PA LOVES YOU VERY MUCH.

See you tomorrow for THE VOTE THAT MAY END IT ALL.

(but probably won’t)

currently playing: Black Kids – Hit the Heartbreaks

The Greatest British Film Never Made

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currently playing: Los Campesinos! – Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks

Imagine...The Name of The Game

Once upon a time there was a software company called Imagine. It existed in the heady days of the early 1980s, where hundreds of software companies sprang up to try and make money from these new-fangled ZX Spectrum things. Some were pretty good at it. Others…well not so much.

Imagine’s first game, Arcadia was well-received at the time of its release in 1982, becoming a big Christmas hit. The company was propelled into the press as an icon of Thatcher’s new Britain, making a fortune in new hi-tech worlds, and in Liverpool, of all places, to boot.

They released more games during 1983, of somewhat varying quality, but the company continued to grow at an impressive rate, moving into bigger and more expensive office spaces (twice!), showing off their wealth with an impressive array of sports cars (which were apparently on hire purchase rather than bought). They made a huge deal with magazine publisher Marshall Cavendish, rumoured to be worth £11m, to produce games to go with a new magazine series the publisher was planning. Imagine were the country’s premier games company; practically unstoppable.

They announced that they had exhausted the limits of the Spectrum; their next games would be dubbed ‘Megagames’. These would come with a hardware attachment that would boost the abilities of the computer and give rise to a ‘whole new world of gaming’. Oh, and they’d cost £40 instead of the average price of £7 for Spectrum games. They also agreed to have the BBC produce a documentary to showcase them to the British public at large.

You know how this story is going to end. At the end of 1983, Imagine decided to book the entire capacity of one of the major tape distributors in the UK, preventing other companies from getting their tapes made in time for the Christmas market. This would have worked well, if the games sold. Unfortunately, Christmas 1983 was a rather bad year, and Imagine were left renting a huge warehouse full of unwanted tapes. Oh, and they hadn’t finished paying the duplicators yet, either.

As 1984 rolled on, things just got worse. The megagames were dogged with delays, and the cost of producing the hardware add-on were twice as much as Imagine’s profit from 19823. One of the games only existed on paper. Still, Imagine went on as if everything was fine, placing advertisements for these games, telling the duplicator firms that they’d be ready soon.

They weren’t. The BBC team filming for Commercial Breaks were present as Imagine began collapsing all around them. Magazines filed suit to get money for unpaid advertising space, the duplicators came for their money, Marshall Cavendish asked for theirs back after unsatisfactory work on their games…and the directors fled the scene, squirrelling away some of the company’s assets in a legally-shady manner. The liquidators came in soon after, leaving PR director Bruce Everiss standing in an empty room talking to a BBC camera wondering where it all went wrong (and in Crash explicitly blaming the directors of the company).

The best part is that Manchester boys Ocean picked over the corpse of the company, taking the name and even redeeming it with games like HyperSports and Target: Renegade.

Fast-forward to 2008, and Bruce Everiss has a blog. A couple of weeks ago, he indulged in a little historical revisionism, blaming Imagine’s woes on the scourge of piracy. There it sat, unnoticed, until somebody pointed it out to Stuart Campbell.

Stuart Campbell is, to use a heavily-abused cliché, the videogame journalist equivalent of Hunter S. Thompson: funny, passionate, and full of seething contempt for a vast swathe of the industry. Like Thompson’s brush with politics, Campbell also worked in game development himself for a short period, being responsible for most of Cannon Fodder 2 when he was working at Sensible Software.

The blog entry suddenly got quite an audience, and poor Bruce never knew what hit him, although he remained steadfast in his views, actual evidence be damned. Read it and be amused. And if anybody does know the sales figures for the Spectrum version of Robocop, I would really like to know how much it sold.

YouTube version of Commercial Breaks

Crash 7 news reporting the collapse of the company.

Crash 12 Investigation of the bankruptcy.

currently playing: Los Campesinos! – Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks

23,24,25,26,27,28,29!

The fact that in a year’s time, I’m going to fall off the end of that line scares me a little.

BUT NOW I HAVE A CANDY FLOSS MACHINE. HO. HO. HO.

currently playing: J. Xaverre – Saturday

Neapolitan!

I Scream, You Scream...

Neapolitan!

