Mortal Kombat
Image: Midway / Warner Bros.

Back in October 1993, the BBC's 'Late Show' tackled the thorny issue of Mortal Kombat, the one-on-one fighting sensation that was sweeping the globe at that point.

With the assistance of acclaimed author, journalist, political commentator and broadcaster Will Self and product designer Richard Seymour, host Tracey MacLeod attempted to understand the popularity of the famous brawler.

Self, who has penned 11 novels, five collections of short fiction, three novellas and five collections of non-fiction writing during his career, was rather underwhelmed by the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis version of the game:

It's got very poor levels of what you call 'suspension of disbelief' – it's very hard to think your way into it. It may provide an adrenaline rush for people who like punching buttons very quickly, but I think it's no more sophisticated than the game of ping pong, it seems to me.

However, it's worth noting that Self was very optimistic about the chances of video gaming becoming a real narrative force – something you could argue has happened in modern times, thanks to seminal titles like Half Life, God of War, The Last of Us and others:

What we're talking about now is whether this has any role as a narrative entertainment medium comparable to a film or a novel, and I think it will when we have full motion video, when we have full photo realism throughout the sequence, then the element of interactivity and machine intelligence will give us a de facto new kind of narrative entertainment medium.

He added that, as a writer, he was excited about what the future of video games could hold:

I think it'll be a great medium, a very exciting medium to work in... and I think that, like any good medium, it will point out extreme moral dilemmas for the artist... it's very like Ray Bradbury's idea in Fahrenheit 451 of the continuous soap opera in which you're delivered a part every day, and people on the screen turn to you and say, 'well what do you think Tracy?' [and] you have your line ready, and we're going to be able to do things like that that allow people to participate in these experiences. It will enable you to do things that may make narratives more interesting, but I don't think it'll ever rob the desire for the viewer or the reader to actually let go and just simply identify with whoever it is in the awful torture sequences.