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.

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