This episode was recorded SO LONG AGO. OH GOSH. sorry! there was a lot of scheduling and mechanical failure! aaaaa!
Dominion: Dark Ages / Splendor / Paperback
Hearthstone Vs Netrunner
Blood Bowl: Team Manager / Chaos Reborn
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective
Jackbox Party Pack (Drawful, Fibbage)
This War Of Mine
The Talos Principle
I’m releasing an unfinished game. I don’t want to work on it anymore, I don’t want to implement the features I’ve already finished, but I want to release it. I’ve added developer commentary in-game with some of the things that went wrong and right, and I’m going to post some of the material that didn’t make it to the game itself here for you to see.
Download the game here, on my itch.io.
We talk about fighting game accessibility. For a really long time. And then later on the most accessible AAA game on the market.
Support the show on Patreon!
Laura returns! Josh isn’t around! It’s the perfect ON!VG! line-up!
Our new show art is by Wicked-Draws! We talk about Contextual Maps! Amiibos! We do our most unsettling Patreon Advertisement yet!
Closing out the episode is the track Werewolf on the Dance Floor by The Robot Knights! We briefly talked about the Jetta Rae interview with Christine Love and Maddy Myers. The Robot Knights is a band that Myers is in! They’re rad, it turns out!
Support the show on Patreon!
Starcraft 2: Heart Of The Swarm
Game Of The Year: 420BLAZEIT
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Seventh Hero / Android: Infiltration
Smash Bros / Amiibos
Tales From The Borderlands (and other recent telltale stuff)
Charlie Brooker’s macabre one-shot episodes in series Black Mirror made its way to US Netflix today. That’s enough of a kick-up-the-arse to finally get something written about one of the more important things on (and about) our screens. Spoilers, obviously.
Every single moment of Black Mirror’s sophomore episode displays an oppressive social system working exactly as intended. An overly specific and heavy-handed way of looking at our own society as it currently functions, but it’s perfectly encapsulated problems with widespread political and personal apathy, their causes and their results. It’s my favourite of the 6 hour long standalone episodes, with strong competition from White Bear, Be Right Back and The National Anthem (in that order, the remaining two don’t even make the list).
For the majority of the world in 15 Million Merits, their nights are spent confined to a smartscreen-paneled box that provides entertainment at a pittance-cost but little actual purpose, a death-by-a-thousand-cuts approach to emptying their wallets of digital currency, with willing participants ready to assuage feelings of boredom and monotony. Your days are spent riding a stationary bike for your spending money until you’re incapable, then becoming yellow-garbed cleaning staff for the facility (“going lemon”). The only hope of escape is to win big on a televised talent show, accepting the immediate offer of a Simon Cowell-type and his panel of sycophants.
Standing in for John Hurt, Daniel Kaluuya plays Bing Madson. He’s carrying around a sizeable inheritance from his late brother. He’s reached an advanced stage of ennui with his surroundings. He’s unhappy, but he’s not looking for an active change. He is of average importance. He’s acting out routine. He is every other human alive. He meets Jessica Brown Findlay’s Abi Khan while she’s singing to herself. Seeing this performance as a moment of genuine beauty, falling instantly in love, he convinces her to use his inheritance as entry fee to get on stage and try to win her way off The Bike.
Here are some important observations about the world that are never called to attention but are worth thinking about on a repeat viewing:
Modern Day England struggles with mass unemployment for our youth. A common trend in politics is a noted resentment for anyone with a work-related disability and for immigrants. Our culture, such as it is, affords us in the working class few other luxuries than a crate of some shitty lager, some shitty licence fee-funded talent shows, some shitty video games. Those of us without the possibility of work aren’t even permitted these pleasures, being forced to attend the Job Centre daily at self expense or perform a job as a means of access to the basic costs of living, but far below the minimum wage as a prescribed means of earning a right to eat, but more accurately having your time maximise the profit of corporate interests that can use you as free labour in place of a fully paid worker. Our existing public structures are being torn apart in the aim of profit for few already profit-laden waistbands. But, with a strong method of PR management from the government, our news sources and even our entertainment, the vast majority of our population doesn’t really give a shit enough.
A lot of criticism of the episode sees it as highlighting our obsession with microtransactions and smartphones, where piecemeal content without much actual value offers a small pricepoint and distracts us. More accurately, the net is wider. It’s also decrying our obsession with the meaningless busywork that funds our purchases, the shitty distractions and even though we’ve some conscious awareness, we’re overwhelmingly accepting that this is the way of the world in the vain hope that we’ll someday benefit from these systems as we progress past their oppression without then trying to dismantle it.
15 Million Merits displays a world where real food can be effectively grown in a petri dish, but yet there’s still a mass incentive that every single person alive be kept busy by spending money on things they don’t need and physically exhausted through hours of labour. This is not the prison of pleasure that Huxley imagined, nor the manipulative surveillance state of 1984, this is control through a culture of work.
It would not entirely surprise me, given that we’re never shown the bikes actually hooked up to anything, that the world portrayed in this scant hour has also created a secret source of limitless energy. A dynamo attached to a bike, even as efficient as it could be, might not regain the energy expended by the facility. Brooker and Huq have made a world that has truly completely automated the means of production yet still sees necessity in a vestigial capitalism.
The “lemons” are a great analogy for modern UKs treatment of anyone out of work, either through disability or economic downturn beyond their control. A group that does not actively participate in sustaining the culture of economy despite their presence enriching the environment around them. There are video games dedicated to shooting them. A television show about covering them with a viscous gel fired from a water cannon. They are Othered, constantly insulted. As a member of this society you daren’t allow yourself to ever dream of escaping from The Bike because you become one of them. Not having to peddle any more should be seen as the dream goal achieved through hard work and perseverance, not by suddenly being unable.
Abi’s performance on-stage ends with her being forced into a lifetime of starring in pornography. In a vacuum this is a purposeful removal of her agency, her authored way of showing her escape from The Bike comes at a cost. In a greater cultural context this is a pretty paternalistic view of sex work. And really her agency is lost not just for the sake of the narrative, but for the in favour of becoming motivation for Bing to try and affect change. It’s my least favourite part.
Bing suffers through months of overwork and self-starvation, attempting to raise enough Merits to enter the talent show himself and give an impassioned speech, without really expecting what kind of impact it will have. Holding himself at the point of a broken shard of glass he shouts down the structures, the willing participants, the culture of Shit. Simon Cowalmost responds to this with an offer, that he keep saying exactly the same thing, twice a week, televised, packaged itself as a form of entertainment for the masses that continues to keep them apathetic.
I mentioned the relative lack of security before. Yeah. Obviously. Why would they need any?
Just two pals, exploding with glee over bits of cardboard they got to see a month earlier than they were supposed to; it’s Ice Analyser. We also shoot the breeze about Martin’s terrible poker face, hand bloat mechanics, and murdering nerds in a dank basement.
The Game City episode! We have some things to say about space! And SMTV live!