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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FOR THE HOARD!

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.

*Worse.

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