My New Gaming Book Is Available Now!

I do love a good gaming book, so much so that I wrote one myself.

If you read my previous gaming book, MicroBrits: A Tapestry Of The British Gaming Industry, where I took you, the reader, on a journey through the British gaming industry and its many interconnecting stories. Then my new book, 66 Of The Most Important Video Games Ever! (According To Me), will blow your socks off.

Covering almost fifty years of gaming, from the dawn of the industry, right up to modern-day. I handpick 66 games that I feel have been important to the gaming industry, or have made some kind of impact on my life. Each of the games gets its own chapter and each chapter is full of behind the scenes info and even words from the very people who made the games.

So many interesting titbits and stories are told, to the point where even the most informed of gamer will learn something they never knew (I learned loads researching and writing this book myself). I gave an advanced copy to my friend Badger over at stoffelpresents.com and he not only wrote the first-ever review of my book (you can read it here), he also invited me to take part in an interview and chat about the book in more detail.

Crammed full of content and humour. 66 Of The Most Important Video Games Ever! (According To Me) is available from Amazon now. With a digital/Kindle version ‘free’ if you have Kindle Unlimited, a paperback edition, and for the first time ever, a hardback version too. A must buy for gamers of any age, or as Badger put it in his review:

S. L. Perrin takes the entire, complex industry that evolves at breakneck speed and somehow weaves a calm, informative and thoroughly enjoyable narrative.

That Time Ayrton Senna Helped Make A Video Game

Growing up in the eighties, I was an F1 fan. It was my older brother who got me into the sport. Every Sunday, we’d sit and watch F1 on the TV without fail. I never really understood the sport back then, that didn’t come about until years later as I grew older. But what really made me watch was nothing more than a great looking colour scheme. My favourite colour has always been black (yes I know that technically it is not a colour, but a lack of colour), so I used to watch the John Player Special Lotus cars, they looked awesome on the track. But there was something more than special about one of the cars, the bright yellow helmet of Ayrton Senna.

SENNA JPS

That’s pretty much how I became a fan of the Brazilian driver, just because I liked the black car and how Senna’s yellow helmet design really stood out against that JPS Lotus. From then, Senna was the man to watch, the most exciting and talented driver on the F1 circuit. He became huge when he drove for McLaren in 1988 where he won his first championship and rewrote the record books along the way. By the early nineties, Ayrton Senna was the greatest F1 driver around and that was when one of the biggest gaming companies in the world approached him about making a game using his name.

Now, licensed games had already been around for a while and several sporting stars happily signed off the use of their likeness and name to make some quick and easy money, without having to do any real work. So of course, Senna jumped at the chance to have his name on a video game. Only unlike other sportsmen who just signed a contract and waited for royalty checks to come in, Ayrton Senna wanted more than just his name on a game, he wanted to help create and design the game itself. Senna wanted to ensure the game in question was not just some cheap cash-in, he wanted it to represent not just him, but also the sport he loved. That game was Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II.

MONACO GP II POSTER

The Monaco GP franchise actually dates back to 1979 with the first Monaco GP title. And despite the ‘II’ in the title of Senna’s game, it was actually the fourth in the series, with Pro Monaco GP and Super Monaco GP released in 1980 and 1989 respectively. But just how involved was Ayrton Senna with the game that boasted his name? Well, that’s exactly what this article is going to look at.

It was 1991 and Sega were one of the biggest names in gaming who were already famed for their driving games. Ayrton Senna was three-times F1 World Champion, the youngest ever three-times F1 World Champion (or he would be by the end of the year). It was the ultimate team-up. It was a company called Tec Toy S.A (later renamed TecToy) that made the connection between Sega and Senna. TecToy were a Brazilian based company, known for publishing and distributing Sega’s wares in Brazil. Their HQ was also in São Paulo, Senna’s home town. Interestingly enough, TecToy co-founder, Daniel Dazcal died in May of 1994, the same month and year that Senna died.

