My Life Described Through Video Game Titles

I like to play video game and on occasion I think about aspects of my life and put them to video game titles. It’s like opening a box of Pringles, once you pop you can’t stop and over the course of a few hours I can often come up with loads. Often they hit me at the weirdest times; going for a walk with the kids, cooking roast dinner, on the toilet…

Anyways, have a look at what I’ve come up with and think of your own too!

(Please note that these are all said tongue firmly in cheek and no offence is meant.)

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Living in Barking

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Getting home at night from Barking Station

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Saying goodbye to my asian family

(as opposed to spending hours on the doorstep)

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Leaving secondary school at the same time as the other local secondary

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Parents bring up prospective arranged marriage to some random Auntie’s niece

Getting married

Getting married

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Telling the wife that she needs to calm down during an argument

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Having kids

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Retiring early and having a good pension as a teacher in Britain

Being a millennial and trying to get on the property ladder

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Being a millennial and trying to get on the property ladder during Brexit

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Passing my driving test after 60+ lessons and driving a 2008 Honda Jazz (in 2019)

Being An Elder Statesman of Gaming

Recently, I turned 38 and it dawned on me… I’m approaching 40 and what used to be called ‘middle-aged.’ Now amongst my father’s generation middle-aged meant they’d take up a hobby, usually golfing, tinkering with old cars or going through some form of a mid-life crisis but for me I’m not sure what it will entail.

As many people of my generation approach 40 we are less likely to own our own homes and so we have this weird stage of ‘man-baby’ males who are not on the properly ladder or even settled on what they want to do in life. I’m lucky as I’m a teacher and happy to be so (most of the time), married with a wife and two kids and I’m kinda on the property ladder. What middle-aged means to me is not new hobbies but an old one, the constant I’ve had since I was about 5 years old… gaming. I play a couple of hours of games most days and it shows no sign of abating. Even when people said that having children would put a dent in my gaming it really didn’t and hasn’t. Now I know this doesn’t reflect well on my parenting skills but I only play games when my wife and children are in bed and never during their waking day so it’s all good and healthy.

I have been reflecting though; will I be playing games when I’m proper old and crinkly? Will I plug in the Nintendo Holocube, Xbox Infinity, PlayStation 69 or Spectrum Revival II in my mancave and play some Final Fantasy 42, Zelda: The Kazoo of Space Time or Half Life 3. I don’t know but I hope so. However, I could become more reflective and look back and finally play the games of my formative years, Dizzy, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or Mario Bros. 3. It’s what the older generation do isn’t it? Look back with nostalgia on past glories and milestones.

Whatever the case, I’m sure I’ll be a gamer until my (probably arthritic) body gives out or my spirit is crushed through the constant talk of Brexit… whichever comes first!

V and A Video Games: Design/ Play/ Disrupt- Exhibition Review

The world famous Victoria and Albert Museum in London (V&A) is currently running the Video Games: Design/Play/ Disrupt exhibition. The real boon of the exhibition is that it allows the wider community to understand the gaming community and the lure of the virtual world.

The beautiful V and A museum in London is a great setting for the Video Games: Design/Play/ Disrupt exhibition.

Many contemporary video games are creative, immersive and innovative and some are having a huge social and cultural impact across the globe, not always for the best but it is important to consider the positives alongside the negatives which is what the media seems to focus on. The exhibitions focus is quite narrow as it doesn't really look at the history of video games but rather issues around the medium including the portrayals of violence, race and sexuality, which I feel are very important in an artform that is still quite young and seen as the enfant terrible of pop culture.
Across the exhibition well known big budget games and characters rub shoulders with some indie and cult classics but all are accorded respect and lovingly curated. There are large-scale immersive multimedia and interactive installations alongside the usual display stands and cases.

As I entered the space I was welcomed with a rush of colour and a wall of sound, with an extremely large screen showcasing some of the games I would be seeing.

A large screen greeted me as I entered the exhibition.

A large screen greeted me as I entered the exhibition.

Passing a material mesh doorway, there was another large screen, this time showing the beautiful images from Journey. Austin Wintory's BAFTA winning soundtrack played and its beauty washed over me. The design documents and concept are from the game were on show and the information accompanying the pieces was informative and rich. The concept art sketches and paintings were wonderful to behold and creator, Jenova Chen, had his storyboard based on the classic Hero's journey on display.

