20 Questions With Violet
It is with
great honour and pride to announce, as a truly amazing Christmas present to
everyone who reads and writes for Consoles & Conkers that our very first interview with a famous
LADY! is with the officially appointed Queen of Gaming: VIOLET BERLIN!
Section 1 - The Games TV Industry
1. Has your gradual
departure from the gaming community over the years been on account of
a simple change of personal interest or has the nature of the
present-day games market affected that at all?
A combination of the two. I used to play Cupid - trying to marry the TV
industry and the games industry. I found that neither party really wanted
the other very much. This may change of course. After all, I made a return
to games TV about 7 years after Bad Influence! finished (and all those
other games shows I did in the early 90s) to make GameSpot TV and then
Game-Pad. Itís possible that Iíll wait a few more years and then try a
new approach, given the right circumstances. In the meantime, I have found
many subjects other than games which I enjoy covering - at the
moment it is astronomy and particle physics! I have just written scripts
for all the movies and interactive games for the a new Ďvisitor
attractioní at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, which will open in
2. Have you been
persued for any games TV shows over the years that you have declined to
be involved with and were you ever approached for either of Hewland's
big name productions, Games World and Games Master?
Ha ha... Er what games TV shows!?! There really havenít been that
many, have there?! Yes, I have been asked to guest on a few and stuff,
and yes I did guest on Games World, but never Games Master.
3. On a similar note, have there been any games shows of yours that
never left the drawing board or never made it past the pilot?
Iíve got a drawer full! There are also a copies of non-broadcast
pilots in there somewhere too. About 3 of these ideas actually got
requested by commissioners and then - for various boring reasons - never actually made it to the studio.
One quite recently. Thatís
quite normal in the TV industry, though. Anyone else who tries to get
telly shows made has got similar stories. You need to keep at it, and
have the attitude of the Terminator who ďabsolutely-will-not-stopĒ.
4. Do you think gaming television can ever return to the glory days
of the early-to-mid 90s?
The real question is - can games ever return to their glory days of
the early-to-mid 90s?! Ahem. In truth, I think itís hard to predict at
the moment what will happen with TV and games, because of the Internet
Video Revolution. Itís very exciting, actually. Personally I can
imagine a few interesting routes that bring together interactive
television and vid games TV, and Iím sure there are exciting
developments round the corner.
5. The celebs from yesteryear, including yourself, became iconic not
only due to their high-quality presentation skills, but also renowned
for a defining image. From Dominik Diamond's dapper Tudorpole suits to
Alex Verrey's larger than life Big Boy Barry character and from Dave
Perry's permanent Billy Kane-Fatal Fury streetwear to your cyberpunk
Tank Girl style, we had clear unique televised personalities to identify
with. In the current gaming climate, there are little to no gaming
celebrities, least of all any with a defining iconic image. Would you
say that's because the market is too commercial, too casual and too
self-conscious for any production studios to risk making a programme
more cult in its appeal, or simply because no presenters are making the
What modern TV shows do you mean? I canít think of any. (Except for
internet video game shows, like Consolevania, which certainly do have
strong characters). I do agree, though, that the games industry is a bit
faceless. Apart from the odd Lara Croft lookalike, thereís not much,
6. Were you ever close-to or keep in any contact with any other
gaming celebs of yesteryear?
I wish I was still in touch with Andy Wear, the actor who played ĎNam
Roodí in Bad Influence! as we were mates. Iíve recently renewed
contact with Larry Bundy Jr (who did some Game Guru presenting a couple
of years ago, but who I met when he was a kid, winning constantly on
ďHead To HeadĒ). Iím occasionally in touch with Aleks from Bits. My biggest, oldest gaming friend, who I do keep in touch with is
Mr. Biffo of Teletext/Digitiser fame. Not a TV celeb but surely the
greatest games celeb of all time.
7. If you've kept up with gaming shows over the last few years, are
there any that have caught your eye as something special? And, if you're
at liberty to say, have any been truly awful?
Nothing Iíve seen on TV has been truly terrible or truly brilliant, to
tell the truth. There have not been any unmissable ones, thatís for
sure. The interesting developments are all online with homemade
shows, podcasts and vodcasts.
8. What's the worst experience you've been subjected to in all your
years as a gaming icon?
Nothing majorly horrible springs to mind, youíll be pleased to hear.
Itís mostly been good. Or maybe Iíve blocked the bad memories...
9. And besides being interviewed for Consoles & Conkers, what's
been the best experience?
There are too many to name, really. Attending the launch of the N64 in
Japan certainly ranks right up there with the best of them.
10. From a personal consumer and viewer perspective, from around
1995 there seemed to be a sudden decline in the quality and quantity of
gaming television and journalism. Many shows were cancelled, magazine
staff laid-off and magazine production-standards severely cut-back. Was
this all in my imagination, or was there ever a defining shift in the
games industry that could be felt by all involved? And if so - what
Yes, it was around the time when the SNES and Megadrive/Mega CD were on
the way out, and all the new consoles were on the way in, wasnít it?
One way of looking at it is that games got more mainstream, with columns
appearing in lifestyle mags and newspapers, so less need to buy a
specialist games mag. Iím guessing here, Iíve never understood the
games magazine market. I do know that when Bad Influence came off the
air, there had been a (terrible) Childrenís BBC games show called
something like Total Reality, plus Games Master, plus Bad Influence!,
plus Games World, plus goodness knows how many other shows on TV, all
vying for an audience. I think maybe having so many shows meant the
games-playing audience was getting stretched over all the TV shows,
getting fragmented, so maybe audience figures for individual shows
suffered a bit as there wasnít enough to go round? It is possible that
the same thing happened to the mags - there were just so many
different ones, I guess it was inevitable that thereíd be a
rationalisation. Plus, thereís always a lull in the games industry
just before a new console comes out. If I recall, there was quite a gap
between the PS1 and N64 making it to the UK, which left the UK retail
sector a bit high and dry. These are all guesses, to be honest, I
canít really remember in detail, even though I probably used to rant
about it at the time.
