension,
it was perfect.
It was very stylistic.
You know, the shape of the alien,
as soon as you saw it,
you kind of understood it
and it burnt it into your mind.
As a result, Space Invaders wasn't
just an arcade hit,
but a bona fide, mainstream,
cultural phenomenon.
Yes, tonight, we will be discovering
just who the Space Invader
champion of the Midlands is!
Space Invaders tournaments were
considered entertaining enough
to be televised, for God's sake!
'And how Tim Coxon of Stoke
must be feeling now.'
And the world of cheerful children's
animation also couldn't
resist the pull of the global fad
of the moment.
Left a bit, steady.
Right. Right a bit, fire.
Every element of the Invaders
template had such an instant
iconic purity, it still resonates
today, with references to it
popping up everywhere.
Slick TV commercials
nod in its direction and it
appears on walls around the world,
courtesy of street artist Invader.
And Space Invaders still
survives as a game,
albeit in a remixed, re-imagined,
modern form.
I was very honoured to be
asked to do it.
Working on Space Invaders
is like being asked to go on stage
and play with Dave Gilmour out
of Pink Floyd or something like that.
Space Invaders was the catalyst
for an explosion of similarly themed
games in the late '70s and early
'80s as pubs, arcades and cafes
rang to the sound of zipping lasers
and white noise explosions.
The primitive graphics of the day
were ideally suited
for depicting basic shapes
competing for power in black
space, but with this incessant
focus on interstellar combat,
games were in danger of becoming
a chiefly male obsession.
To gain wide acceptance once again,
games would need to become
less abstract.
What they needed was some
kind of likeable character.
Pac-Man was arguably
videogaming's first mascot.
He is sort of the first character,
I guess, you know, the very,
very iconic character of videogames.
The designer of Pac-Man,
he introduced this Japanese concept
of kawaii, which is cute.
Lots of Japanese design is based
around this sense of kawaii,
And so, not only is Pac-Man
very kawaii, very cute,
but also, so are the ghosts.
He did this because he wanted to
appeal to young girls
and women as well as men,
and in fact, he said in interviews
since then, which sounds sexist now,
but he's thinking, "How can I
make it appeal to women?"
"Oh, I know, women like food."
Famously, he'd seen images
of a pizza with a slice taken out
and he saw Pac-Man in that image.
And Pac-Man does have
a lot of character.
I think the reason why everything
went Pac-Man crazy for
a while was because he had a face.
Even the ghosts, even the enemies had
character, and they had names.
Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde.
They all had very distinct
and they did their own
thing in the maze.
Pac-Man's rudimentary artificial
intelligence also represented
a breakthrough, tricking the player
into thinking the ghosts were
actually alive with their own
personal traits.
Blinky, the red ghost,
was a fast, aggressive hunter.
Inky, the blue one, was a dawdler.
Pinky would anticipate
where you were going and try
and block you off,
while Clyde, the orange one, was
programmed to rapidly chase you
until he got too close,
at which point he'd
dart back into a corner.
This hidden layer of sophistication
made the ghosts seem
less like computerised drones
and more like fallible,
living characters.
But the Pac-Man ghosts,
I really liked.
And the cherry, the idea
of a floating cherry was cool.
And the fact that it changed
when it ate.
I mean, all these things were
kind of major steps forward.
This was the grammar of gaming being
constructed before your eyes.
It was the first time people thought,
"Well, why not do this?"
It was the first videogame to
actually feature cut scenes as well.
There were little humorous
cut scenes with Pac-Man
and the ghosts before each level.
You had Pac-Man being
pursued by ghosts
and then Pac-Man getting a giant.
He would turn around and chase
the ghost off the other way.
And one of the ghosts would get
his little rope caught and he would
come out and see his pink leg stuck,
sticking out from underneath.
It introduced the gentle element
of humour to game play which
I think helped broaden its appeal.
Likeable characters are big business
and Pac-Man was no exception.
Pac-Man, instantly after it came
out, it was so enormously popular.
We started seeing Pac-Man
T-shirts, Pac-Man lunchboxes,
there was a Pac-Man cartoon.
Pac-Man soon became a staple
of the cheesy American Saturday
morning cartoon slot,
winning his own goofy series as well
as some irritating commercials.
# Now Pac-Man isn't just
a game you play
# It's a crispy corn cereal
that's coming your way. #
Chomp, chomp, delicious!
For a time, no quintessentially
'80s commercial was complete
without a whorish cameo
from the circular pill freak.
# 7-Up cools your thirst. #
Pac-Man was on stuff. There was
a Pac-Man board game as well.
It was a terrible board game with
a big plastic Pac-Man that would
go about, gobbling up pellets
and stuff.
And even there was the weird
knock-off stuff as well.
Like, how do you badly draw a
Pac-Man? You know what I mean?
But a badly drawn Pac-Man.
That's an impressive thing
when you see some merchandise,
and you go, "That Pac-Man
doesn't even LOOK like Pac-Man."
That's when you know something
has caught on in a big way.
In the wake of Pac-Man's success,
games began to resemble
living cartoons -
bright, cheerful worlds, packed with
non-threatening characters.
A golden age entertainingly
celebrated earlier this
year in Pixar's charmingly evocative
film, Wreck-It Ralph.
My name is Wreck-It Ralph.
Ralph, you are bad guy, but this
does not mean you are bad guy.
I don't want to be
the bad guy any more.
So far, so twee,
but that was about to change.
The USA and Japan had ruled
gaming's roost
but now the British were coming
and we weren't interested in some
cute, yellow bauble, running around
a maze, gobbling dots.
We were bringing something else
with us. We were bringing anarchy.
The early 1980s were a heady mix
of the Iron Lady's iron fist,
soaring unemployment,
Charles and Di's sexless kissing
and this footage of
the Rubik's cube that has to be
included in every '80s
nostalgia montage by law.
All of which provided
the backdrop to a major
revolution in British homes
as the computerised future arrived.
Now, it doesn't look very futuristic
looking at it now
from the vantage point of the
future, but it did back then.
THAT'S how time works.
The explosion of home computing
that happened in the '80s was
almost unique to Britain...
because of Clive Sinclair.
In 1982, Sir Clive Sinclair
launched the ZX Spectrum,
a cut-price home computer intended to automate
staid, and some might say piss-dull tasks,
like spreadsheets
and home economics.
But more excitingly, as far
as Britain's school kids
were concerned,
the Spectrum could play games,
often rudimentary clones of existing
arcade hits, but games nonetheless,
and for a fraction of the price
of the swanky
American cartridge systems.
And, crucially, the Spectrum
wasn't a closed system.
You could write your own
programmes for it, your own games.
And if you didn't know how, there were
hundreds of available blueprints to learn from,
printed line by line in the back
of hobbyist magazines, like this.
I would come home and see my brother
playing with his computer
and learning to code it,
using a language called BASIC.
What was it?
You'd write, "10 say fuck,
"20 goto 10". And it would go,
"Fuck, Fuck, Fuck..."
That was my coding.
That's my coding career.
It spawned sort of a huge explosion
in creativity,
where some brilliant people
were coding in their bedrooms.
It was just like the punk movement.
The punk movement
was very much like a DIY ethic.
It was like, "If you can't
play guitar, fuck it,
"pick up a guitar and play it.
"It doesn't matter
if you can't do it. Do it."
And that is what games
were like in the early '80s.
It was like, "Don't know anything
about programming? It doesn't matter.
Try it, learn, do it, release it."
If you ask me, the ZX Spectrum
was the people's computer,
a true British original.
It didn't have
the fastest processor,
its graphics were primitive
and the keyboard was this
notoriously awful
dead flesh rubber catastrophe.
But it did have an immense range
of bizarre and imaginative games,
shot through with a uniquely
British sense of humour.
Many were almost like playable
sitcoms or comedy sketches.
There were hundreds of colourful,
quirky Spectrum games,
but only one came to truly
symbolise the era.
I mean, the first thing that
you are struck with with Manic Miner,
is the hideous
tune at the beginning.
It's a sort of aural assault.
It's disgusting.
And the colours as well - so garish.
But there was something, there was
something really kind of charming
and mysterious about it.
What's fascinating to me
now about Manic Miner is just
the excitement of the rooms
and how many rooms there were.
You know, all you were doing was
looking at something that,
I don't know, had a few different
blocks flying around.
But there was something really
thrilling about it.
What made this landmark game all
the more unusual was that it was
written in just six weeks by
a 17-year-old called Matthew Smith.
Every single Spectrum owner
in Britain had that game,
that's how good it was.
It's absolutely chock full
of humour.
The game is very much Matthew Smith.
The guy's a legend and rightly so,
and Manic Miner is his signature.
Manic Miner makes it onto our list
for being the quintessential
Spectrum game -
an idiosyncratic, peculiarly
British home brew classic,
still celebrated today in clever,
fan-created homages on the internet.
The Spectrum's chief rival was
the all-American Commodore 64,
a more powerful and altogether
more confident system, marketed
with the emphasis on fun in
impossibly wonderful advertisements.
# Are you keeping up with
the Commodore?
# Because the Commodore
is keeping up with you... #
Commodore games had slicker graphics
and far superior sound.
And as well as its
slew of American imports,
it still had room
for oddball British titles.
One of the games
I remember most fondly and that
I'm most pleased to have been
involved with
was my old game Hover Bovver.