The next doorway led to The Last of Us and had the same layout, a large video screen showing images from the game and some of the minutiae that went into its creation. A highlight was the original cork board from creators Naughty Dog with the notes and ideas that helped to consolidate the narrative arc of the game and characters. Within the same room was Bloodborne, the classic hard-as-nails gothic horror game by From Software. There was a playthrough of the Beast Cleric with a voice over by hilarious YouTuber Matt Lees that discussed the strategies needed to defeat the boss and play the game. Also featured were original sketches and a short documentary  covering the creation of the soundtrack.

The next room did a complete volte-face as it featured one of the most colourful games of the current generation, Splatoon. Some concept art and early prototypes were on display but the wall featuring the logos and street art inspired fashion was the thing to look for here.
Also in the same room was an indie game I had never heard of called Consume Me. It was a fun mobile game with elements of Tetris but with food and details of its calorie content. It features a cute aesthetic and I can see why it was placed with Splatoon.

Following on, we had Kentucky Route Zero, the magical realism game which features beautiful art. The original Rene Magritte painting Le Blanc Seing was beautiful to behold and spoke about the inspiration for the game.

On the other side of the room was Tale of Tales' The Graveyard, in which you play an old woman with a walking stick walking through a graveyard and remembering her past. I had played the experience many years ago and found it moving, however I remember there being a backlash amongst many gamers as they claimed that the title wasn't really a game but more of a walking simulator. The sketchbooks and original wire frame animation offered a real insight into how Tale of Tales came up with their concepts. Their 10 point manifesto challenged what video games could be and how they could emotionally resonate with people, much like the Dogme 95 manifesto did for film.

Afterwards I entered a room which contained No Man's Sky, the much maligned but recently patched and actually wonderful procedurally generated space exploration game. As you entered there was a wall of screens, showing GIFs of the worlds you could explore in-game. It was beautiful and looked like an art installation. There were also animal concept art and books that inspired the look of the game, including Asimov’s Foundation books and Ralph McQuarrie’s Star Wars film art.

The next room was a large one and had several stations which asked deeper questions: Are video games political? Why are video games so white? Why are video games aimed primarily at boys? There was a super wide screen that features talking heads discussing these questions and asking the audience to consider their opinions.

After weaving my way through a black curtain I entered a large room with a huge screen showing a variety of e-sports, showcasing how huge it had all got. There were montages of Eve Online battles, Overwatch matches and League Of Legends world finals. There was also a video on the creation of Westeros from Game of Thrones in Minecraft.

After that I entered an arcade area that reminded me of entering a beachfront arcade in the 80s in Southend or the like... Some muted neon lighting added to the industrial look of the area but it was good to play some of the experimental games.

V and A Video Games: Design/ Play/ Disrupt

And so I had reached the end of the exhibition. So, after all this was it worth a visit. In a word, YES! The whole exhibition was well crafted and placed video games in an interesting space that requires people to examine it further. There is more that can be done but as the first major exhibition of its kind in London it is very worthwhile.

My One True Gaming Constant in Life- Nintendo

In late March 2015 my wife and I welcomed our beautiful daughter, Jasmine, into the world. In the last couple of years since her birth we've been through a massive amount of change- some of it good and some of it bad; staying up most of the night to her howls and calling NHS Direct worriedly at 3 a.m. only for her to fall asleep inexplicably happy after half an hour, hearing her say her first word ('Dada' if you were interested) and seeing her walk for the first time with a huge grin on her face. As a parent these moments of joy and and fear make up much of your waking life and you'd be surprised at how quickly you adapt to it- it becomes a part of your life as naturally as breathing. I've written already about how my gaming life has been impacted by the introduction of a baby into my life but something that has not changed in all this is the presence of Nintendo

My second mancave was in a much smaller room which I was given as a favour from my wife. It was full of DVD's, CD's, graphic novels, models and plushies. It was great but felt a bit crammed!

