Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast. My name is Sam,
And today we’re asking what’s the craic about video games. So we’re gonna define those things for you, how they’re different from board games or tabletop games. Video games that we play – we’ll mention that. PC games, games on our phones – we’ll mention those.
What is appeal of games for us and people in general. What we played as young boys, cause we were young boys and they were popular back then. Yes, even in our day, even in my day. Arcade games. You’re looking at me as if to say ‘I’m not that old!’
And some popular games now, an do they promote violence? We might get to that question and where we see them going in the future. Cause there’s gonna be revolution, there’s gonna be change. So where’s that gonna go? So, let’s get started. Hey Mike!
Good stuff. And can you please, I know you’re a video game gamer…
Can you define video games?
Well, compared to what? Tabletop?
Yeah, let’s compare it to board game or tabletop game. What is it?
I mean, it’s pretty obvious. Video games use electric signals.
So it can come in, nowadays, infinite number of possibilities and genres. But basically yeah, it uses electric signals as a main form of communication. Whereas a tabletop – these are the things that use verbal, verbal and physical.
But you have to admit, like, a lot of VR, stuff like that, is transcending back. VR stuff is very physical.
Can you explain what VR is?
So it’s the… Okay, so it’s that – you put on mini head setter or something.
Yeah, that’s right, you put on…
Enter into a world, 3-dimensional basically, and then you can interact with it.
Yeah, okay. And what do you play? What video games do you play? What console do you prefer?
Ah, you know, we’re at what generation? 13th generation or something like that, but basically I consider PS4 this one generation of consoles. I don’t know about the next generation, but it’s pretty clear..
No, Xbox lost big time. And it beats Xbox big time. And the previous was Xbox One, the previous generation. This generation – this goes to PS4. Excellent controls, the controller is excellent, the range of games is so diverse, so much more diverse than Xbox and many exclusive ones for PS4.
So games only developed for the PS4 players, nobody else. So Xbox just lacks that – sorry, Xbox, sorry Microsoft, you should never have had the videogames in the first place.
They just… They picked them at post?
Yeah, I mean, Xbox did well when they first came out.
Gave them a good whapping.
Gave them a really good whapping actually.
Yeah. As for me, right now, and for a long time, I’m not a gamer. But that doesn’t mean that I avoid games. It doesn’t mean that I hate games, it doesn’t mean that I look down on gamers either. My younger brother is a gamer, and I’ve got respect for it.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I don’t think it’s a waste of time. I think people enjoy it and that’s great. But I’m not the gamer, and I have a Mac at the moment, and it’s not really for games you know. But I play Solitaire, so this is my level of gaming.
A Solitaire which is just a kind of a strategy game with cards, you just have to match them up. There’s no gambling or money or anything connected to it, it’s just matching cards.
And then when you match them all up in the correct place you win the game and you can start again if you wish. And I find it a little bit relaxing, it gives you chance to clear your head and think a little bit. Suduko – I know it’s not necessarily electronic.
Sudoku. I’m Northern Irish, alright?
Alright. A little goofy for that.
Sorry, sorry. Sudoku! It’s a Japanese word, isn’t it? I think.
It means ‘met something’ as I recall.
I know it’s not strictly a game as in a PC game or anything, but I play it on my laptop occasionally.
I mean Sudoku originally is like Solitaire was a tabletop game that got translated into a videogame with the electric signals. So you are playing a video game, with the origins as a tabletop. And let’s face it – a first video game ever ‘Pong’ was a tabletop game.
You’re reminding me of Snake. Did you ever play Snake when you were at school?
If I see it, I’ll know it. I can’t remember, off the top of my head.
When I was a boy in primary school, and this is going back a little bit now, it would’ve been late 80s, early 90s, and we had like a… This is gonna sound terrible to young people, but we had like one or two computers in our school, in primary school. And that’s gonna sound terrible.
No, we were the same. One school that had one Apple.
And maybe, I don’t remember well, but maybe we had one per room. And that would’ve been amazing.
That would’ve been amazing, right.
