Brexit Needs Better Graphics

By Rich Stanton on at

One is an icon, the epitome of chirpy cool, swallowing down the day's bitter pills and confronting our nation's ghouls. But that's enough about Newsnight presenter Evan Davis. Let's talk about how the BBC butchered Pac-Man in the background during last night's Brexit-focused episode.

Newsnight always has various graphics showing up behind the presenters, but a videogame theme is a new one on me. This is in a sense heartening: we're so much part of the culture now that even Very Serious Grown-Ups, debating our country's troubled future, feel comfortable with casual references. Problem is, the visualisation is also more than a bit crap – though I do have a conspiracy theory as to why.

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So let's go over what's wrong, quite apart from the bargain-basement visual design. First of all, how did Pac-Man (Union Jack-Man?) get to where he is without eating any of the pills around him? Impossible. The pills aren't aligned properly – in fact the whole maze is badly-aligned.

There are no power pills. There are too many ghosts in every image (Pac-Man has four). The ghost's eyes are all looking in the same direction, presumably to exit stage right.

All-in-all it's a pretty poor job, all the more disappointing as it comes from the crack Newsnight team behind one of the best shows in Britain. Which makes you think. The people behind this aren't dummies, so is it all deliberate?

Here's a critical interpretation of Newsnight's Pac-Man. This solitary individual has no memory of how he achieved this current position. He's surrounded by cash but feels under threat by a growing army of Euro-themed ghosts, who seem to move and look in uniform fashion.

Under traditional Pac-Man rules there might be a chance to turn the tables – but in the absence of power pills, Union Jack-Man is powerless. He can do nothing, but must eventually capitulate to his pursuers.

All of which got me thinking. Brexit's a bit of a bore, isn't it? Crazy Theresa bawling out the EU every chance she gets, that twerp Boris smugging around, and the opposition just too clueless to stop them. It's enough to make even the most lionhearted a little gloomy.

We're entitled to better, and not just from Newsnight. Brexit needs better graphics as a whole, and there's nowhere better to start than the politicians, these robotic AIs with low-resolution face textures. Thanks to FaceApp, here's a glimpse of the virtual world we could be living in.

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Brrrr! It turns out that Theresa May's face is anything but strong and stable: FaceApp couldn't even detect that she had a face in my first choice of photo. So I settled for this one which, unlike Ms May herself, is only mildly nightmare-inducing and doesn't actually feast on the blood of the poor.

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Captain Birdseye actually comes out of this better than he went in. I doubt we'll be saying the same after the general election.

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"Contrary to reports I do not believe that the Ice Climbers' relationship is a sin, and I've no comment on Birdo."

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Look, even the 'baddies' can be perky! Current bete noir of the rightwing press, Jean Claude Juncker could probably use some cheering up – after all, he's the guy that has to deal with us.

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Ah, the real villain of the hour, the toad-faced Farage. He looks rather like Tim Nice But Dim here, though 'nice' is perhaps rather a stretch. It's a place in France though so he probably hates it, swings and roundabouts.

It would, of course, be nice to live in a world where everyone smiled, where Pac-Man graphics were accurate, and where Britain wasn't leaving the EU. Alas and alack to the beautiful dream – game over man, game over.