Tuesday, 24 April 2012

A World Without Video Games

This article was originally published on Forces of Geek 23rd February 2012 - the week I moved house... remind me NEVER to move house around a deadline again.

I’m moving house this week and it’s obviously an incredibly stressful time.

So in order to really vent my frustrations with packing boxes and sorting things and finding cases for random CDs lying around, I do what I always do at times of duress: turn on my Xbox and play games.

Only something seems wrong, very wrong... in the space where the Xbox usually stands is a rectangular border of dust surrounding an indent in the carpet.

My Xbox has been packed away and worse still, I have no idea which box it’s in!

But wait! The secondary Xbox in the bedroom! It’s been gathering dust and used as a bookend for comics since we upgraded to the new 360.

Rushing upstairs I feel a pain in my chest and the realisation that the bedroom has all been packed away hits me hard.

I am without video games for a week.

Which means I’m going to have to spend my time doing other things.

What is a gamer like me meant to do?

Go outside?!

It’s dangerous out there. I’d prefer to live like a vault dweller in the Fallout games. Although, if there was an actual atomic war then electricity would be scarce, I’d probably never be able to play a video game again. Same could be said for a/the zombie apocalypse; firing up the Xbox would be unwise, alerting hordes of zombies to my location!

What did we even do before video games?

 My generation hasn’t lived in a world without them. I suppose when I wasn’t playing Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast or Alex Kidd I’d do a lot of reading...I even used to pretend I had my own library and loaned out books to family members. But all of my books are currently packed away in boxes. Damn my ability to get organised!

If I’m denied my usual routine then perhaps I should turn to others for inspiration. What do non-gamers do?

Enjoy alcohol fuelled nights out? Shout at so called celebrities on reality TV shows? Throw caution to the wind and host a party? I doubt it.

The problem is, like many gamers, I love the idea of socialising and relish the challenge of repartee with peers... but in controlled environments; namely through headsets from the comfort of my own couch.

Maybe I could get to know my neighbours before I move?

There may be some small menial task they need completed in exchange for a useful trinket or someone they would like me to talk to on their behalf. Wait, damn it. That’s just an RPG. No! Break the vicious influence of gaming!

Or I could take this opportunity to get in better physical shape.

Exercising, stretching, maybe even pursuing some sort of sport. If the weather holds off, I could even become a member of the local golf club and.. DAMN IT! That’s just Wii Sports! Avoid gaming! Besides, I hate golf.

I’ve never actually learned how to drive so maybe I could take lessons.

I imagine that would take up a severe amount of time and give me the opportunity to go wherever I want. It’s probably not that hard, I mean, you’ve got your heads up display and your radar for how close the police are and if you’re worried it’s going to explode you just barrel-roll out of the door when the bonnet starts flaming. Right? GTA wouldn’t lie to me. No? Fine, no cars.

Speaking of learning things, I’m not particularly adventurous when it comes to cookery.

I could expand my recipe knowledge. All I need do is venture outside, pick some random ingredients (not forgetting the salt piles, of course) and mix all the ingredients in a cooking pot with the flesh of an animal I’ve hunted and killed and.. DAMN YOU, SKYRIM!

(Incidentally, the above image is from an online cooking show called Feast or Fiction which is pretty amusing!).

So, cooking is out of the question but what about chess? It’s not really the same as a video game but my Sims seem to enjoy it. I’d probably need to change up a few things though. First off, the rook/castle is a bit out dated and as cool as moving buildings are they don’t have the firepower of a giant Tesla Coil! And what’s with the bishop? You can’t send a man of the cloth into battle! What you need is a mammoth tank! V2 rocket launchers! Helicarriers! And thousands of attack dogs! No base is complete without attack dogs to sniff out spies and... this is just Command & Conquer isn’t it? Bugger.


Perfect! I now have the excuse to get out my dusty guitar and learn to play. Nothing beats a sing-song or jam session with your friends. I could get everyone round, hand them an instrument and maybe start a band. Only that wouldn’t work, as the instruments I own aren’t actually instruments - they’re peripherals. Plastic guitars clicking away and a muted plastic drum going tok-tok-tok isn’t music.

It’s no good!

Video games are simply engrained in my system...hardwired if you will. I had hoped writing this piece might teach me how to function in a world without video games but instead of finding alternatives I’m left longing to pick up a controller. I need games and if they become absent in any way, I subconsciously plant them into my day. There's no such thing as a world without video games for me.

A week isn't that long though and my Xbox will undoubtedly be the first thing I unpack in the new house.

Still, it’s nice to know that when the atom bomb dust settles, even though I might not have the games, I have an internal back catalogue of gaming knowledge to help get me through the day.

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