Video game inspiration


It’s a mad, bad, dangerous world, and video games offer an escape from reality. That’s the commonly held theory, at any rate; a theory held, in particular, by people who don’t play video games.

But games offer so much more than that. They offer a window into our world, and help us make sense of it. They can help us relate to people, to places and to circumstances that we don’t quite fully understand – and that has the potential to bring us closer together. And games help us make sense of ourselves.

“She does swear quite a lot, though.”
And often, we don’t see any of that – we’re too caught up in the moment, as we chase down that lap time, that K/D ratio, or wonder how Nathan Fillion automatically makes everything better. Sometimes we only see it when we read about games, or watch others play them, or listen to others talk about them.

To be honest, that’s why a lot of us spend a lot of our time creating, covering, and writing for Xbox One UK. It helps us understand the games we love and, through them, ourselves.

As a little indulgence – because no-one can stop me and everyone’s probably too busy voting for Louise Redknapp on Strictly – here are the people who work in the industry, who cover the industry, who help us make sense of video games. The people who inspire me, and who reignite my passion for video games when it wavers.

Keith Stuart (@KeefStuart) Mainstream press

You might know Keith as the pullover-sporting tousle-haired talking head from the much missed #VideoGameNation, or you may be familiar with his work at The Guardian (one bright spot in the quagmire that is the UK’s mainstream press) where he is Games Editor. Keith’s also a novelist, and whenever I see his words written down, I read every last one. While Keith is far more erudite than I, I get the feeling that we approach games from the same angle, enjoy the same aspects, and would chat for hours about tiny details over a gradually warming ale down the local.

That’s not true, of course, as in reality our relationship would probably be more like that of Stan and Marshall Bruce Mathers III and, in that scenario, I’m most certainly Stan. Find the things Keith’s written. Read them. While you’re there, find Jordan Erica Webber (@jawsew) and read hers. The Guardian knows what it’s doing.

Ellen Rose (@icklenellierose) Vlogger

She’s tiny. And so nice. With time for everyone. And funny. And proves that girls, that weird, alien species , play, understand, and love games – and if you needed (or still need) to be convinced of that then you are a complete idiot and should stop reading now, unsubscribe from our site, and never come back. Seriously, move along. Talking about games – talking about anything – straight to camera in this way (with a fresh, unscripted style) is incredibly hard, and it’s almost impossible to do it successfully without being completely genuine.

You’ll catch Ellen on her own channel, on new multiplatform-partner-to-Outside-Xbox channel Outside Extra (you have no idea how happy I am they didn’t drop the ‘E’… oh.) And I highly recommend that you do. Funny, engaging, tough and sharp.

Dan Maher (@MrPointyHead) Bearded personality

You’ll remember Dan from Inside Xbox – before Microsoft made the baffling decision to drop the show from the console – where he regularly partnered with fellow bearded nominee Andy Farrant (@Farrantula). Dan makes my list for a few reasons. One, I have a recording of him saying ‘Stacey Knowles Wins!’ which was my text alert for some time; two, he is co-host on the utterly brilliant Explosive Alan Podcast; and three, for being part of the team that created Thank You for Playing. TYFP began as a brave, bold, crowdfunded attempt to bring intelligent video game discourse to the mainstream. It morphed into a brilliant web series pilot – quite unlike anything I have seen before or since – and is well worth exploring still.

While TYFP went no further, it did enough to show that video games deserve to be critiqued, lauded, lambasted and enjoyed to the same degree as any other media or art form (there, I said it.)

Aoife Wilson (@AoifeLockhart) Writer, presenter, persuader

My console history went like this: CD32 (yes, really), Saturn, PS1, Xbox, Dreamcast, 360, GameCube, 360, 360, 360, 360… after early multiplatform agnosticism, I got stuck on the 360. Despite proclaiming to be a lover of video games, I treaded perilously close to the fanboy horizon, from beyond which it would have been impossible to return. It was a small video review of a small indie game, by Ee-Fa (in case you’re wondering) that saved me. That game was the breathtaking, mesmerising, achingly beautiful Journey.

I rushed out and bought a PlayStation 3, based solely on Aoife’s words about that game, and I’ve been a recommitted multi-platformer every minute of every day since then. There’s a PS4 underneath my TV, alongside the Xbox, the Wii and the Wii U; my five still-functioning Xbox 360s are littered about the place. I’m excited for Nintendo Switch. I’m more informed, more open, less prejudicial and a better pretend-journalist (I have no pretensions at being anything other than a pretend one – I’ll leave that to these guys) for it. For that gift, thank you Aoife.

Vikki Blake (@_vixx) Journalist, streamer, totally-not-token-Welsh person

I started this list with the writer of some of my favourite written words, and I’ll end it the same way. Vikki’s someone else who, when she writes something down, I’ll read every last word. What’s amazing – and damning of the industry – is that as brilliant as Vikki is, and as professionally recognised and regarded, video games writing is, for her, necessarily a spare-time gig. Bust she’s bloody good at it and her new venture, alongside Laura Dale (@LauraKBuzz) and Joe Parklock (@JoeParlock) Let’s Play Video Games has some of the best, most interesting and most diverse games writing around. Brilliant podcast too.

Vikki also streams on Twitch, and I identify with her as, whether writing or streaming, her passion for video games is always apparent, always visible, a barely contained torrent of joy. She does swear quite a lot, though.


That’s my list. Actually, no, it’s not. There are so many others, brilliant writers, brilliant streamers, brilliant YouTubers, brilliant, brilliant people who all share the passion I have, and have committed great portions of themselves to communicating that. They should be celebrated. They should all be celebrated.

Who’s on your list?

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