Anyway, then president of TecToy, Stefano Arnhold, approached Sega in mid-1991 before Senna had won his third championship, as the 1991 season was in full swing, and asked them if they would consider making an Ayrton Senna game. At the time, Senna was world-famous, especially in Japan the home of Sega. So it made perfect sense for the two to work together. Plus, there was the fact that Ayrton Senna had already appeared in the previous Super Monaco GP from 1989… Okay, so it wasn’t exactly ‘official’ and the driver’s name was G. Ceara, who came from Brazil. But come on, look at the following comparison image and tell me that’s not meant to be Senna.

COMPARE

Anyway, Sega were already working on a sequel to their Super Monaco GP game when a deal to have the game endorsed by Ayrton Senna was added. As mentioned, Senna wasn’t interested in just having his name attached to the game, he wanted to help make the game too. Senna was even credited in the game as producer and supervisor. Another interesting credit in the game is the project manager ‘Oibaf Odahcam’, which when spelt backwards is Fabio Machado, who was Senna’s cousin and handled most of his business affairs. Getting back to the point, Senna used his encyclopedic knowledge of F1 to help make the game as authentic as possible (for the time). I mean, we are talking about a racing driver who would stand trackside during practice sessions to listen if other cars were using illegal traction control or not. Apparently, Senna refused to lend his name to the game if Sega didn’t allow him to offer his input. The Brazilian was pretty damn serious about making the game, unlike other famed names that were happy with just making money off their name.

One of the things Sega wanted to include was actual voice clips from Ayrton Senna himself. These clips would provide tips for the various tracks, only there was a bit of a problem. One of the races was to be for the Barcelona track, but Senna had not yet raced on it at that point as it was a new track added to the F1 calendar in 1991. As he had not raced on the track, he refused to supply any tips for it, feeling it would be disingenuous. This actually put the release of the game into jeopardy, but Senna just point blank refused. So, Senna agreed to record a voice sample immediately after driving on the track… And he did too. Ayrton Senna drove on the Barcelona track for the first time in 1991, finished in 5th place and then recorded his tips and sent it to Sega in Japan the same day.

In October of 1991, Senna and Arnhold of TecToy were in Japan. I mean, there was a Grand Prix to take part in. While there, they both went to Sega’s HQ to talk about the development of the game. Reports say that when Senna arrived at Sega’s HQ, the employees just stopped working so they could meet the man. He was such a huge star in Japan that he had that kind of power, to stop a four hundred strong employee count, as they scrambled to meet Senna and get his autograph. What was supposed to be a quick 40-minute meeting turned into an over three hours long fan-fest. Ayrton Senna quite happily met his fans and signed autographs too, even though he was there on business. Still, while at Sega’s HQ, Senna met with the development team of the game and talked them through the real F1 tracks and cars, giving them as much info as he could. The following pic is from that very visit with Senna talking to the dev team at Sega’s HQ in 1991.

SENNA SEGA HQ

It was also at that meeting when Senna pitched the idea of creating three new racetracks. Tracks designed by Senna himself and that were included in the Senna GP mode of the game. The development team quizzed Senna on his favourite circuits, which Senna discussed with the team in great detail as the team took copious notes, hanging on his every word as he described every corner as only Senna could. The Brazilian also talked in depth about car handling, speeds and more. One major point Senna wanted to make was the use of the track’s rumble strips. In the first Super Monaco GP, using the rumble strips would slow you down and punish you for using them. Senna disliked this as it was nothing like real-life racing, the rumble strips are often used by racers to help with cornering. So Senna got the dev team to make the use of rumble strips more realistic for his game. When Senna was happy that the development team were taking him and his ideas seriously, he gave permission for his likeness and name to be used.

