This week we're thinking of the children with a couple of pieces that shoot an accusative glance at videogames for helping to devalue the modern day childhood. Then there's a refreshingly frank word with the man who helped shape many of our own childhoods, Shigeru Miyamoto; a rare defense of Sony's often disparaged PSP; and a goldmine of appalling game intros that I defy you not to laugh/weep at.
- TV, video games rob kids of imagination
This is a 'letter to the editor' about the dangers of children growing up surrounded by on-tap media entertainment that does not require them to use their imaginations enough. Naturally, videogames get a mention. It got me thinking about how our generation of gamers (among the first to have been gaming their whole lives) are going to approach videogames with regards to their own children. Are we going to be liberal and non-hypocritical and allow our kids to spend as much free time as they like (and we would like) to play videogames? Or has age afforded us a degree of perspective that sees the 'real' play experiences of our childhood as being of greater value than the hours we spent in front of the TV or PC, an indulgence we so casually dismiss as being inevitable for the serious gamer?
- Modern life 'has turned children into loners'
Another provocative take on the issue. This time looking at the more immediate implications of solitary pastimes like gaming.
- The Man Who Made ''Mario'' Super
Miyamoto is nicely candid in this short interview. The Halo remark ("I could make Halo. It's not that I couldn't design that game. It's just that I choose not to.") will raise eyebrows but probably shouldn't be taken too literally. Though the comments about Zelda's apparent underperformance in Japan (people didn't buy a Wii for that kind of game; people nowadays are reluctant to play big role-playing games) are perhaps a sign that Nintendo are losing confidence in their more traditional, signature franchises as they forge a new path with their cross-generational software and unconventional hardware. It is, however, encouraging to see that fantasy gaming's most illustrious creative mind is not totally averse to the idea of real social issues being explored within the medium, nor ignorant of the games that are already doing just that (Defcon).
- The 10 worst game intros of all time
A choice selection of some truly woeful "cinematics". The number one spot quite deservedly goes to Ikari Warriors II on the NES, boasting as it does possibly the worst presentation decision in gaming history. It must be seen to be believed.
- Underrated: PSP
This one should get a few DS fans going. The writer sounds like a typical gadget geek, with only a casual interest in games it seems, sounding off about the sleekness of Sony's handheld several years too late. But if I’m honest, the sleek aesthetic and usability of the PSP are probably why it remains my gaming console of choice right now. Hardcore gamers will rightly baulk at the dearth of quality original software, but there's something undeniably luxurious about PSP gaming even two years after launch. The wonderful screen makes just about any game look beautiful; it’s impressively versatile as a media player; only the general stigma of gaming would make you feel self-conscious with it in public; and although the loading times can be excessive, it more than makes up for it by allowing you to switch on and off in an instant so that every game experience becomes as epic or as bite-sized as you want it to be.