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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. Scott
    August 8, 2012 @ 1:04 am

    Speaking of video games, will you be looking at "Destiny of the Doctors" at any point? I still have fond memories of Anthony Ainley's video appearances in that — goofy yet sinister, and strangely appropriate for his Master.


  2. Flynn
    August 8, 2012 @ 1:26 am

    He says in the entry, actually:

    "sorry, no Destiny of the Doctors planned due to not being able to get it to run on anything"


  3. Abigail Brady
    August 8, 2012 @ 3:44 am

    This is surely a challenge for someone to set up a runnable VM with it installed.


  4. daibhid-c
    August 8, 2012 @ 4:26 am

    An interesting point about the popularity of the iconograohy with programmers. When I was a kid with a Commodore 64, it seemed like a rule of British video games that a Doctor Who reference had to be shoved in somewhere, if at all possible (if not, mention the number 42 instead). The one that most sticks in my mind is Herbert's Dummy Run, which is about a baby making his way through a department store … which, for no apparent reason, contains a room full of unlicenced Daleks.


  5. Adam Riggio
    August 8, 2012 @ 5:37 am

    If we learned anything from Phil's analysis of the Saward era and the Levine perspective, it's that random references in the background of video games and franchise-themed videos games themselves are really the proper place for continuity fetish items. It's the kind of specialty product that would be intended for more hardcore fans, and so they'd be amused by the jokes about obscure details (and it would probably be all that amused them while trying to play such shitty games as some of them were).

    I'm so glad the show is now made by people who understand that.


  6. Lewis Christian
    August 8, 2012 @ 6:32 am

    I think there's a walkthrough of the whole game, including the Ainley bits, on YouTube!


  7. Lewis Christian
    August 8, 2012 @ 6:34 am

    humphries2004 on YouTube has made Destiny of the Doctors into a 'serialised story', as if it were eight episodes long, if that helps?


  8. Gnaeus
    August 8, 2012 @ 8:45 am

    "This leads us to an important observation to start with about video games, which is that they are not narrative devices in the same way that other popular media are. That’s not to say, as some extreme positions in game studies have, that narrative is completely extraneous to video games."

    I wouldn't be too confident about this. The text adventure, surely, is one form of game where narrative is essential and integral? To say nothing of the western computer RPG, where the minority tradition ideal, at least since Planescape: Torment, has been a kind of super-reactive narrative with some combat stuffed into it somewhere.

    "So in a very real sense"
    Ah-HA! You are an Anglican bishop, and I claim my £5.

    "with unforgiving difficulty to boot."
    It's an early 1990s video game. Have you played the Hitch-Hiker's Guide text adventure?

    I think it's a pity here that you didn't discuss genre. Because Doctor Who fits lousily with established game genres (which have rather more defined implications, in some ways, than more "malleable" arts). And there's a fundamental reason for this, which is that the Whoniverse is crap. It doesn't function as a narrative world, so you can't set anything else in it (like, say, a shooter. Even the Doom mods don't quite achieve credibility).

    About the only kind of game, then, where you can dump Doctor Who is a kind with a predefined protagonist who is not required to leap into and out of combat, in which narrative is a heavy and essential ingredient, and in which intelligence is required. In short, only one genre of video game can encompass Doctor Who: the adventure game, in the old Lucasarts style. This is one thing which Moffatt has undoubtedly got right (though whether the games are any good I leave to others to discuss.)


  9. Jesse
    August 8, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    the best bit of Doctor Who video gaming from the 80s and 90s…was the Doctor Who pinball machine from Bally

    Ontological question: Is a pinball machine a video game?


  10. Josh Marsfelder
    August 8, 2012 @ 9:03 am

    I have to throw my vote behind Phil here, I think he's right on the money. Video games do indeed utilize narrative in some form, but they have a wildly different relationship with it than other forms of media do. In brief, I think games build narrative generatively through the interaction of the players, the designers and the actual game mechanics, or at least ought to strive to. For those interested, I wrote a great deal about this very facet of game design here: http://forest-of-illusions.blogspot.com/2012/01/but-what-does-it-all-mean-lacanian.html

    Here: http://forest-of-illusions.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-does-it-all-mean-lacanian-reading.html

    And, er, here: http://forest-of-illusions.blogspot.com/2012/05/im-going-to-make-confession.html

    Oh, also here: http://forest-of-illusions.blogspot.com/2012/06/well-at-this-rate-my-rule-about-not.html

    So clearly this is a topic rather close to me.


  11. Josh Marsfelder
    August 8, 2012 @ 9:04 am

    In my opinion no, though the genres are very similar and share an important pedigree.


  12. Josh Marsfelder
    August 8, 2012 @ 9:07 am

    I presume we're getting a Let's Play of the Wii adventure games and The Eternity Clock once we reach the Moffat era? πŸ˜‰


  13. Ununnilium
    August 8, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    The Lucasarts-esque adventure game is indeed right for Doctor Who – and the thing is, that genre is slowly making a comeback. (You can tell by the number of indie adventure games on Steam.)