I first came to gaming when I was 6 and lived opposite a video rental store in East Ham, East London. The shop had a few arcade machines including the sit-down Pacman table, Space Invaders and some other ones which I can't remember. I fell in love with the colours, lights and sounds and blame it for getting me run-over when I was rushing with my pocket money across a busy street. Luckily I only had a graze on my head and lived to tell the tale and play games. I asked my parents for a computer but money was always tight so I had to content myself with playing my friends' computers. They had a ZX Spectrum and Spectrum +2 and the games wowed me but when my best friend got an NES for his 10th birthday my whole world changed- Nintendo was in my blood now. Together we would play our way through Double Dragon, Mario 1 and 3, Zelda, Micro Machines and many more. At the time I was playing the NES I was bought an Amstrad CPC 464 with green monochrome screen for my birthday. I loved the aged Amstrad machine, particularly enjoying Rainbow Islands, Bubble Bobble, Dizzy and Target Renegade, but wanted an upgrade and so worked hard on my car-washing round to purchase a Master System as the NES was still very expensive. The Master System was a good machine but the NES was much better in terms of gaming catalogue and so I still played it much more around my best friends house.

When the Megadrive came into the picture with Sonic my friend got that for his birthday and again I played through many of the best games with him, including Streets of Rage 1 and 2, Aladdin and Street Fighter 2. These were the times of the console wars and you were either Sega or Nintendo but never both. I was definitely Sega but this changed when another friend of mine gave me his beat up old Gameboy. It was scratched up real bad and had no back for the battery casing but that didn't matter, I loved it! So between my fix of the Megadrive and Gameboy I was all set. Later on I would swap my Master System and library of games to get a second-hand Megadrive. I missed out on the SNES as none of my close friends had it but I came back to it once the new console generation began. This was when Nintendo would become my gaming constant. I got the N64 second-hand and completed Zelda: The Ocarina of Time and Goldeneye. The N64 was awesome at the time but due to the huge gaps between games I also purchased a second-hand Playstation 1 and loved that too- completing amongst others Final Fantasy 7, Syphon Filter and Parasite Eve II.

My bedroom was spacious, light and piled high with my 'pile of shame'... comics, books and games I wanted to complete.

My bedroom (which I'd had since I was 11) was a geeks paradise and very spacious.

I even had a projector plugged in to play games. This was especially good for scary games like Project Zero 2 on the Wii.

My projector is used a lot to play games on this portable machine. The sounds not great but the gameplay is spot on.

The image is pretty clear on the wall but it's a definite step down from my original room.

When the Gamecube came out in 2002 I bought it on the day of release with my brother, giddy from the money from my weekend jobs at a clothing chain and a youth centre. It was the first ever console that I bought brand new and so it has a special place in my heart. Even though it had quite a small library it did have some of my favourite games ever including Zelda: Windwaker, Resident Evil 4 (an exclusive at the time) and Metroid Prime. As the consoles library dried up I purchased a second-hand Playstation 2 specifically to play Ico. The game had me intrigued and so I brought a shrink wrapped copy of that game and the console one Saturday after work at the youth centre and devoured the game in a few days. Of course I played loads of other PS2 games but Ico was my in, a strange in to be sure.

I bought the Xbox 360 in 2007 and loved that system, it's online service was amazing and I played some phenomenal games including Bioshock, Assassins Creed 2, Gears of War, Red Dead Redemption and Deadly Premonition. However I noticed something; all those achievements and the quest for useless XP points was getting in the way of the games for me. The simplicity of the games were being diluted with fetch-quests and the search for random doodads, a lot of the games coming out had no respect for my time and I started to dislike them for this; why did I need a 3 hour tutorial on how to move my character around a screen?