Ayrton Senna got his manager to give the dev team VIP passes to the Japanese GP that he was taking part in just a few days from that meeting. This allowed the team to see F1 up close and help implement ideas into the game. After that meeting, Ayrton Senna relaxed, took in the beautiful country of Japan. Then just a few days later, he won the Japanese GP. There were more meeting between Ayrton Senna abd Sega’s development team as the game was worked in through the rest of 1991 and the start of 92.

When in development, the cartridge used for the game was going to be bigger than the standard used at the time, but budget and time constraints soon put an end to that. So in order to get the game to fit on the 8-meg cartridge, things had to be cut. You know those voice-over tips for the tracks that Senna recorded? Yup, gone. Replaced with text tips, still written by the man himself though. However, Senna’s voice is still in the game, except they are just smaller snippets compared to what was originally planned. When released in the summer of 1992, Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II was a massive hit, especially in Japan and Brazil… obviously. The fact it was based on the 1991 F1 season, the year Senna won his third championship title probably helped with the sales too. The great man himself even got in on the advertising campaign for the game, at least in Japan.

There were rumours that due to the success of the game, that Sega wanted to make another in the franchise with Ayrton Senna and covering the 1994 season. However, sadly, Imola 94 put an end to that idea. Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II was one of the best racers on the 16-bit Mega Drive and is still much loved among retro gamers today. In 2014, fans made a patch that gave the game the proper FIA 1991 licence with all the correct drivers and cars, etc. All of which took the game a step closer to the authenticity that Senna wanted from the very start.

Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II is a rarity in the sub-genre of celebrity-endorsed sports games. In that it was actually really good, authentic (given the time and limitations of the hardware) and that it wasn’t just a cheap cash-in because it had a sports star on the front. Ayrton Senna wanted the game to be as good as it could be and his direct input can be felt throughout the title too. 

Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II is more than just a game, it’s a testament to the legend that was Ayrton Senna’s attention to detail, his love for his sport and his drive for perfection. The game is part of his legacy as a man, a hero and the greatest F1 driver of all time.

Pre-Order My New Gaming Book

You can now pre-order the digital version of my new gaming book, 66 Of The Most Important Games Ever! (According To Me), from Amazon today.

Alas, Amazon don’t do pre-orders on self-published  paperbacks. So only the digital version is up for pre-order. But the paperback version will be available to buy from the 1st of June. So, if you want a paperback, hold on to your potatoes, it’s coming soon.

My biggest book yet with an over 100,000 word count. 66 Of The Most Important Games Ever! (According To Me) takes you on a journey of almost fifty years of gaming, from those very early arcade coin-op machines and the dawn of the home market, right up to modern day. I take a look at 66 games that I feel are massively important to the gaming industry and games that have had some kind of personal impact on me as a gamer.

Each chapter features behind the scenes info and insight from the very people who created those games in their own words. Just what was Shigeru Miyamoto doing when he created Mario? What was the first game to be given an age-rating? What was the first game based on a movie (not the one the internet claims)? What massively popular games do I not like? Which game taught me that journalists are full of shit and turned me into a cynical bastard?

All of those questions and many more are explored and answered in this book, with several gaming myths looked at and debunked too. Crammed from cover to cover with loads of gaming stories, information and even the words of those who made the games themselves. Peppered with humour, references and featuring the greatest gaming related joke ever to be written. 66 Of The Most Important Games Ever! (According To Me) is the most fantabulous video game book written, until my next one… says me.

Pre-order a digital copy now, with the paperback version available to buy from the 1st of June.

Why I Don’t Think I’ll Ever Be A ‘Proper Journalist’

I like to think that I’m fairly competent at what I do with this blog. This was only ever meant to be a bit of fun for me, a way to share my passion and opinions of games and films… Sometimes TV and other subjects too. When I started Little Bits of Gaming, I only ever wanted to do small, easy to read posts. But I began to get into larger retrospectives, histories, editorials, etc and the smaller articles just stopped as the more in-depth ones took over. My skill and confidence as a writer grew and I began writing bigger and richer articles, I moved onto writing books and much more. It even got to a point where I even considered getting into ‘proper journalism’.