Primarily because
that was a collaboration in design
with me and my dad.
It's another one of these silly,
British comedy games that
just arose one morning
when we were sitting in a place
where there was somebody mowing
a lawn outside.
We just started tossing back
and forth this idea of a comedic
game where somebody was
mowing a lawn and there could be
a dog which gets in the way.
I mean, it was all very
Terry and June, you know? But...
it ended up being a really fun
little game.
But it wasn't all
rosy in the British gaming garden.
It wasn't like a club, no.
Commodore and Spectrum owners
didn't like each other, at all.
Long before Blur versus Oasis,
or any other of those hideous
media inventions of fake clashes,
the Commodore versus Spectrum
debate was a civil war,
a geek civil war, whose repercussions
can still be felt to this day.
The Spectrum was British, you know,
it was kind of the local favourite
and all that. But...
you always knew, tell me,
you always knew, didn't you,
you always knew that you had
the lesser machine.
Essentially, you would be driving
your Triumph, and that's great.
And then we'd pull up in a Cadillac,
which essentially, the Commodore 64
was, with its big, clacky keys.
Shift, run, stop, loads and plays.
Still, despite their rivalry,
Spectrum and Commodore owners could
unite on one key issue,
and that was that owners of
the third system - the BBC Micro -
very much the Liberal Democrats
of the computer world,
THEY were dicks.
The BBC Micro was a chunky,
middle-class computer
created for the BBC's
Computer Literacy Project -
a jolly, well-meaning attempt
to get Britain coding,
courtesy of jolly, well-meaning,
but not notably
sexy edutainment shows
like Making the Most of the Micro.
I've got here
a listing of the programme that
I have taken off the printer.
And it's a reasonably sized
programme for a microcomputer.
Little wonder the computer itself
had a bit of an image problem.
The BBC was for people
who were a bit posh,
because that was
quite an expensive machine.
So if you were BBC,
you were a bit posh.
I was a BBC Micro guy.
The squidgy keyboard Spectrum...
I mean, I just laughed at it!
Square it may well have been,
but the BBC was soon blessed
with a killer app of its own -
a game that didn't just promise
you the world, but handed you
an entire universe, then let you
do with you wanted in it.
A game called Elite.
These spartan,
monochrome wire-frame graphics,
primitive by today's standards,
were stunning at the time.
But that was only the start of it.
Elite came out in 1984,
and it was really a ground-breaking
game on so many levels.
It was impossibly big.
You know, what Elite did was it
simulated the entire universe.
It didn't do anything by halves.
Elite was made by two incredibly
intelligent university
students called Ian Bell
and David Braburn.
And technologically it was
a massive, massive achievement,
because you have got these enormous
galaxies into 32K,
which you couldn't even open
a Word document without now.
That game feels like
it fell through a time hole
from 20 years in the future, it
shouldn't have existed back then.
Both technologically
and also in terms of what
they were trying to achieve
in creating a living, 3D world.
Elite wasn't just a technical
marvel, but a conceptual one.
Until then, almost every game
told you, the player, what to do.
There were rules
and you had to follow them,
punching buttons like a lab rat.
Elite jettisoned
the rule book into space
and let you get on
with absolutely anything.
It was the first,
what we would call a sandbox game,
or an open world game.
You can play the game in any way you
want, it's not linear any more.
Suddenly you are given
a playing environment
and you can choose to do Mission A
first or Mission D first.
You can also choose not to do
any missions, you can
just go out there
and explore if you want to.
Suddenly you could really control
your entertainment experience in ways
that were never possible before.
The fantasy of exploring a limitless
galaxy is a seductive one,
hence the success of
memorable exercises
in wish fulfilment like the camp
but lovable Star Trek, or the
rambling, picaresque shenanigans of
space-hopping hobo Doctor Who.
Those interstellar bumbags
had all the fun.
Now, thanks to Elite, you could explore
the universe like Kirk or the Doctor.
But unlike them, you didn't have
a deep space travel card, no.
You had to pay your way
by trading goods.
And the quickest way
to earn big money
was to trade illegal stuff,
like slaves or narcotics.
Just like Doctor Who doesn't.
Massive bastards could even
turn to piracy,
blowing up other ships
and stealing their cargo.
I had always seen Elite as...
Imagine the 17th, 18th, 19th century
of sailing ships
going across the Atlantic,
trading all sorts of goods.
You know, should you just cover
the normal things,
or should you cover the things
that were deeply illegal?
We wanted the player to have the
freedom to do good and to do bad.
It was, like,
kind of Thatcher in space.
It was make money in this universe,
however you want to do it.
If you want to sell slaves,
if you want to sell narcotics,
if that's the way to do it,
even though there was
risk involved, that's what you did.
If you can imagine in the mid-1980s,
we were at the height of capitalism
and the economics of life
and the politics of life as well,
were reflected inside the game.
It wasn't overtly meant to be
political at all, but I think
it sort of, as a sort of child of
its time, it sort of became that way
because of the money focus
of the game.
You found yourself playing the game
because you wanted that
docking computer, you wanted
that large cargo bay or whatever.
And you aspired to the next
bit of money
and you would do anything
in the game to just try
and get that little extra bit
because you wanted it so much.
There are so many new
concepts in that game,
it was such a leap forward
that I think for publishers and for
the audience at the time, it took a
while to get their head around it.
But once they understood what was
possible, that you could
create worlds inside a computer,
that was just absolutely amazing.
Elite gave birth to an entire genre
of open world sandbox games,
in which the player is largely free
to create their own narrative.
The most famous example
being the gleefully anarchic
and morally wonky Grand Theft Auto,
which we'll return to later.
So, Britain had enjoyed a mini
renaissance of early gaming,
but the rest of the world wasn't
just sitting around, giving up
and going, "Pffff..."
Thousands of miles away,
somewhere terrifyingly foreign,
a boffin was working on a game
so nightmarishly addictive, it would
soon enslave all of mankind
and destroy the world as we knew it.
Kind of.
You'll have to watch the next part
to see if I've oversold that.
# Try not to use me
# Try not to use me... #
The year is 1985 and as
an audience of millions
pretends to live in harmony
while withstanding
this fucking excruciating Duran
Duran performance at Live Aid,
the world is in flux.
Riots are tearing
across the United Kingdom
and not even the glittering Royal Premiere
of Back To The Future can stem that chaos,
chiefly because the two events
are entirely unrelated.
Meanwhile, something was about to
happen in the world of gaming
that was on a par with the Beatles
releasing their first single
but with catchier music.
When Mario first appeared
as the protagonist in
the challenging Donkey Kong,
he was known only as Jumpman.
A few years later he popped up
in the somewhat bare-boned
platformer Mario Bros
but it wasn't until 1985 and
the release of Super Mario Bros
that he became an instantly
recognisable icon.
Super Mario Bros is a side scrolling
platform game where basically
you have to run from left to right,
going up ladders, down pipes,
jumping on monsters,
collecting gold coins.
He's just a masterpiece
of minimalist design.
You get his personality from just
this tiny, tiny bit of information.
His design actually came from
the limitations of the console
at the time,
you know, the blue overalls,
the red cap, the moustache,
all of which came about because
they couldn't really render
anything more complex than that.
So it was red, white,
blue and black for a moustache,
it was as simple as that,
and it was born of necessity.
That's why it's curious
that he's become
the kind of iconic brand
character that he is now.
Mario just means games to me,
if I'm being honest.
Always friendly,
always beautiful to play,
like ALWAYS beautiful to play.
It has never really failed
and I think that Mario represents
all the right stuff in gaming,
all that pure fun stuff,
the essence is all there in Mario.
Again, it's this idea of complexity
hidden behind simplicity
so the Super Mario games look
simple, they look beautiful,
they look like they're for everybody
and they are,
but they're also really,
really difficult games, you know?
'Oh, you idiot!'
It is the hallmark of just how
well judged
Mario's level of difficulty is -
in the process of playing it
you'll die hundreds,
if not thousands of times,
but each time, you'll blame
yourself, not the game.
And it's that constant sense that
next time you can do better
that spurs you on
and keeps you playing.
In fact, the Mario platforming
format is so compelling
it appeals to absolutely everyone
from the under fives
to the under fatwas.
I've become a master
of the Nintendo machine.
I think I've become very
good at defeating
all sorts of tiny little
two-dimensional enemies.
Yes, Salman Rushdie
became a Mario addict
during his virtual house arrest.
He even put his addiction to good
use with his children's novel,
Luka And The Fire Of Life, seemingly
directly inspired by the game.
In this, the hero traverses levels,
saves his progress
and has multiple lives, which
probably seems like a particularly
brilliant concept when you're living
under a death sentence.
You can't really talk about
Super Mario's success without
talking about Koji Kondo's
music design.
Mario's music was brilliant
because every melody is memorable.
There were so many of them.
And that's the sickest one, I think.
I swear, any rapper would just be
like, that's the best rap beat ever.
'Labrinth, come in.'
I think video games have influenced
my whole reason for wanting
to make the music I make.
You know, that kind of 8-bit energy,
16-bit energy.
It's kind of inspired a lot,
especially a lot of the earlier
stuff I made with Tinie massively.
It just had a very important effect
on the way I think about music
and see music
and get inspired with music as well.
Mario was created by
Shigeru Miyamoto,
seen here winning
a BAFTA in celebratory scenes.
