I was going to jump straight from Irate Gamer Volume 2 to Volume 3, but let’s take a brief interlude to discuss his most recent DVD, The History of Video Games: The Silver Age. If you haven’t been following this series, and let’s be honest that is almost 100% the case, then I shall give you the overview. This is Chris Bores’ attempt at a documentary, going through the history of video games all the way from their initial concept, straight through to the present consoles. At least that’s the goal. He has been doing this for about 5 years now and hasn’t even made it to the Atari 2600 yet. I think it's actually been almost two years since the last time he made an installment in this video series. My guess is that we ain’t getting any more DVD’s of this series past this one, and that is almost definitely for the best.
History of Video Games answers the question “what would it be like if someone who doesn’t seem to care that much about video games, tried to teach people about video games?” Well, turns out it’s kind of a disaster. On this DVD we get the first crop of episodes which include:
You are seeing that correctly, there are only five episodes on this DVD. Well it’s a documentary supposedly so each episode is probably pretty long right? Nooooo. In fact, these five episodes only add up to just over 30 minutes worth of content. It’s probably the most unnecessary DVD that has ever been put out into the world. And of course, we certainly can’t rely on the content to be high quality enough to make everything ok.
There are three main aspects to History of Video Games – the documentary aspect, the humour aspect, and the review aspect. We should talk about each one of these individually I think.
The actual documentary information reads like a dry Wikipedia article, and often the information is inaccurate, or sometimes flat out wrong. Names are pronounced incorrectly (though the most glaring example of this seems to have been corrected for this DVD release) and certain things are presented as speculation even though they are actually facts. The Odyssey episode was even analyzed by the creator of the machine himself, Ralph Baer. Now, if you or I were told by the person who created the product we’re talking about in our video that a lot of our information was way off base, we’d do whatever we could to correct that info wouldn’t we? But how does Chris handle this? First he ignores the criticism aspect and chooses to focus on the fact that Baer watched the video in general. Then he says the criticism is because Baer “doesn’t understand the video”. He clearly understands it far better than you do! Seriously, this guy has a Kanye West style ego, he’s like a cartoon.
The humour aspect fares about as well as you would expect if you’ve ever seen any of the usual Irate Gamer content. It’s the usual cut away gags that make no sense, groan worthy one liners, and for some reason lots of people/machines calling things “bitch”. Bores must think the latter is the pinnacle of comedy as he sure does seem to go with that bit an awful lot. Also, as with the Irate Gamer, there are plenty of sequences where I’m honestly not sure what the joke is even supposed to be. For example, in the Pong Wars episode he is talking about an arcade game called Steeple Chase, which is a horse racing game. Instead of showing actual game footage, or simply moving on to something else, Bores took the time to edit a sequence of 8 different versions of himself (each a different colour), running a race inside the game, all while the Wilhelm Tell Overture plays in the background. It goes for like 2 minutes and the joke runs throughout the remainder of the episode. I…don’t get it. Throw in a ton of groan worthy one lines, and you have yourself one unfunny show.
The third and final aspect is the review portion, as Bores does do a review of each of the products/games that he takes a look at. There is one prevalent flaw in this portion that runs across every single one of the episodes – Bores hates everything because it’s not modern. Obviously he is looking at products that are decades old, and were also released during the very early years of the industry, so naturally these are items that can’t be held to the same standards as games that are released today. Bores doesn’t seem to grasp that and chastises everything for being boring and outdated. Putting aside the fact that you really can’t do a documentary where you spend the majority of your time bad mouthing the subject matter, it’s infuriating to watch a show about a guy saying he wants to tell the story of where video games came from, only to piss all over everything about their history. It’s like if I chose to a do a show about The Eagles, a band I’m not overly familiar with, and spent the whole time reading blurbs from their biography and saying they were a shitty band. What Eagles fan would want to watch that? None of them! So who exactly is History of Video Games intended for? Anyone who genuinely loves video games will not be pleased by their treatment here, and those who don’t care about video games probably won’t be interested in this to begin with. If they are, I’m sure they will be turned off quickly by the dry presentation and awful sense of humour. So what we have here, is a show for nobody except the most die- hard of Irate Gamer fans. I heard a rumour that this show was actually being shown in colleges for educational purposes, and the thought of that being a reality is enough to make me want to cry.
It’s worth noting that these episodes do differ from how they originally appeared online as a lot of it was reshot in order to be HD. Most of the content is still in-tact, terrible jokes and all, they are just reshot. Also a lot of the swearing in the early episodes has been taken out, though there’s still some in the later episodes so I’m not really sure what he was trying to accomplish here. I’m not going to breakdown all of the changes as that would involve way more watching of this show, but they certainly aren’t made any better here so that’s really all you need to know.
Alright everyone, you know what time it is. It’s time for “what does the back of the DVD box say?!” Well let’s get right to it! It reads the following:
“A VIDEO GAME DOCUMENTARY WITH A DASH OF COMEDY
Chris Bores (Aka. The Irate Gamer) covers the History of Video Games in a way noone else can. This installment covers the entire ‘Silver Age’ of gaming which spans from Space War in 1961 to the first video game crash in 1977.
Each installment of this 5 part mini series explores the important tapestry with facts, reviews, and a dash of comedy. If you enjoy video games and are curious on where the whole story began, then don’t miss this!”
Overall, I would have to say that this is his best effort so far. I still had to fight against Word a couple of times in order to put the typos in place, but the mistakes here are far fewer than the other DVD’s we have looked at so far.
The bonus features however, completely sink a DVD that already had next to nothing going for it. At first glance things seem promising as we have a sizable amount of stuff. On the bonus menu we have the following:
“Birth of a Series” documentary
“The Show Continues” documentary
Deleted scenes with and without commentary
Not a bad haul right? Here’s the problem…none of them work! Each one starts playing and stops long before the feature is actually over. The first documentary lets you watch about 2 minutes before kicking you back to the menu, the second documentary about 20 seconds, the bloopers about 10 seconds, and the deleted scenes are about 10 seconds as well. This is inexcusable. You are already lacking in content for the main feature, now you didn’t even test the bonus content before throwing this up for sale? Maybe I got a faulty one, but I have to imagine they are all like this. Besides, how many copies is he really selling? Time couldn’t have been taken to make sure this copy worked?
One additional note – the DVD itself doesn’t have any artwork on it. It’s simply a blank DVD with “History of Video Games” in small text at the top. So there you go, just in case you were worried every aspect of this release wasn’t ridiculously lazy.
History of Video Games: The Silver Age is by far Bores’ laziest DVD release to date, which is really saying something. The show itself is poor, with dry presentation, awful humour and misguided reviews. Sure you could argue there are some actual facts in there, but it’s nothing you couldn’t get in 10 seconds online and at least there you don’t have to deal with the bad jokes. This DVD definitely needed more episodes but at the rate Bores is making them, who knows how long that would take. With the broken bonus features, you get about 30 minutes of bad content. Stay away!