  14. Ununnilium
    August 8, 2012 @ 10:10 am

    I'd definitely say not. Note there are pinball video games, and many of them are excellent, but they share the same relationship to actual pinball machines that Madden Slight Upgrade Over 2011 shares to actual football.


  15. jane
    August 8, 2012 @ 10:37 am

    There are also pinball tables that have video games as part of their play, but that in of itself doesn't make the pinball machine a video game. (A weird hybrid, imo.)


  16. Russell Gillenwater
    August 8, 2012 @ 12:30 pm

    While I would agree that pinball machines are a different genre from video games, I too loved the Doctor Who Pinball. I remember it being in the local watering hole near the university I attended. I had a lot of fun playing and it was amazing how many people had know idea what Doctor Who was, but were introduced to it through a pinball game, good times.


  17. Russell Gillenwater
    August 8, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

    I have always wanted to see a Star Wars Battlefront style game. I would just like to shoot Cybermen with Daleks.


  18. ferret
    August 8, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

    Baby PacMan was a great pinball/video game hybrid – it was foremost a PacMan video game, the half-size pinball area only activating when a door on the PacMan map opened up and you passed through. Once you lost your ball, it was back to the PacMan map to continue play. Great to my 9 year old self anyway.


  19. ferret
    August 8, 2012 @ 3:56 pm

    Josh: very interesting essays. I'm only part way through, but I have to thank you for introducing me to "Super Mario Bros. Overworld Theme for Steel Drum Trio"!


  20. Matthew Blanchette
    August 8, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

    Ugh, Lacan…


  21. Matthew Blanchette
    August 8, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

    Guess who else got to play Doctor Who pinball, last year, while they were in New York? πŸ˜‰



  22. Josh Marsfelder
    August 8, 2012 @ 5:42 pm


    You're very welcome-Glad you enjoyed it!

    @Matthew Blanchette

    It's rather a theme on my blogs, I'm afraid πŸ™‚


  23. Matthew Blanchette
    August 9, 2012 @ 8:10 am

    I see… πŸ˜›

    Of course, you do know how… controversial Lacan is, even within the philosophical community, right? πŸ˜‰


  24. Josh Marsfelder
    August 9, 2012 @ 10:37 am

    @Matthew Blanchette

    Absolutely. Well, I trained in a controversial department specializing in the controversial wing of a controversial field. I'm used to it by now! πŸ™‚


  25. Matthew Blanchette
    August 9, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

    Well… guess I can be fine with that. πŸ˜€

    By the way, is it just me, or does the top pic make anyone else think that that might be a "Caves of Androzani" video game? That'd be awesome, don't you think? πŸ˜‰


  26. Flynn
    August 9, 2012 @ 11:38 pm

    Well, I decided to look up the pinball game and found a virtual recreation of it…now I'm hooked to the dang thing.

    Thanks a lot. πŸ˜›


  27. encyclops
    August 10, 2012 @ 10:24 am

    I had the same reaction as Gnaeus. I think that for much of video game history, narrative has indeed been incidental as Philip describes, but in recent years there are more and more games in which narrative forms the main thrust of the game, with the interactive parts as incidental as narrative used to be. The best examples I've played recently often seem to irritate and disappoint a lot of hardcore gamers specifically because they're frustrated by feeling that they're just clicking through a movie.

    Those examples are L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain. They're both noir detective stories, one set in mid-20th-century L.A., the other maybe the mid-2000s.

    L.A. Noire is an "open world" to some extent in the GTA mold, but your cases take place in sequence, and while you can find clues and conduct interrogations according to your own priorities and choices, ultimately (as far as I know) there's only one correct solution to each and, more significantly, there's one overall story (with several different threads) that's revealed as you go along. Is the experience exactly like watching a movie or reading a book? Of course not, but neither is watching a movie like reading a book. There's definitely a story, and the occasional action sequence or failed interrogation don't derail it.

    Heavy Rain is even more narrative. There are several different endings per character, and the choices you make as you go along determine which ones you get, but the killer's identity is always the same, the order of scenes is fixed, and the factors you're changing are things like whether two characters end up together at the end or whether the killer escapes justice, and these factors change the overall story a lot less than you might imagine. It's more open-ended than a novel, but less so than a Choose Your Own Adventure book, and most importantly all of the actual gameplay is there to immerse you in the story.

    If the mechanics of either of these two games were applied to tell a Doctor Who story, it would work extremely well. There would certainly be less shooting, unless Steven Moffat wrote it, and there's no reason in the world it would be incapable of preserving the spirit of the show.


  28. Froborr
    October 5, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

    Sadly, the Pinball Museum in Washington DC has the Addams Family Star Trek: The Next Generation, but not Doctor Who. =(


  29. Nickdoctorwho
    November 28, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

    How about "Doctor Who: Return to Shada," in the manner of "Batman Arkham Asylum?"


  30. GarrettCRW
    December 27, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

    The Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas, however, has all three. πŸ˜€


  31. Alexander Rose
    March 4, 2024 @ 3:06 pm

    I think it’s worth noting here that Time Lords wasn’t actually just an invocation of the iconography, the gameplay was actually themed around Doctor Who and was an attempt to make a game that used the mechanics of time travel. It was a mess in the end, but they tried.


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