About The Mad Mark

My name is Mark but most people call me "Mad Mark" this is because I like to make bizarre comedy films/shows and generally have a crazy personality. I enjoy entertaining people and making them laugh. I would consider myself to have many talents, besides my general film making skills I also perform close-up magic. I am a regular presenter at my local community radio and I have my own show. To learn a bit more about my work click the tab above.

The effects of computer games in society and culture

In this essay I am going to analyse what effects computer games have on modern culture and our society. My main interests are to focus on the views that have been brought up in the media about gaming and have been looked at by other studies. I would like to determine why gaming is being portrayed as a negative form of media, and blamed for many problems including violence, social problems and causing addiction.  These are of course subjects of concern to society and especially among young people. My main view towards this is that games should not be put in the firing line and I will argue that such problems are probably already there within the person. The game may bring out the problems people have but the game should not be completely to blame.

The reason why I am choosing this subject for study is for me to look at the evidence and reasoning as to why people label games in such a negative light as, like many others,  I have experienced a great deal of enjoyment playing these games. Therefore I am interested to see what arguments there are to back up the idea that games are a problem. Throughout this piece I intend to keep an open mind and I may agree or disagree with certain case studies or research I find throughout the essay. I think it is important to look at what the problems are said to be and therefore I will look at 3 case studies that cover the issues of addiction, violence and social problems.  I will consider what other opinions there are and discuss what I think about the problems and issues that being brought up. My own opinions may change throughout this essay as I read and look into the evidence to support the problems that computer gaming causes.

This essay will be split into separate chapters to look at each case study. For the first chapter I will focus on social issues and how people may become detached from their everyday life and going into virtual reality. For example, the game Second Life where you can run a life much like having an alter ego. I will be looking at a case study related to this game later in the essay and I will also look at issues to do with depression, anxiety, obesity and issues of agoraphobia which may be blamed on gaming.

For my second chapter I will move onto addiction and look at how games are said to control people and look into my own personal experience with game addiction, wanting to play and the feeling of playing and then not playing. I will focus on one case study of someone dying of deep vein thrombosis because they did not move from a game. I will look at other cases as well where people were so embraced in a game that problems occurred. Although it may sound like games are causing these problems, in this chapter I would like to explore the problems more widely and argue against the idea that it is entirely the games fault for causing the problem.

In my final chapter I will move onto violence which, from the amount of evidence available, seems to be the most notorious issue that people complain about when regarding aggressive games. As part of this section I will be doing a self-study on my own gaming alongside looking at another case study of people committing murder which has been blamed on a game. I will discuss the issues of children playing such games and what problems this could cause them long term or short term. I will again be arguing that we need to look for other reasons apart from gaming to explain aggressive behaviour.

Additional topics I will discuss include classification of games and if parents should be educated on why a game has been classed as 18 and possible solutions to the issue of younger children being brought up with graphic images and violence in games.

I will look at how games can now been considered a sport especially now that they are multiplayer and there are events and conventions people can go to win money and a trophy. This could be also being linked into game violence as competition can also provoke violence in other sports.

I may talk about the effects of other media such as TV, film or books and how they are said to affect people.

Finally, I will consider the evidence of the different case studies to assess whether it is in fact fair to blame gaming for these problems.

 

Social problems

Computer games have become a big part of everyday life for many people however there are probably more young people that play them than older.  The question is how they are affecting our social lives. I will first look at how they are said to be making people lose their grasp on reality. In my case study I am looking at the game Second Life and recently a couple that divorced because of an affair in the game.  This may seem surprising because as it is a game and not reality but the wife of the person took it seriously. She stated:

‘ ”I went mad — I was so hurt,” Taylor said of the Internet affair. “I just couldn’t believe what he’d done. I looked at the computer screen and could see his character having sex with a female character. It’s cheating as far as I’m concerned.’ (Adams 2008)

 

For someone to do this on a game and then get a divorce over it seems a little far-fetched. It may well be because the characters that are interacting are real or it may be that its seem as certain speed dating sights there are out there as then that I could see why it’s a betrayal of trust but because this is a game and it seems that the line between reality and fiction seems to have been lost completely or game and real life have now intertwined and can be consider the same seem. Glenn W Harrison argues

‘When the virtual reality is sufficiently “real,” users become immersed in their virtual experiences: the stimuli from the virtual interactions are dominating their perception and cognition’ (Harrison G.W. December 2010)

I have played second life and just seen it as being like the Sims which was realised in the year 2000, which was originally a single-player game using fictional characters (‘bots’), but with real people. I just played for fun and did not become detached from life or start my own virtual life. However, Second Life has become a money making game for the people who play as they can own their own shop and design their own clothes and then sell them to other players. In fact, they no longer need a job in the real world and now with internet shopping they don’t need to leave the house to get food either.  I can understand how people can become so immersed but does this mean they no longer understand the difference between real and virtual? According to Adams

‘Avatars need not represent players’ real-life personas. Online, Laura Skye works as a club DJ and is 6 feet tall, weighs 112 lb. and has a penchant for skin-tight cowgirl outfits. In reality, Taylor, an unemployed former waitress, is 5 feet 4 inches tall, weighs 224 lb. and prefers T shirts and leggings.’ (Adams 2008)

If this is true then are people becoming detached from their real lives and identities as they prefer to be in virtual lives? This brings me onto the point that younger people are using computers and gaming more than what they did 20 years ago. I am 23 and when I was younger I had no computer but used to go out and play games with friends in the street or at a park. These games are still played but it seems that computer games are taking people out of their social lives and confining them to their rooms. One writer on netstudies.org comments

‘If we continue to follow this trend social interaction as we know it will be archaic. The frightening perspective is that relationship [SIC] will be built only through Internet.’ (sandrinemaingard 25/04/2011)

I would say that I do know people who find it easier to talk to people online than offline. This may be partly because they are not overwhelmed by intimidating body language of the other person and can express themselves more. One of my friends however, in an interview said

          ‘Yes I can talk to strangers and friends just as easily as I do on games’ (Cook n.d.)

He also explained that he can distinguish between the two worlds. It could be that it is only a certain minority of people that get confused between reality and their virtual lives. It has been said that

‘People who distrust cyberspace, however, say that withdrawing to an online environment may become a way of avoiding real-life problems rather than trying to solve them. These critics also fear that the chance to represent oneself, and to see others, as beautiful or fantastic avatars could reinforce prejudices against people whose real bodies are less than perfect.’ (ClarifiedScience 2011)


  However it can be argued that a player is not socially isolated in games such as Second Life as the player can interact with other people and there are online games where there is interaction with other players to achieve goals. To a certain extent games can bring different people together in events such as game festivals which take place annually in London where they show off new games and technology and have the creators of some games doing game signings.

I would argue that games are not making people antisocial but are creating a new kind of social environment. Nowadays gaming has come so far that the people can socially interact online and even talk to each other using Skype. Whilst writing this chapter I was actually involved in a chat with people who were all playing a game and discussing tactics with each other. FYSM say

‘Games can create a place where one can feel comfortable, where discrimination is limited. A shy introvert can become a fearless leader, friendships can form without judgments of the physical intervening, and tools for accepting differences can be brought into the real world.’ (Mabernet 010)

It seems that some people are just creating a separate life where they can feel more comfortable and not feel anxiety. But might this discourage people from understanding themselves and to have an alter ego when on games. Coming back to Second Life this is a game where alter egos are rife and people pretending to be what they are not or having jobs that they would not get for real is a common thing. In the case where the couple got divorced there was a private investigator hired to try and catch the person in the act which is something that could be done in the real world. Markie Macdonald the investigator was said to          have

‘Hatched a plan whereby female avatar flirted with Barmy in an effort to lure him to her cyber-bed. Instead of succumbing temptation, Barmy spoke of his strong feelings for Laura Skye.’ (Adams 2008)

However was not caught on this occasion.

