RIP GamingLives (Stray Thoughts From A Depressed/Anxious Ex-Writer)

uggghh this one is going to be hard to write

but i have felt shitty all day and i think it might help so here we go

GamingLives, a gaming website that primarily featured opinion pieces by a small crew of regular writers, is officially ceasing operations on Friday. And this makes me really quite sad.

But, then, I kind of have no reason to feel sad.

My involvement with GamingLives started… five years ago, I think? I was 17 and bored and looking for writing opportunities. I was semi-regularly uploading reviews of game demos to a website called Swearing At Video Games, primarily an achievement guide site that was looking to diversify. I was promised a share of the ad money. I received nothing and the site quietly shut down one day without my knowledge.

Back in those days, the Xbox 360 occasionally saw community-focused posts by AceyBongos, who would highlight cool shit or advertise things, all in textual form. One time he was bigging up a 24 hour marathon of a Halo game that someone had done, written an article about, and raised a bit of cash for charity for her trouble.

The article was on GamingLives. I had a look around, liked the stuff on there, saw a “write for us!” button, and thought, fuck it, why not. I bashed out a dumb article about playing games with your girlfriend (I was newly in a relationship at the time) and sent it off. They accepted it. I was ecstatic.

I was told that if I wrote three articles I’d be considered a writer, and then I could apply to write reviews, and I could get access to games, early, for free, to review. I was over the fucking moon. I scrounged for inspiration and got more articles out. I was a writer. For real.

I applied to be a reviewer and was knocked back. Lorna outright hated the opening paragraph of the one I submitted, and said it wasn’t anywhere close to the style they wanted. It was… well it was brutal. But it was incredibly helpful. I read some more reviews on the site, worked out their house style, regrouped, and wrote a new review within 24 hours of being rejected. I got accepted.

My first game was on PS3, a console that I didn’t own. I borrowed my brother-in-law’s. It was Red Johnson’s Chronicles, or something. It wasn’t great. I got another review. And another. I wrote opinions. I finished my A-Levels and went to uni.

One day, in summer, a fellow writer private messaged me on the forums out of the blue asking if I wanted to share a hotel room in Cologne with him for Gamescom. I wasn’t even going to Gamescom at the time. And then I was. And I saw a ton of new games, and I developed a long-standing hatred for YogsCast, and I met lots of nice people, and I felt like a goddamn king.

I went to a BBQ with all these people, all these writers for the site. I was absolutely fucking terrified of going. I got off the train and very nearly got straight back on. I wanted to cry. But I walked in and hugged everyone and said hello and introduced myself. It was a ton of fun. I’ve gone back nearly every year.

I stopped writing.

I stopped writing several times. I think the first time was because I’d gone through a break-up, and I felt like shit for months, and couldn’t bring myself to do anything but focus on my exams, which I scraped through.

I stopped writing because I got a “proper” job and couldn’t find the time to write anything anymore, despite the fact I’d be up for hours at night doing nothing.

I stopped writing because my depression and anxiety all got worse and worse and I didn’t do anything to make it better, lol.

In 2016 I wrote one article, and it was just retelling a story that happened. I like it, but it’s not one of my best. It’s not a great article. But it was something.

By that point, I had a full-time job writing, and I was done with writing for fun. I was stressed all the time, living in a town where I had almost no friends and nothing to do, ate like shit, got into (relative) debt. I stopped writing songs, writing blogs, writing about music or trains in games or anything.

GamingLives is shutting down largely because most of the core staff moved on to other things and couldn’t find the time to write anymore, or simply grew bored. It happens. People move on. It’s sad.

GamingLives, in some way, is shutting down because I couldn’t write anymore, because the very thought of writing made me want to throw up and punch myself and drive my car into a wall. So that’s fun.

I’m not blaming myself entirely for its closure. That would be stupid. It was a collaborative effort that slowly lost its collaborators, and I just happened to be one of them.

So it’s sad that it’s going, but hey, I didn’t pull my weight. I moved on, I guess. After I got my shit together, even. Christ, I didn’t even play video games for the longest time. I fucking hated video games.

i am doing better now, by the way, like a lot better, like hey look, i can even write a blog better

So I guess what I’m saying is: sorry Mark and Lorna, and everyone else at GamingLives, that I didn’t do my best, and that I flat-out stopped writing, but took up that space on the writer’s page. I’m sorry I didn’t promote your work harder. I’m sorry I don’t talk much in real life. I’m sorry I didn’t post more in the forum. I’m just, sorry, I guess.

Let’s end on a postitive note though: I want to thank Mark Reid one last time for a moment that has helped me stay positive through the years.

So I don’t recall the whole event, but I posted something on Facebook flippant about being a bad writer maybe? And my mother jumped into the comments to confirm that I was indeed a shit writer. That’s her humour, and I knew she was joking.

Mark didn’t know, and also jumped in to defend me. He wrote paragraphs of words about how I was a fantastic writer, that I needed very little editing before I was published, that I was one of the writers who joined at a high level and stayed that way. And, well, I nearly cried. Because it’s very rare that people so vehemently defend my work to others, in public, particularly when it’s my own mother.

Mark and Lorna both have given me great advice, critiques, and praise throughout the years, as have many others at GL, and I cannot thank you all enough.

