October is officially the spookiest month of the year, so what better time to talk about all things spooky and scary? Let’s dive in to the scariest VideoBrains yet, enter at your peril!*

*Peril may not actually exist

 

First up is Sean Smith with his read on House Of The Dead and its links to the tarot deck. I always thought House Of The Dead was just something you played to pass the time in provincial seaside towns, but its actually much much more complicated!

 

 

Here’s Alex Davis with a spooky tale of why she’d rather watch people play video games than play them herself

 

Resident speaker Alice Bell follows with her 3rd talk in the ‘Fuckeduplet’ series declaring that jump scares are rubbish and that horror games can, and should do much better.

 

Here comes Ben Meredith with a completely different talk to tell us about suspense, ambience and what makes games actually scary.

 

 

Gareth Monk returns for his second talk to scare us with pictures of his younger self, oh and he also talks about how his personal definition of horror has changed over time.

 

Finally Anna Turner wants to talk about dating anime boys in the game ‘Mystic Messenger’, but is it really all just about texting cute boys?

 

We finished the evening with a Lego Dimensions giveaway, decided by a tense game of rock, paper, scissors. Congratulations to the winner!

 

Thats it for the annual spooky VideoBrains! Tickets for our all day ChristmasBrains on Saturday 17th December are on sale now! There will be some very exciting speakers, along with Christmas presents! Prizes! Good cheer! Buy now!

We also have a Patreon which you can back to help us keep putting on these lovely events.

 

We hope to see you lovely folk in December!

Time to look back to September which saw us talking about morality, good and evil in video games. It was also VideoBrains’ 2nd birthday! So lets watch and find out if video games are good or bad, actually.

 

Our first talk of the evening came from Alex Avard with his talk about morality & betrayal in World of Warcraft, selling out his friends to the horde for money, and how it haunts him to this day.

 

Next up was Emily Marlow talking about religion and its representation in games, and whether games are getting better at depicting religion and faith.

 

Our resident speaker Alice Speaker came third with her second (or is it her third?) talk about how morality in games is rubbish and how many games reduce morality to a binary choice when its a bit more nuanced, actually.

 

Adam Dixon followed with the cheery reminder that we are all going to die. But its not all bad, his talk also features lots of skulls! Join him for an adventure through latin, art, video games, and of course skulls.

Up next was Thomas McMullan with a beautifully touching talk about the shipping forecast, his father and the importance of rules.

Finally Lydia Nicholas finished off the evening with an excellent talk about using game systems to help devise policies and make the world a better place.

 

And thats all for September! Thank you to everyone that came along, and everyone that has supported us over the last two years. It wouldn’t have been possible without you guys.

Tickets for November’s event Running With Rifles are still available, this month it’s all about shooters, and our excellent speakers are Alice Bell, Aubrey Hesslegren, Tommy Thompson, Natalie Clayton, Gabriela Middlebrook and Ed Fenning!
We still have VideoBrains zines available if you need to complete your collection, and if you’re feeling extra lovely you can also back us on Patreon

You can now purchase all three of our lovely zines online! These won’t be reprinted so grab your piece of VideoBrains history today!

vb-zine-3-cover

You can purchase the zines here through Paypal (£5 per issue or £13 for all three) and have them delivered directly to your door. So you can enjoy the words of excellent writers like Daniel Nye Griffiths, Sean Cleaver, Kat Brewster and more, and gaze at the wonderful illustrations of Hana Lee and Rebecca Michalak from the comfort of your own home!

The zines have been a real passion project for us. We are really proud of how them and the reaction that we’ve had to them. If you like VideoBrains and want to help support us by buying one (or three) of our zines, we will love you forever.

If you are feeling extra supportive we also have a Patreon which comes with its own separate tier of our eternal love.

If you have any questions or want to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us @VideoBrains or email Jake@videobrains.co.uk

 

Thanks!

We’re nearing the end of another year, so it’s time to get those pitch muscles pumping and prepare for 2017!

The first themes for 2017 are:

January: Octodad – Parenting, childhood, family

February: Hot Date – Dating (STOP RIGHT THERE OKAY we’ve heard everything there is to hear about BioWare)

March: Resident Evil – Double crossing, backstabbing monstrosities

April: AudiosurfSoundtracks, Music, the art of Listening

May: Watch Dogs– Animals (like DOGS please talk about dogs) in games

June: JBDay Celebrations – An all day topic free-for-all

 

How to Pitch:

To pitch your talk, send us a couple of sentences that give a sense of the topic you’ll be covering and the way you’ll be exploring it. We might ask you a few questions to really get a feel for the talk, so be prepared. Diversity is the name of the game at VideoBrains: please don’t be afraid to pitch from outside the games industry, or with no prior speaking experience. What we want to see is passionate people with great ideas, that explore play from new perspectives.

