Sunday, November 06, 2005

Alternative Reality

To offset the misery caused by my cat running away and my ex-landlady fleecing me out of £2,113.20 *and* a rather nice French cast iron bed in the same week as I locked myself out of the flat and sank to the bottom of the Spanish class, I've decided to retreat into an alternative reality.

The blogosphere isn't alternative enough (apparently, some of you are real people), and developing schizophrenia would probably be taking things a bit too far, so I've gone the Third Way and bought a new computer game.

I like computer games; my brother and I were brought up in the middle of nowhere in the north of Scotland (the flat bit, not the picturesque bit) with just a ZX Spectrum for entertainment, so I was hooked early on. But I've never managed to get to grips with all those silly, violent ones. I had a go of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City once, and became convinced that the protagonist had only turned to a life of crime because he was suffering from soul-crushing depression, possibly due to a traumatic incident in his early teens (I don't know what; the booklet didn't shed any light on the matter).

I thought the best way to make him see the error of his ways was to have him stand motionless for five days in the middle of a busy intersection, in the pouring rain. Disappointingly, instead of undergoing an epiphany of self-realisation and vowing to renounce his car-jacking and prostitute-murdering ways and become an earnest welfare worker, his only reaction was to shove two fingers up occasionally at cars that got too close to him. So GTA and I went our separate ways very quickly.

No, adventure games are more my thing. I was therefore very upset to find that the new, improved Tomb Raider isn't out till February. I adore Tomb Raider - though the last one was rubbish - and not just because Lara and I apparently share an alma mater. I just love the way a girl whose principal skills are running into walls, drowning and wearing inappropriate clothing can nevertheless overcome baddies and monsters and recover all manner of precious artefacts. It's made me realise that even though I'm always clumsily tripping over the heater at work, I could still become a posh, buxom action heroine if it all goes wrong in the world of high-tech copywriting.

Anyway, in lieu of Lara, I've ordered a mopy, gothic adventure game called Black Mirror, in which apparently "if it's raining, it sounds like it's raining." Which was enough to sell it to me. If you don't hear from me for a few weeks, you'll know where I am.


Tabby Rabbit said...

Interesting choice of game - one centered around a character desperate to prove that the untimely demise of an family member wasn't a mere accident.

I don't suppose there is any chance of life imitating (computer) art here?

Wyndham said...

When I see a character on computer display in a shop, HMV or something, miserably bobbing nervously up and down waiting for someone to move him or her, it always seems to me such an existential crisis - they could have been like that for hours! - that I have a compulsion to go over and move the joystick a little bit so that they may be freed from their OCD hell.

entropy said...

If you have access to a PC rather than xbox/PS2/Nintendo blah, you might like Fate:

It really is almost as addictive as Zelda: Ocarina of Time. OK so it's a D&D slashfest, but it's remarkably pretty.

Stef the engineer said...

I second the Fate recommendation (in fact I was coming back specifically to make it.) My current waste of time. Cheap as chips, too.

If you're on PS2 (but I think you're not - isn't Black Mirror a PC game) a haunting, bizarre and altogether spooky experience is ICO. Which is a polite way of saying it scared the cr*p out of me. As my best efforts couldn't prevent Yorda (a mysterious princess) being pulled to a fate worse than death through the very walls of the castle by black wraith type nasties, I nearly cried. Not violent, just beautiful, weird and deeply disturbing. Um, think it might suit you.

( :-( about the cat.)

patroclus said...

Oo, thanks Stef, that one does look quite good. Give me a year or so to finish Black Mirror (I'm terribly slow at these things, feeble girl that I am) and I may check it out. Of course we'll be into PS3 territory by then.

And W, I know exactly what you mean. But you know, they might be happy just bobbing away to themselves. Freed from the pressure to wander about examining objects etc. Hmm, there could be a gap in the market for a truly nihilistic computer game.

GreatSheElephant said...

How about one of those multi-user thingies, like Second Life? Guardian Gameblog on a Thursday has quite a lot of useful info

patroclus said...

Thanks GSE, but those MMORPG things worry me - I always think you might get lost in there and never return. You know, a bit like The Naked Lunch. Or, er, The Lawnmower Man.

Although they're very fertile territory for exploring the new frontiers of technosociety, so if I ever get round to embarking on my MA dissertation, I might peep into one or two just to see how the physical and virtual planes are converging, y'know.