I literally would not be where I am today without GamingLives, and I’m sure there are a few others from GL who would say the same. So thank you, thank you, thank you, and I’m sorry.

Ok. I’m done. I think. Don’t fucking @ me.


It is absolutely freezing. I’m shaking. The duvet lies beneath us, used for extra cushioning instead of warmth as it was intended. I nudge her until she half-wakes up, roll her off the duvet and throw it over us. I fall back asleep.

It is the middle of the day and I have finally started to process that this is not where I thought it was, that I am in a different apartment block from the one where I started my night, and that I have absolutely no idea where this apartment block is. I have found the bathroom, a truly exceptional bit of detective work, well done Ric, you’ll make captain in a year, but whose bathroom it is remains an unanswered question.

I lie as still as I can so as not to wake her. I remember the look, the pose, the mouths jamming together awkwardly and with little to no grace, my hand being pushed further down and underneath attire. I remember the drinks and the music and the insistence that she was going to get high and that I was going to get high because she’d feel bad about getting high alone. I do not remember what time we went back there, if we had kissed before we got back, how we negotiated the option of kissing or whether any discussion happened at all. My gut tells me there were no words, there was just a bed, a lot of alcohol, and a base instinct that informed the decision. Not my style. Odd. Must’ve said something.

Later she’ll message me to apologise for her actions, as seems to be a pattern with those who take me home, but I have never worked out why. I’ll forget to tell her it’s OK, that I had a good time, that I had wanted to kiss her for so long, that I had wanted this whole thing to happen for months but never had the courage to do anything, would never presume myself to be worthy of her time. I will instead concede that I was very drunk, and then try to be funny but come across as sarcastic and unimpressed. She will not respond.

The hangover kicks hard, but I’m warm and cosy and have been hungover since the day before anyway, so it’s not so bad. I’m supposed to be on a train, but evidently I’m not.

I really need to get on that train.

The train is overcrowded, the seats are all taken, the standees are already drinking. Match day. I stand by the door, hurting, broken, tired. The train lets on more passengers. The tannoy apologises for the inconvenience, signal failures, didn’t expect so many people to be on the train, blah blah blah. The woman next to me seems to be amused at my evident unease of being entombed by bodies. I glare back. She’s cute, but I can’t be bothered making aimless smiles. I reach into my bag as we pull up to another station, twenty minutes out, and pull out my Vita. A game or two of OlliOlli to remind myself of the controls and why I enjoy it. It is near impossible to play, but somehow I manage.

I’m finally spat out into the vast expanse of Manchester Picadilly, and instantly forget how to get to the Trafford Centre. I quick-march out of the station and onto the street, covered in rubbish and homeless people and hipsters. Vague memories of a time long ago, where I caught a bus to surprise my then-girlfriend for her birthday party, come rushing back. Centre of town. Huge number of bus stops. I race over and see a wall of busses headed where I need to go. £4.50. I fall up the stairs as I climb to the top deck. No one seems to mind the half-drunk manic laugh I emit.

Match day. The streets are crawling with scarves and police, cars bearing flags, hometown pride I suppose but then I don’t know. Beer cans are thrown around with wild abandon. The bus stops and waits. Gotta stick to timetables.

Three youths dominate the backseats of the bus, either stoned or drunk or just idiots. They lean and laze with no regard for signage asking them to Please Not Put Their Feet On The Seats, tapping into phones or making inane comments to one another. I look to the front of the bus and pray I see the deaf couple I saw so long ago, signing to one another side-by-side. I’m alone. A wave of sickness runs through.

The bus moves.

Slowly, oh so slowly, we escape Manchester and head to the city limits, where the buildings sprawl and the traffic grinds to a halt. The Trafford Centre looms nearby, and I hop off the bus because it is clearly not heading where I need to be. I weave through stalled traffic and across a car park into EventCity. I wander into an expo about health. My hair is currently too long and I’m wearing a hoodie that I haven’t taken off for three days and I haven’t showered in as many and I’m getting ill and my head aches. It raises suspicion. I leave.

EventCity is not a city, as I had hoped. It is not MediaCity, another place I seem to find myself lost in more often than any regular person should. EventCity is just one big aircraft hangar, waiting to be filled with posters and signs and mass crowds of people. It is grey and dark and highlighted with strange spots of purple that hurt to look at. Three young men in bizarre anime costumes walk past, nearly colliding with an overweight couple wearing his-and-hers Avengers hoodies, and I realise I might actually be on the right track. I trapse across a stretch of grass, ignoring the path. My shoes are already destroyed. There’s no way anyone will believe I’m a journalist.

There is no queue to get in. Three people protect the entry way, or so I assume, since there’s an abject lack of signage. I wander over.

“Hi,” I offer, “I think I have a press pass or something here?”

The older woman at the desk looks up, slightly confused. She looks across a young girl who seems strikingly familiar to me somehow and over at a man sat twiddling his thumbs idly.

“You’re dealing with press passes, right?”

The man looks up, then at me, then at the woman, then at me.

“Oh! Yes. Yes I am, come over here. What name is it?”

I give him my name and he scans the list. I’m not hard to find.

