Monday, 22 February 2016

Video Game Comic Ads: The X-Files, 1998.

Back when the earth was young (well, just over a year ago) I fled from my regrettably-named flagship "I'm bored during the long breaks in my graveyard job so let's blog about something to pass the time" project "Shilling Epilepsy to Mouth-Breathers" at . As the URL suggests, the original function and purpose of the blog was to document and transcribe scans of video game ads I found going through my old comic book collection. The focus faltered, however, and I began blogging about things like "here are the games I found at a garage sale this weekend" and "here's some ANSI art of video game characters" (a proud tradition whose lineage will be continuing here in due time.)

Instead of just going through them chronologically or alphabetically I would try to find some kind of topical theme -- eg. scary games in October for Hallowe'en, or a series of ads for the Game Boy on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its release -- which, while making things more interesting for me, made the overall task more like work, with deadlines suddenly built in. It was easy enough to rustle up some big-pixel screenshots of The Ultimate Warrior to commemorate the passing of that athlete, but when I thought "Gee whiz, let's give tribute to H.R. Giger by pulling out visuals of all the game levels and characters inspired by his biomechanical aesthetic" I was inadvertently digging myself into a hole from which I could not reasonably expect to emerge. So I put the blog on ice (as opposed to this one, which is just in a slump), where it continues to draw higher traffic (thanks to blog-ignoring Google Images surfers) than any of my active & ongoing online writing projects. (And the impetus of sorts of this post: I have given official authorized permission (for what that's worth -- I didn't make these images, I just scanned them!) to to reprint my game-ad scans -- and I may very possibly also be dumping on them the iceberg of unposted scans I'd accumulated, in the thousands to back up the paltry posted hundreds. We'll see.)

Since then, I haven't done much with game ads.. which is fine, there are other people with more free time covering that beat adequately, by which I mean posting the scans without any qualifying writing for context, and that appears to be giving the web what it wants. But once in a while something happens that makes me think, "aww gee whiz, if I was still posting game ad scans, such and such a current event would definitely have a relevant ad in my queue waiting for an excuse to go live!" So it is with the improbable revival of the '90s Fox supernatural TV series The X-Files, of personal significance due to its prominence in local traffic disruptions, filmed as it was around my home environs of Vancouver, BC. Just last month I was explaining to my bandmates the X-Files connection to the false, floorless half-balcony upstairs in the WISE Hall (to recap: used as a Chinese gambling den set in S3E19: Hell Money, the show wanted the balcony to have visual symmetry, so their carpenters built a reflected pseudo-balcony... and upon completion of filming, were asked to please leave it up.)

So while looking into my forgotten folder of scans to see what I had to dish up to the Museum of Video Game Ads, I found this scan, which reminded me that the show was once more a going concern, and I thought... maybe I ought to blog this ad. You know, for old time's sakes. (Plus: 604 represent!)

Enter the Interactive World of
T H E   X   F I L E S


You've hacked into a highly classified secret government website giving you unrestricted access to The X-Files. Browse through case files, character dossiers, evidence records and other top secret materials. Tap into live video and audio surveillance.
At long last, "Unrestricted Access" has been granted to X-Files fans everywhere.
Windows '95 CD-ROM

There are a few other words floating in the background: CASE FILES, SURVEILLANCE, EVIDENCE, DOSSIERS, and (one of these things is not like the others) DESKTOP DESIGNER. What do you need to know about it? First and foremost, you ought to know that despite Wikipedia describing it as a video game, there is no "game" here; it is a multimedia fan encyclopedia of sorts, a species of grey-zone "entertainment software" that wasn't a game but wasn't just application or utility software, the kind of thing that really got my goat as a warez kiddie after using up a week of time bank savings in order to see what this hot new 22-disk game was, only to find that it was no kind of game ... at all! I have no personal experience with the program myself, but the online consensus seems to be that while some of the contents of this database were compelling, especially to X-philes, it was fatally throttled by being accessible exclusively through the Internet Explorer 4 web browser. An important reminder to future-proof your data!

OK, just keeping in practice. Next up will likely be some further explorations into the world of textmode artwork -- not deliberately this blog's increasing focus, but it just happens to be one particular realm where I've been able to stockpile quantities of interesting-to-me grist for the mill, which I'm uniquely well-qualified to comment on. Anyhow, see you then!