I spend several months last year looking into and applying for real writing jobs for various big-name sites that cover similar subjects that I do here and a few random and general writing jobs too. I’m not going to name those sites, but if you’re into gaming and film news, then you’d be more than familiar with several of the sites I looked into and even applied for jobs with a few places. I just really wanted to get into writing on a professional level In fact, several years back now, I used to write ‘professionally’ for Movie Pilot and their sister site, Now Loading as one of their paid creators. I had to go through a whole host of ‘lessons’ to pass thier writing academy and become one of their verified creators (as they called us) and bring in some side cash as well as learn a lot more about writing on a professional level.

Anyway, I’ve always believed that outside of this blog that I could easily do this writing thing for real and be a ‘proper journalist’. I genuinely enjoy writing, I like to think I’m pretty decent at it too. So, that’s why I spent a chunck of last year trying to get into this writing thing proper. It was the midst of the first covid lockdown here in England over last summer. I wasn’t doing my day job as my workplace had to close in accordance to the covid restrictions at the time. I had been dealing with anxiety and depression for a while at the time too, even before the lockdown. It was all work-related and being in that first lockdown really made me realise how much my day job was affecting my mental health. Long story short, I ended up quitting my job in the midst of mass unemployment due to the whole coronavirus thing, with many businesses closing for good.

After I quit my job, I began to feel better about myself. The anxiety and depression are both still there, but just nowhere near as badly as before and I’m managing my mental health far better than ever. As I write this now, I still don’t have a job, I’m unemployed I guess. But, my partner returned to work at the start of this year after being off for a year following the birth of our son at the end of 2019. With my better half in employment and earning well, we made the decision that I’d be a stay at home father for a while, instead of going back to work, as it saves us a fortune in childcare. Plus, I get plenty of time to do a spot of writing too. Oh, and spend a lot of time with my two kids.

Two days a week and my little monsters are in nursery. That’s two days that I have to myself and can write. I’ve never had that much free time to write before and I’m loving it. Before, when I was working full-time, I could only write after work. And my job had me working unsociable hours too. Late finishes, working weekends and holidays, etc. On top of having one, then two small children to care for too. As a result, I could only write for around four to six hours a week, if I was lucky. So, with all this newly found spare time as a stay at home father, I thought I’d explore writing as a job. As I said, I did look into and apply to a few notable sites… And it seriously began to depress me. I wish I had screen-grabbed some images of the expectations from some of these sites. I mean eight to ten articles a day… A DAY! That’s what one of the sites I looked into were expecting from a content writer.

I tend to do around three to four articles a month on this blog on average, and I feel that’s plenty of content. I actually spend time on my articles though. I research and fact-check as best as I can. Something that a lot of modern journalists just don’t seem to do anymore. For most, if not all, of these entertainment websites, it’s all about quantity over quality. Often I find myself reading badly researched and written content from (what are supposed to be) respected sites written by ‘professional journalists’, that are really generally just lazy copy & paste jobs. Big named websites churning out shit as fast as they can and screw the quality of the content itself, as long as there’s lots of it. I know I can produce far superior content for most of these sites, but they’re just not interested. It’s all about suffocating people with as much crap as possible, while the quality of the content takes a back seat. I just can’t write like that, I can’t fart out endless dreck just to meet an unrealistic quota.

I know why big-name sites do this, it’s all about the clicks and ad revenue. These sites are a business and a business needs money to survive, it’s just a shame it’s that quantity over quality aspect of the business that brings in the most money.