When the Wii was released I was one of the lucky few who had pre-ordered at from Game and got it on the day of release. The system was a revelation and yes I am one of those people who have the story of 'my parents never played any computer system but they did play Wii Sports.' The image of my dad playing tennis with my older brother by waggling the Wii-mote around is a happy memory for me and not at all as sinister or sordid as it sounds. The Wii had some amazing games including Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Muramasa: The Demon Sword, Super Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 and Donkey Kong Country Returns but as usual the games dried up and the shovelware came in. When my wife and I moved to Cambodia for 2 years she bought me a cracked Wii and I had over 200 games on it. She went away for a girlie weekend and found me in a catatonic state, sleep-deprived and I'm sure a bit smelly as I am a completist and had stayed up pretty much the whole weekend playing loads of the games worrying about how I would complete them all. That is obviously not a good state to be in and so I decided to relax about games and not get caught up in the whole 'complete everything' spiral. I went back to the Xbox 360 but was very picky in what I played as so many were very padded experiences, I started critical pathing some of the games which made them still very worthwhile in my opinion. I also only played the Wii games I was interested in and completed pretty much all the ones I had wanted.

I then bought a Wii U and even though it has been a commercial failure, it has had some phenomenal games; Bayonetta 2, Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (which incidentally has one of the greatest soundtracks ever) and Rayman Legends. I've found myself more relaxed about my gaming habits and again have only played the games that have interested me and respect my time.

And so on to the Nintendo Switch. I've pre-ordered it and am awaiting it with bated breath. Even though many of my friends and colleagues are worried about it as they feel Nintendo's last few entries into the console market have been underwhelming, for me it doesn't matter. I play Nintendo games for the Nintendo experience. They very rarely create games that have fat and take liberties with your time. Their games are usually polished and refined to the highest degree and this is what I pay for.

I've found that even though I have more responsibility in terms of finances and family, Nintendo has been a constant. It offers me hours of comfort and pound or pound has given me more joy than any other media. I often get people asking me when I have the time to play games and the funny thing is that even though I don't have the time I used to have when I was in my adolescence or teens, I do have a spare couple of hours most evenings.

My daughter goes to sleep at 7 ish most nights and my wife is close behind at 8:30, being a lark whilst I am most definitely an owl. This means I get a couple of hours gaming in most nights and have smashed through tonnes of games in the past couple of years. I could spend a few hours working my way through tutorials on some 360 games but most Wii U games don't have long-winded openings and so I just jump in and there I am collecting bananas and trying to stop my island from freezing, or there I am trying to smash Peach off the arena with my Falcon Punch... it goes on.

Nintendo is a constant in my life and even though the company doesn't always get everything right, what it does to is provide a library of bonafide classic games that stand the test of time (for the most part). I hope that as my daughter grows up I can share my passion for gaming with her and show her the Nintendo universe and the wonders contained within.

Children and Video Game Certification

(Film clips not suitable for under 18's and this is an opinion discussion piece)

As a teacher and a renown gamer (at least in my school) I occasionally get parents coming up to me asking for my advice about video games and whether specific titles are appropriate are suitable for their children.
I normally tell the parents that they should look at the game cover as there is an age certification there. This way I cover myself by making sure I follow the school policy but also ensure that the parents are following the video game certification system, of which they may be unaware.

This got me thinking about when I was a kid and the media I consumed which was often way too mature for me. My father would get VHS's of Jaws, Rambo, Robocop, Predator and many other 80's action films which featured high body counts and blood but it doesn't seem to have desensitised me or warped me in any way, well not that I can tell anyways!

However I do remember once going to a friends house when I was 8 years old and him excitedly telling me that he had a copy of the latest Freddie Krueger film. I proceeded to watch Nightmare on Elm Street 3 as Freddie invaded a young girls dream, turned into a giant worm in her dolls house and proceeded to swallowed her. I had nightmares for months afterwards and this scene was seared into my mind.

I'm guessing that my father was aware of the film age ratings and content but he allowed me to consume the media from an educated position, he never brought home psychological horror films or anything salacious but blood and guts were fine.
Every year without fail I see queues on parents with their young children buying the latest Call of Duty or Halo game and usually I find myself tutting to myself, thinking that the parents are ill-informed or not taking the responsibility of parenthood seriously, and this may be true for some but recently I've been thinking in this day and age of easy information and research maybe the parents have looked into the video game that their child wants and made an informed decision. Speaking to a few of the children at school on the matter some interesting points were made on the issue of age rating, a few children said that their parents allowed them to play Halo as they were killing aliens and there was no red blood, only goo coming out. Others said that they played the more violent games with their parents only and were not allowed to play it alone. Yet others said that their parents didn't mind the violence but it was the swearing and more adult material that they were protected from.

