A collection of my MostlyFilm articles on videogames.
A loose trilogy:
Separately, but carrying through a lot of the same sorts of thoughts, on GTA and Saints Row.
Justin’s House has started on CBeebies and it is proper mental. First of all, it’s clear that the BBC, quite rightly, view Justin Fletcher as a valuable asset and are prepared to give him whatever he wants. More singing in Something Special? Sure. Sketch show with lotsa cross-dressing opportunities? Tranny it up! We love you, Justin. Something Special showed that clowns don’t have to be creepy (though you’re phoning it in for series seven, a bit), you have a facility for voices and vocal FX which mean you’re a natural for work on the wordless animated masterpieces Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time, Gigglebiz is properly weird and hilarious, you clearly love the work. What do you want to do?
OI! Go and read my pop column on MostlyFilm.com. It’s pretty good, you know.
Sorry. Been busy.
Really have, too. Guardian Film Talk have banded and bonded and we’ve made something new, and GOOD, damn it, from the disaster which befell us. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it? I’m impressed, anyway. At the time of writing, my first post on the new blog is ready to go. By the time anyone reads this, it’ll be up. God, I hope it’s ok. But don’t tell me what you think here, tell me over there. We need the readers. We need the love.
Elsewhere in life; usual ups and downs, sickness, tiredness, beautiful baby, it’s all good really. She’ll be two in May. Two! I can hardly believe that. Can you believe that? No, I didn’t think so. But there it is, it’s true. Soon she’ll have her own investment portfolio.
Take a look at this. It’s nothing, yet, but it will be. It will be something. A thing. And that’s our phoenix, folks. They burn our house down, we build a new one.
I’m not going to tackle any kind of commentary on current events now. It’s just too big. As a sort of note for when I read this in years to come – right now, Japan and Libya. How did that all work out? I’m hoping OK.
I’m an FUer, so I am going to switch between FU and GU depending on the context here.
On Tuesday the 11th of September, 2001, the Guardian talkboards rocketed in popularity as a quick, stable platform for people across the world to communicate, to question, to react in some sort of group horror. The boards were sources of information – what’s happening, why is it happening, will anything else happen? This, for many people, was the start of the boards proper.
On Thursday the 7th of July 2005, the Guardian talkboards again reacted to a terrorist attack, but the questions this time were different. Is everyone ok? Where are they? Have you heard from them? The news platform had become a community.
On Friday the 25th of February, the Guardian took the decision – for whatever reason – to close these talkboards. The users of these boards have always known this was a possibility, and in recent years it has looked like an inevitability. Fair enough, it’s their space, they can do with it what they please, but this shut-down occurred without warning, at the end of a working week, throwing its many users into complete disarray. At best this was thoughtless, at worst cruel. Monday morning now, and still no closer to an explanation.
I’m not trying to draw comparisons to acts of terrorism and the closing of an online forum – that would be facile and unhelpful. I’m just using them as an illustration of how GU changed, how it grew. It was a mature community – in more than one sense. People around the world met friends, fell in love, had children, generated feuds, created elaborate in-jokes-within-in-jokes, wrote and wrote and wrote, words upon words.
And what words! Intelligent life is rare enough on the internet, but it clustered round the Guardian like blind shrimp around volcanic vents in the deepest corners of the pitch-black oceans. One could be controversial on FU without being dismissed, one could be questioning without being shouted down. Much. In fact, the bigger opinions were more likely to be discussed in measured terms and it was only the trivia which got people really heated. I learned many interesting, valuable things on there, and chief among them was this – never ever claim your way of cooking rice is the best one.
With luck, we’ll all be back. There are recovery sites out there, people clinging to liferafts (funnily enough, I was reading about The Raft of the Medusa just last week). Hopefully someone will figure out a way to keep the community alive, fresh, a living organism and not just a specimen in a jar, waiting to die. Because a forum, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we don’t want on our hands is a dead shark.
They have killed Guardian Talk, of which my small corner was Film Unlimited. No warning, no time to (((hug))) everyone goodbye, exchange contact details, shout “We’ll keep in touch, love youuuuu!”. Nothing. A switch was flipped (not really, it’s not run like Frankenstein’s lab) and we were out on our arses. A pat-on-the-head message replaces over a DECADE of interaction.
I met my wife through those boards. We have a child now; she wouldn’t have existed. We announced her birth there. I’ve met so many great people (and not so great) through that board. I have spent many evenings in the company of these great people (and all the others in the company of my wife), either in real life or online.
Now it’s gone. Gone, gone, gone. Almost ten years for me, ten years of thoughts, ideas, jokes, opinions, arguments, so many things which passed through my mind fell out onto the beautiful, crisp white space of FU.
It’s like losing a friend, having them cut out of your life without warning. I’m not being precious (maybe a bit) or flippant (not at all) – this is a bereavement.
The wikipedia entry for guardian.co.uk responded immediately with this edit:
In February 2011 The Guardian closed down their talkboards which had been online for over a decade. This was viewed as worse than a thousand Hitlers and widely regarded as being the internet equivalent of what Thatcher did to mining communities in the eighties.
It was also the view of most that The Guardian in closing down the talkboard without warning or consultation were a bunch of gritpypes.
That edit has gone now, and the in-jokes it held will fade soon. All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain.