Happy New (80s Games) Year!

Manic Miner

OK, that’s not quite what people usually say. But I’ve just come across a really cool website full of retro 1980s computer games: http://www.80stopgames.com/site/

I haven’t spent much time on it yet – just enough to establish just how cool it really is – but I predict many a wasted hour in 2014 will be spent revisiting those blocky, bleepy and ridiculously addictive video games of my youth.

And I think that even the younger generation will appreciate some of these. Eighties games may have been primitive by the standards of today’s smooth, sprawling, uber-reality experiences; but the growth of mobile and the demand for compact, bite-size fun has led to huge success for Angry Birds and the like. Games that don’t take hours to learn and days to play. Games that are just fun. I don’t have loads of free time and my brain gets taxed quite enough elsewhere; so when I play a computer game, I don’t want to deal with yet another big complicated thing to add to all the other big complicated things in my life.

That fascination with retro technology and the simple delights of old-style gaming was my key inspiration for writing BASIC Boy. That book is about the clash of cultures between today’s sophisticated, ultra-connected teens and their 1980s forerunners. (With a vengeful, time-travelling ghost thrown in, naturally.)

I hope you have a fantastic 2014. With or without Manic Miner.

Three random things of interest (possibly)

PB image

Well they were to me anyway. Hope you enjoy at least one of them.

First – “Who in fiction are you?” This is a fun little quiz in which you answer a few questions and you are then told what famous fictional character you most resemble. I took the quiz twice; the first time I got Dr Watson, the second Mr Darcy. Both quite flattering really. Whereas one work colleague came out as Dean Moriarty … I shudder to think what answers he gave to get that answer …

Try it here: https://frozen-everglades-6644.herokuapp.com/

Second – grammar tests aren’t usually my idea of fun, but since I do call myself a writer and I still struggle with the who / whom thing among (or is that amongst?) other things, I found this one quite helpful, as well as reasonably encouraging since I only got one answer wrong. (Though if I’m being brutally honest, at least one of my correct answers was a total guess. Possibly two.) And it did help me with who / whom:

Try it here: http://m.staples.ca/sbdca/en_CA/cre/programs/grammarquiz/

And finally – a bit of light relief. I love Christmas, and the Pet Shop Boys are my favourite band of all time, so I was delighted to come across their Christmas song the other day. It’s called “It doesn’t often snow at Christmas”, which is certainly true of the UK. (Don’t believe those Richard Curtis movies or Charles Dickens books where it always snows in London on 25th December. It usually rains.) But the song is far from depressing, and it might even drag you kicking and screaming into something resembling the Christmas spirit. Check it out at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZJNNUahv5c