We love it when other people fail. “Tragedy,” said Mel Brooks, “is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall in an open sewer and die.” Failure is life affirming; it helps us put things in perspective. Yours, that is, not ours. Our failures are monumental dramas, rife with pain and anguish and self-recrimination.
We’re often far too enmeshed in the temporary paralysis of our personal failures to relish the long-term, positive aftereffects. Which is one of the reasons why watching other people fail is so inoculating. We can appreciate how much better, faster, smarter they will be after the sting wears off. We can see how good it is for them to suffer. We can appreciate their growth. That we rarely make the connection when we’re the ones under the knife is of no consequence.
Also, we appreciate the failures of others because we’re bitter. We remember trying and failing, and would like nothing more than to reach out of our miserable muck to grab the ankles of those about to fly, pulling them back under before they can prove we, in our failure, are the exception, rather than the rule. We laugh with, and at, failure; soaking it in like vitamin D from the sun, building a wall around our personal tragedies, cocooning our weaknesses in a pearlescent shell of bile directed at those foolish enough to publicly try, and publicly fail.
VH1 has built an entire network to feed this hunger. As famous as Brett Michaels or Flava Flav may be, they’re still near the bottom of the ladder of actual famous people, a fact we eagerly remember as we watch them flaunt their non-scripted obnoxiousness. Then there’s Behind the Music, with it’s documentarian eye piece focusing on the lows behind every high. Behind the Music is a vaccine for mediocrity, a wide swath of gauze for the gaping wound life has gouged out of our pride as we enter adulthood and realized no, we would not be rock stars.
This week, for Issue 146, “Post Mortem,” The Escapist gives games the VH1 treatment, shining the cold light of truth and consequence on the shattered visages of developers who dared to dream. N. Evan Van Zelfden talks to God of War‘s David Jaffe about Heartland, the game he said would make you cry, which never saw the light of day; Erin Hoffman tells the true story of Black9 and how a major publisher became a harvester of dreams; Kieron Gillen talks to the boys of Mucky Foot, Bullfrog expats hoping to make it big who ultimately fell victim to their own good intentions; Daniel Purvis examines why programmers are usually the last to want to push technological boundaries; and Nick Pirocanac talks to the developers of Allegiance, a game that’s taken on a unique life of its own years after Microsoft abandoned the project.
Please note: This issue is best enjoyed with a pint of Hagen Daas, or a cold glass of Chardonnay. Cheers!