The social aspect of creating a different persona on gaming is quite a common thing especial in “god” games such as the Sims and Second Life. The aspect of pretending however is not limited to gaming because as a young child I can remember always pretending to be a different person or character in different scenarios. Games today just allow you to play out this more vividly Henry Jenkins points out that

‘As The Sims has moved online, it has become a social space where players debate alter­native understandings of everyday life. Some see the fantasy world as freeing them from constraints and consequences. Others see the online game as a social community that must define and preserve a social con­tract. (Jenkins 2006)

I would say I agree that people like to use these games to have an alter ego but I would not say it was an issue, which would when people get too immersed in the game so that do not see their actual life as real. Some people who play Second Life like to use it to explore their sexuality They may feel that in society they cannot dress as a women or be gay because they may be judged. On the game they can do what they like without caring. There was a case where an industrial designer had an alter ego on Second Life as a woman but I question if he seriously considering himself as a women and has different thought patterns much like a different personality or would someone do this just as a playful thing. I myself have played the women in The Sims but don’t consider myself to be transgender. Turkle talks about his role on Second Life by saying

“You have to be able to do something in the virtual that you couldn’t in the real world. For me, my female character is interesting because I can say and do the things that I mentally want to do, but if I did them as a man, they would be obnoxious (Turkle, 1997).’ (sandrinemaingard 25/04/2011)

I think that whatever the reason why people play games like this, it does not have to be seen as an issue. If people wish to express themselves more in game that in real life then is that really bad? Perhaps it is the future. I think that if people are aware of the game and can come away with another life then that should not be considered a problem. Some people however are so immersed in gaming that they become addicted and this is where problems can evolve.

 

 

 

Addiction

Do computer games cause addiction or is it the people playing them that have addictive personalities to begin with?  On the website scienceclarified Maresa Hecht Orzack is quoted as saying.

Computer games bring to the surface the problems of the individual …   If such people did not become hooked on games, these supporters say, they probably would be addicted to something else, such as drugs or gambling.’ (ClarifiedScience 2011)

I personally experience enjoyment in playing computer games but not everyone becomes addicted or feels withdrawn if they are not playing.  Something I have noticed myself when playing computer games is that time does become absent and I lose track of how long I am playing because I am so immersed in the game, but does this mean I am addicted? Or am I just enjoying it to the point that I am not paying attention to time. Considering all this I looked at a case study of Chris Staniforth, a 20 year old who died from deep vain thrombosis as he played a game for so many hours. It has been said that;

‘Chris lived for his Xbox. When he got into a game he could play it for hours and hours on end, sometimes 12 hours in a stretch’ (Little 2011)

This is clearly a subject of concern and actually made me think about the amount of game time I play without moving. On every game there is a health warning which states that breaks should be taken after an hour of play but not many people stick to this as the game encapsulates people to play longer. Many games have goals or an aim which once completed are replaced by a new one. With older games once final aims were reached then that was the end of the game, but with multiplayer games today there are many more opportunities to gain awards. In a report on game addiction Joe Ahn states that:

‘Game addiction really started turning into a problem with the advent of Massively Multiplayer Online RolePlaying Games, or MMORPGs.  While regular games would keep you entertained until you beat it, MMORPGs immerse the player in the world and since there is no way to beat the game, the goal is character progression. Leveling up your character and obtaining better and better armor and weapons is usually the norm’ (Ahn n.d.)

Figure 1.

1

With the increase in role play games (RPG) such as World of Warcraft (WOW) or war games such as the Call of Duty and Battlefield series it’s no wonder people can’t pull away from their games until they have achieved what is needed. Playing for kudos and respect from other gamers is a key thing when playing online games as the player does not  want to be labeled as a ‘Noob’ (someone who knows little about the game are performs badly such as running out at the enemy without any thought.) The TV show, South Park did a parody of the children playing WOW (see figure 1.) As funny as this episode it was also an eye opener by representing youth today and showing their addiction regarding gaming. George Randall reports that

In 2004, Zhang Xiaoyi 13 year old Chinese boy, committed suicide by jumping off a building after playing

World of Warcraft for 36 hours straight.  He left a suicide note saying

that he wanted to “join the heroes of the game he worshipped’ (Randall n.d.)

It’s obvious that people do have personal attachments to games and it seems that younger people are more affected than older. There is concern as to how it is affecting them in the long run, what effects is it having on their lives and should something be done to stop it. When I was younger I played computer games but I did balance myself between social time game time and doing work time, mainly because my parents would only allow my free time to commence once I had done my work. These days some parents buy their children games and then give into letting them play. Mark Griffthins thinks

‘Parents should know what video games their children are playing, choose convenient games, encourage children to balance video gaming with other activities, and require children to play only after other chores and homework have been done.’ (Griffiths 2009)

 

I know someone who has been playing and reviewing games since he was at school and I asked them what they thought about this concern and if it affected their performance in any way. He said

‘Like any form of entertainment such as television, overindulgence with video games can indeed be detrimental, and even addictive, but they don’t cause any harm when used in moderation and can actually enhance motor skills for example. It ultimately lies with the individual however, so parents should monitor their children if they show any evidence of an addictive personality.’ (Bigg 2011)

And then went on to say

‘I wouldn’t say video games affected my school or working life. They occasionally led to procrastination when doing school work at home, but not to the extent that it caused long term problems as I was able to work around them – they were merely a form of escapism when I wasn’t studying or at work.’

It seems to be clear that gaming does not cause problems with every single individual that play them. As my friend says above if anyone does show problems they should be dealt with or controlled by self-control or a parent. It is also interesting that he states that games are a form of escapism as I have found myself playing games for the same reason.

Besides games being said to affect people’s work they can apparently cause other issues if there are excessively played Swathi Reddy wrote

‘A wide range of psychological disorders—social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and attention deficit disorders—has been identified as contributing to excessive gaming, with the strongest correlations being between depressive symptoms and addiction’ (Reddy S 2007)

However, it may not be necessarily the games fault. Back before there were games people used to sit in front of a TV for hours and perhaps the issues mentioned above are already apparent in the person but are brought out more when playing games. I don’t think the game industry should be seen as the sole reason for such problems although who plays them and for how long should be either down to parents or self-discipline. If anyone does not pay attention to clear guides or health warnings then they are responsible and it should not be blamed on the games if anything were to happen to them.

 

 

 

Violence

The concerns that games cause violence in society and are effecting peoples brains and creating uncontrollable anger and rage which then becomes worse and causes people to hurt others because of something they did or experienced on a game is quite a big subject of concern and I question if it is entirely true or if there are other reasons to explain for such behavior. My case study for this looks at the game Manhunt which was realized in 2003 in which the player has to escape and try to survive but along the way kill all the emery’s in extreme ways such as suffocating an enemy with a plastic bag (see figure 2.) the main concern with this game is that it caused a 17 year old boy called Warren Leblanc to kill

Figure 2:

2

‘Stefan Pakeerah, 14, was stabbed and beaten to death in a Leicester park in February. Warren Leblanc, 17, of Braunstone Frith, Leicester this week pleaded guilty to the lethal attack.’ (Smith 2004)

The dad goes on to say ‘Manhunt “a manual for murder’. I would say that Manhunt is quite a graphic game but I can’t see why someone with any common sense would then go out and re-enact any of it. The parents continue to point the figure at the game by saying

‘That Leblanc’s fascination in the game, in which points are scored for committing grisly killings, had influenced his actions.’