But we had this game and the kids… It wasn’t so much me, but guys in my class and girls, if you wanna come to that, liked to play Snake. And I think that was the only thing that they were really interested in on a computer.
And we would’ve… I remember we played it during dinner time and stuff, I mean, lunch time. And it was just a long snake-shape, you know, very pixelated, made up of circles. Maybe a red circle at front, and then a lot of green circles – something like that.
And you had to press the up, down, left, right keys to eat something.
And then as you ate, the snake got longer.
And it couldn’t hit the sides of the screen or you would die. And you couldn’t hit yourself as a snake , so if you got big and long, you really had to be careful to avoid yourself. And it could get faster or slower, and so it was quite…
It wasn’t a strategy game as quite, it tested your motor skills. Dexterity. And I guess it didn’t appeal to me because I’m not keen on that king of game, but it was fun to watch, and it was really popular at that time.
You just reminded me of actually. It was very basic, but it was a computer game.
Do you remember what PC? Or was it PC or Mac in your classrooms?
It wasn’t a Mac, I don’t remember. It could’ve been an IBM. I don’t know to be honest. I never paid much attention. It wasn’t… I mean, it was a big thing, but it wasn’t something I paid too much attention to the details of. Are computer games on a PC better?
Definitely. People don’t want to admit that, but yeah. They call it PC master race for a reason, because they are… I mean, it is the premiere gaming.
The equipment. Because PC just outperforms any console in terms of computer power and graphics power.
Right, you can add to your computer, build your own.
It’s faster over the internet, the internet things’ better than PC. And even the ergonomics of many games are much better on a PC than on a Mac. I mean on a console.
So as far as the console – PS4 is the best, but as far as playing games – a PC that you maybe build yourself or whatever is best, yeah?
And have you ever built your own?
Oh yeah, yeah, I’ve built quite a few since I was a kid. Yeah, because back in those days you kinda had to do that. But these days, you know, you don’t need to do that.
Computers are so cheap now around the world. Back in those days you had to save for months to buy a computer, and you had to save for months working at McDonald’s, to save for an operate.
Did you work at McDonald’s?
And I actually burned my hand doing that, so I got the scars. If that was today I would be suing them for, you know…
I had the burns, but nothing serious.
They changed, you know, they changed the whole designs of those things, so people don’t get burned anymore. But yeah, I used to save up for months so I could buy a graphics card, so I could play a real… Teenage years.
My younger brother, not very long ago, built his own PC. And I mean, he chose to build it and built it like a super machine. But yeah, he didn’t have to, but he took it as a hobby I guess.
We call them gaming reeks, those things, gaming reeks or gamins PCs.
You need to have… I mean, my Mac doesn’t have the power, doesn’t have the graphics card or whatever, you know, the fan starts. If I were to play a game, a serious game, you know, the fan would start to go really quickly, it would start to heat up.
You’re generally not advised to do that on a Mac.
Yeah, so I guess you need to have a proper… But it’s not my thing so much. But yep. Do you have games on your phone?
I actually do not play phone games. Basically the world has split into three kind of players, right. When it comes to games there’s three kinds of players. There is what we call the casuals. So they just wanna have a break, they want to play small games, just a little bit of time, like you playing Solitaire.
You’re what I would call a casual. A casual gamer, or a casual for short. And then there is a serious, right? People like me, who actually dedicate time and money and resources into these things.
You’re a serious serious. And if serious gamers come together in a room, they can talk for hours about things. Because…
The graphics cards et cetera.
Exactly. And what game was great, this was good, this was not good, you know, what are we expecting for the future, you know. The past, that sort of thing.
That’s right. Did you hear about this? Oh yeah, 18-9-95. But… And then there are these people called mobile gamers – that’s the third category.
Mobile gamers, which means on their mobile phones they play games. And these are the filthiest gamers in the world.
No respect for these people. So serious gamers refuse to play mobile games because it encourages, but you know, it’s so annoying. Because mobile games – because everybody has a mobile phone in this world now, practically, mobile games have become more profitable for game companies than…
Designing games for mobile gamers is more profitable than for serious gamers. Because they share the number of people who own these things, who aren’t really gamers but wanna play games every now and then far out surpasses serious gamers.
