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MovieBob Explains Clarissa Explains It All

Bob Chipman | 9 Jun 2014 12:00
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HD: Clarissa Explains It All

A 90s sitcom starring a female gamer? Sounds like a myth.

E3 is this week, and since The Escapist is predominantly a video game site it means we're all working just a little harder. For example, I had to work exactly hard enough to figure out how to get an E3 reference into the first sentence of a TV column - and then I failed at that, and opted for my old standby of just being glib and "meta" about it. E3. E. 3. Letter E. Number 3. E3.

Heh. Y'know, I just now noticed that a capitol "E" and a "3" are shaped similarly enough that it sort of looks like "E" is a an uptight/straight-laced alphanumeric hanging out with its wild n' crazy twin sibling. "He's an E. He's a 3. E3: They're detectives!" E3.

...this is how you do "SEO," right? I'm exactly old enough for my journalism schooling to have not included that.


A big thing that's different about E3 today from when it debuted in 1995 (previously, what passed for "big video game news" would break with all the other gizmos at CES) is that I'll probably hear about it from news outlets other than gaming sites. Depending on the size/scope of whatever is to be announced, the E3 "event" will be covered by mainstream news outlets; and while I know we'll all have a laugh at the mangling of titles and names by anchorpersons or whatever shtick Jimmy Fallon or Conan O'Brien opt to wring out of the proceedings... I imagine some of my younger readers don't really know how recent a development that is.

In the 80s and 90s, despite the massive popularity of gaming, particularly among the youth culture, they had very little actual presence in the popular culture. The 70s/80s arcade craze yielded a few movies on the subject (some really good, others decidedly not) but in general you didn't hear much about them - especially in media aimed at the very kids for whom gaming was increasingly the defining new pastime of their generation.

Remember: This was a world before the Internet, so when it came to trends even slightly outside the purview of the mass-media if you weren't already "in" on something you probably didn't know about it. So children, as depicted on television, mostly acted like they might have when the middle-aged adults writing the shows were kids themselves. The fictional children of my own youth still played "Cowboys & Indians," a trope my generation was already evolving out of. "Edgy" Bart Simpson carried a slingshot and hero-worshipped a local TV kiddie show host. The Muppet Babies doing a Star Wars parody might well have been the first time it even occurred to me that you could even do jokes about contemporary popular culture.

So, even though kids all over America were choosing up sides over Sega and Nintendo in the early 90s, their supposed fictitious peers on TV mostly lived in a world without either of them (unless the show was about games, of course). And if games ever did figure, it usually wasn't positive - after all, gaming made a convenient boogeyman for letting TV do "go outside and exercise!" lessons without running down their own product. Even TV's "nerds," who wielded their mysterious Home Computers like dark magic, didn't tend to use them for games. Video games weren't a hobby or a plaything, they were an addiction of losers and social pariahs. (And remember: 4Chan, /v/, Reddit and NeoGaf didn't exist yet; so it's not as though this stereotype was based on widely-
observable behavior.)

And then there was Clarissa Darling.

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