You know, when most TV screenwriters are tasked with writing about something of which they perhaps don’t have an in-depth knowledge, they might try to learn a bit about the subject so that what eventually appears on the screen doesn’t look ludicrous or ridiculous to anyone with a passing knowledge of said topic. Unless we’re talking about videogames, of course. I mean, who cares about getting shit like that right?
I do, actually.
There are numerous examples of piss-poor videogame representations on the telly: people hammering buttons on the Xbox like a demented toddler despite playing a driving game; characters wildly flailing around their controller as if their life depended on it, despite the reverse camera angle revealing them to be on the game’s title screen. But top of the list is when a show set during our present day features a fictional computer game seemingly plucked from the space year 2087.
In an episode of ‘House’ that I recently endured, Dr House and his team had to treat a designer who was developing a new videogame, giving the cantankerous doctor’s crew an opportunity to try out this masterpiece of interactive entertainment. Nothing wrong with all of this, per se, except that the ‘game’ featured was a virtual reality adventure (complete with high tech visor) that transported the players into the graphical equivalent of multi-million dollar special effect, where they freely wandered around an impossibly detailed environment shooting impossibly rendered aliens in impossibly convoluted ways. It was basically the holodeck of the Starship Enterprise.
Have the writers played any videogames lately? Sure, they’ve come on in leaps and bounds over the past two decades - the games of today are unrecognisable from the titles I played in my childhood – but we’re not yet at the ‘fully immersive’, ‘indistinguishable from real-life’ stage. That’s called science fiction, and has no place in a supposedly contemporary TV show.
“But it’s just a small leap forward, isn’t it?” I hear some of you whine. “Look at Kinect and Wii. That’s where computer gaming is heading, isn’t it?’”
Yes, that’s where it’s heading. BUT WE’RE FUCKING NOT THERE YET, ARE WE?! The Honda robot is uncanny in its ability to walk up stairs and dance, but if in the next episode of House the good doctor and his team were asked to diagnose a malfunctioning android played by Tyne Daly, people would write in and complain that they were being utterly ridiculous. To which I could then holler “Yes, but that’s where robotics is heading, isn’t it? It’s not far off…” And then you’d all shout at me for being silly, and remind me that House isn’t set in the future.
Fine. Then don’t show me Olivia Wilde marching on the spot with a VR headset while somehow participating in a Pixar movie. Because for the videogame literate, that really is just as silly.
Not since that episode of CSI Miami where an online game allowed players to control a killer who was murdering people in real life (or something) have I been so annoyed.
If you’re going to do videogames, do it properly for fuck’s sake.