Tag Archives: games

Changing media over the last decade

About this time of year people typically post things about what they’ve done over the last year, or even the last decade. I thought about it, but decided not to do that. I could list some of the TV and films I’ve watched but there’s too much and picking out favourites is difficult. Instead I’m going to write about how I think the different mediums have changed over the last ten years and my rambling thoughts on it all.

TV and Film

The short version is we are in a golden age of entertainment. In the last 10 years I’ve watched some of the most engaging TV shows of my life. I’ve seen films that have amazing spectacular visuals, that make it worthwhile seeing on a big screen with surround sound in a giant room. Those films are just not the same on a TV at home no matter how big the screen, it can’t compare and for that and other reasons I think cinemas will always be around. Games (computer and console) have also leapt forward, with new consoles with better graphics, three dimensional characters with interesting relationships and there again more thoughtful  and intricate stories as well as lots of explosions and FPS which I also enjoy. I’ve recently been replaying Half Life 2 again and it’s been lots of fun. Sales of some console games leave films in the dust because they are so popular and have such a huge following around the world.

Games

I think MMORPGs are not dead, not exactly, but I think their heyday has definitely passed when 20 million subscribers was the norm. I can be engaged by a game for a few hours but sometimes I just want to play something for 20-3o minutes and not have to pay a monthly fee to do it. Maybe a new MMORPG will come out and hook me again but I doubt it as I’ve not played WoW in years and prefer to dip in and out of other things, or play a game until it is finished and then move on to the next rather than constantly be stuck in the second act of something that has no end. People play a lot more games on their phones and ten years ago this didn’t exist. I see more of that in the future and more free games with micro-transactions.

Books

I don’t think a lot has changed other than to say there’s a lot more to choose from as well. In the SFF arena, the number of books being published each year has increased so there are always books I’ve missed, authors I’m vaguely aware of that are popular and favourites among some readers, and other authors I’ve just not heard of before. People will be aghast and say you’ve not heard of X?? But that’s just because there’s too much of everything to stay up to date. And, people are constantly battling for attention on social media so the flood of information never stops 24×7 which means you can blink and miss it.

So because of all of this I’ve had to become more selective. Some TV shows I was previously watching out of loyalty but not really enjoying, I’ve dropped and don’t miss them. Social media has changed a lot in ten years. Widening it to include stuff like YouTube, as that feeds into what people watch, there’s definitely been a shift. I have some friends with children who only watch YouTube, or 90% of their content comes from YouTube as they consider that TV and their celebs are people on Twitch channels or YouTube personalities. I’ve found myself watching more in the last 2 years, following people I previously knew from elsewhere (sports people, TV stars and a couple of celebs) who have gone on on to develop their own channels. I also follow channels about hobbies I’m interested in but I’m not interested in watching someone else play games. I’d rather be doing it myself.

Comics

I think comics is the least well adjusted medium for 2020 and beyond. Waiting a month between single issues, especially on ongoing series with no definitive end, isn’t something that can continue. It’s too slow, it’s old fashioned, it doesn’t work any more and the number of Wednesday Warriors gets smaller every year. Even with the best writers and artists I’m just not reading as many ongoing titles. I’ve shifted to a digital trial and if it is good I’ll get it in trade. If it’s a mini series or similar I might read it all digitally or trade wait. DC has had a bit of shift, creating Black Label with top creators producing shorter series, as well as launching DC Ink and DC Zoom for younger readers and I think that’s a great step in the right direction but more needs to be done to bring in a lot more younger readers and, more importantly, keep them reading year on year. The temporary boost of big named creators, or a new issue 1 on a big title doesn’t work long term, and I still think a significant change needs to be made.

In comparison to DC, Marvel seem to have just given up on attracting younger readers. They license most of their biggest characters to other publishers to write stories for kids and the YA audience. A lot of young people know Marvel and DC characters from animation, games, movies and even TV shows, but not the comics themselves which is a huge shame. I think many people in suits in Hollywood still view comic books as nothing more than cheap R and D. The glory days of Image comics and even the Kirkman Manifesto are gone. Bar a couple of huge successes like the Walking Dead, Image comics isn’t what it used to be. Also making a decent living just on creator owned titles isn’t possible any more. There are always exceptions but many creators work in multiple mediums, across Big2 books and their own in order to make a living.

What’s next?

I think out of all of the mediums, TV is adapting the quickest to keep up with the times. More paid subscription services are popping up every day. People will begin to swap around, chasing TV shows they like the look of, cancelling one and moving to another for a few months at a time. There’s so much diverse content out there. If you can’t find several shows that you enjoy then you’re just not looking hard enough.