11. Nerfie asks - Being the first (to my memory) prominent female in
the games and technology world that was actually genuinely interested in
what they were doing, and not just stuck there in a lead role to help
the pimply faced youths self-gratification routines, how well received were you in the industry as a whole? Did the companies you visited take
Some did, some didnít. I often did feel like a bit of a freak, the
only girl in a club for boys. I think some may have been a bit
suspicious of me. ďShe canít possibly play games, sheís a girl Ė
so whatís she in it for?Ē To me, video games are so obviously
appealing that I could hardly understand...
A) There's an internet
rumour, possibly fueled by confused memories, but due to the lack of
any source of historical information, this is seemingly unable to be
confirmed - did you ever do the voice-over for Cybernet?
No Iíve never done that. It was done by Lucy somebody, and then by that
bad American voice-over guy.
B) And simply because
we don't know who else would know - are you in possession of the
knowledge to finally provide the world with the concrete information on
how long Cybernet has actually aired on television (we estimate it's
somewhere in the region of 11 years - making it, we assume, the
longest-running games show in history)?
Iíve no idea, Iím afraid. I suspect the secret of its success
is being broadcast at a time in the early hours of the morning when
nobody knows itís on - even the commissioners, who have no idea
itís still in the schedule!
Section 2 - Games
A) How did you get
involved in the cast of Micro Machines 2?
Codemasters asked me if Iíd be in it, and based on the playability of
the original game, I said ďyesĒ.
B) When did you last
thrash someone in a game of Micro Machines 2 - and do you always play as
Itís gathering dust in my loft, so not for ages. I used to beat
everyone except my mate Mark who used to always roundly beat me by
bumping me off the track.
C) The high-point for the series was undoubtedly the era of the
second title - but what was the best version, MM2, MM96 or MM Military?
MM2. I must be a traditionalist.
14. I recall on one show of yours, perhaps Head 2 Head(?), that
featured two gamers fighting against one another on a special
pre-release copy of Star Fox 2. As one of the most famous lost-in-action
games in history, how did your programme get hold of the game when
larger shows didn't (to my knowledge), what were your thoughts on it,
and perhaps most importantly - what happened to that copy?
Yes it was probably Head to Head, but Iíve no idea where it is. We
might have had to send it back to the games company. Or it could be in
my loft with the other mountains of paraphernalia. Iíll have a look
next time Iím up there. I know the special pre-release version of the
original Starfox is there for certain but whether Starfox 2 is as well
Iíd have to check.
15. What games are currently rocking Violet's world?
Well this week itís been one Iím involved in myself - Iíve
literally just finished writing the script for a 3-person game about
sending a space probe out to explore the Solar System, so that one
mainly! (But I did also get a chance to play We Love Katamari with one
of my sons, which is rather brilliant).
16. What are the official top 5 games of all time according to
In no particular order: Guitaroo Man, Legend of Zelda,
Chronotrigger, Wario Ware, Parodius.
Ask me next week and Iíll probably give you a different 5. Too many to
17. In relation to a feature we have on our own site's Games section
that we like to call 'Look Mate It's Just Not That Good, Alright?', where
we nitpick specific titles we consider overly praised by the general
public and media - is there a particular game you'd like to nominate for
Tomb Raider, the original game. It was nothing special. Just marketed
well. Also, it was a lot of peopleís first adventure games experience
(as casual gamers were getting lured in by Sonyís marketing) so when
they all thought theyíd discovered a great game, what theyíd really
done was discover a great new hobby.
18. The Oliver Brothers don't, but do you like the name 'Wii'?
Not at all, but at least it makes small children giggle.
19. Who do you think's going to win the next-generation battle - do
Nintendo stand a chance at taking back the market?
I think they at least stand a chance of staying in the market, and in
the tricky games industry, thatís enough of an achievement. While
Microsoft and Sony battle over whoís got the biggest, fastest,
flashest machine, Nintendo seem to get along fine by doing their own
20. Finally, please review the following footage... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zWNKHe6nSs
*we wait patiently as Violet watches*... Not only does Steve from
Kidderminster say hello but also, would you give Mario Kart DS 8 out of
Probably, actually, good guess! Itís better than a 7 and there
are certain features missing that Iíd like to give it a 9. Iíd
hoped that like the original SNES game that the coins that speed you up
would make a re-appearance. Díyou remember? You collected coins,
and the more you had the faster you went. However, if you got hit, you
were slow again. (Did that really happen, or am I imagining it?) Anyway,
whether it did or not - Nintendo should bring it back.
By the way, Steve from Kiddie, hi again. I have fond memories of that
Acorn User show... Halcyon days ;-)
Thank you so much for your answers Violet - you've honestly made our
Chrimbo (and no-doubt Steve's as well)! Indeed yes, I totally agree - Nintendo need to bring back the coins in
Mario Kart and get rid of that silly waggling power-slide nonsense! And don't
worry you weren't imagining it; as you were hit, you lost coins and therefore
speed. They don't call me Captain Mario Kart for nothing. Actually that don't
call me Captain Mario Kart at all, but it is my favourite game! Our best wishes
to you over the Christmas season... can we come play in your loft some time?
If any of our readers wish to catch up with what Violet's been up to over
the years, check out her site here - http://www.whizzbang.tv/violetberlin.htm
22nd December 2006