Around the year 2,000 the most popular games were probably “shooters” like Half-Life and Unreal Tournament. Those games were a lot of fun and very addictive, but after running down a 1,000 corridors pulling off 10,000 head-shots (lol! I was never that good. I was always dead within 3 paces in Counter-Strike!), they did get a bit stale. So when I discovered there were other types of game such as “Thief” on PC and “Metal Gear” on the PS1, these games came as a welcome relief. In fact you could say they were the progenitors of all the “open-world” games that were to follow. They were games that let you play them in the way you wanted to play them, rather than telling you what you had to do. This of course opens up enormous possibilities utilised by many games since. So when Assassin’s Creed came out in 2007 I was quite eager to play it, despite the fact it was getting a panning by the critics at the time!? And immediately I loved it, probably helped by the fact that I had low expectations thanks to the critics. It has too many good qualities to go into here, but what I most liked at the time was that it allowed you to play as a straight hack ‘n slash or a straight stealth, or a combination of the two, depending on what mood you were in on that day, and it was a very open world that you could go and explore with good background depth and humorous nods to history real and otherwise. In fact the single thing I enjoyed the most was the ability to be able to climb all over buildings in cities I had either been fortunate enough to live in or to visit, and see them from completely different angles. (It was also nice that thoughtful farmers always left hay-carts at the bottom of these buildings in case anyone took it into their heads to jump off!). I suppose after playing 3 or 4 versions it did begin to pale a bit and I didn’t like the way they were always introducing new elements, which worked well in other games, but didn’t really add to the story of Assassin’s Creed but felt like burdensome padding. The core game and story had enough interesting elements, which could have been developed further, without needing any padding. Games like the Elder Scrolls do the whole crafting/potions thing much better and chasing bits of paper over rooftops or around woods feels more like a Nintendo game and not something a real-life assassin would want to engage in. He would at least have lackeys for such menial tasks. Having said that, if I had played one of the later games as a first time experience I probably would have enjoyed it as much as I did the first one. We all tend to prefer the first version of a song, film or game we have enjoyed even if later versions are in some ways better. And games are no different from anything else that suffers from the law of diminishing returns the more you repeat them.
In the next News post I would like to explore further the theme of diminishing returns, but in the meantime everyone should read this real-life stealth story of how politicians are hoodwinking the British public. When I first came across this story in 2018 (6 years after the event! Thank you British media for keeping the public so “informed about the things that matter,” BBC self-promotion ad paraphrased,) I was horrified, as I think most people would be, if only they knew about it. I remember this so called “Health Bill” being presented on the BBC news in 2012 as “a way to get GPs more involved in the running of the NHS” and thinking “that sounds a good idea”, as of course we were meant to think. But the fact that 27 of the 28 medical associations were opposed to it (and the 28th thought it would “harm the NHS”) was never mentioned, ie the people most expert in the field were ignored by media and government. Nor the fact that the person-based duty of care on which the NHS was founded had been abolished and was going to be replaced by a profit-based duty of care to share-holders. This was deliberate and intentional. Since the 1980’s the Tories, under Thatcher, recognised that the British public would never accept privatization of the NHS and have pursued a policy of “privatization by stealth” ever since, with the connivance of the Labour party, Lib Dems and British media. Most people are not even aware that the NHS, that was the pride of Britain and envy of the world, no longer exists in the form it was created, nor that the continual running down of the NHS is just another part of that propaganda plan. We were never allowed to have that debate because it wouldn’t have happened if we did. Some people like to imagine that playing computer games harms health, but that pales into insignificance besides some of the real-life stealth games that are being played with people’s health!
and this film by John Pilger gives more background to the story,