Thoughts on Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Spoilers obviously

I think at this point it’s pretty clear that the theme of the new Star Wars trilogy is that the greatest hero of all is nobody. It’s the daughter of a some junk traders scavenging in the desert, it’s the stormtrooper who has a number instead of a name, it’s the random technician on the rebel cruiser, it’s the one bombardier desperately reaching for the launch button. The Last Jedi absolutely demolishes the weird aristocracy Star Wars has built for itself and replaces it with a bunch of ordinary people doing the right thing.


Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – What to Watch

Deep Space Nine is one of my favourite TV shows of all time, but nevertheless, like The Next Generation, jumping straight in from the start is a big mistake. The first two series are kinda ropey, but the show is so heavily serialised that you can’t just watch the top ten episodes either as you won’t understand what’s going on. Thus I’ve put together another watch/skip list for anyone wanting to check it out for the first time. As with the TNG list, you can skip straight to the episodes by going here, or read my musings about the series first.


Star Trek: The Next Generation – What to Watch

UK Netflix recently added every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (and the other series, maybe I’ll do those later) and it turns out a fair few people I know on twitter have never watched it properly. Since attempting to watch all of TNG from the start is a terrible mistake, I’ve put together a watch/skip guide for anyone attempting the feat today. You can skip straight to the list by clicking here, or you can enjoy my musings on the series first.


Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I think if you had explained the plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens to me I would have rolled my eyes. As a bullet point list it is fanservice to the point of obnoxiousness, repeating an absurd amount of classic Star Wars beats. Several things happen that I had literally joked about beforehand “If they do this, I’ll walk out”.


A list of games that are not my games of the year

Recently I tweeted that 2014 had been a pretty bad year for games. A few people were surprised at this, but honestly every time I looked at any list of best games of the year I felt decidedly underwhelmed.

So by way of explanation, here is a long list of games that I don’t consider games of the year, and why:

Game Chef entry – Za Vstrechu!

Za Vstrechu! (named after a traditional Russian toast) Is a game by myself and Matthew Ward. We created it for Game Chef, a nine day tabletop game jam. The theme of the jam was “There is no book” and we had to incorporate two of the following four ingredients “Glitter, Wild, Absorb and Sickle”.

We chose glitter and sickle and made a game about a masked ball on the eve of the Russian revolution. All the instructions are either on the invitation or on the masks themselves, hence the minimalist rules:

2013 in stuff

2013 was a weird year for me. I spent the first half of it with no money, no prospects and no motivation, but by the end I had a steady income, a bunch of new friends and small cool writing in lots of different places. I can probably credit a lot of that to the Not a Game podcast. Recording something every week really helped me get out of my rut, so thanks for that guys.

I mention this because it probably explains a few things here. Like not going to the cinema or reading much and just binge watching TV instead. Basically it’s about how I suck, but I suck slightly less than I did ten years ago.


The day I stopped playing GTA

So Grand Theft Auto 5 is out and a lot of people are discussing the controversial torture scene. People like Eurogamer editor Tom Bramwell, who writes:

“GTA is a game full of violence, of course, but it is mostly slapstick, impersonal, cartoon violence – floppy-limbed pedestrians flying over your bonnet, cars flipping through intersections, or tanks and helicopters exploding. You’re always slightly zoomed out from the impact of your actions by the lack of close-ups and the way everything resets to normal a few minutes later. It’s very unusual to be hurting a single person in isolation over a prolonged period, which is why the torture scene is a different and unpleasant experience.”

With respect to Tom, I think he’s wrong to call this scene an exception. In fact his description of Trevor’s graphic torture reminded me very much of a small section in GTA 4 that put me off the series forever. The mission in question is called  ‘I’ll take her (Ransom)’. It’s short and remarkably simple, all you have to do is beat a defenseless woman and take a photo of her battered face.


Let’s make comments earn their front page status

Note: I can’t claim full credit for this idea. It’s based on a similar brainstorm by my friend Chris Thursten. My version is just simpler and more drastic.

Recently I’ve read a number of articles on internet comments. Notably this one by Ed Smith on Medium. The message is simple: comments are terrible, they’re being used to bully and harass writers, something must be done. All these articles are confident that something will be done, that creators will eventually wrest the power back from the comment section but, other than Ed’s suggestion that comments should occasionally be closed, no-one seems to have much of an idea how we should go about it. I do.

The idea is simple. Having your words appear below the article is a privilege, not a right, so let’s force people to earn that right. Let’s make sure every single comment requires someone to click ‘approve’ before it shows up. Instead of only exceptionally bad comments being deleted, only especially good ones will appear at all.


The Not a Game podcast

I know an awful lot of interesting freelancers, and it always struck me as a shame that they never had a place to get together and just chat about games for a bit. The Not A Game podcast is my attempt to bring together a bunch of those people and give them a chance to talk informally, exchange views, have debates and hopefully not realise I’m nowhere near as cool as they are.

We all live in different cities and keep different schedules, so it’s been hell to organise, but from now on we aim to record one every week. We’ve started with a small core cast, but we aim to expand and feature guest appearances from freelancers and developers all over the world. In fact if you’d like to join us, please get in touch with me via twitter or email.

The regulars:

You can listen to the Not a Game podcast at Gaming Daily, where Craig is generously hosting them. Just click on the ‘Podcast‘ button at the top of this website to go to a list of episodes.