“Yes, yes, good. Right. The problem is we don’t actually have any wristbands left because we had an unprecedented demand, so what I’ll do is…”

He takes the email that I hastily printed off using someone else’s university login details, already five drinks down and planning on many more, and scribbles some words and a signature on it.

“Here. If anyone asks, just show them that, it should get you in all weekend.”

I think to myself that I doubt I’ll be here longer than an hour, let alone all weekend. I say out loud a thank you, a farewell, glance back at the familiar girl (it would later transpire that she’s someone I tweet on occasion but she totally didn’t click who I was and I was way too hungover to start asking questions) and head in. No one checks my credentials. No one will check me on the way out either. I probably could’ve just walked straight in.

I barely acknowledge the pop-up game shop on my left as I walk in. I set off straight ahead in search of playable games. I want to find OlliOlli 2, the stand for Futureworks (a Manchester based college/univeristy that offers courses in game development which another Twitter friend attends or attended I can’t remember) and the Team17 stand. I find the Team17 stand, but it’s criminally underpopulated. I shuffle along. A Street Fighter IV tournament plays on a big screen. I wander away. A screen with 32 people playing a game simultaneously greets me. The 32 people are sat on fold-out chairs, looking confused and slightly bored. I move on.

The cosplay drawing competition is starting up. I snap a photo on my phone. A woman stands awkwardly with another woman who is dressed in a gold costume that apparently won a competition or something. The woman with a microphone asks how long it took to make. The woman in the outfit seems stunned by the question and spends a good minute pondering when, then settles on “since July”. You’ve got fifteen minutes to draw her. Go. I leave.

Pinball machines everywhere. Flashing lights and people crowded around single machines. TILT. TILT. MULTIBALL. I stand at one end, line up a shot, hit the button on my screen, and carry on.

It’s dark down here. Arcade machines in a circle. My head hurts. I can’t see a damn thing. A kid walks away from an endless racer that looks weirdly familiar, so I step in and take over his go. I crash a lot. I move on.

Light gun games. A Crazy Taxi machine. Point Blank 2. Sniper Scope. Where is Time Crisis? A PS2 hooked up to an old CRT screen has it running endlessly, but the cabinet is sadly missing. In the distance, a group of friends play Rock Band 3 with the controllers that have ALL the buttons. I turn a corner and a Wreck-It Ralph machine lies in wait. I’m definitely sober. Someone plays it and fails miserably. I take a picture of the cabinets, turn heel, walk away.

Two people play Timesplitters on the same screen but don’t know what they’re doing. The Wario game for GameCube sits, unplayed. The Joker is beating Harley Quinn at GoldenEye and four guys dressed as PayDay 2 characters walk down one aisle while another gang of PayDay 2 guys walk down the opposite aisle. I briefly consider stalking them and waiting for them to meet, to see if they’ll fake a fight or take photos together. My stomach growls. I decide against it.

I find some indie games to play, sit down, play. The designers stand around awkwardly behind me, clearly hoping I won’t ask any questions. I don’t. I consider taking a picture, but don’t want to negotiate having to ask them a question. I leave.

I play an iOS game where the designers are almost too friendly, too intrusive, they ask me to enter a competition and how can they not see that all I want to do is curl up and die until my next opportunity comes to drink my liver to breaking point. A camera crew sets up behind us all. They ask one of the devs about the game. He gives a ten word speech and the crew pack up. I leave.

I play a game and I break it on purpose to draw some attention to myself. I ask the person who fixes the game about the game. They offer nothing extra than what I have played but tell me I got the highest score of the day. I smile and leave.

There is nothing for me here. I glare at couples and grumble to myself, and try not to think about the numerous people I could’ve brought with me if they would’ve allowed it. I look at the merch and recoil at the prices. I briefly consider buying an old Game Boy and a Game Boy Camera for no other reason than because I think it would be cool. Wisely, I have not brought any money with me.

I wander and wander and nothing happens, and there’s the guy who made Tempest and he has too much hair, and I speak to no one, and oh look it’s Judge Dredd, and finally after two hours I realise I have to leave and get to a gig, and that traffic will be an absolute nightmare. I walk out. There is nothing for me here.

The queue for the bus is huge. Traffc is at a complete standstill. Horns blare. A car moves. The bus is coming, but even from this distance it’s evident that I’m not getting on it. I sit down on the floor. An Italian couple behind me express surprise. I don’t care. I take out my book, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and begin reading. It starts with a girl moving to college and being too scared to leave her room. I flashback. I hurt.

“Oh! That’s a really good book.”

The girl in front has stopped talking to her friend and turned to look down at me, a snivelling mess in a ratty black hoodie with a hole in the armpit, a t-shirt with Mary Berry’s face on underneath, a scratched-to-shit pair of jeans and my trusty pair of destroyed fake Converse, and is smiling at my choice in literature. I smile back.

“Oh good. I picked it up with a bunch of stuff by John Green, and I needed to get another book for the 2 for £7 deal at Tesco, and I saw the title and thought ‘yeah this looks trashy enough’.”

She is apparently less than interested in my explanation but somehow manages to keep going.

“The good kind of trashy though!”