Ok so are they are saying he picked up tips from a game then that’s the reason he killed? No if my opinion I believe that if he wished to kill this person he would have done it regardless to playing the game, yes he may have thought that’s a clever way to do it and possible took notes but the sole reason for the wanting to kill is not to be blamed on a game.  It’s just a new medium which people have decided to point the finger at for any extreme outbursts such as this. Before gaming was tv and film and in particularly horror films were at the forefront for the blame such as the movie child’s play which was said to have influence the killing of James Bulger

‘The tabloid verdict was that Thompson and Venables were aliens from the Planet Evil, or (no less Gothic) video-junkies mimicking Chucky Doll in Child’s Play 3.’ (Morrison 2003)

It’s clear that such issues have been around before games and I question if it’s the graphic mediums such as violent games or horror films that make people do these things or if these people are already mentality unstable to begin with? Jullia Laytons view is

‘The basic claim in the video-game controversy is that video games are even more likely to affect people’s behaviour than TV because they’re immersive. People don’t just watch video games; they interact with them.’

She believes that because games give you rewards for playing out murders or mindless violence that it is like you are learning. It could be said that such games are implanting negative thought patterns into the brains of players brains and they don’t relies which then causes people to act in a certain way. This is the theory of The Hypodermic Syringe or Effects theory

 

‘The Hypodermic Syringe Model

  • This model suggests that the audience passively accepts the message ‘injected’ into them by the mass media.
  • This model believes that there is a DIRECT correlation between the violent behaviour shown on TV, computer games etc and anti-social and criminal behaviour in real life’ (ecclestona 2010)

 

I would not say this is entirely true as if it were more than then there would be far more cases of violent outbursts which were directly linked to a game manipulating the mind, Also within certain sports people also get aggressive or angry when they don’t win or if their teams do not win, some of which go on riots and fight with the other players. Games could be considered to having a similar affect to such sports in some cases can be classed as a sport as now players are able to go to events where they play each other in order to win trophy and a cash prize. That being said it does not mean that games don’t cause aggression. After playing certain games myself I have come away feeling angry and have even broken my PlayStation 3 controls in the past. When I play I have been told I am like a completely different person almost like a Mr Hyde persona if I am not doing well on the game. I’ve been told that I shout and swear at the game and come away with a terrible attitude if I had lost. This feeling however does not last the duration of my day let alone cause me to want to go and kill people.

‘Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine say that brain scans of kids who played a violent video game showed an increase in emotional arousal – and a corresponding decrease of activity in brain areas involved in self-control, inhibition and attention.’ (Kalning 2006)

 

It is slightly worrying that games can be seen to have an effect on these areas however most people can control the way they feel and not react to it but for younger people it could have more serious impact as the mind is still developing. To say that children should not play on violent games would be hypocritical as when I was younger I played on games such as Doom and don’t perceive myself to be affected now however this is not to say that others won’t be another study I looked at said

‘Youths who are heavy gamers can end up with ‘video-game brain,’ in which key parts of the frontal region of their brain become chronically underused, altering moods” (5). This study also asserts that a lack of use of the frontal brain, contributed by video games, can change moods and could account for aggressive and reclusive behaviour.’ (Kardaras 2008)

I would also note that games today are much more graphical and mentally engaging than when I was younger and if I get annoyed to the point that I break things how are they affecting younger people. The problem today is that most youths today want a game because it is not allowed for them and because there friends have it. It has become a thing to have to stay “cool” if they do not for example have the latest Call of Duty war game then they may get bullied or out-casted from friend groups which I have witnessed whilst at Tesco. I watched a boy around 12-13 push his parents into buying him the game I just mentioned. His reasoning was ‘all my friends have it’ the mum said no it costs too much and its an 18, so she recognized the fact it was for someone older but the boy then said ‘that means nothing I’ve played it before anyway I just need it because everyone else has it and I’m left out’ the mother then very stubbornly said ‘fine!’ and bought the game.

So what is the solution to this? Is it the games fault or the parents fault? Dr. Phill says

‘Psychologists have found that when parents limit the amount of time as well as the types of games their children play, children are less likely to show aggressive behaviours.’ (Phill n.d.)

I think the way forward is to educate parents on these games. Perhaps give out free information which clearly states what is in the game and likely to cause a problem. The question also arises what does British Board of Film Classification BBFC actually mean to a game. Just having 18 on it is meaningless nowadays as anyone can buy someone under that age they game. However if someone buys a person under 18 alcohol then the that person gets fined. Overall I think the parents should make the decision but know exactly what to expect from the game.

If games are making people feel angry then how is this also affecting their health. After I played on a game and did not do some well I came away shaking and light headed and was in a state which I felt that I could be ready for a fight  where I was so pumped with adrenaline caused from getting angry.

‘Multiple studies have reported that playing video games can significantly increase heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption. If studies show that heart rate is increased when playing video games, then it seems that the brain is responding to the video game as if the body is in real danger.’ (Kardaras 2008)

But is this to say that I am at risk of a panic attack or heart attack. Personally I do not think I am. I get angry at all sorts of things as I generally have anger issues and the game just brings that side of me to the surface. Perhaps I should come away before I get in such a sate but I have become used to it now and can calm down after an hour and I don’t feel like there is any harm done to me and furthermore I don’t feel aggressive or likely to cause harm to others.

 

Throughout this essay i found that there was a good amount of evidence to support each issue that games are said to cause. My opinions towards the issues have become more fluid and open to different views and statements made by others, although i stand my opinion that games are not the main cause for such issues i would say that certain games could provoke such issues as social, addiction or violence and make the individual worse. However anyone who cannot play again without getting to immersed into it and letting it affect them in a negative way should not be playing in the first place. Games just like movies do come with warnings that state what is to be expected and that if anyone would be offended or affected in any way they should not play, therefore the games are not at fault.

 

When considering my own experience with gaming i am aware that i can get addicted and I do get annoyed but these issues have not affected me in the long run, ironically whilst writing this essay I kept getting distracted by my new game which I really wanted to play but it is clear that I managed to control my time and get stuck in with this opposed to just playing games.

 

Adams, WILLIAM LEE. http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1859231,00.html. 2008 йил friday-nov.

Ahn, J. “Computer Game Addiction.” n.d.

Bigg, Martin, interview by Ponting Mark. interview two (29 11 2011).

ClarifiedScience. http://www.scienceclarified.com/scitech/Virtual-Reality/Which-World-Is-Real-The-Future-of-Virtual-Reality.html#ixzz1dmTErXM5. 2011.

Cook, Tom. “Intreview 1.” n.d.

ecclestona. slideshare. 2010. http://www.slideshare.net/ecclestona/hypodermic-syringe-model1.

Griffiths, M. Online computer gaming: advice for parents and teachers. Education and Health, 27, 3-6. 2009.

Harrison G.W., Haruvy E and Rutström E.E. Remarks on Virtual World and Virtual Reality Experiments. Forthcoming, Southern Economic Journal, December 2010.

http://www.omdix.com/pdf/docs/test_study_report_termpaper_1071118451.pdf. n.d.

Jenkins, Henry. The War between Effects and Meanings. New York: NYU Press, 2006.

Kalning, K. Does game violence make teens aggressive? msnbc.com, 2006.

Kardaras, E. serendip.brynmawr. 01 07 2008. http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1742 (accessed 11 29, 2011).

Little, E. The Sun. 30 07 2011. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/3723107/Lad-of-20-is-killed-by-blood-clot-caused-by-playing-his-Xbox-for-up-to-12-hours-at-a-time.html.

Mabernet. http://fysm-126.wp.trincoll.edu/2010/10/19/is-gaming-social-isolation/. 19th October 010. (accessed 2011).

Morrison, Blake. The Guardian. 06 02 2003. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/feb/06/bulger.ukcrime (accessed 11 26, 2011).

