I’ve been criticised recently for putting too many shit links and not enough of myself into this blog. This criticism is fair; you go to sites like B3TA and Rotten news and get most of what I whack up on here. But the reason I’m tonking this mufti up is that I?m not entirely sure that you, beloved audience, are going to be actually interested in what I’ve been doing.

Because what I do is mundane, as far as the techy whirl I live in would allow me to be. A hundred years ago I would have been playing games and reading books, if I’d been a member of the same indolent middle class I am now. Now’s pretty much the same; I?ve been playing computer games and reading far too much, like some info-hibernator storing up ideas for a coming winter, which’ll either never come or has been here all the time.

The two big games that have fix’d my flitting eye have been Planescape: Torment and World of WarCraft; If you don?t care about games skip the next two paragraphs; if you don’t understand, stick around and I’ll try to explain.)

Remember those role-playing games that the spotty kids at school indulged in, hurling dice and shouting as they binged on coke and pizza? Well, they’re unfortunately the basis of the most innovative games around at the moment, the Role Playing Game (RPG). Planescape (and look at the website) is the simpler of the two; a gorgeous fixed viewpoint game, you take the role of an amnesiac (cheesy we know) who simply can’t die. Upon waking . Gathering a motley band about you consisting of various tormented and damned souls (a floating skull who’s a wicked sense of humour but no-body to share it with, a redeemed succubus, a pyromaniac human torch, a walking suit of armour motivated solely by Justice, and so on.) as you seek the reason for your immortality and who or what has killed you so many times. The locations range from the city of Sigil, mounted atop a infinite screw’s head with holes punched through it to a thousand world, to a town toppling into hell, to a logic puzzle in the void.

World of WarCraft has a simpler plot, if there’s one there at all. It’s the typical fantasy world, with dwarves, orcs, dragons and elves, all drawn in gaudy cartoon delicacy. The thing is, it’s online, massively multiplayer and persistent; and there are several thousand people wandering around, chatting, mining, manufacturing, duelling and hunting 24 hours a day, seven days a week; all the characteristics of a frontier state. And at the moment, it’s just in a testing stage, and there literally millions of people around the world wanting to get into it; Korea is mad for it, but people simply can’t buy accounts, as they’ve been allocated by the PRs. It’s addictive and endless, and very, very time-consuming, as your character gradually learns magic powers and new abilities… very sad I know, but, hey, it’s my job.

Meantime, the books; the books are getting silly; I’m reading them at a rate of about one every two days, and to detail them all would be both boring and foolish (like many of the books.) The best one of the lot by far is Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman; it’s simply anecdotes by the greatest film scriptwriter of the 1970s and 1980s, each presented in digestible chapters, with a pretense of structure. Similarly fun and wholesome is Alan Clark?s Diaries – The Early Years; watching Clark’s staggering egoism (hypochondria mixed with equal portions of megalomania, patriotism and lechery) develop is fun and educational, when you realise that his personality is the lot of most politicians. On a difference tone, but with the same extremism, is Under the net by Iris Murdoch; coming from the viewpoint of someone who has only read her arid philosophy on virtue, this depiction of London as a playground for a irredeemable rogue and his larger-than-life chums is astonishing and laugh-out-loud funny, her sharp ideas hidden beneath blobby comic farce.

Phoow? enough for one night. Oh, yeah by the way I got promoted! Games Editor now apparently. Will put feelings on that down another night though.

Argue with me