I laugh and agree, and she turns to her friend and begins to explain the entire plot. I didn’t bring by headphones. I try not to listen. I’m tempted to shout about spoilers in a jokey fashion, but I’m too antsy to flirt and I’ll never see her again, we’ll never survive this bus journey anyway, and who needs me breathing down their neck making idle chatter about an event I didn’t enjoy for an hour on a cramped-as-fuck bus.

The bus pulls up, let’s on everyone up to the girls in front. I sit back down. A bus rolls past, full. Another bus comes by. We’ve been here half an hour. It has started to rain. The bus rolls further on than the head of the queue, so the people midway through jump on first. I end up stood right next to the stairs, the same stairs I fell up earlier, praying I don’t slip and fall and collapse into the three people stood on the stairs as the bus crawls through the traffic.

I look out the window behind me and watch as a couple in matching cosplay, Doctor Who and the TARDIS, are left by the road due to an overcrowded bus. I guffaw loudly. What a stupid fucking costume.

The gig ends up being one of the best I play. Later I will hit on girls on Tinder in the vain hope that they will let me crash on their floor or maybe in their bed, I’m not picky. It doesn’t work.

The Mars Volta Channel

I’m in a field about an hour outside of Bristol drinking spiced rum mixed with Asda own brand cola straight from the two-litre bottle. It’s drizzling, or it has been drizzling, or it’s about to drizzle, but there’s that vague haze in the air like the drizzle is, has and always will be there regardless, and it’s grey and stuff, and the clouds exist, and what have you. The rum is not mine. I have recently played Scrabble aboard a double-decker bus that is also a cafe and book exchange for about forty-five minutes with two gentlemen who feel younger than they probably are. One is ill and lacking in energy, but throws quips and jokes around with ease. The other seems full of energy in an almost desperate fashion, like this is his last chance to do something fun and exciting and stupid with his life before it all crumbles back to mediocrity. He is the one who offered the rum and a beer. Coors Light. I have never liked beer but I suppose now I’m getting used to it.

A friend and I are telling these new people our life stories. They seem far more taken with my friend, whose musical prowess easily beats mine, and who, unlike myself, doesn’t hide behind modesty for fear of appearing arrogant and then inevitably appears arrogant in other ways. I’m comfortable with this. I don’t have to answer any real questions, I don’t have to worry about being misunderstood or looking strange or annoying. It will annoy me later when people can’t remember my name at all, because “quiet” is not an attribute that makes a lasting impression, but I don’t know this yet, and have already forgotten their names anyway. We ask them for their stories. We discuss the festival. We say it is our first time. We ask about the silent disco, if the others are going, what was it like.

The rum is passed. The silent disco? Oh it’s great, like, you look at everyone here and the bands playing, and you have all these obscure names and the genres and stuff, and these people who think they’re really cool, but as soon as Beyonce comes on over those headphones everyone knows the words, and they’re all singing along. It’s madness.

OH and there was the Mars Volta channel, that was weird.

Wait they had a channel specifically for The Mars Volta?

A grin. Oh yeah! They had two DJ’s and then just, like, this one channel that played The Mars Volta non-stop. It was crazy. All these people dancing to, like, Rihanna, and you’re just stood there watching and listening to The Mars Volta.

(The Mars Volta, for lack of a better explanation, are an experimental rock band, which really can only be heard to be understood.)

We laugh at the concept. Only at a math-rock festival. Of course there would be a Mars Volta channel.

Other people arrive, saying hello, being introduced. We discuss geography, determining who is the most Northern of the group, which is obviously me, it was pretty much always going to be me, and someone proclaims they have a pork pie, which they do, and that I should eat it because it’ll make me feel right at home, and I smile sardonically and eat it because I like free food and don’t mind being the butt of the joke. We talk about ages and university and subjects. We ask about the silent disco. Apparently there was a Mars Volta channel? Are they doing it again this year?

Someone pipes up that they had a chat with the guys selling the headphones, and apparently there might be, but there’s no official ruling yet. There’s a collective sense of disappointment, you can feel the air sink out of the group and into the atmosphere, which reacts and begins to drizzle (if it had not already been doing so). Oh and speaking of the silent disco, you should probably get your headphones now, they sell out fast. Oh ok. We set off.

The headphones are in abundance, it’s fine, we probably didn’t need to set off so soon, but we’re here now and there’s a screamo band playing, so why not. We queue, as we do. A discussion kicks up at the front. Will there be a Mars Volta channel this year? It was the best part!

Ah. Yes. The Mars Volta channel. That was actually a mistake. See, there was supposed to be an iPod playing through a whole load of songs, but it broke, and got stuck on these three Mars Volta songs, and we couldn’t fix it, it just looped forever. We didn’t even know people loved it so much. So no, we hadn’t really been thinking about it. Sorry.

Oh no worries.

The rum is passed. I swig just a little too much and then some more for good measure. No one else wants to drink it, and the guy with the nervous energy doesn’t want to be carrying it round all day, so he’s willing to share, and my friend and I are willing to drink, and before I even step foot in the large tent to watch a nineteen-piece indie-pop band play happy, uplifting music to a damp crowd, I can feel my footing start to loosen and my head begin to lighten and everything at that moment is great, forget the weather, I’m here amongst nice people who are drunk and high and loving everything, and I am young and carefree and have plenty of money and it’s just lovely, everything’s lovely.