Email your pitches to 
Jake@VideoBrains.co.uk with “VideoBrains Pitch [Month]” as the topic.

 

What then?

We read every pitch we get, but we don’t have time to reply to all of them, sorry! If we think you’re a fit for that month we’ll reply to you as soon as we can with information on what happens next. If we like your pitch but don’t currently have space for it, we’ll tag it and keep it on hand – so you might hear from us in the future! If we don’t get back to you, please do keep pitching for future events. It’s not you, it’s us.

we're sorry

we’re sorry

 

But will VideoBrains care about me?

Kitten gif says Yes. Although we’re a growing crowdfunded event and can’t (currently) pay speakers, we are happy to cover your travel costs within the UK. We also record and publish all of your talks online, ensuring you reach both our online and offline audiences. We run a zero tolerance safer space policy to keep our speakers and audience comfortable while attending our events, and are always available to help you with any of your concerns – either email us, tweet at us, or catch us in person at the events.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Flappy arms, play-doh style bodies, and outrageous outfits. Wait, that’s not VideoBrains, that’s just the game in the title of August’s event: Gang Beasts. A silly game of competitive arm flailing and silliness, it’s a great game to play on the sofa with friends. Perfect for VideoBrains!

We had the start of our new resident speaker Alice Bell’s run of talks, the Fuckeduplet, as well as 5 other grand speakers. So, let’s get on with it shall we?

 

We started off with Thryn Henderson, on bees. Okay, not quite on bees, but on ARGs – alternate reality games. But, also, sort of about bees. alright, mostly not about bees, but Thryn definitely thinks you should learn about bees because they are cool.

 

Gareth Monk followed from Thryn and focused on collaborative comedy in games, and how some of the funniest moments can come out of friends playing together and doing something unpredictable.

 

There’s a unique moment on Alice Bell’s first talk as resident speaker, and it’s one that I don’t even want to spoil. For the theme of Gang Beasts, of community and together-ness, there couldn’t be a more fitting moment. Hallelujah!

 

Musicals are cool now – not that they weren’t always brilliant, but suddenly a lot more people are taking notice. And that’s great! It also means that the lessons learnt in musicals can be brought over to games, and they can be made oh-so-much better for it.

 

Jack de Quidt took to the stage for the event’s penultimate talk, and cast his sights on one specific area of games: fetch quests. Go to village Y, collect object X, and give it to person Z. They reveal a lot about a game, and how it’s designed to be played.

 

Finally, Kat Brewster – taking time away from finishing her master’s – closed up the event with a timeline of art, and its relevance to games and play. There’s a lot to go through in centuries of artistic styles, so you better get started. The essay’s due on Monday*.

 

That’s it for VideoBrains August’s talks! However, the second issue of our zine was released in August, and if you didn’t get a copy, it’s still available, as is the first issue! Check out more details here.

This also means VideoBrains September is coming up very soon, featuring Alice Bell, Alex Avard, Emily Marlow, Adam Dixon, Lydia Nicholas, and Thomas McMullan! Get your tickets now, and if you’re there, we’ll see you next week!

 

*There’s no essay due on Monday. Feel free to write one if you want though.

The slow but unstoppable march of VideoBrains entering every medium continues on, as the second issue of our zine is now available for you to buy!

Featuring more weird and wonderful pieces, some serious, some funny, and some absurd, it’s perfect for those who want a little more VideoBrains in their life. Hopefully that’s you.

VB Zine 2

If you’d like to buy a copy and live in the UK, pay via paypal however much you think the zine is worth (at a minimum of £5 for print and postage.) In the comments section, leave your address, as well as what issue you’d like, as the first issue is still currently available.

If you live further afield, you can pay £2 for the PDF to print off yourself, leave your email in the comments section, or contact us to work out postage.

The email to contact us on, whether it’s for postage somewhere outside the UK, to put yourself forward to be in the zine, or any other general queries, is jake@videobrains.co.uk. If we don’t reply within a few days, feel free to nudge Jake on Twitter at @_jaketucker.