So a lot of game developers are now making games, concentrating, putting their time and resources into it, into creating these little little mobile games. And that really pisses us off. Because they’re ignoring the real fans, who built the industry.
You want a meaty game, you want a good decent graphic.
Oh Jesus Christ! Have you ever heard of Diablo?
You’ll have to tell me what it is.
Dungeon crawling game from the 90s and it was one of the first game that Blizzard, star craft guys, Warhammers.
I’ve heard of Blizzard, but I’ve never heard of this game.
Yeah, they invented this sort of… Not invented, but it was sort of, it was the genre of breaking things, it was like Doom, but for action RPGs, right? Role playing games. And basically there’s three Diablos out for PC, and they’ve all been hits for the last 25 years they’ve been hits.
And the latest one they released at E3, which is a big convention of gaming in the world. And they came and they said ‘We’re releasing Diablo!’ And the people were like WOW!
‘For mobile’ – everyone went silent, and people were like ‘Are you joking? Are you kidding?’ People who were presenting it from Blizzard were so shitfaced – they literally went white from the cold reception that they got. And they became a joke, this new game, right? But this is a typical case of developers…
That’s right! Ignoring serious gamers, and they’re moving, you know, our beloved franchise to mobile. And everybody’s being angry with that. It was…
You talked to the wrong people for that.
Oh, it was a completely wrong thing to do. You don’t come to a serious gamers convention like E3 and say ‘we’re gonna release mobile games’.
It’s actually interesting that you say that, cause I’ve talked about my younger brother – I would say he’s quite a serious gamer too, he’s built his own PC, and he loves to play games. He also tells me that he won’t play mobile games.
Of course not! Just like a normal gamer.
He’s like ‘No way! I won’t touch that!’
There’s two lingos that you should know – filthy casuals, filthy mobile gamers. Right? But mobile gamers are the worst of all.
You’re still okay with it? Can you still look me in the eye?
Do you play mobile games?
So, I gotta be honest that I have.
But casually and to be honest at the moment I don’t, I don’t at all.
I have played something called Hungry Shark.
They always have these funny names.
I know. But a Hungry Shark is when you go around, you swim about and eat these people, yeah, it sounds violent, but you eat people as a shark, and then you can evolve as they say into another bigger shark.
You start off as a maybe tiny shark, you get into a great big white, and then into a megalodon, and so on and so forth. I know you’re not gonna, I’m not gonna persuade you on this, but it was good fun to play.
It was entertaining and it was rewarding I guess. As far as the game goes, because you could build up and get some kind of result from it if you know what I mean. Like you could save points or whatever and you could get to a result from it all.
And I know that it’s a thing in gaming where you have a goal, or mini goals, and you aim towards this. You’re not looking at… But I mean, in any game, in good games you have a lot of goals to reach.
I mean even in PC and console games you have goals to reach, you know, you’ve missions, for example in Grand Theft Auto you’ve got a mission or a goal, and then you get points and then you progress and then you can explore more of the world. Do you know what I mean?
Just about every game should have a goal. And it has to be over achievable goal of some even open world games. So Grand Theft Auto is what we call a sandbox, so sandbox… There’s a difference between open world, sandbox and linear.
These are the three big categories that serious gamers are into. And grand theft auto is a sandbox game with a linear story.
So tell me about this sand…
But you have a linear story. So you’ve got a story that goes from start to end, you play the story, but you’re entrapped into this sandbox environment where there is a border, you know, in all four corners.
But you can do whatever you want within these walls or borders. So it’s like a little kid playing in a sandbox. Yeah, essentially.
So, getting into that kind of topic, and I’m gonna let you top now, cause I’m just a terrible filthy casual – what’s the appeal of video games for you personally?
What’s the appeal of video games… Look, for me… It’s different for everybody, but for me I in the last few years have only played Stealth games – so games where you hide from your enemies, you sort of sneak around.
Yeah, definitely, forethought, strategy, awareness, listening for sounds or footsteps – that sort of things. For me it’s the suspense. Yeah, stuff games have always this big element of suspense. Do I get caught, do I not get caught? It’s almost like playing hide and seek when you’re kids.