Phill, Dr. drphil.com. n.d. http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/297 (accessed 11 29, 2011).

Randall, G. “Computer Game Addiction.” n.d.

Reddy S, Grusser SM, Thalemann R, Griffiths MD. “A Disorder by Any Other Name: Excessive Computer Game Playing.” Excessive computer game playing: evidence for addiction and aggression?, 2007: 290-292.

sandrinemaingard. http://networkconference.netstudies.org/2011/04/online-gaming-a-virtual-tsunami-taking-over-realityidentity/. 25/04/2011.

Smith, Tony. The Register. 29 07 2004. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/07/29/dixons_manhunt/ (accessed 11 29, 2011).

TV show Lost analysis on how it engaged its audience

For my analysis I am going to look at ABC’s show Lost and attempt to pull it apart and look into the deeper meanings and audience reactions to the show. To help me with this I may use parts of Gillian Rose’s methodological model but change things so I can understand itI would like to focus mainly on the Image or object it’s self. I may also look at the Mese en scene to try and do  some formal analysis on the peace and I would like to focus on intertextual references within the piece.

Lost is a TV show directed by JJ Abrahams which has had 5 seasons so far and a 6th coming. At first the show started of as a classic stranded island drama where a plane had crashed on a remote island and a few people had survived.  The story followed a pattern of people hoping to get rescued soon; however there was always a feel to the show that made it seem different to something like the movie cast away. I think this as Cast away follows a standard liner native which consists of a start middle and end. Lost seems to have a start middle and end but has aspects to it which make it more Non liner. For example the uses of flashbacks are used to create a back story for each character. Plus some flashbacks have links to other peoples flash backs. This then creates a sub story within Lost which the audience can follow as well as the main story. On http://www.gurusoftware.com they say that;

“In the flashbacks of Lost, we see that many individuals had violent or intense backgrounds that they were bringing to the ordeal. The sum total of their negative energies of the recent past — which were very considerable — contributed directly to the crash of the plane.” (2009)

This brought a question of was it destiny for them to be on the island. Were those people somehow chosen and if so is this why these people survived the crash.

Lost has always seemed to have bizarre things going on which has kept the audience watching the show just to find out what is going on. There have been many strange situations within Lost which had lead to conspiracies about the show Ivan D. Askwith notes that;

“Within the first six episodes, over a dozen significant narrative mysteries are introduced, ranging from an unseen monster that appears to be stalking the island to theCostofliving.jpg discovery of a radio transmission that has been sending an uninterrupted distress signal from the island for sixteen years” (Askwith, 2007, p. 117)

These things then sparked the audience into making website forums where they could post there ideas and conspiracies with others and then discuss what they think is going on in the show.  This can be seen on such websites as Ew.com as some has made an article where they are just talking about conspiracies such as

“Oceanic flight 815 crashed. Everyone died. Some went to heaven, others to hell. The rest wound up in a dangerous purgatory, where they must work toward paradise — or risk tumbling into the inferno.” (2009)

Or

“Reality on the island isn’t exactly ”real.” To boot: All characters are aspects of one person (usually attributed to Jack or potentially supernatural characters like Hurley and Walt); or everyone is still on the plane trying to survive massive turbulence by escaping into a mass delusion.”

For some conspiracies some people have gone to the extent of making videos on Youtube. This is a video where made to try and prove that “John Locke” a character from lost was the mystical “Jacob”

jacob

locheThe picture on the left shows Jacob and the on the right has been edited so that the hair has been removed and light added and it looks like Locke.

Ivan D. Askwith points out that;

“While most television programs allow different opportunities for viewer mastery, complex ‘puzzle’ narratives such as Lost and Twin Peaks all but demand them, challenging viewers to engage in an active process of deciphering clues, ignoring red herrings, and putting together events in order to “solve” the show. In such cases, mastery becomes a conscious pleasure” (Askwith, 2007, p. 105)

I can vogue for this as I myself have made videos and trying to put things together and when you get stuff write it feels like you are one step ahead of the show. However once one thing has been solved the makers of Lost always adds 3 to 5 more situations which make you want to solve them as well.  Askwith also says that

“Lost functions on several possible levels at once: viewers can opt for a more traditional role, which allows them to “sit back and enjoy the story,” or a more active and engaged role, treating the program “as if it were an adventure-puzzle game like Dungeons & Dragons or Myst.” (Askwith, 2007, p.121)

The only downside to having such a complex narrative is if you miss an episode you may miss something vital to the whole series. This is why a few people stopped watching as they started getting confused. Askwith point out that

“Its successful because it is dense enough to ensure not only viewers tune in for the following episode, but take it upon themselves to seek out and watch the previous episodes. In fact, in the series’ later episodes, it is often literally impossible to understand the narrative action without first viewing (or reviewing) several earlier episodes” (Askwith, 2007, p.118)

However now that the show has been put on DVD viewers can go back and watch missed episodes or new audiences can watch it from the start in there own time. He also says that

“The show is layered with so many references, clues, and inside nods that it seems to be daring neophytes to buy the DVDs.” He as also noticed that because the show is accessible on DVD  its” enabling new viewers to catch up with the show’s narrative before the next season premiere, and enabling the show’s most dedicated viewers to review and scrutinize the previous season for clues and insights” (Askwith, 2007, p.124)

Not only has the show engaged its audience by making the audience conspire and unravel the show but it has also drawn in an audience that liked spot intertextual references within a show and Lost certainly has many of these. One of the most obvious of references is to the movie “The Wizard of Oz” in Lost there is a character called Henry Gale which in later series is found to be Ben Linus the leader of the others. A few websites have been made discussing these references but the best one is loststudies.com. They say that

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the wizard ended up in Oz when his hot air balloon drifted and he became lost. When he landed in Oz he assumed the role of ruler” (2009)

which is interesting as  Ben was the leader of the others  in lost however he claimed to be a man called Henry Gale that crashed on the island in a balloon as seen bellow here;

balloonIt’s as if the Director is subggesting that this is the balloon that left Oz. Others compare Oz to the island saying

“Like the castaways on Lost, Dorothy is on a quest to find her way home again. Along the way she must travel through the magical Land of Oz. The castaways must also take their own, seemingly magical, journeys on the island before they can go home.” (loststudies.com 2009)

Another point to make would be that the entire series is like a dream or alter reality which is exactly what the Oz was.

One episode I believe to have the Most references is called “The Man behind the Certain” not only is the name of the show a references to The Wizard but there are other references such as later in the series Young Ben sees His dead mother in the woods as seen here:

The makers of Lost have made her look similar to Dorothy as she is wearing a blue dress.  This may just be a coincidence but the fact that its making me think about it dorothylady in bluemeans it will have the same effect to many other people who watch Lost. Some people may have different options to certain things which again leads to forums being made and more people becoming engaged.

To conclude I would like to say why I think the show has become so unique and managed to engage so many people. Besides the fact that they have included such an in depth storyline with loads of twists and turns they have also now stepped out of the show and into the real world. Askwith makes a point that says;

“Lost is also intended to operate on multiple levels, allowing for different types of audience engagement with the show’s narrative” (Askwith, 2007, p.119)

The way I think they have achieved this most is by literarily interacting with the audience. At first they started off my making a sight called the Lost experience which allowed viewers to get more involved with the show in solving puzzles or information to uncover certain things within the show. Now to be fair other shows have had similar things but what Lost did next took things to a whole different plain. They decided to break the rules of film by bringing the show into the real world. They started this at an event called Comic con in America where they had cast from the show playing as the characters and videos showing trying to get the audience to join the Dharma initiative a fictional company from lost. This then created a sate of surrealism and some people got so engaged they thought it was real. Loads of people started joining a website called “DharmaWantsYou.com” which allowed them to apply to be in the Dharma. This was the biggest thing that lead to making lost one of the most engaging shows ever made.