Then there are the editors. From my last experiences writing for Movie Pilot and Now Loading, I learned to loath editors. See, whenever I published something for Movie Pilot, especially if it was a major article that got main coverage (I had several articles published as lead articles when I wrote for them), they would have to pass through an editor before publishing. Most of the time, the editors would completely mess up my work to the point where I asked for my name to be removed. Look, editors are needed, I get that. But the ones I had to work with were clueless imbeciles. I recall one article I wrote where I set up a joke and used a picture as the punchline. I send it off to the editor, a few hours later and it was published. I clicked on the link to read my published work and the editor had moved my picture punchline. The lead in joke was still there, but the punchline was gone. Now, it wasn’t an issue with the picture itself, because it was still used in the article, the editor had just moved it elsewhere and further down. I remember emailing the editor to explain the situation and all I got back was a snippy reply telling me how the image worked better in its new place. Despite the fact it ruined the joke and now made no sense… apparently, it was in a better place… How?

Then there was the time I wrote an article on why Metal Gear Solid V took me over a year to finish. Honestly, the game really kind of bored me and I found it utterly repetitive with having to do the same handful of missions over and over in the same handful of locations. Now, I was very respectful in my (long) article. I admitted to not being a huge MGS fan, but I still respect the franchise for what it is. I made that point very clear in my writing too. Again, I sent the article off to the editor for publication and yes, it made the grade, got published and even given credit as a lead article too, proudly displayed front and centre of the main site. Probably no more than an hour after my MSG V article had been published, my inbox was inundated with alerts to comments made about the article. Honestly, I was getting dozens of them, the biggest response to an article I had ever written for them. So of course, I was curious as to why I was getting such a huge response. I clicked on my article and went straight to the comments section, where I found nothing but personal attacks aimed at me, not my article, me directly. Swearing, threats, insults, you name it and there was a derogatory and personal slur there in the comment section. Now, I’m very thick-skinned and I don’t get offended easily. Call me whatever you want, I’m a grown man, I won’t cry about it. But I began to grow very curious as to just why my perfectly harmless article, where I respectfully explained why it took me over a year to finish MGS V, was attracting people to personally attack me. So I scrolled up from the comments and read my article after going through an editor.

It had been altered to the point where I honestly hardly recognised my own work. Now, the main gist was still there as I explained why the game just never gelled with me, but that respectful nature and tone of my writing was gone. I began to see vitriolic words such as ‘abhor’, ‘detest’ and ‘hate’ in the article, words I never wrote myself. See, I personally think words like ‘hate’ are often over and misused. It’s a strong word that I only use for particularly strong circumstances. Yet, here was my article littered with trigger words put there just to clearly get a certain response. In fact, the article ended with the line (and I quote) ‘If you hate Metal Gear Solid V as much as I do, let me know in the comments below’. A line I never wrote, a line that was clearly saying I hated the game. It had been put there by the editor as a final twist of the knife. Anyway, as I read my now edited article, I began to understand why I was getting such abuse in the comments section. Because the article was altered to be nothing more than a very bitter rant that came across as a mass insult to MGS fans and even Hideo Kojima himself. Which certainly was not the intention of my original scrawling. 

I was fuming, I emailed my editor and demanded the article be reinstated to how I originally wrote it. I was told the editor’s decision is final and it would not be changed. I pointed out the comments section and all the abuse being aimed at me due to how the article came across. They loved it, to them, it was traffic to the site, which meant more clicks, more ad revenue, more money. I was told to just take it on the chin, that sometimes I’d get comments I don’t like, that I should just ignore them. Fuck that, I was getting abuse over an article that had my name on it as I had written it… but one that had been edited to remove my respectful nature and replace it with hate and vitriol. Again, I didn’t care so much about the comments themselves, I could handle them. I was angry, not because I was getting abusive comments, but because my article had been purposely edited to incite those type of comments. My name was attached to a piece of work I didn’t agree with. 

Now, I don’t have anything against editing, it’s a necessity in this writing thing I do. But there are ways and means of doing editing well. I don’t mean to blow my own trumpet, not long back and a fellow blogger and friend, Lord Badger Nimahson from Stoffel Presents did a review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League for this blog. I was emailed the review and spotted a few minor gaffs, so I edited it, I also did a little polishing of some of the formatting and overall review. However, the end result was still 99% of Badger’s work and 1% of my editing. I didn’t change the tone or voice of the review, I didn’t add any vitriolic wording just to get a response.