No other game designer has ever been
able to replicate
the sheer joy of exploration
and childhood wonder
like Shigeru Miyamoto.
People talk about Miyamoto as
the Spielberg of game design.
He very much is.
He's a man who creates wonder
on the screen like no-one else.
In fact, Miyamoto isn't
just the Spielberg
but the Walt Disney of games,
responsible for an unprecedented
number of treats including
the beautifully designed
and widely beloved Zelda series.
Unlike many video game mascots,
which tend to be
a Crash Bandicoot in the pan,
Miyamoto's creations have
endured largely
because the games they appear in
tend to be very well made.
Mario, in particular, has become
almost a kitemark of quality.
If you've grown-up with Mario,
then he's part of your life
and so there are now parents
who want their children
to experience Super Mario
and have the excitement and
joy of problem solving and
winning games that they did
with the Mario characters.
It's a joy
to watch my children enjoying it.
Back on Earth in 1989,
the Berlin Wall fell,
marking the end of the Cold War
and the eastern bloc.
And these weren't the only
tumbling blocks
and falling bricks the Soviets
had to contend with.
I think there's been puzzles
throughout the ages
and I think Tetris
is the perfect incarnation
of a traditional puzzle game
in video game form.
Everybody is familiar with putting
puzzle pieces together
and it just combined that
with reflexes
and that's kind of like the perfect
melding of two worlds,
like sports and puzzles.
When video games started out they
were things anyone could play,
like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong,
things literally anybody
could understand.
Tetris is just like that.
Games have got more complicated but
Tetris was "fit shapes together".
The minute you learn how to play
Tetris you've already succeeded at it
and there's not many games you can
say that about.
The minute you learn,
"Oh, this block goes in here,
"this fits in here, then that
fits in here, that goes boom,"
and you've already
succeeded right away.
The minute you learn it,
you're winning at it.
I think that's the magic of Tetris,
that's what makes it completely
compelling right from the start.
It's just a design
that's so perfect
that every single game designer
who looks at that thinks,
"I really wish
I could've made that."
It's so simple but so beautiful.
Tetris's straightforward design
was largely a result of the way
it was created.
Computer engineer
Alexey Pajitnov wrote it on
the defiantly non-gamesy,
Soviet and utilitarian
Electronica 60 terminal.
It was pretty much at the dying
embers of the Cold War.
It was one of the first products
that moved from east to west
and, interestingly, he never actually
made any money out of it
until very, very recently
because it was effectively
owned by the Russian government.
Tetris was perhaps the first game
that was compelling
to the point of being addictive.
While playing, you were dimly aware
that some kind of irrational appeal
had completely gripped your mind.
It was like a sickness,
absolutely like a sickness,
because it was a constant, "Can
I do this? I can do it, I've won.
"Can I do this? I've won. I've won.
I've won. I've won. I've won."
Panic, panic, panic, and then
eventually, you would lose,
but there was always, success was always
just a couple of button presses away,
it was always a couple of button
presses away
so it was just a constant reward.
There's a concept called flow
in video game playing
and in fact it happens
outside of video game play as well.
It's where a person will be
completely immersed
and engaged in the task at hand
and everything else just disappears
and falls to the wayside.
Years ago, the repetitive nature
of knitting was quite often used
to help people with low-level
mental health issues,
low-level depression,
and Tetris is a similar kind of
environment to that.
If you handed me Tetris right now
I would play for an hour happily.
Tetris, for me,
was a hugely significant game
because it was the first game
I ever got on my Game Boy,
which was basically your conduit to
life and entertainment as a child.
Bundling Tetris with every Game Boy
was a masterstroke.
Here was an addiction you could
carry around with you for
a cheeky hit now and then, just like
cigarettes but a bit less deathy.
I dread to think how many bus stops
and train stops were missed
because of it but it was that sort
of thing, you could just take it out
of your pocket and play it whenever
you had any moment of downtime.
And that's something we're still
seeing today with mobile phones.
Its lineage leads to things
like Angry Birds -
the whole kind of
casual mobile scene
pretty much had its ancestry
in the likes of Tetris.
Even as the Russians were chalking
up their first big hit with Tetris,
meanwhile on our side
of the Iron Curtain,
Hollywood was starting to get
seriously involved in the games industry.
Games were being created by the
people who brought you Star Wars.
You know, Star Wars.
What was interesting straightaway
about the LucasArts studio
was it was under the umbrella of
Lucasfilm, George Lucas's company,
so it was the first connection
between film and games.
LucasArts started and it had
a mandate
to stay small and not lose any money
and to be the best, I think,
were the three slogans they had.
And also, don't use Star Wars.
George wanted this new company
to stand on its own legs.
Early LucasArts efforts were
action games which,
while technically cutting-edge,
didn't have much impact.
What these games were missing
was a coherent story,
something you'd think Hollywood
would excel at.
The first attempts at computerised
interactive fiction
such as Zork, here, consisted of
nothing but text on a screen -
a kind of playable novella
you navigated through
by typing in instructions like
"go north" and "get lamp".
This spectrum adaptation
of The Hobbit added crude
graphics to the sea of text -
not quite Peter Jackson.
It wasn't until LucasArts turned
the genre into a point
and click cartoon that interactive
storytelling came of age.
When anyone asks me
what my favourite video game is,
it's not your Grand Theft Autos or
Call Of Dutys, it's Monkey Island.
The Secret Of Monkey Island
was a brilliantly realised
comic adventure
overflowing with
character and charm.
What I loved about the Monkey Island
series was the fact that they
were a bit romantic at times,
the main character, the protagonist,
was a guy was a guy by the name of
Guybrush Threepwood,
a wannabe pirate who just really
didn't have it in him.
He didn't have the guts, he didn't
have the nous to become this
famous pirate
that he'd always wanted to be.
We had Elaine Marley,
the love interest.
She was funny,
the script was excellent.
The main antagonist, the main baddie,
was a ghost pirate by the name of
I love that character so much,
I've actually got a tattoo
on my leg of the man himself.
Not only is it a beautifully
programmed game
and wonderful looking - really
lovely visuals, really distinctive,
but at the same time
it also had a very strong character
sense of humour about it.
You know, a tone, basically, in the
way that a good movie has a tone.
So few games are genuinely funny
and this game was not only funny
in its writing,
It used its mechanics to set up
a lot of the comedy.
There's a sword fight in Monkey
Island that you have to win
but the way you win it is not by
being better with a sword
but by having
the funnier comebacks.
They are basically insult
sword fights.
The character you're fighting
against will insult you in some way
and then you've got
various choices of what's
the funniest retort,
what's the funniest comeback.
As you win the argument, as you win
the fight of witty rejoinders,
the fight would go in the same
I mean, we were certainly influenced
on Monkey Island by The Simpsons
but also, I think,
Monty Python in a way.
What the Holy Grail was doing to
the Arthurian legend
we were hoping to do to pirates.
Fittingly, for a game forged
from many different influences,
some believe Monkey Island turned
out to be quite influential itself,
pointing out
similarities between the game
and the vastly entertaining
Pirates Of The Caribbean movies.
Both the game and the film feature
a reluctant swashbuckler
who attempts to rescue his
wisecracking love interest
from a motley crew of zombie pirates
with a scary undead leader.
There are even individual moments
that seem vaguely familiar.
For instance, here, Guybrush
Threepwood solves a problem by using
a coffin as a boat, a bit like Jack
Sparrow did in Dead Man's Chest.
Sorry, mate.
Mind if we make a little side trip?
I didn't think so.
All of which, I'm sure,
is a total coincidence.
It's hard for me
to watch those movies
and not see little glimpses of
Monkey Island in them,
but Monkey Island was based on the
Pirates Of The Caribbean ride.
That was my whole
influence for that game,
so it's kind of a full circle thing.
Monkey Island earns a place
on our list for bringing
cinematic storytelling techniques
to interactive fiction
and its spirit lives on in advanced
contemporary games
like the grim murder mystery,
LA Noire,
and this year's flawed
but interesting Beyond Two Souls.
They're impressive,
but a bit po-faced.
Nothing since has had
the humour of Monkey Island.
All this stuff about spinning yarns
was all well and good
but when would games learn to
focus on the really important things
like teaching children how to
maim and kill?
The answer, fortunately, was soon.
The early '90s were
brimming with firsts -
the first President Bush was
gleefully waging the first Gulf War.
The first McDonald's
opened in Russia!
And something called
the World Wide Web
became publicly accessible
for the first time.
Popular youth culture, meanwhile,
was entranced by slackerdom
and the grunge scene,
as detailed on gaudy
entertainment shows like The Word.
But there was also
a new wave of cultural icons,
hailing from Japan, whose
specialist subject on Mastermind
would've been kicking
the shit out of each other.
Street Fighter II looks incredible.
It's the game that made gaming cool.
Arcades had to draft in
more machines
just to accommodate
for the demand for it,
you know, it was just such a...
such a huge, huge phenomenon.
Street Fighter II is a prime example
of why games are good, cos
you've got a friend and you say,
"Let's just have a reasonable
game of Street Fighter."
"Yeah, sure, let's have a game
of Street Fighter." And you end up
screaming at them, "I'm going to
kill you! I'm going to kill you!"
But it was great,
cos it was competitive and it was
so unlike anything that I'd ever
played before, to be honest,
cos it's just two characters
punching each other in the face.
