A brief moment of link-spamming. Which we don't do very much here at the Gameshelf, because we're all into critical analysis and deep esoteric ludic discourse 'n'all. But occasionally, I have to say, these videos from collegehumor.com make me die laughing.
Die! With metaphorical-nonmetaphorical irony!
But they're all videogame fake movies, so it's okay.
Note: it's the soundtrack, always.
This is the first Episode of my show Jmac's Arcade that I've made since 2007, which means it's also the first one I've made since the launch of this blog. I hope you enjoy it. If you do, you will probably like the previous five videos as well.
Making this also gave me a chance to stretch my video-editing muscles as I head into a fairly ambitious Gameshelf-related project. More news on that as it happens.
Anyway: The background music is "The Annual New England Xylophone Symposium" by Do Kashiteru, and I've written about Jamey Pittman's The Pac-Man Dossier on this blog already.
The Pac-Man Dossier, a free book-in-a-website by Jamie Pittman, is an exhaustively researched and thoroughly enjoyable exegesis on the flagship game from the golden age of video arcades. After an initial chapter that lays out the backdrop of Pac-Man's development in Japan and subsequent worldwide introduction, Pittman delves into the machine's inner workings, keeping to a designer's-eye view.
Of particular interest to me is the clear but exact explanation of the different ways the four ghosts behave. The reader learns that the game's enemies share a set of deterministic rules for movement, but each one also carries an additional rule unique to that ghost. These rules are elegant and easy to describe, if you know the trick - but to a player of the game, they're visible only as slippery and subtle effects, enough to give the ghosts the distinct "personalities" that help make the game so memorable. Truly masterful design.
As a child, I revered - was obsessed by, really - this game and its manifold mysteries. Seeing them all laid bare like this over a quarter-century later feels... oddly satisfying, actually. It's less like reliving a significant part of my childhood than it is like discovering a heretofore unknown director's commentary track attached to it.
And here's a transcript from Darius Kazemi of a talk by Ian Bogost about the origins of Ms. Pac-Man
. For some reason, I didn't know that the game was an American invention, delivered directly to Bally/Midway after Namco declined to produce a sequel to Pac-Man. (Wikipedia confirms this, so it must be true
.) Contains bonus noodling about what Ms. Pac-Man can tell us about The Bible and late 20th Century feminism.
Time for a musical interlude!
- My pal Jared recently shared the 1977 David Bowie song "What in the World" with me. Everyone (or at least everyone of a certain age) listening to it today can't not think of Pac-Man and its arcade contemporaries, even though these games wouldn't debut for several more years. That Bowie; such a visionary!
- I fixed the link to the Black Knight 2000 soundtrack that was featured way back in episode 1. That's the circa-1989 pinball game we're playing beneath the closing credits. Are you able to listen to this and not be overcome with the desire to go into multiball mode right now? No, you are not.
- If you've ever wanted to listen to the whole thing without my yapping all over it, here's the full version of the Gameshelf theme song that my co-host Joe Johnston composed. It's over at Joe's music page.