The next generation of games consoles will be upon us this November, when Microsoft become the first to offer us the wonderful opportunity to play updated versions of our favourite games with slightly higher resolution graphics for a disproportionately high price. This generation will be marked by HDTV support, presumably to the unbridled delight of the seven people in Britain who own HDTVs. The rest of us have no logical reason to be excited but will continue to buy this crap as fast as they can shovel it into shops.
Clearly, I'm excited, but if my usual level of excitement measured about a Tom Cruise on the crazy scale, that excitement has just been pushed up to Michael Jackson levels because today I secured an exclusive interview with none other than J Allard, Microsoft's VP and Xbox frontman. Allard is a man who combines dandyism with hardcore gaming and comes out the other side with something greater than the sum of its parts, something known only as J. J redefines the word 'extreme' in ways that all current human languages fall short of describing, J is about earrings, staying up past eleven, waistcoats, rockin', rollin', leather trousers, extreme sports, gaming and so much more. Mostly selling things, I suppose. Sometimes he goes into work without even showering or eating breakfast, and it's not because he's ill-informed on matters of nutrition and hygiene, rather he's just extremely passionate about gaming.
Enough with my impressions of J, let's hear it straight from man himself, in this exclusive interview recorded in one of the changing rooms of the Edinburgh branch of Miss Selfridge. The meeting place was his idea and I respect it because he is very much his own man who does not play by the rules.
Yes, his head is glowing a glorious regal purple. Ain't no thing to J.
Weebl's Stuff: First of all, I'd like to offer a big thanks to talking to us, Mr Allard.
J Allard: The pleasure is all mine, man. And please, call me J.
WS: I'm not sure if that's even a name, can I call you James?
JA: Don't fuck with me, man. I can break you just like this hanger. [Allard takes a discarded plastic coat hanger from the floor and proceeds to snap it with relatively little effort]
WS: Understood. I must say, such a feat of strength is impressive given those mountain biking injuries you recently picked up.
JA: It's no big thing dude, we on the Xbox team are always hurting ourselves. We're just passionate about living life on the edge, you know - mountain biking, ultimate frisbee at company picnics, gorge walking, shit like that.
WS: I see.
JA: I don't think you do, man. Most people just can't handle that kind of lifestyle, and that's why we make videogame systems. A game can give the ordinary man a taste of what I experience all day every day without the threat of damaging their frail bodies. But don't start thinking that Xbox 360 will be safe, it's hardcore through and through, baby!
WS: In what sense will Xbox 360 be less 'safe' than previous consoles?
JA: Well the games are a big part of it, shit like Rainbow Islands Zero and Harvest Moon 360 ain't for pussies, but with this generation it's mostly the spiders.
JA: Word. When you take your Xbox 360 home the box will contain one console, one controller and a nest containing thousands of tiny poisonous spiders. What we're saying here is that Xbox 360 isn't a system for passive entertainment, it's an experience. The panic that ensues as you struggle to stop the thousands of spiders spreading throughout your house is just a taster of how you'll feel in an intense 32 player online game of Lemmings Tactics. Look, I brought some along to give you a sneak preview! [Allard reaches into the pocket of his scruffy velvet suit jacket and pulls out a handful of spiders] There's your freakin' exclusive, man!
J demonstrates one of his extreme sitting positions, this one highlighting his tastefully damaged jeans.
JA: Sure, they're biting me, but I can handle it. I'd like to see how you handle it while trying to get these little bastards out of your stupid store!
WS: I don't work here, you told me to come here.
JA: That's right bitch, you work for ME! Bitch.
WS: Illuminating. Mr Allard, you are the chief XNA architect at Microsoft. Pretend for a moment that I don't know what that means, please explain it to me.
JA: I'll explain this shit backwards because that's just the crazy way I think - the A stands for America, the N stands for North, and can you guess what the X stands for?
WS: Is it-
JA: XTREME! [Allard, cackling uncontrollably at this revelation, pulls back the changing room curtain and tosses out another handful of spiders]
WS: Are you sure? I was under the impression that it had something to do with game development.
JA: Bitch, the only game development you have to worry about is when a 1-on-1 game of Halo 2 develops into me KICKING YOUR ASS! [Allard highlights each of the last three words by punching me firmly in the stomach]
WS: Speaking of games, let me ask you about your big push to get Japanese developers working on Xbox 360 titles. Do you expect to have more success in Japan this time?
JA: Woah there. First of all, there was no 'big push' by us to attract Japanese developers, they came knocking on our door BEGGING for the chance to work on our console. They want a little taste of the extreme just like everyone! We were like, "OK guys, we'll let you work on your cute little RPG pussy games as long as they don't conflict with Halo 3's release", and they were like "ARIGATO J-SAN!" or some shit. Furthermore, while the Xbox 360 is definitely going to take over Japan, you really shouldn't underestimate the impact the first Xbox had over there. We owned those bitches.
WS: I was under the impression that the Xbox was the lowest selling console there by a wide margin, and failed to outsell even the original Gameboy Advance in any given week.
JA: It's all relative, man. The GBA has some really good games. Fire Emblem? You'd have to be one jive sucker to try and compete with that shit!
J likes to be surrounded by purple whenever possible.
WS: You're not wrong. In a promotional video as part of your viral marketing campaign, you stated that the Xbox 360 team "partnered with the best chip guys in the world and found the most powerful technology that would be available in 2005, and then we goosed it and we tweaked it and we spun it and we fabricated it, and we put it all together in a system that's going to blow the doors off the imagination of game creators.".
JA: Straight flossin'. [Allard tosses a few more spiders into the shop]
WS: Yes, but it brings up a few questions. Could you give us some insight on the goosing and spinning processes, and also comment on your choice of metaphor regarding the imagination of game creators.
JA: Ha! You won't get me that easily, I'm not giving out those kinds of trade secrets. Blowing the doors off? Good question, see I look at game developers as cars that we, the system designers, drive. Developers are basically empty vessels, sure they have skills in making games, but without me in the driving seat to give them direction they'd just be driving off cliffs and crashing on the rocks below.
WS: Honestly, that only creates more questions, but I'll move on.
JA: I'm going to go soon, you're kinda boring and I'm running out of spiders.
J used to look like this, but don't let it fool you. He's hardcore from the womb to the tomb!
WS: I understand, you're a busy man. One last question then: how do you see the forthcoming 'console war' panning out?
JA: Sony have a really good system, if you dig that kind of thing. And by 'that kind of thing' I mean REALLY BAD SYSTEMS! HA! No, seriously, their system will be terrible, don't bother waiting for it.
WS: And what about Nintendo?
JA: WHOtendo? Ninwhothefuckdo? NintenSUCK? Am I making myself clear?
WS: As day.
JA: Sweet. I'm out, keep it real, G.
WS: Thanks so much for talking to us, Mr Allard.
JA: By 'I'm out', I'm referring to both my imminent departure and my supply of spiders.
JA: Word. Peace out. I've got a Bungee jumping session planned with Jason Jones in two hours!
WS: Just leave, please.
It's a big photo but I refuse to crop out the shoes, sorry.
We sincerely hope that J recovers from his recent injuries, and doesn't charge us too much for his new console.
Day 5. Why is it only day 5?
Day four of the madness.
Day 3 of our advent calendar.
Once upon a perfect peril...
So here it is! I'm starting Uni this September, and as...
A young boy faces the horrors of crack use through the smooth...