Monthly Archives: October 2010

Shameful piles

NOTE: After writing this, tagging it, coming up with a hilarious title and proving once again I am the greatest in the world at Photoshopping, I was all geared up to post this. Then I realised I’ve done this subject before, way back in January. As such, I can only offer my apologies, as I’m not writing another one today. It’s different enough, even if both titles are the same (i.e. ‘hilarious’).

There is a cyclical realisation that sets in with any real gamer out there. After a certain amount of time – be it weeks, months or years – you will start to notice that that game you were “going to go back and finish” the other week have actually turned into dust-covered relics of a gaming past you hardly remember. The couple of weeks off a game turn into months, which can sometimes turn into years – unless you die. Or sell it.

Yet at no point do most of us stop actually buying new games. With the increasing prevalence of digital distribution and the dangers it poses (the cheap, cheap, delicious dangers…) this problem has become even worse in recent years. You buy more than you can reasonably consume, and then you feel like you’ve let yourself down, or wasted money, if you rarely play and don’t finish the games you buy.

So I’m going to propose a new tack – a new way of going about things. I will quit my job so I can dedicate my life to working through the 170+ games I have lying around my flat and on my computer (they’re mainly on my computer, in undownloaded Steam form). I will give up the life of earning money and instead replace it with one of earning fleeting satisfaction for finally getting around to clocking Planescape Torment, for putting the requisite hours into Company Of Heroes and for finally bothering to give Metro 2033 a shot. Except I don’t own that last one, so I really should go and buy it now… oh wait.

I mean, I propose all of this – all of these radical changes which will bring about a better state of mind and karmic balance to the universe. I say all of this, but I know what will happen: I’ll make a concerted effort to complete two or three games, and once I’ve done that I’ll forget why I ever worried in the first place. Then the whole sorry cycle will begin again. Oh, and I won’t quit my job.

I tell you – I have to deal with some pretty serious things in my life. You’re lucky you all have it so easy.


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The end of the World… of Warcraft.

I have recently lost someone in my life to the blight that is World Of Warcraft. I have had a chequered history with this game and now, once again, it has raised its ugly head, got all up in my grill and insulted me to my fat face.

I have never played WOW – which for some reason is hard for people to believe. For one, I don’t like the thought of paying a monthly subscription for a game. As for two, well – I know damn well I’d be hopelessly addicted within a day, so I don’t want to risk it. I have Football Manager. It’s my methadone.

But I’ve known many people in my life who played WOW, and who still do. My time in CEX was littered with stories about The Horde and guilds and other shit like that, as 90 per cent of people who worked there played religiously. I didn’t give in to temptation. I made a stand. I held my nerve and managed to stay strong.

And now, many years later, Darling Sweetheart Girlfriend has taken up the Warcrack habit. I fear I have lost her forever. I attempt to start a conversation – an interesting one, naturally – and her response arrives with 12.4% less enthusiasm than it did the other day (pre-WOW). I may have to start punching to get the attention I deserve.

I mean, honestly – who gets addicted to video games? They’re for kids and nerds, right? Only losers play them, etc, etc. Ho ho, the bitter ironing.

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Sandwiches, or something.

What’s the greatest sandwich you’ve ever had? Is it ham? Beef? Cheese? A combination of other things all put together into one pile of nonsense? It could be, I don’t know. Maybe your favourite sandwich involves hammers and beans. That would make you a bit squiffy, truth be told, but at least if you admitted to it there wouldn’t be much weirder you could go.

But maybe your favourite idea of a sandwich is one with pastrami, mustard, cheese and something else you love. Maybe it’s a case of the best things that could possibly go in a sandwich combined with the best things you never thought could go in a sandwich (but could). Maybe it’s just that damn good.

Basically I want you to picture, or taste that ‘wich. I want you to imagine you’re feeling its flavour all over your mindtank. Then I want you to think of bread and butter.

Bread and butter is clearly the best thing ever made, even if you have olive spread instead of butter like some loser might (hello!). It tastes of very little, it’s of no nutritional value beyond being bread and making you eat it and… well, it doesn’t do much for the street cred of “the kids”. So there’s clearly no viable point in bread and butter.

Fuck viable though, I love it.

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Sneakers. For sneaking.

You wake up, it’s early, there’s someone in your house you don’t want to wake up – be it the beast/person in your bed, a parent, housemate or whatever else could possibly be in your house (that you don’t want to wake up). Obviously you’re supposed to be quiet at this point. It is, after all, early – or maybe it’s not early, and it’s just they’re working nights, or they’re lazy and you fear their temper, or you’re trying to sneak out because they smell of burnt cheese.

Anyway, you have a reason to want to keep quiet. That’s what I’m saying here. You have woken up and you don’t want them to also be woken up. Simple. Yes? With me? Right.