The day progresses. We nap and sober up and battle through the now torrential rain to get front row positions for a band I really want to see, and they are amazing, and I eat a burrito and it’s lovely, and we decide to drink again despite the horrific prices at the bars, but the mellow feeling returns and suddenly I don’t care, and the final band say their goodbyes and the headphones begin to light up. Queens of the Stone Age come on just as I’m finishing up my third drink, just as I hit the nice point of drunk, so basically it’s perfect, and we head to the throng of soaking wet bodies thrashing around in the mud. Two DJs stand on a stage surrounded by others, making gestures to the crowd to make some noise, have a good time, dance, etc.

I flick between channels on my headphones, watching the inside of my hood light up in the alternating colours to represent which channel I’m tuned into. I switch from rock to hip-hop to rock to hip-hop to rock to a strange almost crackling sound to hip-hop and then pause. I look around and watch the mass of bodies change the channels on their headphones from red to blue to red to blue to red to green to blue and raise an eyebrow. I switch the channels again from hip-hop to rock to piano and maybe some guitar I can’t really tell to hip-hop to rock to crazy drums and my vague knowledge kicks in and I smile.

We have found the Mars Volta channel.

You can see everyone else slowly realise this too, people who have no idea what it is, people who remember it from last year and smile at what feels like a huge in-joke for the regulars, people who just really like The Mars Volta, and it’s a magical moment. People flip between the channels still, some staying longer than others, a few staying there forever, the headphones a bright green to give away the fact that they are in their own little world of Mars Volta, watching others sway to a time signature far far away.

Later the rain will become too much, my legs too tired, my alcohol level too inconsequential, but for that moment there was only the bodies, the headphones, and the Mars Volta channel, and all was good.

Viral Content, Abe’s Oddysee, The Screaming In My Head

When I was younger I used to hear people calling my name from time to time when no one was, and I knew it wasn’t real, but I had to go check anyway. I’d put down everything I was doing, wander round the house, ask anyone around if they needed me, and return to my room. It became routine. It was stupid. It doesn’t happen anymore, except when I listen to certain songs which have shreaking voices, and even then I know which songs these are and deliberately skip the points where it might trigger some unrest, so it’s OK. Still feel like there’s something behind me most of the time though, particularly at night. Not a big fan of the dark. Which makes it odd that I light my room with one small desk lamp most of the time. Torch light in a pitch-black room creeps me out more than anything.

I have a lock on my door, and sometimes when I was playing a game in the early hours, I’d flick the lock on so I could wear my headphones and know for sure that nothing was going to kill me while I was distracted and unaware (I’m most worried about like, demons killing me, so why a locked door stops them I don’t know, but we all have our things). My parents would sometimes come into my room in the morning and find the door locked, and giggle to themselves, because twenty-year-old men only lock their doors for one reason, and it wasn’t true, but then trying to explain that “I didn’t want to be attacked by an other-worldly force while playing Assassin’s Creed” didn’t seem like a less laughable reason so I let them have their joke.

The other day, a friend liked a post by one of those LAD pages on Facebook, TheLADBible or something, and it was just a picture of the box of Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, with a caption like “who remembers this classic #AbeLAD” or something. It had several thousand likes, I don’t recall the actual count and I’m too lazy to look it up. Then underneath people threw in their own contenders for “games that should be remembered that were on the PS1” like Crash Team Racing or Crash Bandicoot, and I felt kinda sad because people were ignoring what a classic game Abe’s Oddysee was, and then I remembered that an HD remake of it had come out recently so even the page’s admin team probably barely remembered it unless prompted by shiny graphics, so who even knows why anyone cares anymore.

I never played Oddysee but I did play Abe’s Exoddus. I was very young. Oddysee would’ve come out when I was 4 years old and looking it up now I would’ve only been 5 when Exoddus was released, which is crazy, I definitely wasn’t playing it then. I had a demo disc for Oddysee, which seems even crazier. I must’ve been, maybe, 7 when I was playing Oddysee. Maybe older. I was awful at it. Couldn’t hack the puzzles, already pre-conditioned to running in mindlessly and trying to kill everything in my path, thank you Crash Bandicoot, thank you Spyro. I got out of the first level, section, chapter, I don’t know, and then used cheats to jump through to other levels at will. I loved it. It made no sense to me. I couldn’t possibly comprehend the message it was trying to impart on me. It had this catch-up video explaining what happened in Oddysee and I guess I watched it a lot because I liked watching Abe accidentally kill his friends. Sadistic little bastard even in the early days.

We went to a car show once, and I sat in a car with TV screens in the back of the headrests so kids could watch DVDs in the back and shut up while Mummy yells at Daddy for not consulting the map, and I fell in love and wanted them, and somehow actually managed to convince my parents that these would be a good idea, but we weren’t going to buy a new car for them. Compromise: we had a tiny LCD set up inbetween the two front seats, which could be hooked up to my PS2 if we were going on a long journey to get to our holiday destination or wherever. Further compromise: no expensive PS2 games to be taken lest they were nicked cos that was money down the drain. I brought a handful of PS1 games instead. I recall distinctly that I had Oddworld: Abe’s Exoddus and Worms: World Party.