Have you ever played Commandos?
Yeah. Commandos is a top down strategy game, but it’s still galivant.
I really enjoyed that when I was younger.
Really enjoyed it. It’s really tricky even when you get to like second, third, fourth levels – it’s really tricky.
It’s a really hard game, but it was good fun.
I think my favorite was the Espionage where the guy who can dress himself as a Nazi officer.
You can almost do anything.
That’s right. I thought that he was my favorite.
I liked the big guy, and maybe people will know, maybe not – the big, I think he’s Irish maybe, and he’s got a big knife and he goes ‘Hello! Yes, sir!’
Yeah, the one who’s knives people.
He can hide in the snow, and I like the fact that he can… I used him a lot cause he can, you can put… send him in, hide him, the snow comes down and covers his tracks, and then he can jump up and knife someone. He’s very useful.
There are still games made like that, in the Commando spirit. Yeah, there still are. And some of them are really fantastic. That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about – the suspense element has to be really good.
It’s got.. So it’s testing your mental ability.
Why do you think in general people play games?
You’re asking a question why do people eat food? Right? Not because the question’s silly, but because games have become so big in nature, in terms of industry size and the crowd following it.
You know, these are the most profitable, hands down the most profitable form of entertainment in the world in the last 10 years. It has been. It far out passes movies and music in terms of profitability. But I mean, everybody has their own reasons for that.
Some people do it because they’re bored, some people do it to connect with other people. Some people do it because of the suspense like me. Some people do it to learn history believe it or not. There are games that are very much have a historical law behind them.
I just recently met a girl who did exactly that. She played Assassins Creed Egypt. The origins, cause it has the ancient Egypt background as the setting.
It’s open sandbox, a world like a sandbox, and she only played the game only because so she could learn about Egypt. Right? In English, right? So it was a good learning tool.
Touch them at point, for nonnative speakers, non-English-native speakers can be useful too.
Very useful. But know that… There’s a thing that I kinda realized in the last couple of months, meeting people, is that inevitably a lot of the lexicon used within games are not exactly high-educated, you know? The vocabulary range is not…
It’s not something you’ll need for a job.
Freeze! Put your hands up!
Yeah, so people who’ve learned to be fluent in English using music or using Instagram or movies or games – their range of vocabulary is actually quite limited.
They are fluent, they’re able to construct sentences beautifully, right, using the correct grammar and whatnot, but you find that they have a real limited use of vocabulary. And they do not sound like educated adults. Quite often. They sound like…
But still, I think my view would be that it’s a benefit, because it could give some foundation.
Absolutely. For beginners, absolutely.
I know a guy whose… English is not his first language, and he’s a gamer and actually it’s given him a good starting point to build on, to develop his English.
Oh you gotta go with the form of media that excites you. I mean, why would you?
You’re learning, but also having fun.
That’s right. You don’t want this to be grind, you know what I mean.
It’s a good way to build a little bit of foundation or a bigger foundation, but have fun at the same time. Back when you were a little boy, about knee high to a grasshopper, as Gary and I talked about, what did you play? What was good for you?
Well, maybe a bit bigger let’s say.
Cause I’m not sure you had many game console at 4-5 years.
Yeah. Atari, The first one I had was when I was 4 to 5 and then it graduated into Nintendo, when I was about 7. And Super Nintendo two or three years later. So, the game that I’m most fond of actually is actually Super Marios of the Nintendo generation.
Super Mario when I was a boy had pretty much taken over the world.
It changed the gaming, it really did.
And then the Nintendo, Super Nintendo?
And there were… I guess it’s 90s, late 80s, early 90s. There were two types of kids in the world – those who had Sega Mega Drives and those who had Super Nintendos.
It’s like Xbox and PS4 now.
And my household… I think the Mario on Super Nintendo won the battle.
But in my house we had a Sega Mega Drive and we loved Sonic and we played Sega Mega Drive and Sonic… I guess it’s a platform game that’s like linear, isn’t it?
Yeah, Sonic was too dizzying, it was head aching for me. It was too fast.