Every time I try and do this my body seems to make it my mission to do the exact opposite of what I intend. Years ago when my dad would be sleeping and I’d have to sneak around to not wake him up my brain would (probably intentionally) forget which were and weren’t the creaky floorboards, and make me step on the ones that made the loudest noise. He didn’t wake up, mind, as a herd of nuclear-explosion-farting wildebeest charging through his room with air horns erupting from their nostrils wouldn’t wake that man when his head touches pillow.

I awoke the other morning in order to go to work, where my job is, where I get paid a bit of money for a very silly reason (I was playing a Star Wars game all day today). Darling Sweet Girlfriend was still snoozing in my bed, so I knew I had to make it my mission to tread quietly and carefully, as well as to avoid any obstacles. One step later I had fallen over the giant beanbag in my room and clattered onto my weak, painful ankle, whereby I remarked to the world around me that this had caused me pain (i.e. “OW”). It was something that has never happened to me before, yet when I’m trying to be quiet it does. Fortunately not even a mallet to the noggin could wake Darling Sweetheart Girlfriend when she is doing a sleep. I know. I’ve tried.

I will have to attend some kind of ninja school in order to get my quietness seen to. After all, I’m very good at sneaking by accident, but when I try and do it where it matters I always end up falling, creaking, clattering or hearing my knees click really loud.

That is all.

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I have a headache, so posting a complaint email I sent to Topshop’s customer service department a couple of hours ago will have to suffice for today’s entry. They are useless whelks and I hope they burn. No individuals, just the whole concept of Topshop.


I have just received the email quoted below. Seeing as it provides no reason whatsoever, I would like to know why this order has been cancelled. This is the fifth time this has happened now – four for my girlfriend, who has been trying in vain to make an order and now, as far as I can tell for no reason whatsoever, an order for the same item made with completely different details – i.e. mine – has been cancelled too.

What on earth is going on? I have money in my account, the billing and shipping addresses are present and correct, the card details were in order – I’m even on the electoral register, so it can’t be ‘proof of address’ nonsense I’ve encountered before. What is the problem? Why is this happening? Why are Topshop seemingly committed to not taking my girlfriend’s money?

Of course this does mean neither I or my other half will be using your site again to make any orders, such is the monumental stupidity of a system that bans legitimate buyers from making purchases. So please – no offers to placate or sort the order out. The issue has been raised many times before and it has never been sorted out thanks to some phenomenally poor customer service, so we’re beyond that. Your competitors win this round, because they’ll be the ones getting her cash.

I just want to know what in the blue hell is causing our orders to be cancelled? An allergy to Bournemouth, perhaps? Jealousy that the coat might look too good on my girlfriend? Maybe we’re considered too low-brow to be allowed to spend our money at the Mecca of classy clothing that is ‘Top’ ‘Shop’? Any answer is better than “YOUR ORDER HAS BEEN CANCELLED, CALL THIS PREMIUM-RATE PHONE NUMBER TO FIND OUT WHY”.

I await your response on the edge of my seat. No, literally – I’m perched here. My clammy buttocks are clinging on for dear life. I hope you respond before they run out of energy and I plummet to the office floor. Really, I do. Otherwise I’ll have another thing to be royally peeved about, and I’ll blame that on Topshop too.

Ian Dransfield

I haven’t heard back from them yet. Bastards.


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How to fix my ankle FOREVER

My ankle’s been hurting a bit more recently thanks to the cold weather. Seeing as it will never heal, it got me thinking about cybernetic implants. Obviously. I could have my ankle replaced with a newer, better, stronger, faster, more muscular ankle (with lasers). But why stop there?

I could have laser guided knees to replace my old-fashioned, quite shit knees. I could tear out my ribs and have them replaced with cyber-ribs – cyber-ribs which also double as a genuine xylophone. I could finally live out my childhood Kano fantasies and have half of my face replaced with metal and a red eye (that shoots lasers, of course). Ah, headbutting people.

I could get my brain replaced with a metal one – more useful for not much, of course, but it would probably make me more intelligent than I am. Because… metal. Or something. Arms: replaced with laser-firing hooks. Laser-firing hooks: replaced with laser-firing hands. The possibilities truly are endless, especially as I’m making it all up in my (non-metallic) brain.

Actually, I’d probably settle for less cutting edge technology to replace my ailing ankle. Of course I am referring to a peg-leg. It’s clearly one of the coolest replacement limbs ever, even if it doesn’t come with any lasers.

Obviously this all leads to Deus Ex-style moral and ethical implications and decisions to take into consideration. And these are the kind of considerations I can’t make when I have a headache and there’s rum to get drink… ed.

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Overly-complex = bad?

