Sunday, 15 March 2015

Joystick Generation

This Final installation in the Games Britannia series hits a soft spot in my heart, Video Games.
Wooley starts by discussing the revolutionary games of the 80s like Elite, a trading game set in space with what was then phenomenal 3D graphics and brings us on a journey through the ages, looking at influential games such as Tomb Raider with it's iconic character Lara Croft and a handful of other classic video games from the 90s.
The journey continues on to the present game with possibly one of the most controversial games ever made (besides Postal 2), Grand Theft Auto.
The series ends with a mention of MMORPGs, games such as World of Warcraft and Runescape where the player is in control of a digital avatar in a parallel, digital realm filled with other players.

Do we need more Ming Tea in our daily lives?

La decima vittima.

The Italian film adaptation of Robert Sheckley's "The Seventh Victim" where killing is accepted and assassination is a form of entertainment.
The film has a distinctly "tongue in cheek", James Bond-esque sense of humor throughout as is common in cheesy 60s movies. the non stop puns and almost slapstick nature of the script had me laughing if not at least grinning throughout the screening. this however did not detract from the ideas portrayed.
The whole idea of La Decima Vittima is that the famous Marcello played by Marcello Mastroianni is a killer, this means that he is given celebrity targets to assassinate for a competition run by the governing body, upon which getting a tenth kill will land him in the infamous club of others who managed to survive ten "rounds" of the game. on the flip-side, Caroline Meredith, a victim in the game, played by Ursula Andrews, has just survived her 9th brush with death as she disposed with her killer, placing her as a contender for the Jackpot reward for surviving all 10 encounters and her being given the position of the killer and marcello now being the victim.
The story unfolds the complicating nature of both characters as Caroline plans to kill Marcelo on TV however, as she gets to know him in the guise of a reporter, they eventually fall in love.

Monopolies and Mergers

Part 2 of Games Britannia covers board games in the past 200 years and their political and social impacts.
In England the board game was a way of teaching good morals and America used them to promote the American Dream (quite a contrast). The best example of this is Monopoly, The best selling game ever. This game of wealth and success and "Stepping on the little guy" clearly promotes the American Dream and capitalism in general. What is less widely known is that before monopoly was Americanized, it originated from an incredibly socialist game from England, published in 1913.


Tablut is an asymmetric war game for two players. the game is played on a 9 x 9 board, one player is in control of 16 black pieces which start on the edge of the board and the other player in in control of 8 white pieces surrounding their king (positioned in the center). The aim is for the king to escape the board via the edge, according to Murray (1952), which is possibly due to a misreading of Linnaeus's notes from his trip to Lapland in 1732.
Helmfrid (2005) suggests that the king escapes by reaching one of the four corners of the board, leading to a much more balanced game.

Duodecim Scripta

Duodecim Scripta aka "The Game of Twelve Lines" is described by Murray (1952) as being similar to backgammon, where the object of the game is to get 15 game pieces to a finishing  position, their moves being determined by three D6s. An example of the board, game pieces and a box containing three dice were excavated from a 4th century AD tomb in Qustul.

The Royal Game Of Ur

Ur Is an ancient game which dates back to about 2600 BC (older than the Pyramids of Giza). It is a race game where players race to get 5 pieces from the start to the finish. There is some dispute over where the start and finish are, Murray (1952) suggests that the pieces travel on a route that doubles back on it's self whereas Bell (1979) says that the pieces play on a shorter route from the inside spaces along the edge to their opposites on the smaller 2 x 3 section, suggesting that the long inside 8 squares ate some sort of battleground. He also suggests that the rosette squares, which were consistent on many boards found in the same area, may have some special significance.

Dicing With Destiny

Benjamin Woolley takes us on a journey through the history of games from ancient times to the modern day across three episodes.

The series starts with "Dicing with Destiny" where Woolley starts by discussing the Stanway game, an ancient board game found in an ancient grave in... you guessed it, Stanway. the problem with this game was that nobody knew the rules of the game and the starting positions of the pieces were based off of how the board was found (which after about 2000 years, give or take, are of course going to be a bit sketchy).

The board was found with no indication as to how it was played so Woolley brought the game to Dr Irving Finkle, An expert in the field of ancient games at the British Museum who came to the conclusion that the game was some sort of strategy/war game or possibly a divination tool used by priests.

there was a section on a game called "Foro" which interested me. It was a card game which often included gambling, which stirred up a fuss with the church because at this time games had a lot of religious symbolism and gambling was frowned upon by the church at this time.