Roll out the red carpet, because in July, VideoBrains went to the movies. Okay, we didn’t actually go there, and there was no red carpet, but we did have one fantastic event based all around that theme.

First up, we had Helen Gould with a perhaps controversial opinion: Warcraft, the recent film, was actually pretty great. Coming from the perspective of someone who doesn’t play any of the Warcraft games, Helen defended the film valiantly!

https://twitter.com/mink_ette/status/758009752823685120

In July, we had to say goodbye to Rob Morgan as our resident speaker, as he gave his final talk in the series on the narrative utility belt of games: An Awfully Big Adventure. Give his talk the respect it deserves by catching up on the rest of the talks in this series in our handy playlist!

There’s an intense and deep lore behind Pop-up Pirate, and through multiple mediums Grant Howitt showed us the complex past of it, and how the dedicated fans pieced together the story like a better version of Dark Souls. There’s a lot going on in Pop-up Pirate.

Martin Hollis, designer behind Goldeneye and other games, took on a challenge at VideoBrains July: take 5 films from the audience and design entirely new, unique games around them. Of course, the audience gave some interesting and challenging films to really test his skill.

Finally, Hannah Dwan rounded off the evening telling us all about Hannibal: not one of the books, or one of the films, but a game from the early 2000s. You probably haven’t heard of it, because it was never released. What happened to Hannibal: The Game?

That’s all for VideoBrains July! Well, almost. We also sold the first edition of the VideoBrains zine that evening! If you’d like to buy your own copy, you can find out how to do so here.

VideoBrains August: Gang Beasts is just around the corner – featuring our next resident speaker Alice Bell, 5 other brilliant speakers, and the second issue of the VideoBrains zine! Find out more on eventbrite.

We’ll be back.

Buy our zines! Be the best!
Put our de-sign to the test
Pay us £5 for this zine, cherie
And we’ll provide the rest.

My temptation to write the entirety of this post to the tune of Be Our Guest is strong, because I don’t even know what I’m doing with VideoBrains anymore. Rad bullshit, mostly. Still, if that’s your jam, we’ve got something new for you. Our zines.

VideoBrains: Zine Edition 1

Why make a zine?

Honestly, I just thought it’d be cool to have something that people who can’t attend VideoBrains can enjoy, but also something that people who can’t talk at VideoBrains can contribute to.

How can I buy one?

Simple really, If you live in the UK click this paypal link, pay what you think the zine is worth (over the minimum £5 for print and postage) and leave your address in the comments. I send them out every Saturday.

If you live abroad you’ve got two options: You can pay us £2 for the PDF and print it yourself, or we can work something out on postage.

I’ve got questions or want to put myself forward to be in the zine

Friend, just email me at Jake@VideoBrains.co.uk. I’ll usually get back to you within a few days. Maybe less. Sometimes much more. You can scream at me on Twitter if I don’t get back to you, it’s the only way I’ll learn.

Our most recent all-day event, and the first of 2016, VideoBrains June was a fantastic event, not only because we had a host of wonderful talks, but also because we got to celebrate Jake Tucker’s birthday! It was a longer, more packed, and cake-filled VideoBrains. But enough of that: there’s a whopping 10 talks to show to you!

In order to go get herself a tattoo straight after (and then return to VideoBrains, because bruised skin won’t stop her), Alice Bell started off VideoBrains June, with Dark Souls Is Bad And You Should Feel Bad. Don’t @ her.

Giving his penultimate talk as resident speaker (aww), Rob Morgan showed of episode 5 of his Narrative Utility Belt, this month focusing on diegesis, the antonym of his second talk in this series! We also had a big announcement: who will succeed Rob as our resident speaker. Drumroll please!

Alice Bell, VideoBrains veteran, will start a residency at VideoBrains in August, with an as-yet-unannounced theme. Look forward to that!

Games, as of late, have done their best to record and tackle some of the more difficult topics in our modern world. Thomas McMullan asked the question of whether there’s a useful intersection between games and documentary, and how they can influence one another.

For the first time ever, we had a fully drawn talk at VideoBrains June! Hana Lee discussed How We Become Our Own Characters, and how sometimes it’s easiest to empathise with the characters that don’t have faces, the ones we make ourselves, especially if you belong to a minority games don’t typically represent.

If you’re a fan of Doom and its modding scene, there’s a good chance you’ll have heard of Matt Tropiano. He’s been making maps for Doom for the last twenty years, and has learnt a lot about making a good map and how Doom works in the process. That wasn’t the most important thing, though, instead that was what making mods taught him as a creator.

