The problem with lying

As the writer of the Definitive series of games histories for Retro Gamer, the bane of my life is websites repeating stuff they found somewhere else and didn’t bother to check. Because if the original “fact” isn’t actually true, the weight of repetition quickly causes it to become accepted as the truth anyway, and you end up with a load of cobblers becoming the official historical record, at least until I have to come along and fix it, usually by playing the game(s) all the way to the bloody end myself.

(I suppose I shouldn’t complain, as if it didn’t happen so much Retro Gamer’s first feature on R-Type wouldn’t have been SO full of glaring errors that I couldn’t stop myself writing them an angry letter about it, and thereby managing to secure the Definitive gig in the first place, which has been quite a nice little earner.)

And printing rubbish about games can still be dangerous even if you think you’re really obviously joking, as this picture I recently found lurking on my hard drive proves:

It’s a picture of my telly, displaying one of the info screens from Sky TV’s set-top-box version of Space Invaders. Officially licenced from Taito and designed to be played with the Sky remote, it’s a rather nice version, complete with authentic bezel surround, which makes it slightly alarming that it features a piece of text lifted word-for-word out of James Leach’s review of the Spectrum version of Super Space Invaders in Your Sinclair.

(Which incidentally also features one of my favourite Speccy loading screens ever, pictured below.)

Now, from reading even the first couple of paragraphs of that YS piece, it should be fairly obvious that it’s not exactly a serious piece of valid documentary data. But the story was repeated on a few websites that obviously didn’t quite “get” YS’s sense of humour (and can still be found on some today, for example here and here), and evidently someone coding the Sky version came across it, thought it was a fun trivia fact and bingo bongo, next thing you know it’s in an official release.

Do they even have figgy pudding in Japan?

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3 Responses to “The problem with lying”

  1. Games writing is full of these. For example “Wolfenstein 3D” or “Doom” are routinely trotted out as being the first FPS when I distinctly remember playing LAN multiplayer Maze War on a Mac network in college in the late 80s, and *that* was around since 1974.

  2. Well, I can’t say that the creation of this false kind of history isn’t amusing… And so very dada too…

  3. Andy Krouwel Says:

    See also every April Fool’s joke on the Internet that then hangs around APPROXIMATELY FOREVER.

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