Gamer – Lee Bradley

8 Sep

Q1. Who the hell are you and what do you do?

Lee Bradley – My name is Lee Bradley. I write for a number of websites – teeny widdly ones, news bloggy ones, big fat established ones, up and coming ones, respected ones… and other ones.

When I’m not doing that, I play videogames.

Q2. When did you first get into games? How old were you?

LB – I’ve been playing them as long as I remember. They’ve always been part of the fabric of my life. Like television, cinema, BMXs or football, as a kid they were just… what you do.

The thing that cemented my passion is a little more interesting though. As a kid I used to get dragged from bowling alley to bowling alley by my Dad. He played to a high level. So

instead of watching him play (boring!) I would disappear into the arcades.

While I was there I met a boy called Damian. Turns out Damian’s Father was a high-up suit at Sega Europe. Accordingly, he had consoles, games and arcade cabinets coming out of his ears. It was my time spent with Damian that turned a pastime into an obsession.

Q3. Omit nothing, what is your gaming history? Where did it start and how did it progress?

LB – Oh. Totally should have read all the questions before I plunged in. I’ll skip past my childhood to the teen years, then.

I stopped playing half-way through the PlayStation era. While Sony’s new console had made it kinda cool to play games, 3D pushed me away. They just couldn’t match up to the beauty of 2D sprites. Aside from the odd game here and there I tuned out.

Then, a few years later, my flatmate got a PS2. Those endless, late-night, weed-fuelled FIFA sessions rekindled my passion. I started exploring what I had missed. I started reading about games again.

I haven’t stopped since.

Q4. Why do you actually play games? Is it for fun? Or maybe something else?

LB – Here’s a wanky answer. It came to me when I was flying home from a holiday with my wife a few years ago. I play games to challenge the chaos of life.

Look down at England from high in the sky and you can see the fields have been carved up into neat shapes, their borders clearly marked and their shapes regular. It tells you that man’s brain works in a logical, compartmentalised way. We’ve attempted to reign in the chaos of nature.

As such, a game like Tetris satisfies that part of our minds. In that game, the fall of the tiles is completely random, chaotic, but a skilful player can bring them to order, tame them into something that is satisfying and regimented. Doing so is entertaining, it’s fun.

And it’s true of other games too. Collecting all the coins, clearing all the levels, killing all the enemies in a room before you can progress. It’s all the same thing. Order from chaos. We do it compulsively.

So yeah, that’s my wanky way of describing it. Basically, if you’ve spent all day amongst the chaos of life, what better way to relax than by doing something you have complete control over, something that you can bring your own order to. That’s why I play games.

Q5. If you could choose one game (just one) to give to other gamers, one that epitomises videogames for you, what would it be?

LB – What epitomises videogames for me? Ok, I’ll go a different route with this one…

Apache Air Assault. It’s a helicopter sim, from Activision. It isn’t out yet, but it perfectly encapsulates modern videogames.

It isn’t born of love, or ideas, or passion. It was made because there was a gap in the market. It is a laser-targeted attack on the populace’s wallets. There is nothing inherently wrong with the game itself, it looks fine. But it was made for all the wrong reasons.

That’s what epitomises games for me right now.

Q6. What was the last game you completed? Did you enjoy it?

LB – Limbo. It was fine. Although the promise of the first third deteriorated by end. I would have loved it if they had developed the idea of a wide-eyed child having to do increasingly monstrous things (feeding cadavers to giant spiders, using dead bodies as rafts). It would have been better as a game about the loss of innocence.

Or something like that.

Q7. Now the tough stuff… Favourite gaming platform ever… and why?

LB – Spectrum, because it was my first computer. Those early experiences set everything in motion. You can never recreate the rush of discovery.

Q8. Favourite game or franchise?

LB – Street Fighter. Staggering depth. I’ve been playing on and off for many, many years and I’m nowhere near mastering it. I like that. No other games manage to balance that kind of depth and accessibility.

Fighting games are the purest form of videogame. Capcom make the best fighting games. Street Fighter is Capcom’s best fighting franchise. It’s an easy choice.

Q9. How do you feel about online gaming?

LB – I’m torn on this one. On one hand I’d say that gaming has always been a solitary exercise, for me. Playing alone lets you immerse yourself in a way that online gaming just cannot allow.

But then I realise that adversarial games are infinitely better experienced playing alongside a human opponent. AI still isn’t up to scratch. It just can’t compare to the buzz of taking out a real opponent.

What’s more, some of the best experiences I’ve had this generation have been in online co-op.

So… I dunno. Pass?

Q10. And motion control?

LB – For the games that I enjoy playing, it’s mostly pointless. Since I’ve been playing them, videogames have largely been about reflexes, digital dexterity and timing. Broadly speaking, motion-controlled games aren’t about those things.

And in the case of Kinnect, from what I’ve tried out, it just doesn’t work.

One of the things I love about games is that they translate the tiniest movements into grand gestures. A tiny flick of your thumb can bring down a skyscraper. Why would I want to flap my arms around to achieve the same thing?

Q11. How about 3D gaming?

LB – Never tried it. If it’s as pointless as 3D cinema, then I’ll give it a miss.

Q12. Where do YOU want to see the industry in five years time?

LB – I’d like to see the democratisation of games development continue. I’d like to think that as it becomes easier to make games we’ll see more titles that mean something to people. Games borne of ideas, passion, excitement and experience. Not games designed to plug a gap in the market.

There has been plenty of movement in this direction in recent years. I look forward to seeing how it grows.

Q13. What does gaming mean to you?

LB – Some of my fondest memories involve games. Beer-fuelled, controller-swapping Donkey Kong Country playthroughs, sneaky games of Worms over LAN with my IT classmates, endless SNES Street Fighter marathons with a dearly missed friend, those smoky FIFA sessions… games have provided me with some of my happiest times.

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