Too fast. I would vomit after it.
You had to collect little gold rings.
You had to jump and spin and battle bad guys.
You had to… There were obstacles.
But that was all about speed.
You had to speed through and you had to know the levels.
Well, sometimes the levels really timed in your head. Another times there weren’t so much, but it was a lot about speed. And Sonic the Hedgehog as the name suggest, had to be quick, he’s really quick.
Games those days were so hard. Much harder than today.
Right? I don’t know. You know, the big difference – cause I tried to play games maybe ten years ago and I had had a big break where I didn’t play anything. I was just not doing any kind of game stuff for a long time.
And then I tried to play a console and there were so many buttons, you know. The back buttons, the left, the right. And you have a not just up-down-left-right, but you have a little, I’m not sure what it’s called, like a joystick kind of thing that you have to move.
Yeah, an analog stick they call it.
You have to change the camera angle and I can’t do this!
It’s like playing on a drum.
This is really like an equivalent to playing on a drum, a little more complex.
But when I was a boy there were like three buttons and you only really needed two. And then up-down-left-right, and that was it. And you really just pressed right, and opened a-m-b or something.
These days it’s pretty much like 15 button configuration with a touchpad.
But it needs that. Because these consoles have to accommodate for so many genres of gaming now. And many genres have different kind of input, different ergonomics. So the controller designs are actually out on its own.
It’s very impressive. But I’m the guy and if you play a game with me, like a multiplayer, maybe a shooting game or something, I’ll be the guy trying, you know, running in a circle.
I’ll be that guy, I’ll be just like ‘I don’t know what to do. How do I change the camera angle?’
Yeah, noob, that’s right.
Have you heard of Crash Bandicoot?
Medieval, it was a skeleton guy.
Played that. It was fun. Very colorful. Creepy, but also very colorful.
Man, that is a game. I still watch intros to that game on YouTube.
It was really creepy, but I really liked it.
It feels like Warhammer, it has that Warhammer gothic, very dark vibe to it.
That one was quite good. And we played some GTA of course, Grand Theft Auto. Even I played that!
I guess it was a very early one, I don’t know whether it was the first, maybe it was.
Yeah, that was the first. So you played the originals then.
I’m old. Yeah, the originals are the best maybe. There is kind of morbidness to it, like you get points for killing people.
That’s not the first game to do that, that’s not the last one.
No, but I think it became very popular and I guess for people who didn’t understand it, it was controversial.
So there are few games in game history that really broke the grounds of that and afterwards it sort of pushed the boundaries further what you get away with with gaming. Remember – these are games of the 90s, right?
This is the times when they used to create films like Terminator, Robocop, and marketed to kids. These super ultraviolent films were created to be marketed towards kids. That’s what’s the original Batman from Tim Burton, the one from 1990 – just watch how many people he kills there.
He kills people in that movie.
I mean, Chris Nolan’s version – he doesn’t kill anybody. But…
It’s not clear if he does, yeah. I mean…
Oh what, in the Batman trilogy?
I think he technically… I’m sure that he’s actually responsible for deaths, but inadvertently…
Well in Tim Burton’s he throws them out of the bell towers and then he incinerates them, right? It’s all because he was a psychopath.
He’s not the real traditional version of Batman I would say.
That’s the movie that darkened him before he was… But getting back to that – like games, the boundaries have always been pushed with violence, and always is. And nudity, and political incorrectness – it always is.
And GTA was one of the first pioneers to do that. But I guess the original was Mortal Combat.
Right. You could tear someone’s skull.
Oh, the media, the politicians and the parents were all going crazy. I cycled to this game when we were kids. ‘And this is gonna turn our kids into murdering psychopaths!’
Well I guess if it’s your little Johnny, maybe 10 year old, and you see him digitally pull a skull out of someone’s head, you might be a bit alarmed, cause that’s your little boy or a little girl or whatever.
And I guess, you know, I wanna play devil’s advocate for a while, but I mean, a parent – they look at their little child, you know, oh it’s my little boy, little girl, my little angel. And they see that and they think ‘this is terrible’.
