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Hi. I'm Alex Spencer, and I do writing.

Day to day, for the past four years, I've worked at Mobile Marketing Magazine, writing news stories, interviews and features and producing video reports, on everything from hardware launches to financial results.

The rest of the time, whether working freelance or writing for this blog, I cover games, comics, films, music, and just about every piece of pop culture that's put in front of me. I've written a lot of words, is what I'm saying. Here are some of the ones I'm most proud of.


THE MYSTERY IS WHAT KEEPS POKÉMON GO INTERESTING
“Everyone is gathered on the patio, cross-legged. A bottle in one hand, a smartphone in the other, they’re all talking Pokémon Go. Tales and theories and questions and wild rumours are being passed around: This morning, I actually saw a Gyrados in the wild. What's the point of beating a gym? I hear you catch more electric Pokémon if there's a power station nearby. 
These would-be Pokémon trainers are all here to celebrate a friend's twenty-seventh birthday, but I feel like I'm ten again. Were it not for the the bitter after-taste of good beer, we could be back on the playground, sharing misinformation gleamed from mags and message boards and older siblings, in those torturously long school hours in-between quality time with our Game Boys.”
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THE ISSUE: ‘GENERATION HOPE’ AND THE PAIN OF BEING DIFFERENT
“The big advantage of the mutant metaphor is that it creates a little distance from real-world events. While it’s unacceptable to force queer readers to comb through subtext for representation in comics, when you’re handling painful topics like this, it acts as a protective layer. It’s hard to imagine a way this story could be told without the metaphorical filter that wouldn’t feel disrespectful to the real victims.
“Better” keeps that layer as thin as possible, though, by rooting its presentation firmly and clearly in the real world. This is the magic of what McKelvie and Gillen do when they work together. They’re both great at finding small real-life touchpoints, whether a location or a pop song, that make everything around them feel credible.”
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POINT AND SHOOT: HIJACKING VIRTUAL SPACES WITH GAMES PHOTOGRAPHY
“I like working with limitations,” says Dooton. “There's an analogue to real photography there. When you start out, you can't always afford the best equipment, so you work with what you've got. If it's too dark, you have to figure out how to solve that, whether by getting a friend to hold up a torch or a light on their phone or waiting till someone runs through a spotlight to take the right shot at the right time. And sometimes that creates more interesting unique photos.”
It's the same story when you're pushing against the grain of a game's design. In games with a third-person camera, you have to work around their insistence on giving you a clear view of the character you're controlling – useful in combat, but distracting if you're trying to shoot a landscape. You'll likely spend as much time crouching round a corner or walking face-first into a wall as lining up shots.
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DAREDEVIL’S CORRIDOR FIGHT: A BREAKDOWN OF THE SMACKDOWN
Daredevil starts out moving like a superhero, quick and acrobatic, but the fight gets slower and slower as it grinds on. He leans on nearby walls for support, catches his breath while he waits for the next bad guy to rush him. It’s not a fighting style I’ve ever seen in an action movie. Cox fights with the moves of a backstreet brawler or, even more aptly, like he’s in the final round of a boxing match. 
The way Cox takes a punch expresses the character’s relationship with his dad better than any of the preceding flashbacks. We’ve seen Battlin’ Jack Murdock telling his son about a style of boxing he apparently borrowed from Homer Simpson. The idea that “knocked down, but never knocked out” is more of a philosophy than a sporting tactic for the Murdocks gets hammered home repeatedly in the dialogue, but this is the first time we actually get to see it.
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MAKING SENSE OF THE ENDLESS REFLECTIONS OF HER STORY
“My name is Hannah. H-A-N-N-A-H. It’s a palindrome. It reads the same backwards as forwards. It doesn’t work if you mirror it though, it’s not quite symmetrical.”
That’s how Her Story begins. At least, how it begins chronologically speaking. After saying yes to a coffee (black, no sugar), this is the second line spoken by Hannah in her interrogation. When you played, though, chances are this wasn’t the first, or even second, clip you watched. The game is constructed out of hundreds of clips like this, which can be viewed in any order depending on which search terms you pick.
It’s also the game’s first lie. Because this isn’t Hannah, after all, but her identical twin Eve. E-V-E, another palindrome. Between each of the seven interviews, the two women alternate in a neat symmetrical pattern: E-H-E-H-E-H-E.
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SCI-FI & FANTASY FOOTBALL: THE COOKIE CUP
From Bill & Ted to Batman & Superman, over 350 players have been built using FIFA 200's character creation tool, with stats that reflect how they would fare on the pitch. They’re drafted into teams, tactics and positions are set up, and each week’s results are decided by AI-controlled FIFA matches, then uploaded to YouTube.
Which is why, just over a week later, I’m hunched over my laptop alternately swearing and cheering. It’s the first game of the season and my club, the mighty Kickers With Attitude, are facing off against the Irken Invaders. Early cracks are showing in my midfield, setting up rival captain Superman for two goals, but thanks to the Kickers’ up-front trinity of Hawkeye, Black Widow and Buttercup from the Powerpuff Girls, we scrape a 3-2 win.
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GTA V: KEEPING THE PEACE IN LOS SANTOS
It quickly becomes obviously that GTA does not want you to eschew violence.
About three minutes into the opening mission, a bank heist gone wrong, you're forced to put a bullet in the head of a guard, before he does the same to your friend. After seconds of careful consideration, I tried shooting shooting him in the leg. MISSION FAILED. Retry, pull the trigger, and move onto the next setpiece, which drops a few dozen heavily-armed police between you and progress, and places a fully-automated machine gun into your hands. 
Clearly, a compromise would be necessary.
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FOUR THINGS VIDEO GAMES TAUGHT ME ABOUT DOG OWNERSHIP
Okay, so let's say you've managed to figure out what your dog wants. Having offered food, toys, that one corner of the garden that they seem to think of as their outdoor en suite, you finally realise, oh, they must be thirsty. Now all you have to do is reach the water bowl without them spotting, leaping into and eating their way back out of that gigantic pile of leaves. 
The thing is, dogs are almost entirely voice-controlled – and frankly, the speech recognition isn't great. This is something Nintendogs gets exactly right, relying on spoken commands to control your virtual dog. This still feels like strange magic, even a decade on, and it's exactly the same for the real-life variety. It's incredibly rewarding to see your pup sitting down just as you tell it to – even if you do quietly suspect that it may have been a coincidence. 
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London, United Kingdom
Videogames, film, music, comics: feed them into the Alex-Spencer machine and out come neat little articles. Like the ones you're looking at here.