Anyway, back to my Movie Pilot/Now Loading story. I refused to write for them any more. In fact, I asked for my account with them to be deleted and all of my content removed. They said they couldn’t do that, some bollocks about it going against their policy, that they can’t remove content from their paid creators. Of course, the real reason was that they were still making money off my articles every time someone clicked on them and they didn’t want to lose out on any revenue. So, as I still had access to my account with them, I spent two days just uploading articles with nothing but hardcore porn. Porn films, pictures and so on. Bombarded them with so much salacious, very adult content that they were forced to shut my account down. Then about three weeks later Movie Pilot/Now Loading shut down the entire writing department to concentrate on video content. There was a rather in-depth article that uncovered some rather questionable management practices, including accusations of sexual harassment and more at the company. I couldn’t find that article when I looked, but I did find this one about the selling off of the brand and there are a few mentions of mismanagement and the like. So it seems that I was not alone in my distrust of the company.

It’s shit like this that really put me off exploring writing professionally. What’s the point if I have to write ( copy & paste) asinine crap and lots of it, to meet a pathetic quota just to get more clicks? Why should I spend time and effort researching and writing content, just for some wanker of an editor to completely fuck up my work because they only care about getting comments and traffic to the site? That’s not what being a journalist is about. After looking into getting into ‘proper journalism’ last year, I learned that I’m a rather large square peg trying to force my way into a tiny and uncomfortable round hole. It’s just not worth it. My love, respect and passion for writing, my integrity and my moral compass just won’t allow me to go down that route.

I mean, here’s a typical piece of what passes for modern gaming ‘journalism’. An article that looks at a game character’s shoe size. This actually exists as ‘proper journalism’ from a reputable site, this is how low this shit has sunk. Even more so, the article ends with:

“What do you think of Lady Dimitrescu’s shoe size? Are you surprised by all the interest surrounding the tcharacter? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter.”

How about no, fuck off?

This is it folks, this is what passes as journalism these days. This is the kind of very low quality dreck that gets published on well known sites. This is what you get when you hire cluless writers with zero passion for writing and force them to churn out ten articles a day.

I have this very minuscule piece of real estate of a blog, lost on the gargantuan plot of land that is the internet… And I’m happy about that. I can post what I like, when I like, how I like. I mean, do you think some big-name and ‘reputable’ media site would allow me to write a lengthy rant about how shit modern journalism is now?

Get My MicroBrits Gaming Book For Free!

Oh yeah, you read that headline right, I’m giving one of my books away for free. Now, I am aware of the date, it is the 1st of April as I publish this, but this is no April Fools joke.

See, I’ve recently written a new gaming book, that’ll be released on the 1st of June. More details to come soon on that one. But in the meantime, I thought I’d give my first gaming book away for free… if you own a Kindle that is. From today, 1st of April until Monday the 5th. You can d’load my MicroBrits book for nothing, anywhere in the world for your Kindle.

MicroBrits takes a look at the British game industry, but told with a bit of a twist. The book looks at the many interweaving stories of some of the biggest names in the gaming industry. Studios that shaped British gaming for decades. From the birth of the bedroom programmers, making indie games in their spare time to the massive studio that is Rockstar North. Tales of interesting partnerships, back stabbing buy outs and so much more. All with some cheeky humour.

Oh, and a grand finale looking at one of the most controversial British figures in the business. The entire career of Peter Molynuex is covered. From the failure of his first game, to baked beans salesman, to becoming one of the most loved and loathed game designers on the planet.

Again, it’s 100% free to anyone with a Kindle. So why not give it a read and ready yourself for my new book, coming this June. Free sample and link to get your free copy on Kindle bellow.

IT’S FREE!