Doom then and now

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Doom was the first FPS game I played back in the 90’s. It was fast, jumpy and like a maze to get through. Each level was made up of finding secrets, hidden weapons, key cards and of course lots of monsters. To this day if I play classic Doom I still feel on edge and pumped up when blasting through a brawl of monsters, especially on the latest modded versions such as “Brutal Doom” and the latest multiplayer mods with Coop gameplay.

 

Next up was Doom 3 and the add-on Resurrection of Evil. A very story orientated game focusing on the reasons for the hell invasion. It kicks off with you and many others on mars and then it all goes tits up when the portal is opened. From that point on your left to kill off everything in your way whilst trying to track down Malcolm Betruger and close the maxresdefaultportal to hell. I found this game to have an Unreal, the game, type of feel to it. It was very tense and suspenseful at times and full of jump scares. It had a different feel to the original doom but I liked it due to the story line and spooky theme.

 

When I heard A Doom reboot was being made I was existed but slightly apprehensive as I had heard they had attempted it before with “Doom 4” but it was scrapped for being too much like Call of Duty. My first concerns came upon playing the multiplayer beta for the new Doom as it seemed to be more like Call of Duty meets Doom but I had heard the single player was focused more on the old style of Doom.

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Canceled Doom 4

As soon as the game was released I got it and cleared my mind of any doubts and just hoped for a good game. What can I say…  it delivered! It delivered so much that I don’t quite nowhere to begin. It is quite literally old Doom meets new graphics. I was worried it was going to be a brawl of monster after monster after monster but the Balance between exploring and monsters is spot on.

Secrets are a big thing in this game and I went out of my way to find them all. Mynew_doom_old_doom favorite Secret is the old Doom maps. Playing though these levels with the new graphics was immense. Also to find you way around you now get a map which is a more advanced map
than old Doom but works it very much the same way to help find your way around.

 

Talking of finding your way around Key cards are now back! And at times you may have to double back on yourself to get though doors once you have the key. This is where the map comes to use otherwise you can get lost in the multi-layer levels.

 

Let’s talk monsters. They cannot be more than spot on. The monsters in Doom 3 I felt lacked the style and look of the monsters in the old Doom, however this reboot has taken the old look and given them steroids. Let’s take pinky demon as an example he/she has a clear comparison to its old self but in doom 3 it went with a different style.

 

The Story in the New Doom is kept simple and to the point, there’s no big cut scenes its just you a sort of friendly robot and a crazy chick that your trying to stop and once again close the dam portal, do they ever learn… keeping it simple was another nod to the old style game which only game some idea of a story at the end. The only thing missing doom2rabbit2from the new Doom is the death of doom guys pet rabbit.

Overall I think each Doom has its own place and theme to it discounting the Doom film, which was a bit crap. The old Doom has the aspect of being classic game play and old memories. Doom 3 in having a lean into being more about horror jump scares and the backstory and the latest having a blast of nostalgia and rebooting the old one in the best way possible. I just look forward to the next installment.

DOOM-Classic-Art

 

 

 

Will Superhero Blockbusters Survive or Thrive?

I nice read with a few interesting points and opinions.

Movie Blog and Reviews

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I have always loved a good superhero movie. I remember sitting in the cinema watching Batman Begins (2005) in absolute awe and anticipation for the next, but suddenly it seems that the film industry is becoming over-saturated by the superhero films that are based on Marvel and DC comics. The past decade has seen a massive increase of  Marvel and DC films with over 10 lined up for 2017/2018 alone compared with a much lower figure of 7 Marvel and DC films being released in the entire decade of the 1990’s. The Superman franchise has been pleasing cinema goers since the 1950’s and mainly dominated the superhero movie market until a few Marvel films released in the early 2000’s spiked some interest in the genre with Spiderman (2002) and X-Men (2000).

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It was when the likes of Captain America, Thor and Iron man films exploded onto the big screen, with something fresh…

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The Ancient Ram Inn Paranormal Investigation

 

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After a long wait I was given the chance to visit one of the most apparent haunted buildings in the UK. Built on 2 lay lines and has a history of torture witchcraft and sacrifice. It seemed to be the perfect recipe for the possibility of paranormal activity to occur.

Upon arriving I felt excited and yet slightly apprehensive as a few stories of on goings in the past loomed in the back of my mind. I managed to suppress such paranoid feelings and go at it with a level-headed approach so not to fall victim to my own imagination.

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We all entered the building and sat in what was John, the owners, living room. I found it quite homely as there20160423_200133 was a new TV and lots of trinkets and items around to look at. I however imminently noticed that it was a cold musty house with a lot of dust which I half expected people to be effects by and say it was paranormal as the night went on.

 

Once everyone was ready we had a quick tour and then went through into the room downstairs where we started the opening circle. In which everyone joins hands and the medium, in this case Bill, stands in the center and tries to call upon anything
to come forward. We waited for a few mins and nothing happened so split into 2 groups.

My group went upstairs into the notorious bishop’s room in which we did not knock to ask to come in. This is apparently a tradition that should be done but this time was not. Straight away a few people started to feel pins and needle20160423_200505es, head
aches or pressure. I myself felt fine and thought I’d have a lay down on the bed whilst people spoke to what seemed to be nothing more than thin air.

After leaving the room we proceeded to the witches’ room where I set up a Ouija board. A few of us sat around and I can thankfully say we had no fakes as it not move an inch. After about 10 mins we went downstairs.

Downstairs things started up much the same as the last room with a Ouija board, however Bill had an idea to try out some “trance” so we made our way to the accent grave where bones of a child were found, supposedly due to child sacrifice. Bill asked me to say my “chant” about asking anything from the past to come forward to now and join us. I started moving about asking random things and after around 10 mins Bill went into a small fit and everyone turned toSnapShot him.  He seemed to be supposedly in contact with a girl who had died there and seemed rather scared. We tried to get more information but Bill started to come around. Just as he came back the bed warmer to his right seemed to move off and away from the organ it was on and then slam back down.

 

This startled everyone and I had caught it very slightly on film. I watched it a few times over and saw Bills foot move slightly right around 5 secs before the item moves. It could be that Bill distributed his weight slightly and the item was wedged in such a way that this movement caused it to fall out and back. I am Also aw20160423_230809are that around the same this happened a lamp upstairs was knocked off its shelf. A believer would suggest the spirit Bill was channeling left his body and used his energy to move the bed warmer and then up through to the lamp above. Due to the nature of the house and how easy it is to knock things or things to fall a natural occurrence needs to be assessed first.

After this some people were a bit shook up and other existed and we had a break and decided to split up into doing what we wanted. I found that 18 people all distributed over the house made it hard to tell if sounds or knocks were them moving or something more so my group decided to go into the barn which was more out-of-the-way. Here I set up a phone App “geophone” which only goes off when the item it’s on or its self is knocked. I SnapShot(0)tested this by jumping about to make sure I could not set it off. Karen, my friend, set up a ghost box and K2 EMF reader at the same time. I asked a few questions and my device and K2 seemed to respond around the same time. This may be due to phone interference and the app I may have just go off randomly for effect so it’s hard to justify as paranormal. However when changing batteries on my camera a stone seemed to come from apparently nowhere and startled Dan and Karen. As I did not see this happen I cannot say it was not falling from a banister of the walls.

After this we started going round rooms trying to get anything and Bill did a few readings. We then went back into the Bishops Room where Dan started to feel unwell. He then left the room and was fine, but I asked him to come back in and he was unwell again. I believe he was having some type of psychological effect with that particular room. At some points he was driven to tears and I had to get Bill and Ivan to help him. Whilst he was being sorted I was told by a bunch of guys that someone was thrown from a chair in the witch’s room. At this point I requested we go back in for more.