There seems to be a bit of a shift with films. There are few small films being made and by that I mean 20-50 million dollar movies that are not part of a massive franchise. Watching those films at the cinema are few and far between, or you are blink and miss it with one week at the cinema and then the next day they appear on Netflix or Amazon. So there is a place for them to be made, but I think some should still be viewed on a big screen and just won’t get a chance. I don’t think every single film at the cinema will be a franchise of some kind but I think that wave will continue for a while.

E-sports will continue to grow until it starts appearing on more mainstream TV channels. Social media ‘stars’ are also on the rise and I think that will keep going. We’ve now reached the point where some TV shows feature them in order to try and attract a new audience, even on the BBC. Previously such institutions would have ignored such people but the number of followers they command means more crossovers in the future.

Books. They’re a weird one in some ways. I think we’ll see more adaptations, partly because platforms are desperate for content and there are already a dozen or more SFF TV shows in the works based on big series (LOTR, Wheel of Time, Witcher, Kingkiller, GoT prequel, Expanse, Wildcards etc) and I think there will be more going forward. If this then makes people go back and start reading the books between TV series then it’s a win win situation.

For me comics is the biggest unknown and where it goes is the most difficult to predict. I’ll be keeping a close eye on it and I have some ideas of my own but we’ll see. I couldn’t have predicted some of the shifts we’ve seen since 2000 in terms of media development and I think the next ten years are going to be even more unpredictable.

Comments Off on Changing media over the last decade

Filed under Books, Films, Games, TV, Writing

Wailing Heights

CaptureI can finally reveal a little bit more information about another of the secret writing projects I’ve been involved with. I recently had the pleasure of working with Outsider Games, on their latest project – Wailing Heights.

It was a real challenge for me, bringing humour to the content. It was very different to what I normally write and I had to write two pieces in very different styles and voices. I also had to do some research and delve into areas I would never normally look and it was quite an eye opening experience. I had a lot of fun working on the project with the guys and am looking forward to seeing the game when it comes out.

You can read more about my involvement with the game on their Production Blog.

Comments Off on Wailing Heights

Filed under Gaming, Writing

Podcasting empire

I’ve been podcast for over seven years now and the landscape has changed dramatically in that time. When we started not many people really knew what podcasting was and the number of podcasts and people listening was a fraction of what is today.

Coming up on eight years on from when we first started in July 2007, my co-host and I have done all sorts with the podcast and it has led to all sorts of opportunities, personally and professionally. I’ve attended comic book conventions and spoken on panels about podcasting, their place in the new media landscape and taken part in discussions about whether or not it’s a form of journalism. I also co-ran the podcasting track at the Nine Worlds Geekfest convention last year and will be involved again this year.

Professionally I’ve used the editing and sound skills I learned from a hobby in two of my jobs. One was to introduce podcasting to a large global company who wanted to keep their employees up to date in a way that was mobile. So I trained a couple of other people on good technique, introduced them to the software and how it works, and off they went. I’ve also used the same skills for video editing and my voice has been used on several demonstration videos which I put together.

On a personal level, podcasting has allowed me to speak with some amazing creative people, writers and artist from several mediums, plus independent filmmakers. This was sometimes on the Book Club where we spoke to authors, and sometimes on Comic Book Outsiders.

We’ve now reached the point where after so many years we’ve settled into a rhythm and are still enjoying what we do. With that in mind I thought it might be worth giving a little bit of information about the podcasts I’m involved with, as part of our mini podcasting empire!

Comic Book Outsiders – Once a month I co-host this comics and geek related podcast with Scott. This was the original podcast we started in 2007 and we are still going. We talk about things in the news, comics books, TV, films and games, we discuss meaty topics, we have guests on to talk about their work and we highlight hidden gems that don’t get as much attention as they should.

Bags of Action – Once a month I co-host this podcast with Pete Rogers. If you love action movies then this is the podcast for you. We talk about the ridiculous stories and the wonderful chaos common to this type of movie. From gun fights that go on forever to fist fights that defy gravity and common sense. Every month we discuss and dissect an action movie and always have a good time recording it. Sometimes we go off the rails a bit and dig into some of the trivia, or we just wander off into other areas if the film is poor.

Crash Landing – Once a month Scott sits down with a special guest. Fortunately they have been rescued from a dying earth. Unfortunately the rocket ship they are on is going to crash land. They have to decide which popular media they want to save, books, films or comics, or a combination of all three. What could they not live without on their brave new world? As well as talking about why they love their choices we find out more about our special guests each month.

The website for the CBO network has more information on all of the podcasts, plus ways you can get involved and even support the podcasts. It’s all on iTunes as well so give one or more of the podcasts a try and let me know what you think.

Comments Off on Podcasting empire

Filed under podcast, Writing