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Robot Wars

by on October 25, 2012

As a child, I had a fascination with the television show Robot Wars, where Robots were designed to battle against each other in a ring.These Robots – designed by the competitors to go against the ‘house robots’ such as ‘Sir Killalot’, ‘Shunt’, ‘Sergeant Bash’ and the effeminately named ‘Matilda’ – had weapons varying from flame-throwers and spikes to circular saws and axes.
In this clip you can see how the robots are listed like prize fighters in video games or wrestlers with their strengths and features:
Watching it again (having got re-addicted to the show immediately after I started watching clips online) I realised that the robots themselves become like characters in a play – they have names, characteristics, and are commentated on as though they were alive, rather than being controlled by the engineers in booths. The ‘house robots’, especially, are only referred to by their names, with their creators and controllers never mentioned to make them seem as alive and dangerous (by being uncontrollable) as possible.

Sir Killalot as shown here:

has the appearance of a medieval knight in a suit of armour with a lance, helmet and claw but is on caterpillar tracks. Obviously this robot’s appearance has been chosen to illicit fear from it’s opponents by making it look almost human with its helmet and red eyes shining through.

All in all, the idea of robots fighting as performance is an interesting one as humans find it difficult to empathise with them, especially as these robots do not appear at all humanoid (save the odd badly drawn smiley face on the shell). Because of this lack of empathy, people do not feel any guilt in cheering for destruction and annihilation of the robots they see competing, despite the hard work of the engineers controlling and creating them.


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