Once in the w20160423_202439itches’ room I set my service bell up on the window seal and my camera facing a person on the supposed possessed chair. We started asking out for a witch or an evil man who was apparently preventing anything from coming through. After a while I started to get a bit board. Then suddenly my bell on the window seal went off! I could not believe it went off and was trying to find things it could have been instead. I then fixed my camera up to film it but it would not go off again. The only logical thing it could be is that a small bit of plaster or debris from above landed on it to create the ting sound. I cSnapShot(1)an only wish I can a camera filming it to see what the cause was. This being said it shook be up a fair bit and I felt that my night was complete and after 20 mins of trying to get it go off again and a quick table tip session where nothing happened we decided to call it a night.

Now in the moment of being in such a situation you need to be self-aware of your own mind-set and stay rational. If this is lost than paranoia or even hysteria can be caused. This being said is The Ancient Ram Inn haunted? This is a difficult thing to comprehend. My gut tells me something was not right about the house and the things occurring. It felt like there was more to the events that happened that night rather than a  long-winded rational explanation. My brain however thinks it must be explainable as the notion of a ghost being real opens up a whole can of worms and how we understand the world within a rational and scientific approach. Either way I had a great night and would recommend this as a good spot for any ghost hunter / paranormal investigator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bristol Hell In The Cell Horror Escape Experience

 

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I felt like the event had started before we even got in as we had to track from the building and go through a small gap in the fence.  We were then told to wait outside and then were met with other people joining the event.

Once it started we had to hand over any means of contact or recording devices over and were bagged and handcuffed and taken into a very dark room. Within this room, without saying where you are put or what happens in too much detail, you are expected to get yourself free and join together to continue to the next stage. Each part of the experience is based on cryptic clues and p20160217_170750.jpguzzles which you and your group must figure out in order to progress to the next stage. You are only given small touches with next to no battery life and constantly feel like there are things lurking in the corners. There are parts of the experience where you may or may not find help from  something I won’t go into in with detail, but I can say it is very helpful if you feel you’re getting stuck and use it wisely.

Once things start to pan out you get a feeling of accomplishment but can be pulled back down to panic when hit with the next situation. With a time limit in place to get out or you loose (and die…)  and the feeling that the killer may come at any moment will make your brain play tricks on you. There were moments when I did not want to walk out the room into the dark as I thought something was going to be there. This accompanied with jumpy moments, which made me burst into rapid swearing, which kept me immured throughout. at one point the killer was coming and I had everyone get down and be quite as if it was for real.

Overall I felt it was really well set-up and if you like to problem solve and love horror films this is for you. I can’t say I was terrified but more paranoid due to the atmosphere and lurking horrors that my own mind kept thinking up. In that sense it’s very psychological. This and the odd jump scares made it work well.

If I were to change anything I would have more jump scares, perhaps rigged spring loaded traps, and I would like to add a bit more muck into the mix such as fake blood spraying out. I may also add some physical challenges such as filling things with blood but the tubs have holes in. Aside from this it’s a great experience and seeing as my group escaped in time it had a good feeling of achievement.

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http://bristolhorrorescape.com/

 

Drakelow Tunnels. Exploration and “Ghost” Hunt


Once again I set out to an abandoned building to try to crack down on the supposed haunting’s of Drakelow Tunnels with Anya and Dan. We were with the Spooktacular crew
who run a no messing about or fakers standard and pretty much just guide you about and let you try to contact the dead.

I was immediately existed as I walked down the dark road towards a small door to enter the a11903882_10153374629365589_4860776641162839073_nbandoned tunnels. My adrenaline was pumping and I was already worked up from watching stories about the place. I was aware that I needed to take this into account as I could have easily have started to freak out from my own imagination.

As me and my group followed the rest of the people down the dark candle lit tunnel we entered a large hall with what looked like a long table in a harry potter style. Here we got told the layout of the evening and then all went to do an open11892106_10153374629710589_4167885579348736965_ning circle in one of the tunnels. Jo had a load of random WW2  songs and speeches on her phone in hope that it would evoke the ghosts  down there. Besides the odd tap and slight paranoia from a few people nothing happened. We then split into smaller groups to do a vigil.

We set off with Bill into a small room and he wacked out his Ouija board and told people not to move the planchette as it annoyed him and whats the point in faking it. I pointed out that people can move it subliminally though and told him about the experiments where people have been blindfolded and its been clear people are moving it without knowing. Regardless of this I started thought I would crack on with it just to see. I planted a few seeds by mentioning dates and random names and in time it started moving to a story that I fabricated based on information from a Most Haunted episode. Soon enough I asked for the date and the number I mentioned earlier was given. Now either someone on the table had taken in that information and moved it or it was a ghost. I will leave for you to decide.

Once we finished are little session in that room we were whisked off to Sian’s dark boiler looking room where she said things were kicking right off. I was not expecting much but
11896048_10153374628205589_603469401857090560_nshe gathered us in a circle and shut off the lights so I could not see my own glasses on my face. She then asked for the ghost to come back and indicate with a bang. Then to the right of me a large bang followed. I replied with “no f**king way I need to document this” and left the circle and started recording with my camera. These taps and bangs continued and I was aware everyone was in the circle so they were not doing it, but being dark I could not tell what it could be, other than a ghost.

We all set back to the harry potter room and I decided to go alone back to the banging room. As I went in I heard a large bang and jumped a mile. I then heard a few more and started hearing little taps and clicks. I then noticed water was dripping from the roof down onto the large cylinders and boiler units. It seemed I have debunked the bangs and promptly renamed the room, “dripping room”.

We then had one finale vigil in the kitchen sections where a paintball smoke bomb seemed to come from nowhere. aka someones hand as it was conveniently pitch black when it hit a unit. Not much really happened apart from few tapping sounds down the tunnels which people said were footsteps and there was also some very faint crying sighing sounds which were a little unnerving but I cant be sure it11201828_10153374628710589_2748488312968631861_n was not someone in the group or another group down in a different section. Throughout the entire evening I also had my bell on me which also never went off once despite the fact the “ghosts” seemed to have the ability to tap and chuck things.

Finally we got to have some free time to venture into the tunnels. I decided I wanted to go deep and get lost. I did my own little call outs to apparent ghosts but with no knocks
cry’s or replies of any kind. I did however enjoy the general atmosphere and the sense of exploring the left overs of an old war bunker. Going down large tunnels round tight gaps 11889518_10153374628415589_8320765139980508627_nand through small holes in large walls to go to places far from the main group. This however soon got us quite lost and I started to wonder what was went there. I was expecting David Bowie as the Goblin King to step out and tell me I would never complete the labyrinth to reach his castle. I then came across which looked like a newly boarded up area and noticed a way round. what I found inside I was not expecting.

As I went round the right gap it opened up into a raided cannabis farm full of buckets and units that would have been used for growing. It was at this point we decided we sh
ould head back.

Thankfully dan  and Anya had a good sence of tracking back are steps to the small hole in the wall and we made are way back to harry potter room to find everyone else had packed 11222796_10153374625425589_2768289754322632884_nup and left and only a few of the Spooktacular team were there. I started to wonder if we had gotten lost I may still be wondering the dark tunnels now.

Overall I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the place and would go again. Regardless of if there are ghosts or not its a cool place to go see and you can certainly allow you own imagination to run wild and take over as I felt this happen a few times myself before I decided  to rationalise it and calm back down. I also like to say thanks to the spooktacular team as they don’t mess about and fake stuff they supply a good deal of equipment and just let the night roll.

Poltergeist old and new

This will have spoilers, but if you have seen the old film or new film its fine.