It was definitely competitive,
especially when you play
with bad winners.
I called them bad winners,
because, while they're
knocking you the hell out,
they're just like,
"Yeah! Bam! Take that!"
And you just... You're just
getting totally trashed up!
You lose!
There have always been
head-to-head games -
Pong was a head-to-head game -
but they tended to be
simple test of reflexes,
until Street Fighter II came along.
This too was a test of reflexes,
but also, crucially,
a test of memory,
agility and strategy.
Now, unless you know what's
going on, it looks fairly mindless,
but it's actually far more
complex than it appears.
I think the key thing
about Street Fighter II was that
it popularised the idea of
complexity in control systems.
It was one of the first games to
introduce the idea of special moves,
so each of the colourful characters
have their own way of fighting.
To perform, say,
Ryu's Rising Dragon Fist,
your fingers have to perform quite
a complex dance on the controllers.
You have to memorise then perform
this move at lightning speed,
which makes it a bit like
mastering a musical instrument.
Someone playing Street Fighter II
is making hundreds of strategic
decisions at lightning speed.
It's basically scissors,
paper, stone,
but on a bewilderingly
complex scale.
People playing Street Fighter II now,
they're still really competitive,
and they're doing
frame-by-frame analysis
of where the vulnerable windows are,
and when you can use which attack,
and what blocks what
and what doesn't block what
and it's, um, it's just crazy.
That's why it's so satisfying
when you win.
You aren't simply thumping
someone in the face.
You're outwitting
and outperforming them,
while thumping them in the face.
Street Fighter II influenced
a whole raft of other "beat 'em ups"
of growing complexity, such
as the phenomenal Tekken series,
which, as you can see,
became increasingly more violent.
Still, at least no-one's ever
inspired to actually do that
kind of thing in real life, as
a consequence of playing the game.
I remember, when I was a kid,
my brothers, um,
made me fight with another kid
and it was just like a little
kind of spar with another
young kid that was my age.
Everybody thought
I was going to lose and, um...
I actually
used Tekken moves to win!
It was so dumb,
but I actually won!
With my dodgy little
Eddy Gordo moves.
My missus still laughs at me about
that, like, I remember my brother
saying it around the table and I was
like, "Oh, shit, I actually did it!"
That's how much I was into Tekken!
It's so wrong!
Oh, well, at least they're just
kicking and punching each other.
It's not like games are full of
people running around shooting guns!
By 1993, there have been a few games
in which you shoot people with guns
from a first-person perspective,
like the fun Nazi-culling excursion
Wolfenstein 3D,
but it was the release
of our next game
that truly cemented
their place in history.
Doom was a flabbergasting,
ultraviolent descent
into bloody hell!
The first time I saw Doom,
my jaw was on the floor,
it was absolutely stunning!
Doom was one of the big "holy shit"
moments in games history.
I remember, I had been working
at PC Gamer for about a year
when that had come out
and, you know,
we were experienced
video game people.
You know, we all did that
for a living.
And Doom was
one of those moments where,
the first time we saw it,
we were like, "What is this?"
The modern-day shooter is
Doom, essentially.
Id Design effectively created
the first-person shooter,
with Wolfenstein, before Doom.
Doom popularised it, because it was
the perfect implementation, I think,
at that time of the idea of seeing,
of you inhabiting the character,
and the camera view
being your view of the world.
In fact, this ground-breaking
first-person viewpoint
was actually a happy accident.
The reason why we made the games
first-person when we started was
because it took less processor time
to actually not draw
a character in front of you,
so the game can go faster
because of it.
There was something very, um...
How can I describe it? ..lonely..
..about Doom.
I know, it's not a shock for some
people to imagine computer players,
computer game players
as being lonely,
but Doom was one of those games
I used to dream about, you know.
There was a feeling of real isolation
to it, you know, and, er,
I found that quite powerful at times.
Isolation is scary. Doom was scary.
Very scary! Honestly!
Young people hearing
older people talk about...
how Doom was scary must be like, you
know when you read those stories how
when people saw the first cinema
and would see a train coming,
and they would run out of
the cinema, you know what I mean,
you hear those stories and
laugh and think, "These idiots!
"They thought
it was a real train coming!"
But you know, things can have
an incredible effect on you,
when you're first experiencing them.
The reason why Doom was
terrifying for me was
because there were doors in it
that could open and shut.
That, you know, seems like caveman
staff, like being scared of that,
like, "Eugh!" being scared
of a shadow or something,
but the fact that there were doors,
and you could hear things
behind the doors,
that was an incredible
kind of leap forward,
that was an incredible,
um, an incredible thing!
One of the things
that makes Doom scary is just,
obviously, the darkness in the game
and it's also scary in that,
um, enemies,
you can hear them wandering around,
so you know they're there somewhere
and just hearing that,
not seeing it, is a scary thing.
And also, you know that
you could go through a hallway
and accidentally step on the
wrong thing and, all of a sudden,
a wall opens up next to you
and stuff is coming out at you.
Doom was packed with
so many innovations,
it was almost embarrassing,
but its biggest innovation of all
was the immersive
and compelling multiplayer mode.
I can remember, I was actually
working at a game development studio,
and one day we all went in
one Saturday, we all went in
and set up the computers, um,
set up the local area networks,
that we could all play Doom together,
and it was my first experience
of being in a game world with
a whole bunch of friends playing
together, beating enemies, er...
and being aware of each other,
that whole idea of telepresence,
being aware of each other in
a game world, it was fascinating
and so, so compelling and we just
played for 12 hours straight.
The beauty of video games
is that it, um,
it adds... it adds a dimension to
friendship that nothing else does.
Going to see a film with your friends
is nothing compared
to being in a shoot 'em up
or a game with your friends
and Doom was the first game that
really allowed us to experience that.
Yeah, although it's hard not to
notice that experience is
kind of violent and, in this regard,
Doom was a child of its time.
By 1993, technology had improved to
the point where in-game characters
could be represented,
albeit crudely, by real people,
as in the notorious
Mortal Kombat here,
And the sight of
these "real" people
maiming and mutilating each other
was a step too far, for some.
When a player wins, the so-called
"death sequence" begins.
The game narrator instructs
the player "to finish...",
and I quote, "finish his opponent."
The player may then choose
a method of murder, ranging from
ripping a heart out, to pulling
off the head of the opponent
with spinal-cord attached.
Every generation seems to have
some sort of cultural moral panic,
whether it's, you know,
Elvis Presley's hips
or video nasties or whatever, then,
in the '90s, it was video games.
It was games like Doom,
you know, and Mortal Kombat,
that had what were perceived
to be super gory terrible graphics
which, when you look at them now, is
ludicrous, cos, of course, it's just
basically like people made
out of Ceefax getting blown up.
Just as controversial was
the frankly crappy Night Trap,
which came on the exciting
new CD-ROM format,
threatening to turn games
into full-motion video nasties.
Five teenage girls have disappeared,
after spending the night
at the old Lakeshore winery house
of Mr and Mrs Victor Martin.
It's like a television programme
in a lot of ways
and the purpose is
you're part of a crack team
that's protecting some girls
on a slumber party.
So the gameplay is, basically,
clicking on the CCTV cameras
and setting traps for these kind of
vampire things that are coming in.
And, because it's video
and not graphics,
and especially at the time
I think, it was life-like,
because it wasn't the clunky
graphics of the '80s,
- this was film you are watching.
- What are you doing?!
And it is quite disturbing
to watch it, actually,
because it does feel
very voyeuristic.
I understand why
it was controversial, um,
because even today,
if you made a game today
where the concept was spying on,
you know, college girls
in their lingerie,
via various security cameras,
and kind of stalking them
around this house,
that would be
very controversial now! Back then,
I can understand why people had
the reaction that they did.
It has been... quite a leap
from Pac-Man to Night Trap.
Night Trap, which, just to be clear,
was a deeply shit game,
was such a hot potato,
it featured heavily
in a US Senate hearing
on video game violence,
which led to Toys "R" Us
taking it off the shelves.
Mortal Kombat and Night Trap
are not the kind of gifts
that responsible parents give.
Night Trap, which adds
a new dimension of violence,
specifically targeted against women,
is especially repugnant.
it led to the creation of
the US video game ratings system,
a voluntary code designed
to alert parents to content
that might be unsuitable
for their disgusting children!
This had a twofold effect.
On the one hand, the games industry
was aware it was being watched.
But on the other hand,
the introduction of ratings
meant that games could now be
conceived and marketed
explicitly as not for children.
Suddenly, developers
had a green light
to pursue nasty games
for nasty adults,
leading to further controversy,
with the death-packed
pedestrian-splattering Carmageddon
being briefly banned
in the UK in 1997
and the MP-alarming Grand Theft Auto
making its debut that same year.
Lots of people at that time,
moral campaigners were trying
to link video game violence
with real-life violence
and we saw this later on
with, um, the Columbine tragedy,
which lots of people
tried to suggest that
the two kids that were involved
in this were heavy games players.
Every time there's any
sort of violent act in the news,
it's always reported like,
"And the shooter was a big fan of,"
you know, "Grand Theft Auto
or Call Of Duty."
It's like, well, that's
because he's an 18-35-year-old man.
That's probably why he's a fan,
not because he's a psychopath!
