Mar 04

Is it just me, or are trailers for video games nowadays getting a bit heavy on the music? I don’t know what first brought this to mind, but when I looked back at the trailer videos for a few games that had caught my eye recently I noticed that they all followed a similar pattern: lots of frenetic action, overlaid with a song. No (or very little) sound from the game, nothing to really set the mood, get interest in the story…just visuals and an (occasionally piss-poor) track playing along.

Take, for example, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations:

Or, the upcoming Aliens: Colonial Marines game, which I keep trying to tell my inner eight-year old self will be alright to play (he doesn’t believe me):

Gears of War 3 even managed two! First one:

Second one:

Even giant robots get into the swing of things, with the recent Fall of Cybertron trailer giving it the full “Merriman Weir” treatment:

All of which isn’t a massive problem – game makers can, of course, present their games however they like without referring them to a balding misanthrope in central Scotland for final approval on the marketing front. What strikes me as odd about the whole thing, though, is the fact that almost all games nowadays are far more involved than the relatively simple things that I believe most people think of when you say the words “video games”, where one pushes buttons to make a rotund Italian plumber jump up and down. They are stories, they build up narratives, they let the player make choices, become immersed in the world, familiar with the characters and, I would argue, the end result is that the player cares about the characters and situations they are playing through on screen. I can’t help but think that this process might be helped if the trailers let some of that come across, instead of bludgeoning us with some fairly intrusive music while allowing tiny little bits of sound from the game peep through in the background occasionally.

To defend my point, compare the Fall of Cybertron trailer above with the trailer for the first game – War for Cybertron – below:

Look at that. More importantly, listen to that. The two main characters in the game get dialogue. They set out, very quickly, the differences between the good guys and the bad guys. They set a tone, you get an interesting hook into the story, you see that underneath the whole giant-robots-fighting malarkey there might be the core of a decent sci-fi story in there, one that you might get to take part in if you hand over the ready cash*. It gives the voice artists a chance to shine, and builds a far more complete picture of what sort of game you might be buying in a few weeks / months. Compare that to the trailer for the second game – what do you get from that? The yellow thing looks hurt because its eyes look a bit flickery, and the sudden urge to buy some real ale. That’s about it.

I’m not saying that music shouldn’t play a part in game trailers – it should – but to me the trailer for a game should make me want to buy the game instead of making me want to nip onto Google and find out what was the name of that track playing all through the bloody thing.


* Plus, one of the characters BACKHANDS A MISSILE. Even for a giant robot, that’s fucking hardcore and should function as a selling point for anyone.

May 21

I am what could charitably be described as one of life’s worriers. I should say though, if you forgive me a moment of boasting, that I am really, really good at it. I am to worrying what Leonardo Da Vinci was to art. I am the Muhammad Ali of anxiety, the Elvis Presley of panic, the Sigmund Freud of fretting, the Horatio Nelson of nervousness. In the field of thinking up the blackest of black scenarios, mentally thrusting myself into the middle of them, and then experiencing gut-wrenching fear as the results play themselves out in my mind, I have no equal. I also do a good line in hammering a point home in an opening paragraph, but I think I play that one down enough so that no-one notices.

My wife is everything I am not. She is (though I think she would deny this if asked) level headed, wise, collected and calm. Above all, she doesn’t share my ability to imagine disaster layered upon disaster, all coming together to crash down me like a huge, ominous disaster onion. She looks at life through different eyes (literally as well as figuratively, we’re not the Munsters) and sees things in ways I do not. Where I see potential for disaster and loss, she sees potential for enjoyment and pleasure. It’s kind of like a slightly more psychological version of that song “po-tay-to, po-tah-to”. You know the one I mean, don’t sit there trying to pretend you don’t.

When I think back on it, I have wasted so much of my time worrying about what might be, what might be coming, what might happen to me, what I might have to endure, what I might lose, that it’s scary. I’ve had 29 years on this planet and I think a good chunk of that time has been filled with the niggling feeling of impending doom. I’m deeply, vastly jealous of people like my wife who can just enjoy themselves because it’s never been something I have been good at. I can relax, I can have a good time, but I almost never get out of my head and get in the moment.

I have to try to do that. I don’t know how – maybe I just establish one day when, between midnight and midnight, I don’t worry. Could that work? A day off? I could give it a try for one single day and see how it feels. I think that might be nice, because the strange thing is that while I am really good at worrying, it’s not something I enjoy all that much and when all’s said and done, it’s not exactly a skill you can whack on the old CV is it?

Perhaps that’s just what I need – a day off from worrying for the first time in years. Trying to change the habit of a lifetime perhaps, but I’ll give it a try anyway. Perhaps tonight will do the job, nothing special, just a good book, some wine, watch a bit of TV, spend some quality time with my wife, and no worrying about anything.

I have so much to be thankful for in my life. Perhaps it’s time for me to actually be thankful for those things and enjoy them, rather than constantly construct scenarios in my head where I lose them. I suspect this entire exercise is a massive example of “easier said than done” but I have to give this a try. Wish me luck. Or don’t, it’s up to you. I’m not worried about it.