Gaming communities are incredibly important to many people, as ways to talk with like-minded people in a world where it can be hard to do so for a number of reasons. Natalie Clayton showed why it was doubly important for her – and many other trans people – to be a part of a community in World of Warcraft.

Tom Hatfield likes barbies. Not the Barbie Girl, living in a Barbie world kind, but the grimdark space barbie kind. He loves Warhammer 40K, the game all about little figurines killing each other on the whims of omnipotent dice-wielding gods. And he’s proud of it.

Sometimes it feels like you should keep your creative projects – your babies that need to be protected and cared for – private until they’re perfect, ready for the world to see. Olivia Wood argued that, no, they shouldn’t, and it’s often good to show someone your project, even if you know it’s not done.

Are you bad at games? Meg Jayanth knows the feeling of being bad at games. But the thing is: that’s perfectly okay, and sometimes it’s really a good thing. Lots of us are bad at games, and that really, really, doesn’t matter. (See also: Alice’s talk from the start of VideoBrains June!)

Cassandra Khaw is smart in a lot of areas, and one of those is the speculative fiction community. While it’s certainly not a perfect area, there’s lots that games and gaming can learn from it, from how small groups of fans are worthwhile to how you should never discredit a game for being in a certain genre.

That wraps up the VideoBrains June Epilogue! There’s a lot to watch and hopefully it should tide you over until VideoBrains July: The Movies on July 26th. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there!

Ever just not finished a project, or perhaps you’ve got something on the go right now, or maybe it’s still swirling around your head as a wonderful idea? That was the theme of VideoBrains May: Prototype, all those unfinished or unreleased little works we haven’t finished yet or just haven’t got around to making perfect. Well, and there was a talk on folklore and the genitals of yokai. Average VideoBrains really.

Siobhan Gibson was our first speaker, and spoke how just how she started making games, from the most basic proofs of concept to where she is nowadays. One of the reasons she gave it a shot was just to see if Twine really was as easy as people said it was: it is.

There was also some homework given! Siobhan wanted people to just make something simple using Flickgame, and Alex Facey did exactly that! He made a short Twin Peaks game, which you can play right here. If you’re inspired to make something yourself, please send it our way!

This was followed up by Andrew Armstrong, who looked at architecture in games, and how the relationship between the places we live, visit, and grow up in can influence us. It’s a talk that would be right at home alongside our previous resident speaker Hannah Nicklin’s series!

It wasn’t just Rob Morgan’s fourth talk as our resident speaker, but we also celebrated his birthday at VideoBrains May! It might be a little late to wish him a belated happy birthday, but we won’t stop you.

His topic for May was The Pathetic Fallacy, and included supposedly awkward eye contact (which VideoBrains attendees seemed to love). He also had a wonderful jacket this month.

Thryn Henderson brought us back to VideoBrains May’s theme with her talk This World Is ____, a look into unfinished (but not, necessarily, incomplete) games that people showed her. Art is never finished, only abandoned, but sometimes the unfinished works can be just as enjoyable as the ones deemed ‘complete’.

https://twitter.com/seanFsmith/status/735190594176323584

Cloud-based computing, not quite OnLive, but the idea that games can use a cloud-based network of computers to do all the taxing stuff for you in a game. That was the topic of Will Overgard’s talk, which even included a little audience interaction, with a joyously optimistic view of the possibilities in the future of cloud-based computing.

Finally, Alex Davis took to the stage, with a perhaps rather NSFW talk on folklore. Sounds innocent: did you know tanuki have mahoossive scrotums? Or that kappa (not the Twitch emote, please) like to steal your soul from where the sun don’t shine? Didn’t think so.

Certainly a unique array of talks. That’s the joy of VideoBrains, eh?

VideoBrains June has been and gone, but VideoBrains July: The Movies tickets are now available! It features Helen Gould, Alex Hern, Darren Daley, Hannah Dwan, Martin Hollis, and Rob Morgan’s final talk as resident speaker (aww). Don’t worry, though because we’ve announced our next resident speaker: the fantastic, the inimitable, the creator of Chekov’s Penis, Alice Bell! She’ll be joining us as resident speaker in August.

We’d love it if you brought a friend along to VideoBrains, and Endlife Studios have made a great video to show off just how great VideoBrains is. Show us to your friends! With this, we bid you adieu (at least, until the next Epilogue…)