Recently, in the USA,
the National Rifle Association
has tried to shift blame for
a spate of mass shootings away from
the availability of firearms and
onto the shoulders of video games.
Through vicious, violent video games,
with names like Bulletstorm...
Grand Theft Auto,
Mortal Kombat,
and Splatterhouse!
Ironically, the NRA make
some crude target shooting
and varmint hunting
games of their own.
Furthermore, not everyone is
convinced of a link between
violent games and violent behaviour.
I think there might be violent people
that play these video games,
but I don't think these video games
turn you into violent people.
We should move on.
We should talk about
some of the positive aspects
of video games
or some of the genuine challenges
we can make to the industry,
like where are the positive,
er, female role models in games?
But you know, if we carry on
with this debate...
It amazes me that
it's lasted me for so long.
Dedicated gamers tend to reflexively
scoff at any suggestion
games might be too violent,
but it's clear that even the most
hard-core splatter movies
don't dwell on
biological destruction
to quite the same gleeful degree
as many games do.
Increasing graphical fidelity means
the debate will intensify,
as the portrayal of violence does.
It's easy to laugh
at the low-tech depiction of death
in the early Mortal Kombat games,
but the recent Mortal Kombat 9
features extreme
and upsetting imagery
that would be almost entirely
unthinkable in most other mediums.
Despite scenes that shocking,
Mortal Kombat 9 failed to
generate any real controversy,
but then, many games still fly
somehow under the cultural radar
and, consequently, aren't
called upon to justify themselves.
I'm traditionally quite nonchalant
about violence in video games.
I played the shit out of things
like Doom and Sniper Elite,
but even I find that
basically unacceptable,
which either means I've become
a terrible wuss in my old age
or games are becoming
so forensically graphic,
they're reaching a tipping point.
Some games have a more mature
and responsible attitude to
depicting violence than others.
Some are outright irresponsible.
Others, I think, do it in a much
more mature and responsible way.
And so, um, I don't think
there's anything inherently bad
about expressing or exploring the
subjects of violence in video games,
just as there is in any medium, but
there is violence in the real world,
there will be violence in
any artistic, er,
reflection of the real world,
and video games are no different.
And when women in games aren't
being gruesomely sawn in half,
they're often being simplified,
patronised and objectified.
But the games industry's
treatment of what
I tactfully won't refer to
as "the titted gender"
was about to be challenged,
as we'll see after this break.
Picture the scene.
It's the mid-1990s and no-one knows what to
make of humankind's poxy existence any more
because OJ Simpson has just left
court an entirely innocent man.
Barings Bank has collapsed thanks to
rogue trader Nick Leeson
and in the world of pop,
middle-class Kinks fans Blur
are going head to head with dirge-spewing
musical chimps' tea-party Oasis
in a battle literally no-one gave
a shit about, even at the time.
Meanwhile, bruised by the beating
it took over flogging violent
games to kids, the games industry
suddenly hit on a new target market.
People off their faces on ecstasy,
or clubbers as
they are technically known.
Have you seen any drug-taking? Aye!
Did you take any yourself?
Here we have a normal, healthy young
man and here we have a fellow
who has been experimenting with
PlayStation for only a few minutes.
Enter the slickly marketed
positioned as the post-club,
post-spliff entertainment medium of choice,
bristling with trippy visuals
and incredible soundtracks.
PlayStation moved gaming on
and gaming was now something that
young adults did, not just men.
Lots of woman played Wipeout, lots of
women played early PlayStation games.
They understood there was something
powerful about putting a woman on screen.
Tomb Raider was the first game
I became obsessed with.
It was the only game at the time
where there was a woman involved,
and a woman with a couple of guns
shooting stuff and being really kick ass.
Partly inspired by the gutsy female
image of singer Neneh Cherry
and post-punk toon feminist
Tank Girl, Tomb Raider's Lara Croft
earns a place on our list for being
gaming's first true female icon.
This was the era of Loaded and FHM,
and Lara Croft somehow was the
virtual representation
of that whole idea,
she was a sexy Mario,
the sexy sonic.
There has been
so much discussion about
was she an object of female
or an object of male titillation?
When I was ten years old playing
that game, that didn't matter to me,
all I saw was a woman where
previously I had only seen a man,
and that was huge for me.
Having ruled the late '90s,
brightening up trendy magazine covers
and appearing in irreverent
soft drinks ads,
the 2000s would be less kind to
Lara, despite, or perhaps because
of, being trained by the equally
unrealistic Angelina Jolie
in a pair of noisy but not very good
Hollywood action flicks.
But then in 2013, Tomb Raider was
rebooted and re-imagined
with an increased emphasis on story
and Lara's character.
I have finally set out to
make my mark. To find adventure.
Another key difference - this time
the lead writer was female.
I didn't like the way she had been
adopted by the wider media
and over-sexualised, and I felt
that as a younger female gamer
I was being pushed
away from the franchise.
When I took on the role of helping
develop this new, younger Lara,
I really thought about what
myself as a gamer when I started out
would have liked and what the younger
me would have responded well to.
You can look at the journey
of video games
and mirror it with the journey
of Lara Croft as a character.
At the beginning she was a look,
because video games were
mostly about looks, and then as time
has gone on, Lara's creators
have made her more of a character,
more of a relatable person.
Similarly, all video games have been trying to
tell stories that are more human, more relatable.
The new Tomb Raider
reboot feeds into that.
What you have there is a character
who was once an avatar
and is now becoming a person.
This shift reflected a debate
about gaming's depiction of women
that was already well underway.
In many ways, games still seem
psychologically lodged
somewhere around 1978,
full of eye candy dolly birds
without much to say for themselves
and the voices questioning this
have been growing louder.
In 2012, when cultural critic
Anita Sarkeesian launched a
Kickstarter campaign to fund
a series of short films about female
stereotypes in games,
some male gamers reacted by bombarding
her with rape and death threats.
I don't believe video
gamers are sexist.
I don't believe most
games are sexist.
But also, you look at video games
and you can't deny that there are
things in there that are not
flattering to women and
make you roll your eyes and sigh, or
sometimes make you really angry.
I think it is not so much
gaming culture
that is unfriendly to women,
it is internet culture.
Even today, a huge number of games
still place you,
the player, in the shoes of a boring
cookie-cutter Caucasian
hetero dude with a dick and a gun,
and fuck all else of interest.
But there are some exceptions.
Mass Effect is a good
example of a mainstream video game,
one that many people buy, that does
include something other than
straight white men and for that
reason it has a very devoted
following among people who are not
necessarily straight white men.
In Mass Effect, your character is
basically bisexual by default,
you can fight with whoever you want
and pursue a relationship with
whoever you want and it is sad
that this is progressive but in a
video game of this size it is progressive.
I did not know you were such
an optimist.
You have that effect on people.
Meanwhile, back in the late 1990s,
those cool adult gamers were not content
to experiment with things like
female protagonists such as Lara Croft,
they wanted whole new
kinds of experience.
Games had become set in their ways,
there were too many predictable
platformers or metronomic fighting
games or by-the-book shoot-'em-ups.
What was required was an entirely
new kind of experiences,
a new kind of game.
And that is precisely what turned
up. Winning a bobble head.
PaRappa The Rapper is a game about
a musical dog
who learns the value of self belief
by rapping with a kung-fu onion
while you just press
buttons along with the beat.
PaRappa The Rapper was incredible.
Such a simple, really clever
use of the controller,
you had to hit the things
in sequence.
The first time I remember the
"boom-boom-ba, boom-boom-ba".
That very simple Simon says
kind of gameplay.
Simon sets the pace,
you follow right along.
Simon says style rhythm action games
began with the endearingly
advertised computer
smart arse Simon.
Simon has a brain,
you either do what Simon says
or else go down the drain.
PaRappa turned this basic concept
into a psychedelic
musical pop-up book.
The songs are...
they are so catchy and insane.
I often listen to
the onion man song.
The driving school one.
There's the one where they are all
waiting to go to the toilet.
There's the driving school one,
did I say that? Yes.
PaRappa The Rapper was appealing
because it made people like me
who have absolutely no musical
ability whatsoever
feel like they did.
That was a big
part of the appeal,
the fact that you
were pressing buttons in time.
There's no musical talent in that
but you felt that there was.
PaRappa The Rapper led to
games like Guitar Hero,
in which you use a simplified
push-button guitar to play along to
hits from big-name acts.
Later games added far more
realistic instruments, meaning
players would generally
improve their skills,
however old they were, as you
can see from this charming footage.
The very latest rhythm games have
taken this to the logical
conclusion. You now connect a real
guitar directly to your console.
In fact, they are not
marketed as games any more
but bona fide
musical education tools.
Not a bad legacy for a cartoon dog
in a hat, although
PaRappa himself has been forgotten,
relegated to appearing alongside 50 Cent as a
pop culture reference in subversive comedy shows.
# Kickin' and punchin' and blockin'
# Blockin' and kickin' all night
# Blockin' and kickin'
and turn around
# We'll be punching everything
in sight. #
PaRappa, you never return my phone
calls so now eat bullets, and lick my balls.
It is a rarity talking about games
on TV. TV doesn't often "do" games
and one of the key reasons for
that is that TV commissioners believe that
no-one wants to watch other people
playing them, which is a valid point.
