Hurrah, an excuse to write about my favourite subject.
My name is Raymond Williams. I’m 32 years-old and live in Glasgow, Scotland (which is in England, lol etc). I work in an office as person who clicks mouse a lot. I’ve had an Xbox 360 for a few years now, and last year I bought a PS3. My favourite game is Half-Life 2, with Uncharted 2 a close second.
Nowadays I don’t game that much, maybe two or three hours a week, with the occasional weekend binge. Currently I’m playing through GTA IV again (for reasons that’ll be explained in a future post) and have resumed Far Cry 2 (a game that amazes and frustrates me in equal measure). It may be obvious that I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of gaming.
I gamed when I was younger, on the Commodore 64 (favourite game: Octapolis) and the SNES (Super Mario World). Gaming got sidelined when I went to college and uni. I inherited a Nintendo 64 and occasionally dabbled with GoldenEye and Mario Kart 64, but most of my free time was spent watching films and drinking. When I ended up with a full-time job and a girlfriend, gaming disappeared completely. A few years later the full-time employment was gone (not coincidentally, so was the girlfriend). Intense hobbies often grow from an unbalanced life; I had a lot of free time on my hands and little to fill it with. Exercise? Pfft.
I went to visit a friend who had an Xbox. My only previous experience with this machine was a brief shot of Halo 2 in an electronics shop. The controller was huge and unwieldly, and for some absurd reason had two thumbsticks (that'll never catch on). But this Xbox experience, this was different. I played Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Black. The controller felt much smaller (it was) and easier to handle. I was hooked. I bought an Xbox weeks later.
Thus began a period of my life where I spent a lot of time in bed. I drank quite a lot back then, and Xboxing was a good way to pass time while sweating out a hangover (though playing Burnout wasn’t great for the nausea). I amassed a collection of some 70 games, finishing half of them at most. As CJ, I cruised the countryside of San Andreas in stolen trucks and bikes. As Sam Fisher I hung from pipes and incapacitated henchmen
I was quietly content with my lovely little box of wonders. Then I visited the same friend who hooked me on the Xbox. He'd levelled up; in his living room sat a shiny new Xbox 360. It was white and pretty and slick, green lights danced when it was switched on. I watched him put a game in and waited for him to attach the controller cables. Wireless controllers? We played Gears of War. I spent as much time examining the detail on the walls and buildings as I did fragging Locust. Then on to Saint’s Row. I stood atop a hill and watched the city stretch out around me. The fog of gaming was gone. My mind was blown.
I left his house in a fog of my own. I wanted one of these wonderful 360 things, but without permanent work I couldn’t justify the cost. Then weeks later I again went back my digital drug dealer’s house. The Orange Box was waiting. Caution was thrown to the wind; weeks later I had a 360 of my own.
My gaming obsession continued. I was exposed to online multiplayer (something I had little experience of). I got hooked on Modern Warfare 1 and 2, racking up days of play from the stale confines of my bedroom. Games piled up, getting a few hours in the spotlight before going back in their cases. I was now in full-time employment, but I still spent most nights gaming. I developed a disturbing routine: I’d often get home from work at 5pm on a Friday, fire up the 360 and take to bed, barely leaving it until Monday morning.
A woman invaded my life. I began to spend more and more time at her house (despite her not owning a games console). One day I moved my old Xbox in and demanded she play Halo 2 with me. Somehow we’re still together.
Then I moved in. The 360 followed. My gaming gradually decreased to the occasional shot of NBA 2K9 on a Saturday morning. We bought a house together and I got myself a Man Cave. The 360 lives there, for the most part gathering dust. Our new addition to the family – a PS3 – took pride of place in the living room. Uncharted 2 blew me away, Killzone 3 was great fun. Then I went through a period where games weren’t much fun. They seemed more a waste of time than anything an adult could justify spending much time on. I was playing because I felt like I should, but the fun had petered out.
As the Game Group began its death throes I rushed in to use my remaining credit. I left with GTA IV and Heavy Rain. With great joy I (as Niko, not on the way home) spun a car into a group of innocent pedestrians and firebombed some women chatting on a street corner. I laughed as Heavy Rain made me brush my teeth. I shook my head in amused disbelief that a game exists in which you have to gently place plates on a table so as not to annoy your wife. My love for games came roaring back.
Which leads me back to the present. I expect my gaming routine of a few hours of play a week to continue. I have a wedding to organise, a backlog of TV to catch up on, a beer belly to reduce; gaming has to take a back seat. I’ll chip away at my backlog of games a bit at a time, like a prisoner digging an escape tunnel with a spoon. I’m behind the times and will probably stay that way for the foreseeable future. So if you’re messing around on your Xbox 720s and PS4s, controlling games with a flare of your nostrils, and you wonder who the guy is posting about the Mass Effect 3 ending, that’ll be me.
Nice to meet you.