Down The Rabbit Hole

Just when you thought shapeshifters in bodywarmers had gone out of fashion!

Do you want to know what I love about gaming? Of course you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. “Is it having a 12 year old American annihilate you on Modern Warfare 2, following each kill with a high pitched barrage of insults?” I hear you all ask. Funnily enough, no it’s not. “Is it locking people in dark cupboards on Left 4 Dead” I hear one person ask. No it’s not that either, although it is a great pastime. The thing I love most about games is the sense of escapism that comes with playing them.

Like most people, my day to day life is relatively dull. I work in an office for 35 hours of the week, I come home to eat and unwind, I sleep and then I wake up to do it all again. On top of this, the borderline recluse in me set fire to my social calendar years ago and pissed on the ashes so I need some form of escape, if only to avoid the smell of recluse urine. I could pick up any one of my instruments and completely lose myself in a world of music but what if I hit a bout of writers block? Or worse, what if I write a catchy pop song that brings in an entirely new fan base or a major label record deal which causes my small, underground following to accuse me of selling out? Ok so that’ll will never happen, my fan base is pretty much just me and my hamster, and I’m pretty sure even he secretly thinks I’m rubbish. Another classic alternative is to lose myself in a book or a movie but there’s a strange sense of voyeurism involved – listening in to the characters’ personal conversations, reading about their battles with addictions, watching them make love to the sassy double agent they just met in a donut-shop-turned-evil-death-base.

After a hard day fondling Yao Guai or slaughtering Deathclaws in the wasteland, nothing says relaxation more than raining down mini nukes on Megaton with the Experimental MIRV

With games it’s different though – I am Commander Shepard. I am the Wasteland Wanderer. I am Alex Mercer. If I get bored saving the galaxy in Mass Effect 2, I can go have a chat with my crew, stare at Miranda’s lovely face, feed my fish or make sure my armour is just the right shade of green. I could even spend hours examining every square inch of a planet looking for mineral deposits if I wanted. Oh no, super mutants are getting in the way of my mission in Fallout 3! Never mind, I’ll just massacre the good folk of Megaton and loot their corpses for a while instead. Failing that, I’ll gather a large collection of wasteland tat and decorate my house with it.

The eye mask is there, all he needs now are a swag bag and a stripey top

Even in more linear games, it’s still me who calls the shots. If Soap MacTavish were left to his own devices he’d gracefully dodge bullets, taking out each target with poise and precision before lighting a fine Cuban cigar and walking off into the sunset, but he’s not. Soap is just me wearing body armour and putting on a questionable accent. Grace and proficiency are not my strong points. I throw a flash bang, accidentally blind myself and spin round in a circle in a desperate attempt to kill something while the enemy stop and stare in bemusement. Have you ever seen a bad-ass marine throw a grenade at a wall and scream “Run away!” as it bounces back towards him? You obviously haven’t seen me play Modern Warfare – or any other game involving grenades for that matter.

There are of course much more subtle games to lose yourself in too. When Animal Crossing came out on DS, I spent so long amongst the animals that David Attenborough gave me a standing ovation on return to the real world. None of those other lazy shits would weed my garden or water my plants plus someone had to pay Nook for his compulsory extensions. I’m a single man surrounded by woodland creatures, why the hell do I need you to build me a mansion, Tom?! Bloody raccoons, always taking liberties with other people’s property.

Last five articles by Iain



  1. Lorna Lorna says:

    That pic of Tom Nook looks so camp :D I love being abe to lose myself in a game. The first time I took that first jump in Mirror’s Edge, I actually held my breath and laughed like crazy when I landed it…the feeling and the heart stopping rush were incredible and it sucked me in from that moment onwards.

    Games like Oblivion are perfect…I can spend an age pottering and arsing around while the Oblivion gates hang ominously over the landscape…but I don’t care, I’m busy looting the same familiar forts and rearranging my magical items in display cases in my fancy Skingrad or Cheydinhal town houses. “Magical bra thing masquerading as some sort of body armour…why yes, you would look fine here next to this phallic and weird looking helm.”

    And people think we’re weird…

  2. Samuel The Preacher says:

    Grenades are a blight upon gaming. I stopped throwing those little fuckers years ago, when I realised that they’re a cunning trap planted on you by your enemies to home in on you when you throw them at someone else. About the 100th time I blew my own legs off in Soldier of Fortune, I suddenly stopped and thought “hang on a damned minute here…” and thus had the most important epiphany of my first-person-shooting career.

    Great article as always, Pix.

  3. Kat says:

    Loved that article Pix! I do giggle a lot at stuff like the hard marine failing to throw a grenade properly or the thought of a criminal running around the front of a car for 30 seconds before actually getting in a la GTA.

    At the end of the day though I know it’s really only about the cupboard love ;D

  4. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I couldn’t really agree more with this article. I use gaming as an escape from reality and a means to live a double life without resorting to looking like a complete tosser in skintight lycra and a cape. The more I have to do within a game, but outwith the confines of any quest line, the more I enjoy it. That’s not to say that I NEED the open world aspect for a game to be worthwhile, as I still enjoy playing UFO and the C&C series even though there’s no open world aspect… but I get to build stuff for hours, that’s what makes it fun for me.

    I still wish I’d got to see Patty from Risen naked.

  5. Samuel The Preacher says:

    You mean you didn’t get to see her in the buff, oh peerless leader? Surely you must have heard of the infamous Slightly Cool Real Ale mod, that all of America’s conservative media were up in arms over? The mod that they insisted wasn’t built into the game, which allowed kinky sexy mini-games? For shame, and I took you for a pro.


  6. Iain Iain says:

    Everything is secretly about cupboard love, Kat ;)

    @Markuz – I love C&C style games for that too. Just building up a massive base for ages. The same with Black and white 2. I spent ages playing that game, just building my town.

    @Preacher – Thanks :) Yeah grenades are the bane of my life. No matter whether it’s me or my enemy tht throws one, it’s usually me that dies -_-

    @Lorna – haha yeah I spend ages decorating games that give you houses or personal spaces. Way more than I should really, considering my own room looks like a bomb site :/

  7. Lee says:

    lol great read mate, i do that all the time on games with grenades. i’ll oftern get lost after blinding myself with a flash bang only to come around and wonder where the hell i am

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