I have a daughter who is 23 months old at the time of writing and I am very conscious of what media I consume around her. I never play any video games around her but I hope that when I do I'll make sure her screen time is minimal as I know from friends that once you introduce electronics to kids that's it, they'll be very hard to focus on physical real-world activities. I'm not sure if I'm doing it right but I hope by making informed decisions I can help my daughter develop and consume media healthily and raise her to make her own decisions on what she knows works for her and what doesn't. There are no easy answers and in this day and ages when everything is available online I'd like to hope that she make informed decisions based on her knowledge of herself and her character, like my parents did for me.

The Last Guardian - Video Game Review

It's been over 11 years since video game auteur Fumito Ueda released his last game, Shadow of the Colossus and so after a protracted development period, which saw a whole console generation go by with no release, to say that I was ready to devour The Last Guardian whole in big gaming chunks on release is an understatement. As a huge fan of both Ico and SOTC I, like most of the gaming world, was excited to see what Ueda had been working so hard and long on but instead of playing it from start to finish I decided to savour it like a nice glass of Shloer and I'm glad I did.

The game itself is a slow, meditative game centred around the interactions between the boy and a bird, chicken gryphon-type creature called Trico. Their relationship is beautifully realised and the trust that builds between them feels well-earnt over time. Unlike other AI in other game I have played Trico feels like a real being with his own thoughts and feelings. As a former cat owner the love Trico gives you when you stroke, talk and pull out the spears from his flanks feels wonderful and has a truthiness to it .

There are times in the game where I have wanted to stay in the moment with Trico and not move forward, because I am afraid of what might happen to him. I know that Ueda creates wonderful narratives but they always end in a powerful downbeat way and I don't want that for these characters, maybe that's why I'm playing this game so slowly and cautiously. Instead I'm enjoying seeing Trico run through the fields after struggling through tight corridors, and I'm loving seeing him roll in a huge puddle and shaking himself dry.

Ueda is a world builder but he does it all through symbolism. In this mystical, silent world less is more but it feels like there is a whole mythos and backstory there if you look hard enough for it.

The music is beautifully subtle and complements the game, emerging at key moments and there is no onscreen HUD, except for controller hints which I wish I could turn off, and so the beauty of the world is there for you to enjoy.

The game has its faults and does feel unpolished which is surprising for a game which has been in development for over 10 years. The camera and controls can be clunky, some gameplay elements and transition scenes aren't smooth or clear and it's not always clear which route to take but all this didn't ruin the game for me. Ueda has created something, which like the rest of his back catalogue is timeless, it isn't perfect and many will gripe at it's shortcomings but for those willing to look beyond these it has been well worth the journey. I've enjoyed it so far.

Video Gaming Bucket List

One of the perks of being old, and there are only a few that balance out the failing health, mortgage payments, the 'man' getting you down etc, is to be able to look back and recall fondly on what has gone before. No I don't mean in the 'Only 80's Kids Will Remember This' type of thing but rather really recall things.
I have had the privilege of living through the most exciting time in computing history. I was there when the British microcomputers emerged, thrived, then gave way to the Nintendo and Sega 8 and 16-bit console wars. I was there when the future seemed to be in FMV gaming (Hi Night Trap, I'm looking at you) and I was there when disc based gaming blew open the possibilities of what games could look and sound like.

Night Trap looked to be bring a new maturity to gaming- it didn't do very well.

When choosing an aesthetic for TheDeadPixels, which I started 4 years ago, I selected a predominately 8 and 16 bit look as these was the most formative years of my gaming when I was aged between 8 to 15.

People often ask me if I still play retro games and my honest answer is yes, not as often as Id like to as being a father and running a house takes up a lot of my time, but whenever I'm between modern games I often go back to revisit old classics, often to fill myself with the glow of nostalgia or to beat games I didn't have a chance to in my youth, either due to not being good enough or simply by not owning it.

Recently I've been working through my gaming bucket list, a list of video game achievements I'd like to fulfill before I die. This list is due in part due to my tendency to be a completist or to feel like I really have enjoyed all the best that the medium has to offer.