At the age of 8 I watched my first ever horror film, poltergeist which at the time freaked me out a fair bit but since then I became obsessed with horror films and to this day I love them.

Now a while down the years I noticed they were making a new poltergeist. I heard that it was going to be in the same neighbourhood but with a different storyline, which sounded promising. Then came the trailer and it soon came clear that it was a reboot and same general story as the original. I noticed a few similar scenes and all be it the people in it all had different names it was the same family setting.

I had my worries for a remake as past remakes of horror films have been packed full of coming of age themes or loads of jump scares. I tried to watch it without comparing it too much to the old film. This was not easy to do as the original has a special hold on me not just because it’s a classic but the fact it was my first horror.  Knowing this film was a remake of an epic film to start with was one thing but because they remade classic scenes I had expectation to me matched or topped.

I sat down and set off to watch the film, first thing I noticed was it started different as they were trying to find a house rather than being already in one. This was a little odd but I thought bit may allow the viewer to see a side of the story prior to the things that took place in the original.

Little by little things started to happen. I found them to be quite cool at first, such as static hair but then everything seemed to be far too random talking to walls/toys and just chucking in bits for the sake of it. The film lacked mood and anticipation and a general build up. From what I was expecting I thought I would feel for the family more like is did during  the first film. It just seemed to me that they were plopping ideas in and adding some old classic moments.

Let’s talk about the classic scenes ,which all seemed to happen within the same close time span, first things first they swapped out the stacked chairs with stacked cards which was more funny than an scary moment. Then the classic there here TV scene which is where the film should have started from. Being petty now I didn’t like how she said there here and the silly black hands. I preferred the slow build up and whispers. They then skipped a large chunk out where in the original you get the intro to the family and the small subtle scenes of activity with the moving floor and spooky lighting counting.

All within a few seconds it seemed that the tree came to life and then the daughter casually walked off into the dark void to be grabbed. It was at this point they got the classic ghost hunters in. the next classic scene was the story of moving objects. Personally I like the idea from the old film where the entire room has flying objects, however the smashing chair was acceptably to.

They then skipped the overnight stay and spooky ghost coming down stairs and                                                                      kicked off a crappy face transform scene,

original footage

biting grabbing scene, the rope scene and talking to the daughter scene all together within a few minutes. Next thing I know the medium is called, which has nothing to his name compared to classic Tangina, he wonders about for a bit looking confused and decides that they must go in after her.

I mean where has the build-up is gone, the tension the fear and sadness you get from the family which reflects on the viewer it all seemed to be absent. Next thing I know there using a flying toy with a camera on it to go to the other side. Now it’s all cool to see what may have been on the other side but first off why is the electrics working and 2 I think not seeing and hearing growling and screams is much more tense than going in and seeing a load of dark flapping arms with bright light.

Before I knew it the medium declared it ok to go in and the young lad, not the mum, ran on in. he then located his sister and within seconds pulled her out. They then both go to the classic wake up scene in the bath and once again the film jumps more tension. They decide to go straight from this house is clean to oh no it’s not without having the nice break of everything is fine that the original had. Next thing I know the medium runs on into the house to go to the other side and the house classically crushes into nothingness as the family drive off safe and sound.

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This film did not feel like a remake as such it was more like a summary of the old film, with random added new parts, rather than a thought through remake. I was aware not ever scene would match entirely the same as you may as well just watch the old one, but they just rushed though it so  fast that there was no time to feel the essence of the movie that the original film had.

Personally I would have started from the same TV scene and developed time with the characters more and spaced the classic re shot scenes apart and added extra tension in between. That or I would have stuck with the initial idea of making it in the same town with an entire different story.

As for it being scary there were times I jumped but mostly things were happening so fast I didn’t have time to get deeply into the story.

Britain’s Got Talent Auditions

THE REALITY

Having just been through the process of auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent I can tell you there is more to it than meets the eye. First things first the audition process you see on TV is not the first stage of the competition. I started off by sending in a video of my act in my bedroom, as well as filling out a load of information to send off to the company. Shortly after this I was contacted to go to a local audition. This is when I realised things were going to take a while and if you wish to read about the main event jump to the 6th paragraph.

Before heading down to the audition I was informed I had to bring my own amp, microphone or anything else I would need in my act, which I thought was strange considering their a big company and would have such items themselves. Once I arrived at the audition and was informed that I could skip the first stage as I had passed that section already from what I had sent in. it seemed I was fast tracked to the “producer round” in which I would be filmed and interviewed for the first time in a small hall.

After a long wait I was called in to the room. Behind the desk was a guy sat down next to him was a “boom box” looking stereo and to the side of him the camera man. They allowed me to setup and took a CD from me to play. This however did not work on the system but rest assured I had a backup on my phone which was fine. Before I knew it I was on camera being asked general questions about myself and the act. Then I set off playing my song. Once it was all over they thanked me and gave me a sheet of paper which informed me that if I didn’t hear anything by February I would have not got it.

Within a week I was called up to say I had been whittled down and had a potential spot. I had to give more details and go over what I put in my questionnaire. It was as if they were trying to catch me out to make sure what I had send off before was all true. I was told after that if it goes well I would be contacted again. Low and behold I got another phone call saying I had been shortlisted. I now had to send my songs off to the music researcher to make sure there were no copyright issues. After this point the emails and phone calls picked up and I was having to say what my act involves, how long it takes, what I will need etc. etc. Yet I was still being told I was on the shortlist even though I had been given a day and place in which to go to.

About 5 days before the date I was contacted one last time to say I had got in. Although it had taken a long time to get to this point they had been very helpful and kind up to it and I was keen to meet them in person.

I arrived in my full getup after I long journey to Birmingham in the van with my parents. We pulled up to the main entrance and the security went and asked inside what they would like me to do. I was told I had to go in and register and feel out yet another release form which I had done 3 times already. After this I was met by a member of the team who wanted to film my arrival in the van and get shots of me walking in. It was from this point on that my day started to become hectic.

Once we were ready a bunch of the crew rolled up and setup a car cam and put wireless mics on us all. The sound men then hopped into the back of the van and we were all told where to sit and what to talk about. It was quite obvious at this point that everything was going to be acted or scripted throughout the day. Once we set off my Mum kept mentioning everything she possibly can that she was told to talk about, all within the space of a minute, which to me seemed very unnatural. Anything we missed out we were told to just mention as we arrived. Once this was done they wanted to take a load of shots of us getting out the car and walking into the building as if we had just got there. I’d also point out we had to do all of this without our coats to make out it was being shot in the summer, which in February it most certainly was not warm at all.

Finally we got into the warm and I got to sit down, all be it for about 2 minutes before I was taken to the main stage to test my equipment and do a practice run a few times. This helped a lot as I got to see the auditorium and make sure my song sounded good before I was live. Once I was happy they took me back to the holding room.

After a few minutes I was swept up again and taken back stage to get ready for an interview with Ant and Dec. This again was made out to look like I was sat waiting to be called out and they just so happened to come and see me. However it is all pre-determined on what they will ask me and I was told where to sit and what to expect. The talk with them was a great. Within seconds I forgot that they were celebrities and just stared having a general conversation with them about myself and the act. They were very nice and supporting which helped me calm down. Once the interview was over I was whisked back to the holding room, but on the way there I was informed that Stephen Mulhern wanted to interview me for BG More Talent for ITV2.

I got a chance to sit down for about 5 minutes before going into the interview again it was all pre-setup and I was told about the format and where to stand. It all seemed all mu20150206_151504ch more laid back and there was a blasé attitude compared to ITV1, but I was told it was meant to be this way and I could say whatever I liked as it did not matter. I found this interview slightly obscure yet very funny. Stephen was a very upbeat character that kept cracking jokes or saying silly things. I did my best to bounce off of him with comebacks. I started to feel like I was with a friend that understood my sense of humor and we were bouncing off each other. The crew at times were trying to hold back laughing as we continued through the interview.

