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This is absolutely brilliant, and so subtle that I have to wonder if it was even deliberate.

    Spike's sitting on the couch playing video games. The camera is behind the TV, so we can't see what game he's playing, but the sound effects are clearly recognizable as "Donkey Kong". A spoken line confirms that this is what he's playing.

    At this moment, I pause the recording. I am thrilled that they got this insignificant detail right, since no one ever does. When are TV characters ever playing the game they say they are?

    But then I notice in the corner of the screen, an XBox. Microsoft's game console, direct competitor to Nintendo's. Nintendo, who owns "Donkey Kong." They would never in a million years release their games in a competitor's market.

    Well, let's give them the benefit of the doubt. The XBox was prominent in the frame, but he could still have more than one game console.

    I unpause the video, and the camera completes it's pan to reveal that he's using an XBox controller. As opposed to a Gamecube, Super Nintendo, or Nintendo Entertainment System controller. Or even an Atari 2600 joystick, since there was a time when the Big N didn't have a console of their own. The sound effects would have been slightly off at that point, but it'd still mark some great attention to detail.

    That's all right. Prop guy got it wrong, but mad points to the sound editor anyway.
Cut to this morning. I receive an e-mail confirming that I'm not the only person to have noticed the discrepency. Somehow, this revelation that I'm not actually special triggers an epiphany, and the answer is obvious:

He's running an arcade emulator. MAME, most likely. If you're technically adept, it's actually not hard to install such a thing. So, for him to be playing this... Spike's got a modchip!

Take a moment to savor that. Spike's got a modchip.

Am I describing his game console now, or what the Initiative did to him (which more or less defined his character for several seasons of BtVS, and acted as catalyst for his personal redemption)?

That's a very odd parallel. Coincidence, maybe. But I like to imagine David Fury hunkered over his keyboard, laughing at his own joke because clearly no one else would ever get it.

Mainly because I like the word "hunkered."

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
seonsaint
Feb. 5th, 2004 04:35 pm (UTC)
Maybe he's done this...
http://www.otakunozoku.com/xbox/ Think about it, he needs to do stuff when most people are asleep, I figure he's on top of all the games and stuff...
self
Feb. 5th, 2004 09:16 pm (UTC)
  1. I'm not actually still engrossed in this mystery. You've come up with the same solution I described in the body of this text. Honest, it's there - an emulator, specifically MAME, made possible by a modchip?

    The chip itself being the point of this story, 'cause Spike had a behavior modification chip installed in his head for a while there. It was kind of a big deal.


  2. Spike's a man of action - the kind of guy we play video games to live vicariously as. When most people are asleep, he's out fighting evil, drinking, or having sex. But more than that, the man is Retro. Spike's not up on the latest anything.

    Nor are most vampires, really. But where most will stick with the era in which they died, Spike seems to have settled in the punk scene of the late 70s/early 80s. "Donkey Kong" was released in 1981. So, there's really no need to project new character traits onto him.
Before you ask, the XBox was a gift; it came with the apartment. He didn't go out and buy it, much less install the chip himself and go online for a disc image of MAME...
kibarika
Feb. 5th, 2004 09:50 pm (UTC)
I don't know Fury's level of familiarity w/game systems, but Steve DeKnight is pretty friendly with his X-Box. I like the idea of Spike emulating games. I think Spike as an Intellectual Property/Digital Copyright Rebel is fun too.
self
Feb. 6th, 2004 11:52 am (UTC)
I can see where you'd get that, but I just don't think it's Spike's style.

Digital Copyright Rebels tend to overdo it. There's a hoarding mentality - they collect because they can, and that's really not in him. Also, they get worked up over issues Spike would find laughable - he feels no need to pay for things, but would never get self-righteous about stealing them, either.

I'd actually love to see him discuss the issue with Andrew. I'm not sure how the conversation would start, but I think it ends with Spike punching Andrew out and taking his iPod (then tossing it aside because he can't stand anything Andrew listens to).

I don't think Spike's entirely at home in the digital age. I don't see him ever owning an iPod, to stick with that example. It feels more like there'd be a cassette player in his coat pocket, with maybe three worn out mix tapes that he put together 20 years ago. (The setup's portable, it'll survive a fight, and the small selection of music keeps things intensely personal...)


Lindsey, on the other hand, would be all over the emulator scene, and leaving a bit of that in Spike's apartment would only draw out more parallels (since he was emulating Doyle).
thestagemanager
Feb. 6th, 2004 04:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was all over that. Seems to me they just couldn't have placed the XBox there by mistake after they'd made it such a point to match the sound effects to the dialog.

