Category Archives: Technology

The first football video game

Late Tackle issue 4Published in issue 4 of Late Tackle.

Each new instalment of FIFA and PES, EA Sports’ and Konami’s respective football video game franchises, brings much talk of “player impact engines”, “updated facial representations” and “true-to-life active AI”. Whatever that actually means, there’s no doubt both games are thoroughly impressive technological achievements, presenting frighteningly realistic football simulations with all the bells and whistles a fan could want. But football games have much humbler origins.

The first football video game was a variation on the primitive Pong “bat-and-ball” game, and was bundled with TV games systems like the ubiquitous Binatone TV Master in the 1970s. Binatone Football bore very little resemblance to today’s console games, with no colour, rudimentary sound, and no graphics to speak of. Nevertheless, it was revolutionary, allowing fans to play an electronic version of their favourite sport in their front rooms, and kick-starting the rapid development of football video games over the next 30-plus years. Continue reading

How Spotify ruined Christmas

An article for Sabotage Times about how the decline of physical music formats has made Christmas shopping much more difficult.

The digital music revolution has created something of a Christmas shopping conundrum: what do you get the music fan who has Spotify? The music streaming service, along with iTunes, 7Digital, Amazon and the like, has given us instant access to almost every song ever recorded. We have more music than we know what to do with, and we don’t need or want any more for Christmas. That’s a shame, because for the past 25 years or so, CDs have been the ideal no-brainer Christmas gift. Now no one wants CDs – and digital music is much more difficult to wrap.

Read the full article over at Sabotage Times.

Chris Sievey, Frank Sidebottom and The Biz

When Chris Sievey died in June, several of those who knew him best described him as a genius. Chris was best known as the man inside the oversized papier mache head of Frank Sidebottom, but before finding cult success with his aspiring pop star alter-ego, he had attempted to carve out a music career of his own, and produced a pioneering computer game based on his experiences called The Biz. Typically brilliant, the game remains thoroughly playable more than 25 years after it was released. It’s also incredibly innovative – a multimedia music release created long before anyone had any clue what a multimedia music release was….

Read the full story at Sabotage Times.

3D – the entertainment revolution that nobody wants

Whatever the merits or otherwise of Avatar, there can be no arguing against the fact that James Cameron’s latest blockbuster has redefined the future of cinema. A new type of camera was invented to make the film, and entire cinemas have been built specifically to screen it in all its digital IMAX 3D glory. But is 3D all it is cracked up to be?

I saw the Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience presentation at the brand new Odeon Metrocentre cinema in Gateshead, the only digital IMAX theatre outside of London, and opened in the week of the movie’s release. Screenings were fully-booked days in advance, and we struggled to get tickets for a couple of weeks.

When we did eventually get to see it, we were sat at the front right corner – not great seats for the £12.50 ticket price. The screening was preceded by a brief introduction from a man in a suit who reminded us to return our hefty 3D specs for sterilisation after the movie, and warned us that the immersive nature of the experience might cause illness. But there was no warning of physical injury. Looking up and left at the huge screen for 162 minutes required a painful twisting of the neck and back that left me in pain for a few days afterwards. Injured by a 3D movie! Pah! Continue reading