Next up I had to do a photo shoot with a few live action shots in front of a glittery background. I was told I was a natural in front of the camera and made the guy’s job easier. I said I was used to filming myself and I treated it as if I was doing a modelling shoot. Once many shots / me dancing about was taken I headed back to the holding room for my first sit down of the day.

Onc20150206_152335_001e in the holding room I was called up every now and then to do more cutaways such as miming my song into a mirror or putting my makeup on. After this I had to do many interviews which more or less asked the same questions about me and my life and my act. Once I answered them I was told how to rephrase my answer and say it the way they recommended. At certain points I was told to say things like “my keytar makes me sexier” not only that but people were told to sit behind me and pretend they don’t know what was going on. Both my mum and dad got a chance to be in these shots with other people. My dad in particular was told to talk to a lady about her performance as if they had just met however this was all being recorded and every now and t20150206_151449hen they were come over and say ask such and such.

Finally after many interviews in the holding room, which seemed to focus on how mad I was for the 80s and wanted it to be back and I was the man for the job, I was taken backstage to prepare for going out on stage. Whilst there I was told to talk to other contestants about what their doing and what they think about the judges and the buzzers. It seemed to me that everything you see on TV, aka where it looks like people are having a natural conversations, is all pre-determined and setup. Which to be honest is not much of a shock as they need to get the best and right things said to make a good show.

Finally my time had come. I was taken to the stage side where I met Ant and Dec again it was my time to perform. As I walked out the judges looked fed up this may be because they had been there since 3 and now it was about 9:30pm. However the audience were clapping and seemed upbeat. I knew that it was going to be hard to get them into the mood and was hoping my song could do it. I was greeted my Alesha Dixon who asked me the general questions for my introduction. One of which was “did you write and create all of your songs” to which I replied with a line from Little Britain. “I sing the theme tune I play the theme tune I right the theme tune” in which I got a few laughs. At this point Simon, with his snobbish attitude, butted in and said mark are you a comedian or a recording artist. I replied with “I am an entertainer, I do as much as I can”. He then said “no mark what are you here for” and repeated the question. I paused and said “well I am a comedian but today I am a recording artist”. He then said “ok lets here it”.

This is when the production team came back on and set me up ready to go once they left I did the classic thumbs up to Ant and Dec and was away singing my song. Everything seemed to be going well until I hit the first note on my keytar and Simon hit the buzzer, which to be honest I was anticipating from the start. After I finished playing keytar I looked up and noticed that Amanda and Alisha had also hit it. I questioned in my head if my keytar was set wrong as I know I did not hit the wrong keys. I looked to

My side and saw Dec dancing away and the audience were all clapping away having  a blast to. David was bobbing his head about and I was hoping I had won him over, however as soon as I started to play the Keytar again he went from dancing to just hitting the buzzer. The audience booed this decision but there was nothing more I could do.

I was expecting to be told my keytar sounded crap and  that it ruined it. However only Simon said “I don’t like that thing what is that monstrosity” David’s reason was that he was expecting a funny song and it was not. I’m not sure what Alisha said but I think it was its not her thing. Amanda said “just no” I then replied “no what? and why?” she said “well mark the 80’s should be left in the 80’s we don’t 20150206_205732_000need you to bring it back”. The audience booed again as if they were the bad guys at the panto. I felt as if all the question I had been asked in interview about the 80’s and how much I love it were told to  the judges and they were trying to provoke a response to make good TV. There was not one comment from them to subject my talent or skills were at fault. It was either they don’t like the instrument or they were not into the 80s style.To be honest how can this be a good enough reason to judge  me on as it is a talent show not a what’s there personal preference show.

I left the stage thanking them for their time and not giving an outrageous reaction slating there ludicrous points of view.Ant and Dec were bemused as they thought David was loving it. The rest of the production team said they had no idea and it’s out of their hands once I’m out on stage. One member of the team then came to take me out and as I was leaving Simon came through the doors and said sorry about that mark. I just said don’t worry it’s all showbiz and I can’t control your personal opinion. I thanked him for seeing me and left. Which I think left him feeling a bit bemused as he may have been expecting me to act a little more up tight.

I was taken back to film shots of a reunion with my parents, in which I was told to hug them and talk about my feelings. This was not the end of the day though as there were a few shots they never took earlier which they wanted now. I had to do a few walking about on stairs and then I had to pretend I had not been on stage yet and talk to my parents about what my feelings are and expectations which was very strange and it was just as well I was not in a mood otherwise it would have shown. Finally after a very long day they let me leave. I won’t know until April if anything will even be aired but I can say that from the entire day if anything I enjoyed the attention, the feeling like i’m a star and meeting people, different acts and celebrity’s. Overall it was an experience of a live recorded TV broadcast which was quite eye opening.

However now seeing the final edit it was clear i was set up to fall and they tried to make it look like the audience were not on board which was not the case at all. the entire thing is very contrived and it just opened my eyes to what you should believe on TV as they cut out so much just to suite them self’s whilst ridiculing someone in the process.

Bradley Stoke Radio


Bradley Stoke radio is a community radio station playing a wide range of songs and different types of shows including information and events within Bradley stoke.

I have been doing my own 80’s show for some time now and thought I would say a little about it and the goings on as a radio presenter. I have a slot of 2 hours every Saturday at 3 pm till 5 pm with a  show called flashback in which I play all of the top 80’s songs with a few late 70’s early

13243971_10153956588855589_4932721245067282259_o90’s now and then.  I’d like to think I have a following of people who remember the 80’s and people just finding 80’s music now and enjoying it. I like to keep to short talk between tracks where i ever say the next track or have some type of cheesy joke to make. My themes consist of Rock followed by Reggie or disco/funk and then 80s pop / synth pop and finally I slow things down at the end with some classic ballads.

To produce a show for the 2 hour period is not very difficult at all as I have a copy of the free program Zara, which is for play out, and I add my tracks to it at home for each hour separately until I have 55 mins per hour as the extra 5 mins are willed with talk, adverts zaraand news. Once my songs are ready I simply take the files to the studio and upload them into the database and set up the program their end ready to play out when I go live. I simply just add my start jingle and intermittent jingles between the tracks and go over to studio 1 where I can load the program from the server.

Some people prefer to use a cd collection which is done on a double cd track player in which you can switch between cd 1 and 2 depending on which is playing. Also if you wish to go old school there is a record player setup or alternately you can bring your own DJ deck in and hook it up on another line. Once in the hot seat playing out live is not very difficult at all. They have a mixer deck which connects to several mics and the music inputs. All this is controlled by the slides and depending on how much you use you may find it’s a case of just 1 slide for your mic and one for the music or if

Bradley stoke radio you have guests then the slides for other mics will need to be adjusted. If anyone were to become a member it’s not too hard to pick up and all the necessary training is given.

Aside from going in and playing your own show BSR do a lot of outside work as well. Help run events to outside broadcast or doing interview with schools or community. Each of which can be done or helped by the volunteers even if they don’t have their own show slot.  I myself have done a few live events where

my show has gone out live, although there’s been a few hiccups with the internet speeds and streaming back to studio, it’s still good fun and there always seems to be a work around.It’s good practice for anyone wanting to get used to live events.

Overall volunteering at the radio show is a fun experience in which I get to play my own music in my own quirky way and work alongside a friendly helpful team who keep the inner essence of the station running alongside the help of all the other volunteers. If you’re interested from reading this in helping out check out http://www.bradleystokeradio.com. Alternatively if you live good old 80’s music and are free of Saturdays then check out my show Flashback from 3 pm. on the site above or at 103.4