I had a bit of a dilemma today, related – as the most important things are – to putting a number on the end of some words. It got me thinking*- what is a reasonable excuse with which to mark down a game? Obviously there are reasons like “it’s shit”, or “it’s broken and shit”, or “I had a headache when I was playing it, hence it was shit”.

But then there are other, less black and white reasons. The one I encountered today being that the game was rather complex. I’m not averse to complexity. In fact, it often helps the experience, lending it depth and adding to the longevity of the whole package.

But then there are times when it just gets in the way. It stops you outright from getting to the tasty, fun centre of the matter and truly enjoying it for what it is. But you can see the delicious middle bit. It’s there, taunting you and laughing at your face. It’s there showing you that the whole package is, objectively speaking, one of true quality.

But you can’t actually experience that. You can’t get real enjoyment out of it. Does that make it a bad game? When it’s clearly not a bad game? When it’s actually a good game? Is it a bad game because the layman – ME – can’t get his head around it?

Ah, the difficulties of doing real work for a living. You doctors, firemen and soldiers don’t know how hard it really is.

*I had a lie down and felt better, don’t worry.


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Drinking at work: better than not drinking at work

Mad Men is a bad influence on me, as I find myself wanting to do most of the things they do on the show. Namely, being sexist/racist, smoking a hell of a lot and – most importantly – drinking at work. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were able to drink ourselves into a (working) stupor at a steady pace through the day?

One time, many years ago when I worked somewhere that will remain nameless (it’s not hard to figure out where), I visited the pub with a colleague in our dinner hour. As we were only realistically left with 40 minutes at the pub including time to get from and back to work, we drank quickly. Then we realised we had drank too quickly, so we had another. And another. And a double order. And a couple for the road.

Basically, in about 40 minutes – probably a bit more – we managed to get a suitable buzz on. I had ended up drunk at work by accident. And it was the best afternoon ever. Not because I was the most productive drunk, that I was friendly, outspoken and all in all the life of the party, but because I spent the entire afternoon on MySpace, in plain view of everyone.

Being drunk at work would be awesome not because it would make me better at my job in any way. Being drunk at work would be awesome because it would stop me from caring as much. Which is clearly the best way to be, right? Less care, less fret. Also: more booze.


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The fine art of pulling an all-nighter

I was left shocked (and slightly appalled) (and a tiny bit embarrassed) yesterday when, sat around a table with no less than six games journalists, I discovered I was the only one there who had pulled an all-nighter. This has saddened and sickened me in equal measure, and I hope this transgression can be sorted before I have to take drastic measures. I do not know what I am threatening here, I just wanted to threaten.

If you don’t know what I’m on about, let me explain. I am a person who plays video games a lot. Shocking admission there, I know. If you think this is sad, fuck you. That’s one of only very few serious things I’ve ever written on this blog.

Anyway, to pull an all-nighter is to sit and play a game throughout the night, beyond bedtime, through the night, to be playing when loud housemates get home from their smelly clubs of grotty people and until the daylight hours come back around again.

I have done this numerous times in my life. As a child it was easy to do as I had no responsibilities, I had friends who liked games enough to play them for hours on end with me and I started drinking coffee at a young age. As I got into studenthood it continued being easy, as I still had no responsibilities and going to school was clearly well lame, like.

Morrowind, Oblivion, Football Manager, KOTOR, Tony Hawk’s 2, Power Stone 2, Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, PES Master League mode, the Smackdown games – just some of the titles that have kept my attention through the times when I should be sleeping. It may be overkill how many games I’ve done it with, but I’m just being thorough. The all-nighter is a rite of passage, and if you haven’t done one then I consider you well crap, like.


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MAN. Spice. Etc.

I’m not very good with chilli. I’ve just been reminded of this as I have just eaten some take away with chilli in it, and it’s burning the fuck out of my mouth.

I never did understand the lure of eating the spiciest thin on the menu just to prove you’re a man’s man from Mansfield. But then, that’s understandable when I can’t actually handle spice like a MAN should be able to. I once had a madras and it left me worse for wear the next day, but other than that I’ve never really bothered with the proper spicy stuff.

I often (“never”) wonder if, when those there aliens from another planet make contact with us, if they’ll pay attention to the whole tribalistic nonsense of “eating stuff that’s hotter than the stuff your mates are comfortable eating”. I wonder if they’ll pay attention to that and take it on board.

I wonder if they’ll take it on board and analyse the social implications of such a tribalistic mannerism. I wonder if they’ll disseminate what this whole thing is about and truly boil it down to its apeish instincts. I wonder if they’ll do that, and then I wonder if they’ll blow the fucking world up.

But then, I am suffering from a burny mouth so I might not be in the best of minds right now.

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