Tag Archives: games

Why do I play?

Hi I’m Ian and I play videogames a lot. I’ve done so for a long time, since before I was six years old and we got an Amiga (Christmas 1989, BOOM). It came with Night Breed and that gave me nightmares, and I remember a demo of Champion of the Raj that my mum played a lot even though I’m pretty sure it was just one level on repeat.

Anyway: I like games. But they’re my job and, naturally, when something becomes a job you lose some of the spark that made you love them in the first place.

But in the last month or so this spark has been rekindled. In fact, it’s got a bit out of control and is now a decades-old family-run furniture store type of inferno.

Too soon?

Because all of a sudden they’ve gone and brought out some fucking brilliant games, and it’s reminded me what I love about them. It’s something that’s summed up so excellently in the book This Gaming Life, by someone far better at the games writing thing than I am Jim Rossignol.

Basically the point is put thusly: games are made purely to kill boredom. That is their purpose and their function. Boredom is a horrible thing that every single conscious living creature has to contend with. Boredom can seriously damage your brain – or at least lead to things that damage it. Games keep it active – stop it from, well, being bored.

Note I’m not saying they’re intellectually stimulating, because in the (mainstream) most part, they’re not. But boredom is a disease that needs to be eliminated. Why do we do anything? There’s the basics: eating, surviving, crapping, that sort of thing. But everything else we do? It’s to stave off boredom until we die.

Games fill that gap. And right now games are filling that gap so well I’m going to have to stop doing other boredom-killing activities just to fit them all in. I might stop eating too, just to free up a bit more time. I can play while crapping though, so that’s fine.

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The double standards of a stupid brain

It’s funny how you can start to get annoyed with things when you really shouldn’t be. The sorts of things where you stop and take a single step back to see that, actually, what you’re having to do is pretty sweet and your younger self would have bitten your own future-hand off to be able to do it.

Even though the past self would grow up to be doing it and in actual fact if it did bite off future-self’s hand it might cause some sort of paradox that would change the flow of time and mean that past self ended up not doing what it would have otherwise been intended to do…

Unless it was meant to bite the hand off and this has always been and forever shall will this am, as though ‘I am attempting to travel back in time – you will know I have been successful if Tuesday comes after Wednesday and Germany does not win the war’, as one of my rotational background images says.

What? Oh yeah.

I work in a job that involves playing videogames. This isn’t all of the job, but it is infinity% more of the job than it is in 99.9% of other jobs. Hence it is a lot compared to the normal, everyday scrote. Regardless of how much it is, I get to do it. And it’s good, because playing videogames is fun – that’s why they exist; to be fun and kill boredom.

Yet I am still capable of getting a bit annoyed when I have to spend an entire weekend shifting between a selection of games to play. It’s my own fault in the main part, taking on extra work – it is work – but that doesn’t preclude me from highlighting the fact that, as a result of juggling between half a dozen or so titles this weekend, I’m feeling a bit annoyed and like I’ve wasted the weekend.

Contrast this with a standard weekend where I don’t go out, where I would likely do exactly the same, except with less games and no necessity to do any of what I am doing. Those weekends I like. This one – ostensibly the same – I am annoyed with.

There is no logic in this brain. Maybe a future incarnation of myself will come and explain it all to me one day. For now, BEDTIME.

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Yeah, I just don’t get it

I am constantly amazed by the ability for people to be drawn in by what they are told to be true. I work in games, whatever that means, and there’s a lot of shit in it. I mean, a lot.

Naturally none of it matters in the real world, but it doesn’t stop people – myself included – from getting worked up about it. Mainly because we’re all a bunch of pathetic nerds who really should get a grip and realise there are more important things in the world to rant about*.

Anyway, arguing is great and all that – especially on the internet where everyone is fair and focused and mature and listens and all that. But there’s some things I just don’t get, and in gaming they really hit hard.

People, like you or I, are told things by publishers. Publishers are out to make money from people like you or I. Yet people, like you or I, take what these publishers say at face value as 100% true. I won’t go into the details as I’ll end up ranting, but it basically involves ‘we want more money, let’s extort our customers’, then telling said customers it’s for their own good.

Yet when you call out publishers on this bullshit, who comes to their defence? The people being shafted by them. It’s a brilliant system, and reminds me a lot of politics – tell the people what you want them to believe until they start believing it. Simple, effective, fucking annoying.

Anyway, yeah, back to sorting out the real ills in this world. That, or getting a yoghurt.

*That’s actually bollocks. While there are many things more important, that doesn’t discount people from getting worked up about problems with/in/around gaming. Just because you whine about one thing doesn’t preclude you from whining about another. Life 101 for you there. Just because I’m complaining about online passes doesn’t mean I don’t give a shit about starving kids. I am aware of perspective. I am also aware of the ability to have opinions on more than one thing at once. Crazy, I know. Sigh.