It’s fascinating to me that one can simply post a picture of a game and instantly reach nearly twenty thousand people who all think yes, that was a video game, I remember it, I even played it and enjoyed it, we are on the same wavelength here.

My sister would nap or read or something so the PS2 was mine and mine alone, and I would revel in it, never stopping, swapping games when possible, playing whatever for however long. Worms World Party was a good ‘un because of random map generation and other aspects of replayability. The concrete donkey. I rarely got to use it but goddamn I would play for hours just trying to get it and unleash it one worm, and then die because I was dreadful at the game and usually unleashed it on myself.

I started noticing the screaming in Tesco car park while my Mum ran in to get some extra supplies for whatever holiday we were on. It was a distant screaming, one that only I could hear in my headphones, and I checked that it was the game and not my head or reality by pausing and taking out my headphones, and it was definitely the game. I think it must have been the map theme or something. Hell themed. Of course there would be screaming. I quit out and played something else. It freaked me out too much. You can’t tell people about the screams you hear because then you get things taken away from you, and I loved Worms World Party, so there was no way I was losing that.

I worry sometimes that my taste in games is too obscure, because when I rant on Twitter that one of my favourite games isn’t gonna get an HD remake, no one responds or favourites or retweets or anything.

I came into this blog post with just an idea about the screaming and hoped I would find a conclusion along the way, but I haven’t, and I feel I’ve wasted everyone’s time here, but frankly I don’t care. I write far less these days than I feel I used to, and I feel unenthusiastic a lot, and I have a job interview in twelve hours, and I just really like writing words in a cohesive way but also in an obtrusive fashion so it’s a struggle to read. If you’re a future employer and you have stumbled upon this blog do take note that this is not how I write “professionally”, or how human beings should write ever, but I doubt you even made it this far, so whatever.

I keep checking the door. Something could be coming.

Kim Kardashian And The Child Downstairs Who Wants His Mummy

“I want my mummyyyy” shrieks the child downstairs, putting on his wellies in some vain attempt to make us take him seriously on the matter. He doesn’t. We know he doesn’t. We know he knows that she’s at work. We’ll ask him this later and he will concede that he knows precisely where she is, then forget and start crying for her again, or say some piece of paper is his mummy, or ask where is teddy is, or ask what Richard’s doing, or just mumble nonsense while waving a plastic shopping basket over his head and potentially injuring himself, and that’ll have to be written up in the accident book so why the hell won’t he just put the fucking basket down.

Kim Kardashian is asking me if I want to run her business in Miami, a job everyone has told me to take because it beats folding clothes in wherever it is I’m currently working. I’ve been blowing off work for days now, jetsetting around the world to have my photo taken in the same clothes because I can’t afford anything else. I look Kim Kardashian dead in the eye and say yes, I’d love to run your business, only I’m going to attend some more photo shoots and be in commercials and try and build my own brand rather than actually run your business because I’m a free goddamn spirit that’s why. Kim Kardashian is pleased, I think, I don’t know her face doesn’t move. She shows me how to do a shift. I fold clothes. I flew from one coast of the US to the other to fold clothes while Kim Kardashian’s lifeless face stares me down.

photo 1

The child has ceased his desire to find his mother. I tell him to take his wellies off. He snaps back a short “no” but takes them off anyway. He sobs while he does it.

Kim Kardashian asks me if I like men or women. I’m not sure why I can’t like both. I ponder the question for a while. I defer to the person whose name I’m using for my character, and she says she doesn’t mind either way. We settle on men. Don’t want to mess with the status quo. Kim Kardashian wants to know if I like athletic or arty types, and let’s be honest here there’s no chance I’m gonna date someone who thinks of themself at athletic, so I go with arty. She knows just the right guy for me. He’s not even a nerdy sitcom writer. I’m a little hurt. I meet him though. He’s called Mitchell. His eyebrows are very special. I don’t find out what kind of writer he is. I spend $100 on wine. We call it a night.

photo 2

The child downstairs is asking where his mummy is. I tell him that she doesn’t love him and has left him here for the rest of his life so that we may raise him as our own. He nods solemnly and asks where his daddy is. I tell him daddy’s at work.

Kim Kardashian doesn’t know that I muted her a long time ago and replaced her soundbites with the Bastion soundtrack, but I’m not sure she cares either way. She’s resting in her mansion in Hollywood or Beverly Hills or something. I think she drives there but I have to get a bus, and I’m wearing one of those dresses that has kinda see-through bits so I feel a bit weird about taking the bus, but sometime’s that’s the best you can do in this life. My agent calls and says he’s got me a spot in a commercial for glass wipes or something. I’m not listening. I go to the filming and spend a chunk of my energy doing precisely nothing, checking my makeup, checking the lighting despite having no qualifications in the area, and then once running through my lines. I nail it. I’ll be the talk of the town in precisely forty seven minutes and twenty six seconds. It might push me onto the D-list. It probably won’t.

photo 3

The child asks where my mum is, and I tell him, and he is dissatisified, and I want to tell him all about how we can’t have the things we want in life, that sometimes we end up disappointed and stuck and there’s nothing we can do, but then he asks where his teddy is and I realise that I’m fighting a losing battle and tell him to shut up instead.

