Send your emails for next week's Friday Letters Page - if there is one - to this place here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for a slightly fragmented and quiet week on Digi, chums. Understandably, we've been rather focused on preparations for this weekend's Block Party. If we survive... normal service will be resumed on Monday. We'll see some of you on Saturday.
Send your emails for next week's Friday Letters Page - if there is one - to this place here: email@example.com
We’re now just a few days away from this once-in-a-lifetime event! Which – in case you’ve somehow forgotten – happens this very Saturday, October 1st.
We've had a number of returned tickets, so if you're interested in coming along, drop us a line here: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you already have a ticket... read on for the FAQ containing everything you need to know for the weekend, including the timetable of events. If you're coming along, you might want to print this out and bring it with you.
Mr T is everybody's favourite tough guy, even if these days he's mostly remembered for that BBC Three show he did, and the Snickers advert. Back in the 80s, Mr T was everywhere. In the wake of his starring role in The A Team, he had his own cartoon series, released a record, and was featured on more merchandise than you could jangle a neck-full of jewellery at. Here's JUST the tip OF the ICEBERG.
IT'S NOT FOR US TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO WITH THESE AWKWARDLY POSED PHOTOS OF SIR CLIVE SINCLAIR... BUT YOU MIGHT WANT TO SHOW THEM TO YOUR DENTIST
If it wasn't for Sir Clive Sinclair, the gaming landscape would be very different. His ZX Spectrum was the biggest-selling home British computer of the 1980s.
However, the Spectrum isn't the only thing that Sir Clive done (not to be confused with Clive "Grandad" Dunn): he was also a pioneer in the field of calculators, digital watches, and ill-considered electric vehicles.
Here's a gallery of classic photos of Sir Clive, which you're free to do anything with - including showing them to your dentist, if you want.
You'll have to excuse my indulgence today. I'm not going to be writing about video games, or anything even tangential to video games, other than this weekend's Block Party/Digifest.
My brain is all over the place, and so this is going to be more like a regular, typically rambling, blog post - of the sort I don't really do on Digitiser2000. It's intended to be an attempt to regroup and ground my slightly overstretched and fretting brain.
I've never organised anything on the scale of Digifest. It has been a team effort: lovely Dan "Teletext" Farrimond has been responsible for bringing the daytime schedule together, and dealing with the potential sponsors, but the evening stuff has mostly been down to me and my other half.
Inevitably, when organising something like this there are numerous hiccups in the road. Little things... like losing our sponsors (and then - possibly - un-losing them...). Or discovering that the booking for the hotel a lot of us are staying in hasn't been processed, and the hotel is now booked out.
Or that the venue where the festival is taking place has been double-booked with another event. Or potentially not being able to find a food van, so that people can eat. Stuff like that... which is all workable, and solvable, but provides stress in the moment.
And on top of that... there's the preparation that has gone into the merchandise we're offering for sale, the needlessly ambitious videos we'll be showing, and pulling all the elements together to offer a whole evening's entertainment - including a full-on game show, for some reason. Right now I've a long list of things that need doing, or require my input.
I was properly saddened to read the news last week that Monty Python's Terry Jones is suffering from dementia.
To say that Python was an influence on my sense of humour would be a gross understatement. It wasn't just the silliness and surrealism that got me, but the way they'd try to break the format of the sketch show, and how they revelled in language. I especially appreciated those sketches that were little more than a list of words - like Cheese Shop - or would twist the dialogue in clever ways.
That made me want to write, to play with the rhythm and construction of language. It taught me that comedy was about more than punchlines; it was more about surprise, and the unexpected.
Somehow, Terry Jones provided voices for the first thing I ever wrote for TV, back in 2001: an animated pilot for Channel 4, entitled Knife & Wife. That in itself was surreal enough, but Knife & Wife were characters I'd created when I was a Monty Python-obsessed teenager. If you'd told 14 year-old me that one day an actual Python would be playing Knife - who at that point was drawn purely for my own amusement - I would've punched you in the tongue.
Alas, it was a feat of casting that I've yet to match in the 15 years since.
Arnold Palmer is dead. He was a golfer. I know that, because one of the first games I ever bought on my Mega Drive was Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf. I'd never heard of him before that, and I don't remember hearing much about him since. Until the news broke this morning that he had died.
Even the game gave little away about this golfing enigma. He featured on the box artwork, and the title screen, brandishing a meaty fist, but beyond that... he was nowhere to be seen. There wasn't even the option to play as Arnold Palmer: your character was just some anonymous guy wearing a stupid flat cap.
Of all the Arnold Palmer golf games you could imagine being made, Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf would rank among the least Arnold Palmer-y. Indeed, it probably featured the absolute bare minimum of Arnold Palmer-ness required to get away with even being called an Arnold Palmer golf game.
Sega had something of a habit of adding a token celebrity sportsman to their games, once they hit markets outside of Japan. Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf had been released in Japan as Ozaki Naomichi Super Masters - a game which contained precisely no Arnold Palmer.