But we grew up on this and we are having kids now. So how do you feel about that?
So, if I get my point of view, I can understand a parent who looks at it and say ‘My little boy, who’s an angel, but he’s tearing a skull out of someone’s…’, you know…
And go laughing about it.
Yeah. And having fun. But my point of view is that a child, a person, at least most people, can understand naturally that that’s a game, that’s not real life, that’s not what you do in real life. They understand that’s it’s a different world.
It’s a virtual thing, and it’s something that they can do and have fun in doing as a game. But that they’d never dream to do it in real life.
Actually I talked to a psychologist about this before. And the answer – it was about two years ago I think. I was dating a psychologist at the time and she was a research psych in my old university in Sydney, and she…
I looked at her and said – these games don’t cause violence, this is fun. She looked at me and went, she just shook her head like this, like seriously – it’s been proven in psychology again and again and then again that a violent behavior,
a lot of that attributed to playing video games that are violent. So, in her mind, as a research psych, is that the reason is an association between these two things, right? Whereas life gamers like me – we just blow it off.
Blow off the notion that violence has nothing to do with video gaming. But to her it definitely does. So for her the things like, you know, watching pornography as a child, can lead to you becoming a rapist later in life.
And that’s been actually documented, actually quantified statistically been pulled down to a conclusion. And so has video games and violence.
So should we protect our younger children?
I don’t know, can you? Against this force of video games, the industries? I told you it’s become the pre-eminent form of entertainment.
The more you shield your child, the more they’ll say ‘well, I’m gonna play it and hide it from you’.
But I mean, violence can come in any form. For you and that little Shark game where you’re supposed to eat people alive, pull their limbs apart and get bigger and bigger.
It’s just a different form of violence, you just add flashy graphics and colorful cartoony graphics, but it’s still violence, you know what I mean?
So you heard it from us – don’t play games at all!
Not what I’m saying, not what I’m saying.
What are the most popular games at the moment?
At the moment… In terms of numbers – mobile games.
Even I don’t have respect for mobile games.
Alright. Most popular… Look, I’m not so sure about that statistics.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is pretty popular, no?
It’s sold a lot, but it doesn’t mean that it’s the most popular. I mean, the most popular games are usually the multiplayer ones, like Fortnite. Fortnite was the last big hit that just became really really big.
Basically games that are casual and accessible and that appeal to teenagers and adults, right, tend to do really well in numbers. It’s statistics.
What about the future of games? So I mentioned VR and maybe you know more about it. I think VR need develop to where you can enter the world and be fully submerged. Do you think that’s gonna happen?
Yeah, it is, it’s definitely gonna happen, but look. Let’s look at the facts – VR’s nothing new. It’s been around since I was a little kid. Yes, it always comes in phases – the VR comes in phases. It goes popular, then no one talks about it.
And then the year later nobody talks about it. And then we wait another decade and another VR games comes along – everybody talks about it.
It’s kinda like 3-D cinema.
Exactly the same thing. It comes in waves, right? However, it’s enduring spirit is that games become more and more interactive. And VR is one of the ultimate forms if that. Right? So we’ve hit the VR phase, not it’s dead.
So there will another VR phase maybe in 5 to 10 years’ time. But what’s good news about it is that the last VR wave, the VR consoles went into the house. Before it was VR centers, but now we can do this at home. So that’s what the main…
That’s what the major shift has been, yeah. So the next big phase will be even cheaper, easier to set up. The problem was it was expensive, it was difficult to set up.
And the games were limiting. Once you get over those points, then it will be easy. If you just pick it up, put it in front of your eyes, and there’ll be tinkering around, and games are, you know…
Exactly, nothing’s like consoles have done for gamers, for PCs, then it’ll become a standard.
It’s coming, guys, it’s coming.
Okay, so that was the craic about video games. We had a good discussion, a little bit of a debate about the different video games. What video games are. Then we talked about consoles, computer games, horrible mobile games.
We talked about the appeal of video games. What we played in our youth or younger youth if you like. We talked about the most popular games now – just a little bit. We talked about violence in computer games that – does it promote it? About future. So that was the craic about video games.