Picture two dweebs playing some
baffling point-and-click strategy game,
it is not like anyone is going to
pack out a stadium to see that.
This illuminating documentary
footage depicts emotional South Korean fans
watching their idols in action.
Who are their idols?
These guys.
Shit-hot Starcraft players.
The Koreans are quite into
A densely complex war sim, Starcraft is
basically fast-paced space chess.
Starcraft is a real-time strategy
building a base
and sending soldiers to kill people
but at a pace that will
take whole years off your life.
Starcraft is interesting in that
it has emerged as the first
sort of competitive sport of gaming.
If you look at Korea, for example,
Starcraft is effectively
the national sport.
There are cable television channels
dedicated to Starcraft.
The key Starcraft pro players in
Korea are superstars,
they have fans, screaming adulation.
As you can see it evokes
excitement among commentators.
For a lot of people, they just
enjoy watching people that are
good at things. It is almost like
watching a virtuoso piano playing.
When you watch these guys playing
Starcraft, their fingers are a blur,
and it is kind of fascinating.
Never mind fascinating,
the Korean audience finds the game
shout-out-loud shit-ifying.
Shortly afterwards, the year 2000
arrived in a flurry of optimistic fireworks
and humankind wondered what majesty
the new century would behold.
It turned out the answer was
a voyeuristic reality show in
which egotists entertained the nation
by sharing a bog for six weeks.
They weren't the only housemates
entrancing millions.
The Sims in some sense is a life
simulator where you create little people,
personalities, they then
live their lives in the game.
You can create houses for them,
they can get jobs, fall in love, have kids.
Following in the footsteps of the
voyeuristic satire The Truman Show,
in which the world tuned in to watch
the mundanity of a suburban life,
The Sims tapped into our desire for
a perfect domestic existence.
It appeals to that part of you that
wants to escape into another
world and create another
version of yourself,
almost too similar to
what your real life is.
I was living on my own
when I first played The Sims and
I didn't really go for it.
I just could not see the point.
But I was playing it and it was in
the early stages of the game when you
buy a flat and I noticed there were
these little green patches on the floor
and the sound of flies near them.
I was like, "What are these?"
As the game progressed, more of
these would build up.
I thought, "How do I get rid of
I figured it out that it was
wastepaper bins.
You put wastepaper bins in each room
and those little green things
stop appearing.
I was playing the game
and I thought, "Maybe I should put
wastepaper bins in my flat."
The Sims wasn't just idle play,
it was stressful.
You have to micro-manage every
aspect of your Sims' existence,
from how many bins they had, to how
often they went to the toilet.
You had to eat healthily,
exercise loads
and generally behave
if you wanted a good life
and that good life was rigidly
defined as a well-paid job,
a smiling partner and a tidy house
full of possessions.
Maintaining all of that became
increasingly difficult.
It took the American suburban dream
and turned it into an endless
point-and-click pain in the arse.
It was meant to be
a satire of US culture
and most people didn't get that.
The promise of the game is that you
have all of these objects
and each one has little ratings.
Each object becomes a ticking time
bomb. They can break, they can
catch fire, become dysfunctional.
You find out these objects you are buying to
make yourself happy are making you miserable.
Even though The Sims' roots lay in
satirising consumerism,
it soon became a capitalist cash cow
itself, with a barrage
of distinctly un-ironic branded
spin-off packs you had to pay for.
I don't think The Sims will ever
be as popular again as it was
when it was first released
and the reason why is
because we are The Sims now, really.
Each other are The Sims.
When you look at social networks
and Facebook, you now
have that top-down
view into people's lives.
The Sims created a realistic world
but made you conform in it.
Luckily a game was about
to come along
that would let you indulge
your darker side.
On September 11 2001,
millions feared the world
was about to slide into chaos.
Weeks later a video game consisting
almost entirely of nihilistic
urban anarchy ushered in a new age
of morally blank freedom for gamers.
I love the feeling of
dropping in to what is
a pretty realistic simulation
of a working city
and then just causing havoc.
It is just sort of
perfect escapism for me.
Early incarnations of Grand Theft
Auto were somewhat primitive
and looked vaguely reminiscent of the
rebellious bedroom-coded ZX Spectrum games
that were part of its genetic code.
Despite being set in
an exaggerated version of the USA,
it was a defiantly British game
made in Scotland from murders!
Grand Theft Auto
arrived at DMA Design,
a small Scottish development team
in Dundee.
It was something their very small
team had worked on for four years
and it was thought of in the studio
as kind of the runt of the litter.
Then in came Sam and Dan Houser
who took on a publishing deal
with DMA Design.
They became kind of the producers
of the game and it changed.
So when Grand Theft Auto III
came out,
they used 3D visuals which made
the game feel more mature
but it was also much more aware
of wider cultural issues.
It had lots of cool music in it
and again there was
a sense of anarchy to it
but it was more out of control
this time.
I'm only pretending to play that.
Grand Theft Auto III
was an immense blockbuster
revolutionising a franchise
that has become one of the most
lucrative entertainment properties
in history with an influence
that stretches
beyond the world of games.
If you watch the film Drive
with Ryan Gosling.
I do not believe that film
would look the way it does
if it wasn't for Grand Theft Auto.
Lots of people say the director
essentially made
a non-interactive
version of Grand Theft Auto.
The world of Drive as depicted
in that film is very much influenced
and inspired
by Grand Theft Auto, I think.
But unlike cinema,
most of the stories told
within the world of GTA
are ones the player
effectively writes themselves
using the freedom
of their own actions.
Don't be no wise-ass punk.
Now give me that!
The other day I stole a car,
I'm shooting someone in the head
and my wife was shouting
shoot him again, shoot him again.
Now, we are two very peaceable
cat-loving ladies from Glasgow.
I think I can rationalise it because
I know it's not real, it's not real.
Yes, and if rib-tickling
viral videos are anything to go by,
GTA's world of fantasy indulgence
even seems to appeal
to older players,
especially those with an axe to
grind against energy companies.
You take that.
Hello, what do you do for a living?
Work for British Gas, do you?
You wanker.
I'll give you put my bills up.
Bastard bank! You take that.
You won't put them up no more.
Bang! One for you and one for you!
For some reason,
this level of anarchic freedom
seems to upset people.
Parents, listen up because here's
what you need to know tonight.
In Grand Theft Auto, your son
or your husband or your boyfriend
or whoever can hire a prostitute,
have sex with her
and then beat her to death
with a baseball bat.
GTA is the gift that
keeps on giving for tabloids.
I mean, Parliament debates it,
there are motions tabled
in the House of Commons on it,
there are endless commentators
who judge it to be something
linked to the devil.
If you're a parent and you allow
your son or daughter to watch this,
even if they are beyond 18 years old,
you're a lousy parent, in my opinion.
It is the definitive
moral panic game.
Please don't make me ruin all the great work
your plastic surgeons have been doing.
Grand Theft Auto is pretty much the
Frankie Boyle of the gaming world, really.
It's controversial,
Scottish, nihilistic,
hard to defend in the Guardian
and to what end?
Well, because it just wants to
make you laugh, of course.
Yeah, shut it, pal.
You'll leave here with an asshole
like a yawning hippo's mouth.
It is interesting being a Brit
living in the United States.
People outside of America
tend to look at the American world
from the outside
a little more cynically.
We look at American culture
and American values with a little
bit more cynicism than
people inside America society do.
You have to be on the outside
to hold up a mirror
and that may be the reason GTA has
been fairly successful as a piece of satire.
Again, I think the satire,
the commentary in GTA,
is often very crass.
I think they miss the target
as often as they hit it but again,
the fact that they are trying
goes beyond a lot of what
a lot of triple-A big budget video
games ever try to do.
It's a giant cartoon, Grand Theft
Auto, and it's not exactly a subtle
representation of anything
but then it is not meant to be.
If you want a subtle representation
of something else,
read a lovely book by Jane Austen.
Grand Theft Auto is all about
causing mayhem and not giving
a fig about the consequences
but increasingly some games
are prompting players to consider
the repercussions of their actions.
And they do it
with surprising grace.
Shadow Of The Colossus was a really
fascinating game in a lot of ways.
It was a really meditative game.
You played a character who lived
in a fantasy world, whose mission was
to rescue a princess which is
a very basic video game set-up.
Your job in the game is to bring
down these huge creatures.
It's like seven huge boss battles
where the bosses
are not only monsters
but so big that they are
almost a landscape in themselves
and gradually as the game goes on,
your feelings as you bring down
these monsters
become more and more complicated.
Because every time you killed one
of these creatures, you realise you
just killed something magnificent,
something larger-than-life.
This beautiful majestic animal
and you just slaughtered it
for some unknown reason.
And every time you did one of those
things your character design
slowly morphed
and became darker and darker
and you realise
you are the villain of this world.
Shadow Of The Colossus
was significant
because it helped forge
a new way of looking at games,
one in which the player could no
longer be certain they were the hero.
It also influenced recent indie
titles like Papers, Please
which, despite its basic appearance,
is a complex game that causes
the player increasing discomfort.
Papers, Please is a game
where you are a customs officer
working on a fictional border
of a made-up country
and you have to check
everyone's paperwork
to see whether or not
they can come into the country.
The mechanics is, like, someone
approaches kind of the checkpoint
and hands you their papers and they
might ask you to let them in,
they have family starving inside or
they're trying to bring something to them
but your job is just to check
whether their paper is forged,
do they have all their papers
and whether to allow them
to get in or reject them.
