Top 10 – Alternative Worlds

It’s hard enough to design one world, but a game that depends on many can be a hell of a thing to pull together.

Welcome to our list of games that span multiple plains of existence, and use them to great effect. Tim, Joel, and special guest writer Dave picked apart our myriad options and narrowed it down to the ten we thought were best. We’ve focussed on games that use several, original worlds and use them to great effect as part of narrative or gameplay.

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WWE – Marks and Smarks

In 2011, CM Punk shocked the world when he beat John Cena for the WWE Championship in CM Punks home town of Cicago, Illinois. In the build up to this, CM Punk was able to sit down at the top of the ramp and he aired his grievances to the world. This was a major turn in the WWE and indeed perhaps the whole of professional wrestling.

Phil Brooks (CM Punk) was well known for being outspoken, as well as being a damn great athlete. Like him or not, you had to respect him. He said a few things during his aired grievance that really shook the WWE. He said some harsh words about Vincent McMahon, the chairman of the board. He said how things might be better when—Well; I’ll let you decide if you want to watch the “pipe bomb” that Phil left.

So what does all this have to do with geekdom or geek culture?

There are two sides to every coin, here’s one of my “less geeky” passions which has a surprisingly geeky undertone.

The Mark

To begin with, when I first saw some WWE programming, I thought there was something rather real going on. Even though I didn’t start watching the show until 2011, there was still an air of realism. It’s not until I started to watch it properly did I figure the scripted nature of the show.

That and the lack of really serious injuries, this is. They do exist, of course: Concussions, broken bones, separations, torn muscle – You name it, these athletes get put through a ton of pain and it shows very visibly on their faces from time to time.

Dolph Ziggler selling a very nasty looking spear, for entertainment!

But, whilst I was a “Mark” to the WWE, everything felt magically immersive. You egged on the good guys and you jeered at the bad guys. You didn’t want the bad guys to win. Not until the really fun and creative bad guys appeared over the past few years, but I digress.

Would you "bolieve" that this guy is a bad guy?
Would you “bolieve” that this guy is a bad guy?

After everything became clear to me that this was just a show, I decided to take to forums and read about these men and women who put their bodies on the line day in and day out.

The Smark

Jump forward a few years and lo and behold, I became a “Smark”. I know of the lingo they use backstage, I know of the “bumps”, the “spots”, the “faces” and the “heels”. I know about referees signalling a wrestler to stop by putting their arms in an “X” shape which signifies a real injury has occurred.

Does it make me a better “viewer” for the WWE? Definitely not!

I sometimes wish I didn’t know as much as I did about the bookings of matches and the likes, but at the same time, there’s now this other end of the field. The “guessing game” as it were; the “will they put over a new guy and make a new star?” It happens, occasionally. We recently saw a trio of amazing athletes called The Shield. In 2012, they arrived and they were conquering everyone. 2013 – Still conquering! 2014 – They finally go their separate ways… And all three of them have turned into breakout stars.

Sure, it's corny - But these guys had a different presence to plenty of others in the ring!
Sure, it’s a corny looking picture – But these guys had a different presence to just about everyone else in the ring!

Smarks are known for hanging around online, they are called the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community). Now, whilst it’s somewhat dangerous to say that all “smarks” are part of the IWC, a good number are. I’d argue that I’m not really, although I have been known to browse forums and browse websites that cater to the smarks. This is simply because I like knowing these little tidbits of information.

I like to hear the backstage stories, such as “x has just been resigned with the WWE”, as then when you miss just one of these stories – It makes that return/debut of a wrestler oh so much more exciting! As well as this, it’s important to note that the WWE isn’t where professional wrestling “finishes”. A lot of Marks will be stuck with just the WWE as their source of pro wrestling entertainment. Smarks will know of the other promotions; Chikara, TNA Impact, Ring of Honour, you name it. This isn’t to say a Mark can’t watch those promotions either; but for the most part, once someone has picked a promotion, they’ll stick to it.

