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Edge Magazine #177 July 2007

Not going out

Edge #177, July 2007

In my 20s, some of the best nights out I ever had were spent at games industry press events. I went to a few in my post-Digitiser days, but they became increasingly pointless. Also, I found myself becoming enraged by the way too many of the guests would skulk around like it was a massive chore having to play games, drink free booze and visit interesting places.

I slammed into the nadir of this attitude when sat on a coach next to a wholly charm-free guy who moaned constantly about our trip to a castle to dress up as serfs, eat roast pig and glug mead. It was quite clear that he would rather have been at home moaning about having to breathe, or lolling about on the sofa staring at the ceiling, or something.

To be perfectly honest, I've probably never come so close to strangling someone. Yes, it was pointless in the grand scheme of things, but what's the alternative? Working on the checkout at Lidl? And you can bet he still went back and gave the game a full-on 9/10.

Eventually, I stopped going to game launches for fear that I would end up killing someone, but in recent times I've started to miss those ludicrous nights out. From medieval banquets and weeks spent in LA, to a bizarre day spent in the company of the REAL Action Man, I was privileged, and I never once forgot it.

Unfortunately (for me), nobody invites me to games industry press events these days. I don't really know why - I mean, I've got a column and a blog, and everything. Perhaps they hate me, or don't think I'll turn up. Or think that I will turn up, and raise the average age of the guests to undesirable levels of un-coolness. Or perhaps they're worried that I'll do something wacky, like bring a slaughtered goat with me.

Oh, hang on... it seems that slaughtered goats are de rigeur at games industry press events these days. Indeed, it would appear that it's very much a case of 'your goat's not decapitated, you're not coming in'.

I refer, of course, to Sony's God Of War II launch party, details of which were splashed - splashed being the only appropriate word - across the front page of a recent Mail On Sunday. Certainly, I'd like to have witnessed the goat-slaughter/topless waitresses first hand, rather than have to rely on the Mail for my masturbatory aids, but regardless, I do find the whole thing astonishing.

Even when filtered through the Mail's journalistic moral-o-scope - which depicted a kind of bacchanalian orgy, albeit one attended by whingeing games journalists - the whole thing does seem very strange, however you dress it up.

Thing is, The Mail's story illustrated two very important truths about the games industry. Firstly, that games are a long way from being an acceptable mainstream pursuit, and will be for as long as the media continues to paint them as morally repugnant. Secondly, games will never become a mainstream pursuit, beloved of all, so long as Sony continues to host parties where the guests are asked to eat offal from the belly of a slaughtered goat, and half-naked women wander around handing out cups of fresh blood. Or whatever.

It's just further evidence - as if it were needed - that whoever is responsible for Sony's marketing these days has utterly lost the plot. Just look at the marketing of the PS3: those 'too cool for school - word up!'-style fake blogs, dubious rock concert auctions, and important opinion informers not getting invited to parties.

As regular readers of this column will be all too aware, I remain to be convinced on the PlayStation 3. However, I should qualify that statement by confessing that I say this as someone who doesn't actually own one (though my sole PS3-owning friend doesn't recommend that I buy one).

However, my Xbox 360 has gone and spazzed up. It can't do wireless networking - and I've tried three different wireless adaptors now - and certain games freeze during play. I could send it off for some sort of repair, but that's such a hassle that I'm probably just going to get a new one.

Now, I was having this internal debate a week or so ago, and I nearly - very nearly - crumbled, and bought a PlayStation 3. It was professional duty more than anything; I write this column, and felt I could justify it that way. But then I thought: 'No, I'm a gamer'.

If I'm buying a PlayStation 3 out of professional obligation as a tax-free concession, then I'm buying it for the wrong reasons. I'll buy a PS3 when Sony convinces me that I need to buy a PS3. That's when I'll know, in my heart, that Sony's machine has turned the corner. Alas, they're some way off of doing that, and I dare say I speak for a significant proportion of the gaming market. And I loved my PS2.

Of course, such is my professional obligation, that if Sony is happy to post me a freebie console, and/or send me off to some sort of lurid snuff-party-cum-orgy, then I'm happy to change that opinion in an instant.

Mr Biffo co-founded Digitiser, Channel 4's Teletext-based videogames section, and now writes mainly for television

Do you know of any important moments from the annals of Digi history that have been omitted? If so, then mail me ( right now, man. Credit will be duly given for anything that gets put up.

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