Kim Kardashian grins at me some more. It’s starting to freak me out.

photo 4

Destiny Is A Video Game And It Definitely Isn’t Halo No Sireee Bob

Destiny (DEFINITELY NOT HALO) is a game where you shoot things and sometimes you level up. And it’s actually really good.

The story is that a Ghost (DEFINITELY NOT GUILTY SPARK 313) finds a superior warrior (DEFINITELY NOT A SPARTAN) in the remains of a car and brings it to life. That it is you, by the way. Yes you. The person reading this. If you play Destiny. Which I guess you might not?

Anyway, The Fallen (DEFINITELY NOT THE COVENANT) are chasing you so you run into a wall and find a machine gun and shoot Dregs (DEFINITELY NOT GRUNTS) and some other ones that DEFINITELY ARE NOT ELITES until eventually you find a ship that LOOKS NOTHING LIKE THE ONES FROM HALO 3: ODST and fly off into space only to stop being in space and go and be on a tower instead where all the Not-Spartans live.

After you do a few missions killing Not The Covenant eventually you run into another alien race that are also fighting Not The Covenant who DEFINITELY ARE NOT THE FLOOD and include such enemies types as the easy to kill ones that DEFINITELY ARE NOT THE POPPING FLOOD and some bigger ones that DEFINITELY ARE NOT THE BIGGER FLOOD WITH WEAPONS and some bosses or something I don’t really know I was trying to find loot in a game where loot is apparently a dirty word cos THERE’S JACKSHIT TO LOOT.

At some point you can start summoning bikes that DEFINITELY ARE NOT BRUTE CHOPPERS and ride around on them but they’re not very useful unless you’re trying to get from A to B and you can’t be arsed walking which you will be cos otherwise you can’t kill things.

Killing things is fun but the levelling system is fucking stupid because you can just sit in the opening section killing level 2 enemies to level up if you really want and still get the same XP for doing so as killing a higher level enemy of the same type because it’s based on enemy type rather than enemy level I mean who the fuck thought that was a good idea.

If you get bored you can play PvP matches but like why would you do that when you could just play Halo instead it’s the same fucking game but with a class system.

I mean I love it I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun when the full game comes out but it is just a Halo MMO without a good RPG element so what’s the fucking point.

Good fun though.

Top Five Games Of 2013 That No One Else Is Gonna Talk About

Let’s get something straight, right off the bat: Bioshock Infinite was fantastic. Like, one of the best games ever made. Like, if I didn’t have to carefully manage my budget every week (which I constantly fail to do) I’d probably still have my copy, and would’ve bought the Season Pass, and would have played all the DLC to death. I fucking loved that game. I like to kill things! I like well written stories! I like Troy Baker, and I didn’t even realise it was his voice! I like to kill things! (Did I say that already?) I like exploring worlds when there’s really no point, going into side streets that can’t be gone into, looking at walls where there’s nothing to look at. I scoured almost every inch of whatever the fuck the place in Infinite was called (I DON’T PAY ATTENTION I HAD THINGS TO KILL) just because I wanted to walk into every building and just breathe it all in. Bioshock Infinite is a magnificent game.

Which is why I will now stop talking about it.

This blog post will not celebrate the magnificent games, even if they didn’t get much coverage already. The Stanley Parable is one of the funniest experiences you will ever have (if you play a lot of games); we will not be talking about it. Gone Home was wonderful; we will not be talking about it. I regularly forget Antichamber came out this year; we will DEFINITELY not be talking about it. We won’t talk about Tomb Raider (cos it was shit). We won’t talk about GTAV (cos it was dull as ditchwater). We won’t talk about Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (cos fuck that game).

This blog post is for my top five games that no other fucker is even going to bother mentioning. The games that were magnificent in some way, but not enough to make a splash in the world. Either people outright ignored them, or the general populus just couldn’t give a damn. They are not unsung heroes, they are simply games that people thought were a bit “meh” and moved on. Unless you’re me. Cos I probably fucking loved it.

5. God Mode

“Huh?” I hear the two of you cry. Yes! God Mode! An arena run and gun set in Hades that sees you shooting at least three hundred enemies in each of its twenty minute games. Quietly released on XBLA (and probably PSN, I dunno, fuck doing research) and then quietly discounted as a Deal Of The Week, God Mode has recieved basically no attention whatsoever from anyone. And why should it? It’s a dumb shooter in the company of a million other dumb shooters that do the exact same thing only a bit better.

It attempts humour and then gives up when it realises it isn’t funny. It attempts to do interesting things with the shooter genre, but instead just occasionally puts top hats on skeletons heads or fucks with the sound just to mess with you. It also hates you. It throws far too many enemies at you at once, and expects you to kill them all while some random effect fucks with your game, i.e. bombs dropping from the sky or your ammo draining constantly. Then it laughs at you dying. Then you lose the game.

It’s a multiplayer game that no one plays. You can play it single-player but it’s supposed to be played with four people, otherwise you’re likely to die even faster. It has effects applied in game to allow you to kill your friends, but when you’ve got no friends who even know about the game’s existence, then it ends up being completely pointless.

