At the start of this year, dizzy from gorging end-of-year ‘best of’ lists and trying frantically to remember everything I saw/read/played throughout the year, I decided to keep a calendar list of every book I finish, every film I watch and every game I complete throughout 2018. I wanted to get a wider picture of my consumption habits. How’s my gender balance? Am I reading a good variety of stories and styles? Am I watching enough non-English language films? How many video games can do I actually finish in a year?
So, this being pretty much the half-way point, I’ve done some HaLf WaY dAtA cRuNcHiNg! If you’re into this sort of thing, here’s a glimpse into the cultural consumption habits of a 31/32 year old arty, male British white middle-class student writer-type fellow of this bizarrely hot and complicated year we are calling 2018…….!
We’ll start easy. I’m only counting games that I complete, rather than ones I start and only play a bit of. Sadly, this has meant that I’ve not been able to include one of my most played games of the year (and ever), the sublime Overwatch because it’s not really a completion kind of game. I did reach level 100, and I am a certified Overwatch addict (current main = Pharah, with leanings towards Reaper), but I can’t really count it as a completed title. Ditto Mario Kart 8 which has been another frequent pick-up and play title with friends, but I've not aimed to 'complete' it as such. So, dismissing those two, here are the games I completed in order of their finishing:
Bound (Plastic Studios) / PS4
Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo) / Switch
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment (Yacht Club Games) / PS4
Kentucky Route Zero: Episode III (Cardboard Computer) / PC
Subsurface Circular (Bithell Games) / Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo) / Switch
Those games again but ranked in order of my personal opinion and preference:
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (although it falls short of others in the series due to a weak plot and a disappointingly easy final boss battle. It’s still an amazing game, though.)
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
Kentucky Route Zero: Episode III
Super Mario Odyssey
Not much to say except that the Switch is proving a brilliant little console for discovering indie games, which is not the way that Nintendo have been playing things up until now, so it’s very nice to see. I’m currently enjoying the sublime little touch-screen action game Severed on the Switch, flicking between that and Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle which is also a lot of fun. Hey, games are fun y’all.
Film watching this year so far has been dominated by a hefty stint of cinema trips through January and February to see the Oscar nominated films (I reviewed them all for The Manchester Review), alongside a clutch of movies that relate to my studies. These latter include plenty of Blade Runner iterations and various assorted films about either cyborgian identity (I know right), or autism. For more on all this jazz, see this link. I have watched, in total, 56 films so far this year, and here is the list, in order of watching. The italics denote new films that I saw at the cinema (with the exception of Annihilation which wasn’t released at the cinema but straight onto Netflix, for some genius reason that still eludes me):
And here are some Pie Charts! First off, male/female directors:
At the cinema/not at the cinema (accounting for Annihilation in the latter category):
Lastly, nationality of production. This is somewhat harder to determine sometimes as some films are often cross productions between various different national funders and production companies, but I’ve been as accurate as possible:
What can I take from this? My film habits are still dominated by them pesky Americans, although that’s nearly a quarter taken up by non-American, non-British films, which is a reasonable stab. Could do better, of course. My female director quota needs desperately addressing – but then, so does the film industry’s as a whole. Still, this is a weak excuse for the consumer who, despite everything, is still able to choose the films they watch. More of a concerted effort needed here too then.
I also want to increase my cinema trips as its something that gives me most pleasure in life and it would make me sad to see Netflix et al shoot down the cinemas with their relentless streaming laser eyes. I’ve already lamented the loss of big-screen Annihilation and so I need to keep heading to those cinema seats, keep doing my part to making that a legitimate option for distributors.
My top five of these films? Well, one has to account for the fact that Blade Runner is pretty much my favourite film so nothing shakes that from the top spot, but what would I chose for other four? Here we go:
Call Me by Your Name
Harold and Maude
And top five new films:
Call Me by Your Name
Lek and the Dogs
Again, I’m only counting books that I’ve managed to finish reading – not those started and abandoned half way through (which doesn’t tend to be many for me anyway, I’m a completist not a dipper). A few caveats here; I’m counting academic books that I’ve read for my studies because, hell, its all knowledge. For ‘book’ I’m counting magazine issues, graphic novels (including single-issue comics like Ruins by Warren Ellis), plays, and tiny quick reads like The Black Ball by Ralph Ellison from the little green Penguin Modern series. Basically, anything with a front and back cover that can be said to be ‘literature’ of some form. So, if my total so far seems kind of big at 48, its mostly because of these little mini quick reads. The stats break down further in the pie charts. Here are those titles:
And the charts. Interesting stuff here. Author Gender (the ‘Mixed’ category denotes magazines and collections with male and female contributors):
Author Nationality (I’ve decided to identify African American in its own category, for my own interest):
Book type (some were hard to categorise – for example the Penguin Great Ideas Shakespeare book On Power which is a bringing together of various speeches from the plays to reflect on ‘Power’ - I went for ‘Play’):
I thought I was doing well in reading more female-authored books, but clearly not. I am painfully aware that my bookshelves are a hulking, sweating sausage party, but there are plenty of female-authored books up on there which I haven’t even touched yet. This is something I can definitely make a considerable change on. Perhaps its time to start a strict ‘every other book at least’ rule. Or something more drastic – for every male read, three female reads. How about it?
Nice to see that I’m varying my consumption up with a healthy spread of different mediums. I could always ingest more play-texts and poetry, and I’ve got plenty lined up. A generous donation from a friend of a stack-load of interesting Graphic Novels will keep that pie slice growing throughout the year. I’m going to keep up this spicy variety of reading life for sure.
Interesting to note that over half of my reading is British authors, but I could do with stepping away from the English language world a little more. Time for some more translation, some more stories from across the seas.
And my top five of this bunch:
Lincoln in the Bardo (easily up there in my top 10 of all time, I was floored by it)
The Stone Book Quartet
The Naming of Adult Autism (proper excellent academic text about autism, society and culture which is going to be precious to me in the coming years)
The Shadow Booth: Vol 1 (I must admit to a touch of favouritism here – my story Betamorphosis is within the pages. But it’s a wonderful read despite my inclusion and a something I’m very proud to have been part of)
So, I’ll do a another of these at the end of the year to see if I’ve managed to make any significant changes. I think I can address some of the imbalances here to pull myself somewhat away from the habitat of the privileged white male. And can I make it 100 films, 100 books and, I don’t know, 12 games? Tune in on December 31st to find out!!!!!!!! Pie charts!!!!