I went to PLAY Expo Margate and fulfilled a couple of my dreams by playing Tempest 2000 on the Jaguar and Musha on the Megadrive 3. This got me thinking as to what else I'd like to achieve in my time on this mortal plain and this list is what followed:

  • Complete Rainbow Islands on the Amstrad CPC 464- I got near the end when I was 11 in 1992 but never finished it.

This game is very hard to complete, even though it looks all cutesy and sweet it has a rock hard heart!

  • Finish a Dragon Quest game as they are a big deal in Japan.
  • Play Final Fantasy 5 and complete IX. I have completed FFIV, VI, VII and VIII and own IX but haven't completed it. I haven't ever seen a FF V cart in the wild and I'll be darned if I play the iOS version!
  • Play any Football Manager. I feel that as a Brit I'm letting the side down by not getting on this most British of institutions.
  • Complete Majora's Mask. I completed Ocarina of Time and it is my favourite game of all time but I only played Majora's Mask briefly (I own the cart), moving onto the PS 1 at the time.
  • Complete Monkey Island 1 and 2 as they are a big deal. On iOS I recently completed other classic point and click adventure games such as Beneath a Steel Sky, Broken Sword 1, 2 and 5 but having bought the first two Monkey Islands on iOS I haven't got around to finishing them.
  • Complete Persona 3 and 4. I own both and have poured about 30 hours into them but this is Persona and over 100 hours are needed for each game. Who has time for that?
  • Play Skyrim. I bought it years ago and just never got around to it. I find I'd rather play games with a finite amount and feel like I'm making progress.
  • Complete Fallout 3. I bought this a few weeks after it came out and after 5 hours gave up, the pace is deliberately slow and world building but I want progress darn it!
  • Play the Zelda Philips CDi games even though they are supposed to be terrible!

The Zelda CDi games are supposed to be terrible but I'd like to play them!

  • Complete all the Metal Gear Solid games. I've played a bit of 1 and Peacewalker but that's about it. I really should rectify this tout-suite!
  • Complete Super Mario World. I have it and was working through it recently but with the housing renovations being done I had to move out and left my RetroN5 at home. It still awaits my return!
  • Complete Streets of Rage 3. I've finished 1 and 2 plenty of times but played 3 briefly at a retro games centre as I never owned it due to it being really expensive at the time and it coming out right at the end of the Megadrives life span.
  • Complete any original Megaman game and Megaman X. I didn't own a Super Nintendo as a kid so never played X but I did play the first two Megaman games around a mates house and 9 on the Wii when it came out a few years ago. They were brutal but I'd like to revisit and complete them.
  • Play Thunderforce 5 as I completed 3 and 4 on the Megadrive and thought they were brilliant.
  • Complete Okami-den. I loved Okami on the PS2 and completed it. I also purchased it for the Wii as I though the motion controls would enhance the game further. Okamu-den was a rare DS game and I only managed to buy it recently at the London Retro Gaming Expo. It's the game I'm currently working through.
  • Complete Zelda on the SNES. I completed Links Awakening and Oracles of Ages and Seasons as I had a Gameboy and whilst I have played up to the forth dungeon in ALTTP I haven't completed the game.
  • Complete Castlevania: SOTN and Super Metroid. I love both these series and have complete Metroid Prime 1 and 3 (I didn't taken to 2 with the Dark World mechanic) and I have completed Castlevania: Lords of Shadow and Super Castlevania but I haven't played what is widely considered the high watermarks of the Metroidvania genre.
  • Complete Wonderboy IV. I loved the Wonderboy game in the arcades and on my Amstrad but the high point was Wonderboy 3: The Dragons Trap. It was the jewel in the Master System crown and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I completed it. I bough the Monster World pack via Xbox Marketplace but haven't put much hours into 4, I feel I need to do this as its supposed to be amazing and was unavailable for a long time in England.

I'm not even sure that this was released in the UK but boy does it look wonderful.

  • Complete Mario 64. I played it lots but never got all the secret stars.
  • Play Panzer Dragoon Saga. I loved Orta on the Xbox but heard that this was much better.

Panzer Dragoon Saga fetches a pretty penny nowadays.

