If you were like me then the 90’s was a hard time to find gaming news, features or reviews. Unless you had the funds to hoover every single magazine, there was Gamesmaster of course. But then you relied on word of mouth or the daily Teletex channel Digitiser! Yes, I still have those blocky images firmly burnt into my subconscious. Many will already know, but some may be surprised, that Mr. Biffo is still about. He desecrated Teletex for ages but now uses modern tech, like YouTube, to spout his gaming thoughts.
Digitiser has been running as a YouTube show for some time but Mr. Biffo successfully crowdfunded a whole series of high quality shows a few years back. The aim being to bring back his humour and characters that adorned the original text and pixel images of those glorious Teletex days. Now he is back for series two and I wanted to find out why folks should get behind him…and back his new show. The Kickstarter has reached its initial goal but there is still a few days to contribute.
Hello Mr. Biffo! For anyone who lived in the dark all their lives can you tell us a bit about yourself and what you are peddling today?
Hello backatcha! Most people know me as the person that did Digitiser on Channel 4 Teletext, decades ago. It was a daily games magazine – arguably, the world’s first – and because we couldn’t have screenshots, we filled it with loads of weird humour. Almost twenty years on from it finishing, we made an anarchic retro gaming YouTube series inspired by Digi and its characters, and now we’re begging people to support a second series of that… which we’re calling Digi Level 2.
The first series was released over two years ago, what made you want to go again?
Completely honestly, Covid hit my day job hard. I write kids TV, and the television industry pretty much shut down entirely last year. It has picked up a bit this year, but it’s a way off being back to normal. So, I need work, frankly. Also, there were elements of the original series that I felt could’ve been done better, so it’s like there’s some unfinished business there for me.
Why should folk get behind the project, will it not be on YouTube?
Yes, it’ll be on YouTube, but there’s a ton of rewards you can pick up. DVDs, pin badges, the chance to be in the show… plus various virtual rewards if you don’t want stuff cluttering up your house. Really, though, I think the biggest incentive is to support proper indie creativity. So much of what we are given to watch, or play, or listen to, is driven by money, or by those with a need to be famous, or whatever. Projects like Digitiser very much come from the heart, and for the joy of creating. Nothing more. It’s authentic, honest, and real. By backing it, you get to be part of the journey, as we’ll keep you updated every step of the way.
It is 30 years since the glory days of you waffling about games on Teletex, how does it feel knowing folks are still following your work?
It’s nice! I mean, my audience is way, way smaller than it used to be in the Teletext days. I do feel a bit out of step with the rest of YouTube, but I was always kind of on the fringes of the games industry anyway. What always surprises me is how, given that Digitiser is a relatively tiny channel, how many big creators want to be involved with it; Ashens, Larry Bundy Jr, Nostalgia Nerd et al.
Are there plans to celebrate the anniversary in the new show?
Digitiser The Show Series 1 went out on Sunday nights. Digitiser launched on January 1st 1993. January 1st 2023 is a Sunday. It feels like serendipity. So, yes… I’m hoping the first episode will go out on that date, for the synchronicity. As to whether there’ll be anything specifically anniversary-related… it’s too early to say. Though the whole show will be a celebration of old games, as only Digitiser can do it.
Who can we look forward to gawping at in the new series? Any new faces?
Again, too early to say. We’re hoping that Ashens will be a regular this time around. Though he popped up in most eps last time, we’ve got a very specific role for him in the next series. We’re also hoping that our old friend Violet Berlin will be a part of it. She was meant to be involved last time, but couldn’t make the filming dates. We’ve asked a bunch of retro gaming chums if they’ll be involved, but we kind of want to cast our net a bit wider this time. Watch this space.
How many times will you emasculate Paul in the new series?
I have a feeling he’s going to give as good as he gets next time. We’re sharing the hosting duties between just the two of us on Level 2, so I suspect it’ll be a more even spread of mutual emasculation.
The Kickstarter has been smashed, how does it feel that so many people are willing to throw money at you?
Honestly overwhelmed. Every time I think about it I get a bit emotional, so at the minute I’m trying not to think about it. The gratitude I feel is genuinely difficult to express. I don’t want it to come across as insincere, or like I take any of it for granted, so I want to make sure I choose the right words. It’s incredible, and humbling.
When can folks expect to see the series finished?
See above! But we’ll no doubt start teasing it in the run-up to Christmas next year. Backers will get loads of behind-the-scenes stuff between now and then. Like… loads.
If you had one minute to convince a stranger on the street to back your project, what would you do?
I’d show them a minute of Sniff Sonic’s Rings from the first series.
Tell us your best dad joke.
I have a ladder at home. It’s not my real ladder. It’s my stepladder.
Thanks to Mr. Biffo for chatting to me.