A while back we did a piece on one of our favourite shows from the 90s Bad Influence! We’re pleased to say that Adrian managed to catch up with one of the presenters, our hero and gaming legend, Violet Berlin (!!!) for a very quick round of questions. She is a very busy lady these days after all…
Bad Influence was a huge commercial success. What was it like to part of such a ground-breaking and popular show dedicated to gaming?
Writing and presenting for Bad Influence! was amazing on so many levels. My initial thoughts were just around getting free games and earning a living by playing them and talking about them. The fact that I also got to go off and make films in Japan and the States took it up a notch.. And then what I hadn’t bargained for was the show got a regular 5 million viewers, so it was a success too. The icing on the cake? Such a lovely team, we’re still friends. Only the other day I was only chatting online with Andy (Nam Rood), a great actor and a wonderful guy.
You have a playable character in Micro Machines 2 (still an awesome game in my humble opinion), how exactly did this opportunity occur and is this one of your proudest moments in gaming?
Codemasters rang up and asked if I would do it. I said ‘yes’ on the proviso that my character was the fastest AI controlled character in the game. (I didn’t want to be who always comes last, like Donkey Kong in Mario Kart on SNES if I recall) They said okay, I can be the fastest female character only though because Spider (male) was the fastest overall. Well having played MM1 I was familiar with this tradition, so I conceded. Of course, I had no way of knowing how awesome MM2 would turn out to be, so great not just to be in a game but as you say a truly awesome game that just brought new dimensions to multiplayer.
GamePad was a great show which was made “by gamers, for gamers”. Did you purposely look to make a more mature show than had previously been on air?
My computer games, technology and science shows for ITV had been aimed at children and young people, but Bravo aimed at an older audience so, yes, it had to be more mature. We just aimed it at people like us who wanted to know about the latest games. My first involvement in the channel was presenting a re-versioned show for GameSpot TV (yes, the TV show of the US website) but then Bravo asked me to present their own show in-house, and afterwards they asked my company to make the next two series. Once again, a fantastic opportunity to get paid to play games and talk about them, I had two babies at the time (with our friend and hero Gareth Jones), so it was hard work fitting everything, but I simply couldn’t turn it down.
Have you always been a gamer?
Yes, games and computers have always been my ‘thing’. At school, I was one of only two girls who chose the brand new ‘Computer Science’ subject when I was 14. At home, I didn’t have much in the way of technology, but I’d lay on the floor for hours beating my own hi score on Nintendo Game N Watch. After university, in the early 90s, I got a job presenting and writing for a live TV show on early satellite TV and one of the things I did every week was the video game reviews. They were probably the first video game reviews on television. What happened was: I got given a number of consoles and took them home and played them for hours. This is what eventually equipped me for the Bad Influence! job.
Do you feel there is a current gap in the market for a TV show dedicated to the video game industry?
Well, back in the days of all those TV shows I made … Bad Influence! and Cheatflash and Head to Head and Bad Level 10 … and even all four series of Gamepad … people relied on TV in order to get access to information and footage and interviews and coverage of big games shows etc. Nowadays it’s possible to get so much of this info and footage on the Internet, in podcasts, on Youtube, at publisher’s websites, on Steam etc. etc. Plus, everybody’s ‘double-screening’, doing at least two things at once. So, I think there may be a gap for a new kind of transmedia games show, perhaps. As for traditional television, nah, we’ve moved on … and the games nowadays are full on, pervasive, so who’s got time?!
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