It's Friday, love, if you hadn't already noticed. You know what that means don't you? Incorrect: it actually means it's time for the Digitiser2000 Letters Page!
Send your emails for next week's Friday Letters Page to here: email@example.com
Furthermore, we still have about three or four evening tickets left for next weekend's Digifest nonsense. Drop us a line if you'd like one. £10. Bargain. Rass. Letters, yeah?
The original first-person shoot 'em up, the light gun shooting gallery has been a staple of the amusement arcade for as long as anyone can remember.
Here is a tribute to this most singularly peculiar standard of seaside entertainment.
You might've read the series of pieces I wrote earlier in the year about the developer Digital Homicide. Founded by brothers Robert and James Romine, the company is in the process of suing YouTuber and journalist Jim Sterling for "assault, libel, and slander", over what they allege was his vindictive coverage of the company's objectively terrible games.
As I wrote about the situation over several articles, I came to realise what my own vested interest was (links below). Digital Homicide's personal hurt was pretty evident, but this latest development suggests they've learned nothing in the ensuing months. Whatever is really driving them, it's ugly and unnecessary - albeit only as ugly and unnecessary as what drives certain customers to revel in trying to take them down.
Now, Digital Homicide is suing 100 users of Steam for "personal injury" regarding the behaviour of those who have sought - often through aggressive means - to draw attention to the apparent shovelware nature of DH's games.
In response to the lawsuit, Valve has removed all of Digital Homicide's games from the platform, Valve's Doug Lombardi stating: "Valve has stopped doing business with Digital Homicide for being hostile to Steam customers".
Now. Here's my gut reaction: Digital Homicide need to shut up and stop acting like lunatics. I mean, there's getting hurt, and then there's reacting to that hurt with grossly disproportionate behaviour. And yet, the root cause of all of this can be firmly planted at the feet of Valve itself - and the company's hands-off, quantity over quality approach to what it hosts on Steam.
To any gamer who went to school in the 1980s, Skool Daze and its sequel Back to Skool were computer game equivalents of Grange Hill: a TV show that was an unerringly accurate portrayal of contemporary school life.
However, Grange Hill itself was given its own lesser-known multiformat title at the height of the show's popularity - a sort of action-adventure, featuring several of the show's then-characters.
Here is a look at why it might just have been the most depressing game of all time.
When I was 15, I went on a school trip to Germany, where we visited the theme park Phantasialand. During the day, my classmates and I befriended a group of naughty German boys, and we did our bit for European unity by teaching one another swear words in our respective languages.
Also, one of the German boys stole a load of candy floss from a little kid by ripping it out of the boy's hand and shoving it in his mouth, which was as shocking as it was funny. Ever since that day, I've harboured a certain respect for the German sense of humour.
Apropos nothing, here are ten German print ads for the Atari 2600, which display that unique humour in all its glory.
"It was never meant to be like this. When Notch created the popular computer game Minecraft, Notch saw it as a simple little cave game.
"It was never meant to be Notch's greatest achievement, and the thing for which Notch will be most remembered, long after Notch is gone.
"For Notch, Minecraft remains a means to an end. Fortunately, it has bestowed Notch with almost unlimited wealth, and that shall allow Notch to pursue his true purpose. Minecraft is therefore naught but a stepping stone towards the real reason Notch was given life: to invent Silly Rope."
I've waxed nostalgia about games industry logo design a fair bit recently, but there's still one stone to turn in my quest to cover all logo bases: the logos of the games companies themselves. Let's hope there isn't a wasp under that stone, and it runs out and stings me!
Just so you know: this article doesn't mention wasps. It's literally just about games company logos. Please don't mistake it for one of those articles about wasps.
Something I've struggled with as I've gotten older is the curse of developing a conscience. I've become aware that my actions, simply by dint of being born and living in the West, have consequences.
While I feel utterly powerless to do anything significant to change the world for the better, I have become wracked with a sense that I should at least stop being complicit in things which make life worse for others.
I realise that the way I've lived until now has had repercussions for the rest of the world. My partner and youngest daughter are vegan, and I've been unable to avoid their endless discussions about ethical eating, and it has resulted in my own conscience getting a kick up the backside.
Unfortunately, I don't have anywhere near the strength of will to give up eating meat - the thought of never again having a bacon sandwich or a lovely, medium-rare steak covered in blue cheese sauce - makes my stomach perform a cartwheel, while shouting "Feeeeeeed meeeeee!".
It would require me to unpick 45 years of being borderline carnivore, and I'm not ready to do that yet. But I sort of want to, because I know enough about the meat industry to know that it's incredibly wrong, and bad for the planet, and bad for the animals in their cages... and actually quitting meat would be like trying to slow down an oil tanker with a ping pong ball on the end of a stick.
Consequently, I'm haunted by this sort of low-level buzz of guilt, that's with me at all times. And it's not just about what I eat. I mean, I had a pang of worry recently, when I suddenly feared that our Digitiser t-shirts might've been made in sweatshops. I'm actually a bit scared to check.
However, talking of sweatshops, I bought an iPhone 7 last week.
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