Vanilla!

currently playing: The Indelicates – The Sequel to Peter Pan and Wendy

With Such Elegance With Such Grace

(Yes, I’m going to keep doing this with titles for a while yet. I’m sorry.)

Let’s all cry a tear for Alberto Gonzales.

currently playing: Los Campesinos! – Drop It Doe Eyes

You're The B-Side

I have a feeling Je Ne Parle Pas Français is going to be one of my favourite songs of the year. There may be something wrong with me at a fundamental level.

(but really, it just affirms my theory that 'd'accord' is the greatest word in any language, ever. And I will fight anybody who says differently. Or run away and spread scurrilous rumours about them involving rubber hose and a reissue Sideswipe figure.)

But right now, it's the year that punk rock broke my heart. Or a year later. All my cynicism melts away in the face of the prospect of drowning in Dewey Decimals, the benefits of doing these things in flats, the jealousy of That Guy In The K Records t-shirt, and all the rest. It reminds me that I am the ridiculously twee person that would leave treasure maps on the pillow, film sub-Gondry epics using finger puppets and deck trees out in LED lights as the twilight sets in.

It's just somewhat unfortunate that I'm almost 30 and supposed to grow out of all that. But I don't think I'm going to anytime soon…because at this point, if I changed, would I still be me?

It's you. It's me. And It's DANCING!

currently playing: Los Campesinos! — Knee Deep At ATP

Do You Have Robot Insurance?

Jack McCoy will sell you some:

Last year, three armed ground bots were deployed to Iraq. But the remote-operated SWORDS units were almost immediately pulled off the battlefield, before firing a single shot at the enemy. Here at the conference, the Army’s Program Executive Officer for Ground Forces, Kevin Fahey, was asked what happened to SWORDS. After all, no specific reason for the 11th-hour withdrawal ever came from the military or its contractors at Foster-Miller. Fahey’s answer was vague, but he confirmed that the robots never opened fire when they weren’t supposed to. His understanding is that “the gun started moving when it was not intended to move.”

THEY WILL RISE!

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney – Heart Attack

Miscellany

Have you been into a Woolworths recently? Did you have the same odd feeling? That you could feel the shop aging around you? That once well-arranged aisles are now dilapidated and strewn with disorganised and out-of-season items (specifically the toy section, obviously)? The pick’n’mix section of the shop seems to be collapsing in on itself; a tiny little island of sweets holding out against the encroaching racks of Wii games and mobile phones. A desultory selection of contemporary CDs fighting for space alongside ancient compilations reduced to clear. Chad Valley disappearing in favour of simple, plain white packaging; efficient and soulless.

Let’s go to town and switch the magazines.

I’m probably just getting old. But it feels like the chain is dying a slow lingering death.

Even though we’re 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29!

It’s a good thing that I checked Kieron’s weblog, because he seems to have said most of the things that I was going to say about American Demo, damn him. Even the bloody Nick Cohen comment!

(essentially, my problem with Cohen’s Left, from what little I know about it, is that while there are some on the Left who will always see America as the Great Evil, there’s a big section of us who, while sympathetic and enthusiastic to the cause spreading of democracy, wonder how we’ve managed to end up with an America that tries to split hairs over whether controlled drowning is torture and turning a country into a playground for lackeys and the latest insanity from the University of Chicago Economics department. But hey. Another argument for another time.)

So, er, yes. I really like American Demo, as it manages to cut me to my core at various points. Especially Sixteen.

And Los Campesinos. Okay, I admit, I avoided them for a long time, for reasons that I can’t really remember right now. But I bought the album a couple of weeks ago…it’s quite fabulous, isn’t it? At first, I thought it was an album that I would have loved if I was currently in the Sixth Form, but on the other hand, are Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia big names in 16-18 set right now? I am sceptical. So I’m coming around to the idea that they’re the flipside to The Indelicates’ cynicism, a glorious jangle of xkcd-like adventures, twenty-something reference points like ATP and K Records, and the feeling that I get when I hear Come Out 2Nite. Which is pretty awesome.

And this song will be four years old this year. YEAH! YEAH!

currently playing: Johnny Boy – You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve

*blinks*

Really? I was beginning to think that he had in fact secreted the world’s ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card someone on his person somewhere back in 2004…

currently playing: Stars – the big fight