You may have noticed it’s been a bit quiet in The Manor lately. Sir Gaulian announced his retirement in February (although he’s promised to pop back in to say hello when the fancy takes him), and I’ve been riotously busy with work, to the point where all blogging duties have ceased.
However, things are a little calmer now, and the blogging fires are lit within me once again – there’s a veritable avalanche of articles in my head that are poised to cascade into my computer. But it’s a little lonely in The Manor all by myself – which is why I’d like to put the call out for some lodgers.
If you’re a games blogger or fancy yourself as a bit of a writer, get in touch at amostagreeablepastime at gmail dot com with a link to your work, and we can have a jolly old chat. It would be great if we could get together a team of writers who want to contribute regularly, but if you just want to write the odd guest post, that’s wonderful too.
Let’s get this old house rammed to the rafters with writing talent.
I didn’t really like Bioshock a decade ago. In many ways it felt like a bloody cracking world in want of a game and story that did it justice. I got that it was trying to be cutting, but in most respects, it just felt incredibly forced. Andrew Ryan’s speeches sounded like the sort of economic dogmatist that you’d see head into the corridors of power in the name of conservatism – and even with my economic conservative leanings I find those most dogmatic about the discipline are the ones that understand it the least. In other words Andrew Ryan was just your standard economic madman; just not a particularly deep or well-written one.
Playing through the remaster in 2016 though – well that’s completely changed my perspective on it. Fact is Bioshock could not be more relevant right now. Because Donald Trump is trying to make the United States into quasi-Rapture.
And the catalysts for his rise in popularity on the back of his policies aren’t much different, either. He argues for low tax. He is defending good old hard-working American values and American jobs against the centralists in People’s Republic of China. The world is in economic turmoil and Trump believes he’s the one to save the United States from itself. “Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his own brow? “No” says Washington. It belongs to the poor”
What was that about not paying taxes making one smart, Donald?
The slow decline of the house that neoliberalism built. Near-zero inflation in a low-rate world. Slow growth. The rise of China. We’re in unprecedented economic territory. And just as the limitations of Keynesian economics were exposed in the high-inflation era of the 1970’s and 1980’s, we’re beginning to reach the limit of our current suite of economic tools. To quote former Bob Hawke in the late 1970’s, “it would seem to me…economics has reached a crisis point”.
We need to have conversations about perpetual economic growth. About population growth. About most of the fundamental assumptions that underpin our economic systems. About the effects of low cash rates on asset prices. The list goes on.
The scary thing is, the backlash against Trump’s lunacy means that sadly, we may never have them.
Quick Offloads are short posts when we need to get things off of our chests but – quite honestly – can’t be arsed writing the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. And on issues of economic management, well it’s probably best I keep my mouth shut. But please, would you kindly take potshots in the comments?
Finally, more than two years after its launch, I’ve bought a PS4. Hurrah!
After blitzing my way through my backlog and selling a ton of games, I had the cash to hand. I spotted a sweet deal – a 500GB PS4 with No Man’s Sky, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Force Awakens Blu-ray and and extra controller for £269 – and I decided to treat myself for my birthday (which was last weekend). Hello current console generation, I’m here!
Now, in some ways this is probably the worst time to buy a PS4 – on Wednesday Sony is going to officially announce the much-leaked PS4 Slim and PS4 Neo, so prices for first-gen PS4s are likely to plummet. But in the end I decided that prices probably won’t drop much lower than the deal I got. And anyway, I’ve waited so damn long that I JUST CAN’T WAIT ANY LONGER.
Also, it was my birthday, and I was determined that my treat would be the chance to go and explore undiscovered planets. It was either that or go-karting.
Speaking of No Man’s Sky, I’m having an absolute blast with it so far – I’m currently in the Led Zeppelin II galaxy and I’ve just had my first encounter with space pirates. Which didn’t go too well. Better shields is the next thing on my shopping list…
I’ll post more thoughts on the game later, but safe to say I’m having a whale of a time. My strategy is currently to ping about between the first couple of star systems in order to max out my ship, a bit like this guy who spent 30 hours on the first planet. Even on a single planet, there’s just so much to see – I keep telling myself “I’ll just see what’s over this ridge”, and before I know it hours have passed, along with countless ridges. I’m sure the novelty will wear off eventually, but for the time being I’m in spacehog’s heaven.
Happy Birthday us! On this very day five years ago, Sir Gaulian and I first embarked on our grand Victorian gaming adventures – and what a merry time it’s been.
Many of the Victorian stylings have been dropped along the way, and the ambitious Choose Your Own Adventure game I started to create using nothing but various WordPress pages was quickly abandoned (although bits of it are still out there if you know where to look) – yet we’re still going strong. Arguably stronger than ever, I reckon.
It’s interesting to take a look back through the stats and see some of the hits and misses we’ve had along the way. Visitor numbers got off to a slow start back in 2011, but the article ‘Bikini Warriors: The Sorry State Of Female Representation in Video Games’ was one of our biggest early hits, along with retrospectives on Psi-Ops and Shadow of the Colossus, as well as a look at ‘musou’ games.
2012 saw Sir Gaulian’s excellent time-travel post ‘Past Present, Future Present and Past Future‘ rack up an enormous number of hits after it was featured on ‘Freshly Pressed’, and my controversial thoughts on CoD Modern Warfare – ‘This Is Just A Modern War Song‘ – also proved popular. The following year, Sir Gaulian scored another hit with ‘The Two Dollar Coin‘, a musing on the value of gaming ‘loot’, and my review of the failings of Far Cry 2 also racked up the views.
In 2014, ‘ZombiU: The Scariest Game I’ve Ever Played‘ topped the hit chart, followed by Sir Gaulian’s wonderful ‘Stealth games can learn from human behaviour in public toilets‘, while in 2015 we had our best year yet, with total yearly page views smashing through the 20,000 barrier for the first time. A couple of posts stood head and shoulders above the rest in terms of hits, namely ‘BJ Blazcowicz, the Nazis and the Aryan race: how Wolfenstein: The New Order tackles the rise of the far right‘ and ‘Big Ant Studios is swarming America’s cultural monopoly‘, followed by a look at Amiga piracy – ‘The hand and the pirate‘ – and ‘The Gentlemen decide: the most agreeable games of the generation (Xbox 360, PS3)‘, in which we spent many enjoyable hours deciding the merits of our favourite games.
This year, meanwhile, the most popular post so far is ‘Microsoft, I’m so confused‘, which got picked up by N4G as part of their E3 coverage and accrued some, ahem, ‘heated’ comments from Xbox fans.
Here’s looking forward to the next five years – we’re hoping to make the site even bigger and better in the future. And if you want to look back to see where we’ve been, I’ve activated the Archives in the side column so you can do just that. Thanks to all our regular readers, and thanks especially to those who have been with us since the beginning. See you in 2021!
Lucius & Sir Gaulian