Myths and Legends

Myths and Legends
How to Devour the Flesh of Your Ancestors

Colin Rowsell | 25 Mar 2008 12:57
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The revenue model revealed by the Kane and Lynch thing is a variant on one of the most repeated and often ignored sins in the media universe: payola. That old trope about a newspaper being an inkstained shell around its advertising is more than half true, even on the internet.

But at least a whole bunch of people got angry about it this time.

I went and spoke with the veterans, old friends in Wellington, New Zealand, who've covered politics, public relations and corporate communications for a generation. All the nasty bits. These are the ones who would stab each other in the eyeballs for 20 seconds of access to a candidate, the ones who've buried more bodies in the dung pits of truth than Genghis Khan.

Good people. Just don't let your fingers near their mouths.

Over a nice Waiheke Shiraz in a harborside restaurant built on the skeletons of baby seals, they reminded me of reality.

Political journalism, corporate media and the other old idols are pretty much beyond saving. There's an incredibly complex and vicious dance that goes on, a nine-step tango polka crossover where mutual interests, blurred lines, egos, history and money combine to stomp like hogs over anything new.

You become sophisticated, in the very worst sense of the word. You lose all sense of surprise or anger at the truly heinous bullshit that takes place every day. I've been there, and so have the veterans. Videogames, by comparison, aren't even a quarter of the way up the road.


So go home, they said. Stop whining. Enjoy being young and dumb and a little bit naïve. You've got 10, 50, 100 years of time to get nasty and bitter later. Why start early?

Why indeed.

The big myth and the big opportunity
You know who I miss?

I miss Dusty Rhodes on Saturday nights.

That big Texas sack o' cornmeal could cut a promo on the mic like no other. He'd talk about his daddy being a plumber and the working poor of the South and the American Dream and bein' so gosh damn pretty. He was a legend in his own lunchbox. You knew that because he told you. All the while ignoring and transcending the fact that he was a giant fat man who danced around a wrestling ring in tights to a script.

It's not all about the videogames. Really. If it's only and exclusively about the videogames themselves, stop reading The Escapist right now and never read it again.

There's a bigger mythology, and it hasn't been found yet. It's possible to convey great truths through fantastical bullshit. Telling people stories and lying to their faces are not the same thing, and this is game journalism's rare opportunity. Imagine what could be done with politics, music, science or, hell, skateboarding, if we could wash away all the encrustation and start covering it fresh? There are so many directions in which things could go. But let's face it: The odds are pretty good that game writing's going the way of the E! channel.

But it could still be something different again. Something with the same unrealized but slowly waking potential games themselves have. Imagine bringing that into the world. For my money, the thought is definitely worth hanging on some bloody tree for nine days until harvest.

Colin Rowsell is a writer and strategist based in Wellington, New Zealand. Talk to him on

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