You quickly realise
you've got to be a bit evil.
If you do not make the quota every day
for stamping enough people through,
you don't get enough money
to feed your wife and kids.
And it's the sort of game
where you play it
and you realise why people
do bad things.
It puts you into a position where you
slide and you go, "All right, well,
"just one person," and before you
know it, you are completely corrupt.
And yet you never really
noticed it happening.
Through those mechanics you feel a
feeling that is so unique to gaming.
You feel guilt.
And a movie
can't make you feel guilty,
a book can't make you feel guilty
but here's, like,
I'm making an action
and somebody can curse me
because of it and I feel guilty and
it's kind of brilliant in that way.
Games excel at making you
stand in other people's shoes.
Not just the shoes of corrupt
Eastern European officials
but creatures so phantasmagorical,
so beyond our imaginations
they don't even need shoes.
Imagine that. You can't!
Something happened in the mid-2000s
with the rise of what's called
the massively multiplayer game
and this was the point
in which the line between games and
reality started to get quite blurred.
My wife got super into it
and so did my son and what was nice
in actual fact
was it became quite a nice mother
and son thing to do together.
It was very interesting, you know,
they would go on raids together.
You know, where else can a woman,
a grown woman who's mothered
several children
and written several hit movies,
go out with her son,
skin some animals, kill a troll, OK,
win some gold
and still see a lovely bit of scenery in
a lovely new mythical city? Nowhere.
The problem with a game this
seductive is it can also be quite addictive.
I would play for 14 hours straight.
When I would be raiding.
I would do a couple of raids a day
and then I'd have to do upkeep
in between the raids.
You hear of people who would
sit there, especially men,
I have to say, who will sit
there with buckets or bottles
attached to their nether regions
so they don't have to move.
They can play constantly
and just pee in a bottle.
The cliched image of World
Of Warcraft players as addicted
shut-in husks neglecting
their own lives was memorably
satirised in
this South Park episode.
Mum, bathroom! What, hon? Bathroom!
Oh, that's a big boy, isn't he?
Yeah, never mind
World Of Warcraft,
that is the tragedy of all games,
isn't it?
The way they steal you away
from the real world where all
the normal people live
and encourage you to stay indoors.
Gaming is just such a sad,
sedentary pursuit, isn't it?
It's totally unlike, say,
the way you're sitting there
in a darkened room
passively watching me say this.
Box sets are the silver
bullet in this.
Everyone who complains to you about
playing Far Cry 3 for 30 hours
has sat through far more
of that in terms of Game Of Thrones
and Breaking Bad, all of which is
a pretty sedentary activity.
And no-one is down on box sets.
No-one is going,
"These are appalling.
"Box sets are making
our children fat."
So that's always been the one
I've gone,
"Slam! Have you watched a box set
recently?" "Well, of course I have
"because I have watched Dir Klurgen Furgen,
the new Scandinavian murderer thing."
How is that different to
playing Grand Theft Auto V?
Yes, you may learn a word or
two of Danish as it goes along
but it is exactly
the same experience.
In fact, it's more passive. At least
my thumbs are getting a work-out.
Never mind a work-out for
your thumbs, what about your other fingers?
Early video games were simple
and so therefore
anybody can sort of pick them up
and figure out what to do.
Then there were overlays
upon overlays upon overlays
of complexity to where,
if you picked up a PS3 controller,
it looked a little bit
like the cockpit of a 747.
The minute you went to
a one-button gesture thing,
it empowered a hole
bunch of new gamers.
That was really the power of it.
It sounds too good to be true.
Being able to play
a game of tennis on your lunch hour
and you don't even have
to take your suit off.
It was the first time you could
actually play games
with your family
and have a level playing field.
You know, you could hand the
controller to your grandma, your mum,
and say, "Let's play tennis,"
and they might well beat you at it.
And for a long-time gamer
that was a great experience.
Wii Sports is on our list, not because it's
one of the bestselling games of all time,
shifting over 80 million copies,
but because it's one
of the most accessible,
turning gaming into
an even more mainstream pursuit
that could be easily marketed
at anyone who can do this or...
this or... this.
Right, this one is my favourite.
Chop chop.
I'll cook for you, Marv,
if you want.
After the spectacular coming of the
Wii was the Microsoft Xbox Kinect
which did away with the controller
and instead watched you
with its beady camera eye
and judged your every action
like Orwell's Big Brother but fun.
The new incarnation of the Xbox
comes bundled with this more
advanced, bulkier version
of the Kinect which can now
analyse your heartbeat
and facial expression.
Gesture technology has now
dribbled out of gaming
and into other everyday gizmos like
smartphones and even televisions
which now routinely require you
to wave at them like some kind of peasant,
as we can see
from this unsettling advert.
And the gaming world hasn't finished
invading your life just because
it's taught you to perform a few
gestures like some kind of gibbon.
No, as we'll see, it's after
nothing less than your soul.
2007 was grim.
Even the launch of the spangly new
iPhone couldn't distract anyone
from the unrelenting misery
of the global economic crisis.
What could you do for
cheap escapism?
The cinema was full of
crappy threequels
and a new Transformers movie,
so that was out.
And thanks to the smoking ban, pubs
now stank of sweat and arse gas.
Fortunately, there was one form of
entertainment that still delivered,
and it chiefly delivered by letting
you shoot people in the face.
This action-packed epic is very much
the Citizen Kane of
remorseless gunfire.
Modern Warfare's about putting
you into the shoes of a soldier,
putting you in the middle
of a battle.
And not just as the lone superhero,
but as part of this giant machine.
It's a world going on around you.
The Call Of Duty franchise
is impeccably produced
and fun to play,
but also, so brutal, many find it
hard to stomach.
For my money, the most disturbing
mission in Modern Warfare
is Death From Above.
A mission that puts
you in an AC130 gunship
and puts a kind of grainy film
over the camera,
as you're looking down, shooting
at targets you can't even recognise.
It's the only mission
in Modern Warfare
that could be photorealistic
because the real-life footage
we see on the news from AC130s is
grainy, and it's tremendously
disturbing, because you can't make
out what these figures are.
It could be, it could almost
be a statement,
but it's not, it's just there so you
can have fun, and that's very dark.
Every Call Of Duty game seems to
have its banner moment, which is
almost deliberately conceived.
Oh, this is the level that will get
us all in the headlines
in the Daily Mail and the Sun,
and these are the things people
will complain about.
I think that's a little bit cynical.
The game's success also lends the debate
about violence an interesting new kink.
Many of the guns it features
are real-world weapons,
licensed with the manufacturer's
full consent.
It's a kind of grim product
placement which means the game
doubles as a shop window for future
gun owners, albeit inadvertently.
The trouble is, some of its more
fanatical fans
are the very last people you'd want
owning guns.
Or even rocks, to be honest.
Fucking come out of there, bitch!
Go on! Get out!
Fucking lightweight and marathon,
you think you're fucking good,
get the fuck!
Call Of Duty is the prime example
of a game
with a horrible player base,
in terms of behaviour online.
Oh, my God! Get the fuck
out, you stupid fucking dosshead!
There's a joke that comedians tell
called The Aristocrats,
which is just basically just the most
offensive joke you can possibly tell,
and playing Call Of Duty with
a headset on is like listening
to a children's choir sing the longest,
most vile Aristocrats joke, in your ear.
For hours.
It's intolerable.
I swear to God, I'm going to come
over there,
I'm going to fuck your mom like
the pig she is.
All of that could lead you
to believe
that present-day gaming is horrible.
Not necessarily.
Video games are in an amazing
place right now.
Because you've got these giant
blockbuster games
that are like giant Hollywood movies
and then you've also got
the equivalent of the independent
film scene.
You've got games that are made by
one person, two people,
little teams who are saying
something that they want to say.
Just like indie films came about
when the cost of making films
was drastically reduced, now,
tools and publishing options
are available for essentially,
the little guys, who just want
to put their game out there,
games that don't have so much
appeal, but cost SO much less.
They can recoup their investment
with just a few thousand sales.
Suddenly, it seemed the
idiosyncratic bedroom coder of the 1980s
was back with a vengeance, like
someone had turned back the clock.
And an unusual time-twisting
indie platform game called Braid
led the charge.
Braid is a puzzle platformer,
and it was created by Jonathan Blow.
On the surface it's all about a guy
trying to rescue
a princess from a horrible monster.
When you first pick it up,
I'm just playing a platform game.
But, then, going into kind
of the fourth dimension,
playing with concepts of time,
and reversing and speeding up
and manipulating time in
a way that took something
that looked familiar and completely
reinvented it.
One aesthetic thing I didn't like
about it was, the main character.
Just didn't care for the little guy.
He looked like a sort of
squashed Hugh Grant.
You know, that's just my taste.
I'm not a fan of
miniaturised Hugh Grants.
Braid is almost a game that's
kind of too smart for its own good.
Almost, I kind of feel that it's
a game you admire.
But I definitely remember reaching
a point where I was like,
I'm not really having fun any more.
And that's fine,
that's absolutely fine,
because I think, for indie games,
they have to explore what a game is.
Braid earns a place on our list
for proving indie games could sell,
paving the way for other individual
and experimental titles.
