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10:09 pm: The Verb on gaming
Tonight's live edition of The Verb was utterly fantastic. A great discussion of Elizabeth Bishop with William Boyd and a wonderfully strange audio piece by Peter Blegvad, and a painfully funny analysis of valentines poems by Alex Horne, who even goes so far as to improvise his own poem on the spot:

Chickens have wings
Rats are like mice
The Nissan Micra is a type of car
And you look quite nice

He's also particularly scathing of the idea of cards written from the perspective of a dog — "I don't think that's what St Valentine died for..."

By my highlight was Naomi Alderman's quest for a well written computer game. After dreaming of games based on The Hudsucker Proxy and Dr Strangelove, she returned to reality and to Red Dead Redemption; not a bad game, a best seller with a plot of sorts, but no character development. Alderman makes the point that when she played it, she killed 743 people. Which, you'd think, would have changed the protagonist a bit. But he remained the same mellow guy he'd been at the start of the game, as if none of the horrors had touched him...

I love the idea of a computer game as good and as detailed as a novel and as characaterful as a novel; as a good novel. One that lets you make your own moral choices, without tying you into a plot that, as Alderman puts it, isn't as inevitable as a Greek tragedy. A game where the plot is central to the action, rather than just being tacked on as an after thought — something with all the playability and character of an old school text adventure, and all the shiny beauty of a modern graphics heavy epic.


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