While we're on the subject of this week's episode, the handshake with the devil bit is now the funniest thing I've seen in Angel. I'd say the dance of shame is a contender as well, but if you don't count the "hey, that's Joss!" points, I think the devil outscores it.
self
Feb. 6th, 2004 06:55 pm (UTC)
Exactly!
The XBox was on top of the television, that whole shot framed around it. All the shot really called for was a controller in Spike's hand, but someone went out of their way to make sure we saw the XBox. It was subtle, but very much deliberate. They were trying to say something.

Maybe the statement they were going for was "Thanks for all that money, Microsoft!"

More likely, it was simply "Things aren't what they seem."

Whatever it was, I find it hard to believe this was entirely random.

And frankly, I love the possibilities we're coming up with through rampant geek speculation.
kibarika
Feb. 7th, 2004 08:08 am (UTC)
I am thinking of a more reasonable sort of digital copyright rebel than I think you are - the kind who thinks "I can get what I want by taking it, so I will. I know it's wrong, but I don't really care." as opposed to the many who insist they are morally right when they take other people's property, so long as it's not physical. I'm thinking of Spike here as "Why should I buy it, when I can get it for free?" The IP kids I mean are less vocal than the ones you're thinking of, and I agree with you there. Of course, I like to imagine Spike would never use an iPod because he hates Apple.
self
Feb. 7th, 2004 12:03 pm (UTC)
Understood. The word "rebel" doesn't really apply at that point, but I'm not sure what a better choice would be.

That said, when Spike wants to steal music, it'd be physical. Just clicking on something doesn't get your hands dirty. Spike's all about the visceral experience. Note that this distinction is largely how they're setting him apart from Angel right now.

Pre-soul, I think he'd break into a store at night, or even walk in while they're still open and dare the shop keeper to call security.

Nowadays, it'd go more like this:

EXT - ALLEYWAY - NIGHT
Demon carcasses litter the ground. Spike stands between them and VICTIM OF THE WEEK, watching for movement. When it's clear none of them are getting up again, he relaxes.

        VICTIM
    You saved my life. How can I ever repay you?

INT - VICTIM'S APARTMENT - NIGHT
Spike finishes rummaging through a small rack of CDs, selecting three that he likes.

        SPIKE
    Can I have these?

Victim is speechless.

        SPIKE
    Right, then.

Spike walks off, CDs in hand, leaving Victim to stare incomprehensibly after him.
</center>
But really, I like my first scenario better. Spike arguing semantics with Andrew as IP kid, who's maybe got it into his head that this kind of digital rebellion gives them something in common. Spike takes his iPod (Andrew does NOT hate Apple) in an act of violence, partly to scare Andrew off that path, and partly to demonstrate that an insulated approach leaves you ultimately powerless.
kibarika
Feb. 7th, 2004 07:09 pm (UTC)
Now I'm having a mental picture of Spike trying to figure out how to work an iPod, and becoming so frustrated he breaks it.
self
Feb. 8th, 2004 02:21 am (UTC)
Hmm!

I could see Angel breaking one, though not so much out of frustration as embarassment - he doesn't notice someone approaching while he's trying to figure out how the thing works. When they speak, he's startled and the iPod goes flying.

Spike, I don't see getting frustrated over this. He'd take one look, decide it's not worth the effort, and carelessly toss it back to whoever handed this to him. At which point, depending whether said person can catch, it might still break.

But, let's run with this in another direction:
    (This applies equally well to Spike or Angel, so I'll keep the pronouns ambiguous)

    It's either his birthday, the anniversary of his becoming a vampire, or of getting his soul back. Any of those would be on W&H's office calendar, right? At Lorne's suggestion, the gang gives him a digital music player from the lab. Perhaps it's a template, like Wesley's reference books, linked to W&H's library of every song ever performed.

    It quickly becomes a running joke for the episode - Everyone can tell that he doesn't know how to use this, but pride dictates that he pretend he does, and that he's offended at their offers to help. So, they humor him. When alone, he pushes buttons helplessly, bangs the unit on hard surfaces to see if that changes anything, and generally proceeds as though the unit is broken.

    At the end of the day, Fred takes mercy on him and explains that the reason it's so obvious to everyone else that he's faking his enjoyment is that he doesn't have any headphones.
It's lame, but some really fun banter could come out of there.
bdbdb
Feb. 8th, 2004 01:04 pm (UTC)
Re:
LOL! I think that is cute!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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