Braid was swiftly followed
then by Limbo, which, again,
was a beautifully stylised,
very emotionally wrenching story
of a small boy walking through
a kind of ethereal landscape.
Journey is probably the most
famous example of that.
Fabulously beautiful.
Incredibly emotionally involving.
There's a point where the little
fella just can't quite make it up
a snowy mountain and Jesus,
it'll get ya!
Many of the new wave of indie titles
hark back to the retro past,
offering subversive or surprising
reimaginings of gaming's heritage.
And indie games aren't something
you have to seek out
in some obscure hobby shop.
Today, you can buy them
without leaving
the comfort of your own hand.
There's this whole line of video game
genealogy that starts off with
the arcades and moves through
the Game Boy
and stuff like Tetris and Mario
and ends up with modern
arcade-like mobile games
like Candy Crush and Angry Birds.
Games started off as something
that everybody played.
And now, again, they're something
that everybody plays.
Lots of people that didn't really
think of themselves as gamers
will play something like Angry Birds
because it's like a time killer.
Wherever you are,
whatever you're doing,
in a doctor's waiting room, on the
bus, if you're bored on the Tube,
you can play Angry Birds
and it kills that dead time.
With its intuitive, visually
appealing gameplay, Angry Birds has
brought intense hand-held pleasure
to millions, just like your mum has.
Angry Birds is a nice enough game.
I don't think it's the best game
in the world, but I mean, certainly,
it deserves to be a success.
Whether it deserves to absolutely
rule the entire universe
to the exception of everything else,
I really don't know.
Yesterday, when I was buying
my train ticket to come down here,
I looked over at the ticket clerk's
phone that was lying
next to the ticket window.
Angry Birds. It's just everywhere.
Like Pac-Man, way back yonder,
Angry Birds has become
an unstoppable kiddiewink
merchandising phenomenon,
with branded goods, cartoon shows,
theme park rides and all.
But Angry Birds isn't the only
indie game to have built an empire.
Our next game is, if anything,
an even more impressive achievement.
Minecraft is just one of those
bits of gaming genius.
I think you can sum up the appeal
of Minecraft effectively by saying
that it's Lego of video games.
Minecraft is an open world game
which lets players
shape their environment by placing
or destroying blocks.
It's easy, it's creative
and it's social.
The beautiful thing with Minecraft
is that you see people playing
together to create something,
to build some massive project.
People coming together to build replicas
of the Starship Enterprise, and stuff like that,
within Minecraft,
and that's a lovely thing,
because most of the time in games,
people come together
to destroy stuff, and each other.
Minecraft became a hit,
selling over 33 million copies.
And its most enthusiastic
fans are children.
Children can interact with Minecraft
and it allows them
to be creative in a way that
nothing else does.
Like, reading a book is great,
it's wonderful,
but it doesn't allow them to be
part of that fantasy. Minecraft does.
And they create these huge
worlds for themselves,
these huge structures,
not because someone is telling them
to, but because they want to.
And they're probably learning so
much about teamwork and design and
architecture and the environment,
just through playing this game.
You get lots of teachers now,
geography teachers use Minecraft to
get children to design villages.
You get physics teachers now using
Minecraft to teach kids
about simple mechanisms.
And finally, I made it work.
The Minecraft escalator.
It really communicates to kids.
My children,
my sons play Minecraft a lot.
My older son is on
the autism spectrum.
To him, Minecraft is so valuable,
because it's a world of logic
and creativity, which he
immediately understands.
This is the same for all children.
Like, it's really helped my son,
in a lot of ways,
to kind of express himself, which is
really profoundly important.
I'd love to shake the maker of
that game by the hand,
because I think he's
kind of changed my son's life.
So, the world of games has
become like the world of cinema,
with multimillion dollar
blockbusters to one side
and low-budget,
cerebral indie titles on the other.
But now, there are signs
of a third way emerging.
We're seeing the beginnings of
the gaming equivalent
of the critically acclaimed
HBO box set.
Where did you get the money for this?
Drugs. I sell hardcore drugs.
Oh, good. Well, start helping out
with the mortgage, then.
Tsk! Yeah, you wish!
Jimmy? Dad? I'm coming. Come here.
Jimmy, stay back!
Jimmy, I am warning you. Stop!
The Last Of Us is the story of these
two survivors
in a world that has been ravaged by
this pandemic.
And we follow Joel, this
middle-aged survivor,
who's going to do anything
it takes to survive,
cross kind of any moral line
and, through circumstances, he ends
up teaming up
with this 14-year-old teenager,
girl, Ellie.
I need a gun. No, you don't.
I can handle myself. No!
I think Ellie in The Last Of Us
was a great female character.
She's young, but she's very capable,
but she's also got
this interesting vulnerability
and she's not grown up in our world.
I've never been in a plane.
Isn't that weird?
And she can't really
kind of understand it
and she sort of brings a unique
perspective because of that.
She can't envisage a time
when young teenage girls were just
sort of obsessed with boys,
and looking good.
That's completely alien to her.
Is this really all
they had to worry about?
Boys? Movies?
Deciding which shirt goes
with which skirt?
It's bizarre.
Like any self-respecting
box set drama,
the game gradually
and inexorably moves towards
a fulfilling,
some might say devastating climax.
For the first time in my life,
I was crying, as I held a controller
and moved a character around.
I'm really glad my wife didn't come
in, but I was just kind of going...
Oh, my God.
Game designers are getting older.
Lots of the big game
designers are in their 30s and 40s
and they have children,
and they suddenly are thinking
about games in a different way.
Not as systems,
not as scoring mechanics,
but as an emotional experience.
Oh, baby girl.
It's OK, it's OK.
In the next five to ten years,
we're going to see
more games about emotions
and about social situations,
about politics and about society,
because we are now living
in an age where we understand
what happens around us in a very
interactive and very digital way.
So here we are now in 2013 with
games at a bit of a crossroads.
From the monochrome simplicity
of Pong, they've transformed
via this series of technological
and conceptual shockwaves
to become the most varied form
of entertainment
since the written word.
But one thing we've seen
throughout this show
is that gaming never stands still.
And, sure enough, a new generation
of hardware has just arrived,
bringing with it a fresh set
of capabilities which is going to
overturn everything
that went before.
As their slick promo
material makes clear,
the new PlayStation 4
and Xbox One are both more powerful
than their predecessors,
but perhaps the biggest clue
to gaming's future
is their marked new emphasis
on integrated social networking
Now, why would games systems want
to include social networking?
Unless maybe social networking
already functions like a game.
Twitter is a massively multiplayer
online game
in which you
choose an interesting avatar
and then role-play a persona
loosely based on your own,
attempting to recruit followers
by repeatedly pressing
lettered buttons to form
interesting sentences.
The biggest way in which video games
have affected our world,
for me, is the increasing
gameification of real life.
Stuff like Twitter is a game.
It's about small achievements
adding up to bigger ones.
And it's about playing
the rules of whatever you're in.
Gameification means applying
the mechanics of video games to real-life.
Now, often, this boils down
to incentivising people
to perform the same
action over and over.
Each time Mario headbutts a block,
he gets a coin.
When he gets 100 coins,
he gets an extra life,
and these perpetual little
pats on the head
compel you to bash
those blocks for hours.
By supplying a constant stream
of fun-size rewards,
social networking has, by accident,
gameified whole aspects
of our lives.
Every second, another little
gold coin for you to collect.
More followers, more retweets,
compelling you to
interact over and over again.
These are games we don't even
realise we're playing.
Every day, you have a drama and you
have everyone sort of piling in
to be the one to talk about,
to be the one who gets retweeted.
It has become kind of a game
that I find myself gauging,
when I do a tweet,
how popular it's going to be
and I try to guess ahead of time,
like, how many retweets
is that going to get, and how many
favourites is that going to get.
In terms of the competition,
especially between, like,
celebrities or people with
the verification tick,
every time I see someone,
or every time someone's talking
about someone,
they're talking about,
oh, I've got 50,000,
I've got a million
followers, I've got this.
And it very much reminded me
of a lot of games like that.
It was always about how many points
you got. It ups your profile
and makes you feel like you're doing
something in your life.
What I do on Twitter a lot is just
project a false persona.
And it is like that avatar thing.
It's like World of Warcraft
or anything like that.
The way I am on Twitter is nothing
like the way I am in real life.
That feels like a game, sometimes,
you know what I mean?
If you're a sociopath,
feels like a game.
So, how have video games
changed the world?
Well, they've entertained us,
they've put us in the shoes
of cartoon characters
in fantastic settings,
they've made spatial reasoning fun,
they've allowed people to connect
and explore nonexistent worlds,
they've helped bridge the gap
between Eastern and Western culture,
they've provided a safe space
to run riot,
to fantasise out loud without anyone
actually getting killed,
they've handed a generation
of creative thinkers
a whole new set of tools
to express themselves with,
and they've inspired
and instructed millions of children.
Not that anyone cares about them!
But, perhaps most significantly,
possibly sinisterly,
games have now burrowed, by stealth,
into aspects of our social lives
and we, in response,
have cheerfully invited them in,
and that trend's just going
to continue
until whole areas of our existence
have become games.
In fact, you'll scarcely
be known as you any more.
You'll just be known as Player One.
You might as well change your name
by deed poll now and have done with it.
That's the end of the programme now.
I'd say game over,
but only a prick would say that.
Get out of my show.