In short, it’s brilliant.

I can only complete two of the six levels by myself, and that’s on the easiest difficulty. But I have replayed those levels again and again and again. I will happily sit down and play a few matches alone, blasting through endless waves of the undead, ranging from skeletons to minotaurs to fucking giant ogres that will destroy you in two hits. I play it over and over because my God, it is so much fucking fun. You’re always on the verge of death. You’re always running out of ammo. But you’re always enjoying yourself. There are so few games that I will play over and over, so this one has a very special place in my heart sheerly because of how many hours I’ve put into it. If you’re looking to murder hundreds of monsters rapidly and with them wearing top hats sometimes because why not, buy God Mode. It is wonderfully poor.

4. Scribblenauts Unlimited (PC)

There’s a reason I have restarted Scribblenauts Unlimited twice. That reason is because I moved from using my PC to exclusively using my laptop. I have no regrets. My laptop is way better than my PC. Like it has so much more hard drive space. The graphics card is comparably a piece of shit, but oh well. You’ve gotta make some sacrifices. Anyway my PC is now completely borked after my Dad took it as his own and apparently the motherboard is fried or something. Glad I wiped all my porn off there before he took it, lemme tell ya. Sheesh.

Wait, sorry, sidetracked.

Scribblenauts Unlimited lets you summon objects into a world to fuck with people. Sorry, help them. Well actually it depends on how you like to play it, and sometimes you really just need to summon a tiny Cthulu and watch him wreak havoc while you shotgun a doctor who’s just been turned pink. Sometimes you have to summon a bunch of scary clowns to start a band on the underground. Sometimes you have to try turning a basketball player black so he can dunk. White men can’t jump. I know this. I watched that film. Scribblenauts Unlimited doesn’t seem to like that though. He has to be big AND black (OK so he only has to be big, but whatever).

You can create a creature and call it Penis. Because why not. No one’s stopping you. It’s Scribblenauts.

Fucking buy it. It’s amazing.

3. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger


Call of Juarez has a reputation for being an intensely dodgy series of shooters that only idiots like me really enjoy (that said I only played Bound in Blood but I seem to be the only person who enjoyed the hell out of it), and after the catastrophe that was The Cartel no one really gives a shit about new entries to the franchise. It should be dead. This shouldn’t have had the Call of Juarez name attached to it. But it did. So we don’t talk about it.

But here’s the thing: it has an unreliable narrator, which is awesome because you so seldom get those in games. The gameplay is dictated by the story of an old man who is boasting to a group of strangers about how many people he killed. Most of what happens in the game is explicitly called out as bullshit by the guy narrating the fucking game. There’s a bit where you stop killing people and lose your guns and just walk up a hill in brilliant sunshine while the narrator sings a song. This follows a bit where the narrator claims he killed like, a hundred Indians, which summons about a hundred Indians for you to kill. The narrator says he was running low on ammo; suddenly your ammo drops massively. It’s beautiful.

You don’t bleed, instead holes appear in the screen when you’re shot to signify the holes appearing in his story (because why would he die in a story about his own life). Who even thinks of that shit? And then you start killing ghosts. And there’s a moral choice to make, but it makes no fucking difference because it’s the last thing you do in the whole game.

Also it has an arcade mode which is tough as nails and requires multiple plays to get so much as an OK score. It’s fantastic. Why are you not playing it right now.

2. Remember Me

Here’s a list of things Remember Me isn’t:

  • A good fighting game with a deep combat system
  • A well-scripted story with tons of interesting characters who drive the narrative in unique ways
  • A particularly good platformer

Here’s what Remember Me is: fucking amazing.

I gave it a 7/10 because it’s good, but not great, as a game. Yeah? Well fuck that score. Remember Me is one of the few games I played this year that I had to put the controller down and have a good long hard think about my life after about half an hour’s playtime. You do some horrific things to people to further your own goals, and it is fucking rough. You ruin people’s lives just so you can get to the next level. You convince a woman that her husband has died a horrific death in front of her very eyes. You convince a man to kill himself because he believes he killed his wife. You do this by fucking with their heads and messing with their memories. And no one questions this. You just move on with your life.

Switch the game into French with English subtitles and wander round Neo-Paris a bit. It’s amazing. You’ll hear people chatting at cafes in their native language, making the scene even more believeable than ever. Why don’t games let you switch languages on the fly more often? Particularly when they’re set in foreign countries? Why would everyone in Neo-Paris have an American accent anyway? Fuck that. Listen to them in French. Listen to giant robots be threatening in French. Listen to adverts for teddy bears in French. Then tell me you prefer the English dub and say it so I believe you.

You can’t.

I disliked a few core things about Remember Me, but my word it will stick with me for a very long time. Don’t dismiss it. Buy it. Now. Go! GO!

1. Rayman Legends




Rayman Origins was the absolute bomb, and then they said they were making a sequel, and I was like hell yeah, and then they actually released it, and I was like get in, and then I gave it a 9 out of 10 because I have no friends so I couldn’t play it multiplayer like it should be.

But it’s so so so good.

I shouldn’t need to tell you why. And I’m fucking lazy. So fuck this.

Buy Rayman Legends