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I’m a dreamer

Has watching anything, or playing a game or reading a book or anything like that ever given you nightmares? I don’t mean watching your loved ones die in a horrible, gory explosion right in front of your face – that’s going to give you some fucked up dreams, no doubt. I just mean something ostensibly made for entertainment – has it ever got in your head to the point you have woken up in a cold sweat?

It’s a common thing for people to say ‘it’ll give me nightmares’, but what I’ve found is that it’s the anticipation that’s worse, then the way your mind plays tricks on you – especially when tired, drunk, hungover or otherwise in a less-than-perky condition. Nightmares? No.

Except for once. Night Breed. The Amiga. I was six years old. There was a section in the game where you had to run away from snake-hair man in a graveyard by tapping the mouse buttons as fast as you could. If you didn’t taptaptap fast enough, he caught you and bit you in a delightfully bloody fashion.

So naturally you want to taptaptap fast enough, right? Well, no. See, if you get away the police would corner you and shoot you dead.

You couldn’t win. You literally couldn’t escape. I mean, that was the point – I think you were meant to be bitten so you could be infected and blah de blah. But I was six, for eff’s sake. I gave up when I realised I’d die no matter what I did. Then I had a bad dream about it.

But other than that slight misstep I’ve never had a bad dream as a result of a film, TV show, game, book, comic, musical, stage show, street performance, dance troupe, contemporary artfag play – nothing.

I still see Martians from the corner of my eye, peering at me through the doorway in my room whenever I watch War Of The Worlds though. I’m both awake and 28. This shit shouldn’t scare me anymore.

Now nightmares about real things – oh those I can tell you some stories about. Those are the things that never fucking stop. Sigh.

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I like stuff because I like stuff. OH HOW POMO.

Does everything have to be steeped in irony? Does everything you like have to come with a thousand caveats and a knowing smile? I just read this piece on the Grauniad and, naturally, it’s a bit shit. But what annoyed me most is how it assumes anyone going to these clubnights does so out of a confused sense of nostalgia, or to be a hipster, post-modern, ironic, whatever.

Not just because you can get drunk and dance like a dickhead to songs you (still) like, oh no siree. You couldn’t possibly still listen to bands like New Found Glory without explaining to every passer-by you only do so because your musical tastes are so well-developed you’re reminding your brain of how hilarious it is to listen to simpler music, like that you listened to when you were an idiotic, musically-stupid child.

You couldn’t possibly enjoy playing videogames without being an eternal manchild. You wouldn’t enjoy watching wrasslin’ without being a redneck who still thinks it’s real. You don’t eat sweets unless you can hilariously point out that you used to buy that very treat from the tuckshop. You only eat mature food. You only talk about politics, and joking is something only reserved for when you’re being totally po-mo. You should be married by 30, have a mortgage by 32, have kids by 34, work in middle management, own a Ford Focus blah de blah.

Yes, I’ve gone a bit off-piste here, but I can’t help but think it all ties in. People seem incapable of admitting they still enjoy things from their past without adding in four thousand different excuses and reasons as to why they do. Fuck dat sheeit, innit. I like Blink 182.

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I think it’s about time that I have a ritual cleansing of all the shit I have. And by that I don’t mean I’m actually going to clean my flat for once. That shit would be nonsensical, yo. Nor do I mean ‘I have no money so I need to sell another 25% of the stuff I own’, though that is actually true and is part of the reason for this… well, not decision, but this ‘thinking’.

Thought. Whatever.

I have a lot of shit I do not use, I do not really have any need for and that I do not actually want, but I keep it all around. Hoarding is the phrase, I suppose, though that conjures up images of those horrible semi-people off those shows about disgusting houses. I’m not that bad. I do have a lot of shit though.

But there’s so much of it I honestly don’t want to get rid of, even though I rarely if ever use it. The couple of hundred DVDs? I might want to watch one one day – it does happen. Same with the games I haven’t even looked at in a year. The unworn clothes? There might come a time when I need a thermal undershirt, or a pair of shorts that still have the tags on them even though I bought them in 2006.

Christ, I’ve even kept hold of the boxes for things like my phone, iPad and 3DS. Though that’s probably more the CEX conditioning kicking in – they’re worth more with boxes, after all.

I do think I need to blitz it though. Rid of the DVDs. Rid of the games. Rid of the books. Rid of the clothes. Rid of the miscellaneous I can’t think of.

Obviously I want to sell it all. I’m not completely mad. Money would be nice, too.


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Thought I was bored of games for a minute there. I’m not, don’t worry.

I tend to think I’m getting bored of games, what with them all being the same thing over and over. It’s usually giant future-men shooting things, normal present-men shooting foreigners, some shit with an androgynous lead character who doesn’t realise they have the touch (they have the power) or in the case of Nintendo the exact same game for the fiftieth time.

There are some other standard tropes, but shut up I’m not listing everything.