That's pretty much my bucket list. As I work through these I'll highlight these in red and date when they were accomplished. As well as playing current games, being a father and doing my day job this is a pretty comprehensive list of things I'd like to achieve in my life. Let's see how many I can do Give me your gaming bucket list in the comments section below

Dear Esther Concert Was Emotional

Dear Esther is the game that helped to create a sub-genre in video games upon its full arrival in 2012; the walking simulator. As I've mentioned before the genre divides opinion amongst gamers but for me it doesn't matter. As soon as Dear Esther started and I was confronted with the sound of crashing waves, views of an old abandoned building and a melancholic voiceover I was invested.
But even more than the game it is the music that has remained with me. Even after all these years I can still remember the sound of the delicate piano theme.
I am a big fan ofthe composer and game co-creator, Jessica Curry and it was through this game that I discovered her. So a chance to see the score performed live with a playthrough of the game with Dan Pinchbeck, the other co-creator of The Chinese Room and Curry's husband , was unmissable for me and I can honestly say that I wasn't disappointed. The venue, the Milton Hall at the Barbican, was a sellout and there was a diverse range of audience members. On a huge projected screen the game was set up ready to be played, the opening scene left for all to admire as the auditorium filled up.

I wasin the front row and so had an amazingly close view of the concert.

Upon starting the game Pinchbeck made his way through the game, stopping at opportune moments to show the beauty of the game, and the live narrator read excerpts from the games script, which sent warm waves of nostalgia through me. The orchestra played the entire soundtrack andalongside the perfectly frames shots, it shows that Dear Esther is still a handsome game.
The concert lasted 1 1/2 hours and was a wonderful experience, reducing the elderly lady sat next to me in the front row to tears. At the end of the concert Curry came on stage to receive a bow and thank the orchestra and her husband. After the concert I headed down to collect my bag from the cloakroom and overheard many people sharing their opinions about the game and reminiscing about the game, it was great being amongst my nerdy peers and the environment being inclusive and non-toxic.
I hope this concert starts a trend for other game studios to perform their soundtracks live with a playthrough of their games as I do feel that there is definitely an audience for it.

IT16 Conference and Exhibition- Ashford, Kent

Today I was lucky enough to attend the EiS IT 16 Conference which had keynote speakers, hands-on workshops and a choice of electives. I had been fortunate enough to attend the BETT Show earlier this year but this was a chance for a more relaxed and calmer approach to computing rather than the rush to see everything in the intensity of the BETT weekend.

The Conference started off with a brief introductory message from the event organiser which was followed by a keynote speech by Tim Rylands, who went through a myriad of ways to engage pupils through the use of many (free) tools, apps and resources to engage them in the topic of animals , although any topic could use the resources shown. I came away full of ideas and inspired. 

The next session I went to was my favourite; a hands-on session with the BBC Micro:Bit, the small easily programmable device which is being provided, free of charge, to every year 7 school pupil in England. The session only lasted 40 or so minutes but in that time I was able to easily programme the LED lights, create a simple animation and scroll a message to playfully insult a colleague.... wonderful!

After a short break I attended a session about coding and how to show progression in coding through the use of tools such as Kodable, Scratch Jr and Tickle on the iPad. This was an excellent session as it allowed me to think about our current practice at school and think about how we could use programmable robots and drones to help show pupils how coding works with real world examples

The second keynote looked at the strategies and practices of a variety of case-study schools in their implementation of mobile digital devices. It threw up a lot of questions but mostly spoke about how ownership of the object was important for the pupils to get out of it and also how mobile device use should be integrated into daily practice instead of sporadically.

The final elective I chose was with Tim Rylands again and concerned using video games to inspire games based learning. I found it interesting and satisfying going into this quick 30 minute session as I had been par of the Redbridge Gaming Network for several years and in that time we had used numerous games as a contextual hub for learning. On this website I have discussed and shown how I have used Endless Ocean, Limbo and numerous other games to get the children inspired to write. It was great to see one of the originators of the idea speak.

Overall the conference was a great event and even though I could be more verbose and thorough of my review, it is late and I am fasting tomorrow so I have kept this brief. If you get a chance to go, please do as it is well worth it... even just to network and share good practise.