The promotions all fall in the same category of entertainment. They tell stories in the ring between characters… And few tell it as well as the match below. Whether you think wrestling is stupid or fun, the match below is one that will have people talking for a long time. It’s why I’m a bit of a smark, who yearns to be a mark. I watch the big matches on Pay Per View (Until the WWE Network finally comes to England) and during them, I like to shut all knowledge of other sites away. During the weekly television programming, I enjoy the geeky side. I enjoy reading the dirt sheets, I enjoy the interviews and the social media that WWE utilises so well. But during the Pay Per Views: It’s still real to me, damn it.

Ring Collapse

So, to conclude, a Mark is a term coined by the industry – Someone who believes the product is real, someone to keep enamoured with the product in whatever means necessary. This is by using language that the Marks might not know about: Face (Good guy), Heel (Bad guy), Mark (Someone who just watches the product), Smark (Someone who watches the product and has some knowledge of what happens behind the scenes).

A Smark, conversely, is someone that watches professional wrestling because they love it. They love it in a different way; they enjoy to watch the show and they enjoy to get to know the wrestlers, their pasts, their ideas and more. They will follow things and will connect the dots. They get so deeply into the product, they’re generally engrossed in it… But they will often retort about anything they didn’t find one hundred percent pleasing.

If you believe everything in pro wrestling, I envy you. If you believe that someone is able to get up after being planted on their head with moves like a “Brainbustaaaah”, I envy you. I want to believe that but I can’t. Instead – I enjoy the show for what it is. Damn entertaining with some relatively good (albeit simple) stories.

What do you think of pro wrestling in general? Is there a certain geekiness you’ve recognised about it or has this article opened up some of its geekier aspects to you? As always, leave us a comment and hey, if enough of you enjoy these articles, I might do the occasional opinion piece on what I’d like to see for story lines! I might also open up into different aspects of Pro Wrestling, such as what a luchador is (and indeed Hawlucha would make an appearance for that special), as well as perhaps looking into Greco Roman and the origins of wrestling. There’s such a splendour of stuff with pro wrestling and wrestling in general, I could write about it for weeks on end. But most importantly: Let’s focus on the geeky aspects of pro wrestling.

YouTube channel – #mashed

On YouTube, there are several kinds of channels. You have some channels which are dedicated to music, some channels are comedy channels, some are educational.

There are also channels which show off some of the unique content on YouTube, by working with some bigger names. The big names help to pull in the crowds and then let the newer content creators get exposure.

Finally, it’s time to see who is the ultimate Soap Fighter! My money is on either Peggy or Phil.

#mashed is one of these channels. It’s quite a brilliant idea to share the content from well known YouTubers as well as new YouTubers alike, #mashed look to bring unique comedy videos to share with everyone from one easy to access channel. I found out about #mashed and decided to speak to the creators of the channel who were kind enough to share their blurb with us and some videos they thought would be good to share!

#mashed combines forces with awesome YouTube talent to create 100% exclusive & original comedy videos about the things our audience loves to read, watch and play online. We work with big established talent like Dan Bull, OliverAge24, Toonocracy & Mr Weebl, as well as exciting new talent like Kr3id, Iamprickle & Ross Butter. Often, they collaborate together (for example Dan Bull & Ross Butter on 40 years of gaming, or OliverAge24 & Kr3id on Rave on the ISS. 

We’ve also had contributions from other talented animators and writers – one of the producers on 2013:mashed (C4) was Paul Cope (co-everythinger of award winning series Future Duck) and theanimator on the show was another award winning and hugely talented individual, Lee Daniels, who also designed the channels new branding. Day to day running of the channel is handled by Tom Jenkins (channel manager) & Christel Dee (Channel Assistant). #mashed has also just been nominated for Broadcast Digital’s “Best Original Web Channel” award.

We’re always looking for exciting new talent and people to come check out our videos – so please come and say hello!”

I’ve been a fan of MrWeebls works for quite some time, so to know they’ve gotten him involved with this awesome channel is quite exciting.

MrWeebl strikes again with another catchy tune and awesome quality video!

Please do go ahead and check #mashed out as they’re lovely people who are looking to share some awesome content with all of us. I can’t wait to see more and wish them the very best of luck!

What did you think of the offerings #mashed brings to the table? With unique content including stuff from well known YouTubers, I am confident they will continue expanding in the right direction.