Anyway, you can probably see why I might think I’m a bit bored of them. But then I remember I’m not when I actually play them and realise that yes, while Shootybang Man 9000 is just the same game again again again, I’m still having fun with it. The mainstream efforts that I slag off so much for being creative voids are still that, and they’re less intellectually stimulating than talking to someone from my hometown, but they get the carrot-and-stick philosophy down.

Simple, straightforward progress. An increase in your abilities. A gradual increase in difficulty. The ability to skip cut scenes. All of these things tie together to make something I’m fine wasting a few hours of my day playing.

The day when the mindless, Michael Bay-style games don’t give me any enjoyment is the day I really get worried.

These blogs are always so much better* when they’re a day late.


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The shame of The Stack: extended

It just dawned on me that I don’t just have The Stack when it comes to videogames. And by that I don’t mean anything dirty – I mean a stack of unfinished or unplayed games that anybody who has taken a passing interesting in gaming will have, either literally or metaphorically.

I’ve had The Stack in other areas for years and not even noticed, but it’s just become clear to me just how great I am at accumulating things and how bad I am at doing what I’m supposed to do with them. I have a large box full of books, you see, and I’ve probably only read a quarter of them. I fully intend to read all of them, but it’s unlikely that I will for the next few years or something.

Yet I’ve just spent that last few days perusing Amazon for books I want to add to that particular stack.

Open my cupboard next to my bed and you’ll find hundreds of DVDs in there. Now there was once a time where there were hundreds more and I had barely watched half of them, but since the great eBay purges of the last few years it’s been mainly narrowed down to about 30-35% unwatched. A good ratio, I must say.

But when you take into account my hard drive of “LEGALLY ACQUIRED” movies, that percentage goes batshit in the wrong direction. Hoarding: it’s not the best thing to do.

But hey, at least it makes me feel a tiny bit better about not playing All The Games – I’m equally crap at following through on everything else, too.

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I’ve tried, but I’ve failed

I’m not willing to admit defeat just yet, but I can feel it getting closer. It’s there, behind me. I can feel its presence. Hear it breathing. But it hasn’t taken me down, and I won’t go down easily. I honestly don’t know if I’ll prevail – I’ve been trying to make things work out for months now, but I just don’t seem to be making progress. But I will not give up. Ever. Until I am dead, possibly. Or until I give up.

I’m talking, of course, about touch screen controls for more old-fashioned games on the iPad. Specifically, Speedball 2. The kinds of games that need a joystick/pad and buttons to play, and so have them overlaid on the screen you are playing on. I just can’t do them properly.

I’ve had the iPad for a couple of months now and I’ve tried all manner of games. Tilt control ones annoy me but if they work well enough, it’s okay. Those made with touchscreens in mind from day one are, naturally, nigh-on perfect. Though I do find my massive gammon hands getting in the way a bit much. But it’s those that rely on an old-fashioned input method that just screw me up, and try as I might I just can’t get it perfect.

I’m not a douchebag from the planet Idiototron IX – I can play these damn things. It just doesn’t feel right. I need clicking, resistance, physical boundaries. Without all of that, I can see myself living a very lonely life, ultimately dying unfulfilled and forgotten.

No, wait – I can see myself remaining unconvinced by the ‘overlay’ control schemes on some iPad games. That’s what I meant.


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This post does not contain SATIRE! about iThing owners becoming zombies. Damn.

Why did nobody warn me the iTunes store is as dangerous as it is? I’ve only ever bought one thing on it before, and that was a single song about a year ago. As such, my brain isn’t up to speed on how it all works. As a result of the life-changing, twat-becoming news the other day, I went to browse the available games to see if there was anything I would actually want to play on the iPad.

Now, fortunately I didn’t go mental and only spent about a tenner, but it struck me as decidedly odd that you can make it – literally – a one-button purchase. You click the price of the app, it’s yours. Obviously that’s brilliant in that it’s simple, to the point and you don’t need to dick about, but I can see myself being drunk, bored or drunk and bored and ending up with £50 of stuff I do not want or care about.

As for the… jesus.

I’ve just realised it’s already started. Twice in one week I’ve written a blog about my iPad. Which I don’t even have yet. I’m already turning. I’m like the bloke on the zombie films who hides his bite, slowly watching the infection manifest itself into an orgy of gore and brain-fuelled sustenance before his one-time friends have to put him down by destroying him in whatever way they can. Either that or I’m the one who gets bit and everyone knows he’s been bitten, but they decide to keep him around as he’s useful and they like him until ohmygod he starts to turn and it becomes the heart-wrenching moment where the best friend doesn’t want to pull the trigger and then he has to because his former friend is now lunging at him, trying to claw his eyes out with his dirty zombie fingers.

Something like that. Read into it what you will my talking of iPads before going off on a tangent about being a zombie. It could almost be devastatingly arrogant satire, if it weren’t for the fact I only noticed I’d done it after writing it. Sigh. This comedy career will never go anywhere.

Still – I got Harbour Master HD!

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