Only When I Game

You know the situation, you have some free time and so you decide to play a game. You turn on the console, choose the game to play (let’s say it’s a racing game), you load up the game, you sit through the loading screens, you start the race, everything so far has been going smoothly and then it happens… you get a case of the itchies.

Why oh why does this happen? You could have scratched your forehead/cheek/nose/neck at any time before the game started, so why is it that you only discover that itch when your hands are otherwise occupied; pressing buttons, holding analogue sticks as you control your vehicle around the track at great speeds, reaching for or holding on to first place. Sure you can scratch that itch but at what cost; how many positions will you sacrifice, will you go veering off the track, will you crash and lose it all?

While we’re on the topic of racing games, why do I feel the need to lean my body over when I’m drifting my in-game car around a corner at high speeds? There was nothing in the manual or the tutorial to indicate leaning as a viable cornering technique. What’s worse is when a friend is playing a racing game and you lean with them, as if you can help shift the weight in the vehicle. It’s crazy but it happens. If Kinect has a racing game, I fear I may need a real seatbelt to make sure I don’t end up on the floor.

Maybe you’re not a leaner (you really are you just don’t know it – and we laugh at you), maybe you’re a controller driver, tilting the controller as you corner. If you think it’s bad with land based vehicles, how about when you’re flying. Tilting the controller up and down to help you gain or lose height, not to mention the leaning to avoid buildings, missiles, other planes. It’s great for a game to be so immersive but you really do look like a tit to anyone else watching you; you play, we’ll just point and laugh.

It’s strange how playing games can affect us but it’s great that we can get so wrapped up and invested in the experience. While we play it can also be quite easy to lose track of time; I don’t know how many times I’ve went to switch the kettle on and went back to my game while it boils only to realise and hour (maybe more) later that I was going to have a cup of tea. Maybe I did make that cup of tea and I come to notice the cold full mug beside me that I forgot to drink. Thankfully I never try and squeeze in a game, level, mission before work; I like having a job to earn money to buy those games I enjoy so much.

Another thing that I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing during a gaming session, the toilet break… or lack of. If I was watching a DVD and I needed to use the bathroom, I would pause the movie/TV programme and go do whatever I needed to do (you don‘t need more detail than that). Why then when I’m playing games do I feel I can hold it until I finish the race, reach the next checkpoint, or complete the level? Congrats on the bladder control, but surely it can’t be good for you.

This guy has the whole toilet problem well and truly solved... if you're into shitting in front of people, that is!

How about when you have finish gaming for the night, you’ve finished one block of puzzles, races, challenges or missions and unlocked the next set or next area, maybe you’ve leveled your character up or learned new abilities, possibly obtained new gadgets. You save your game and that’s you done for the time being but… maybe you’ll just ‘have a look’ at that next section; to know what awaits you the next time you’re ready to play. Next thing you know, another hour has passed and you’ll just finish this section.

Some games are great with their just ‘one more go’ effect; games that you really can have a quick go on, games like, Trials HD, Street Fighter IV, Scribblenauts, sometimes though, it’s many one more goes or one long engrossing story based mission/chapter/level.

Metal Gear? Cut scenes?? Never!!!

All of the situations above are just things that happen during play, but there’s one instance that can be really annoying: you’ve played your best, you’ve beaten that really tough boss, you’ve completed a level, you’ve reached your destination and you are rewarded with a glorious cutscene. A cutscene that cannot be paused or replayed (unless you want to go through the hard work again), and it’s at that moment that someone phones, knocks on the door, calls for your attention from another room or (and this is the worst one) they are in the same room as you and have chosen that particular moment to talk to you… aaaaarrrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

These are a few examples of things I experience while I’m gaming, there are bound to be others, I’m sure you have examples of your own too if not some or all of the above. Why not share, we’re all gamers, we’ll understand and we won’t laugh… much.

Last five articles by The Rook



  1. Markatansky says:

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve made myself a cup of coffee that I was GASPING FOR, only to remember to drink it after its become colder than the surface of Pluto.

  2. Samuel The Preacher says:

    You know, I can honestly say I don’t do the leaning thing, and I play a lot of driving and flying games. It’s not only very funny for anyone else watching, it’s also horribly inefficient and distracting for the person doing it, even if they don’t realise it.

    I have the opposite problem to your tea one though. I keep having to fling away glasses of coke/irn bru because they’ve gone warm, and flat. And are sitting in a massive puddle of condensation.

    The rest of it though, toilet breaks, itches, sneezes… there is a very easy solution during offline play. The start button. Pauses the game every time. If you’re on Live though, you’re on your own, heh.

  3. Ste says:

    I dont think I do the leaning thing but it does remind me of when we first got a NES in our house and my Mum and Dad would play Mario with us. They would both lift the pad up in front of them whilst jumping in order to try and get Mario to jump that little bit higher. My Dad would take the piss out of Mum for it only to do it himself when it was his turn. It was hilarious.

    Good article, made me smile, however I agree with Preach, start button FTW! If I’m online though I try to either time my toilet breaks to coincide between rounds or levels. If thats not possible I try to hide my character somewhere whilst I do my business!

  4. MrCuddleswick says:

    I’m the same with cups of tea/coffee. Nightmare.

    I love the idea of you having a seatbelt fitted to your gaming sofa, so avoid Kinect-related injuries. Dragons’ Den with you! Now!

    Forza is the one for me. Usually two or three laps in, I’ll need to scratch.

  5. Leon says:

    Ugh that cut-scene one is the worst for me. I can’t count the amount of times (including last night) that I’ve spent an hour or so doing a level, perhaps even something relatively monotonous while which I’m perfectly happy to talk – yet the moment that the cut-scene kicks in and reveals the next vital bit of plot, I have someone telling me something, or asking me questions unrelated to the game. I think particularly with non-gamers, a cut-scene is when you, the player, are no longer having to focus on playing so are free to talk – oblivious to the fact that most of the core plot-line often happens in these scenes!

    Good article, and I can relate to most of it.

  6. Tania Tania says:

    I agree, I really HATE my cut-scenes being interupted! Story/plot is everything to me. Sods law says that even if you’ve had several hours of uninterupted play, as soon as a major cut-scene starts, BAM! Why can’t you pause them? WHY?

  7. Edward Edward says:

    The cutscene interruptions need to stop! We need to learn about the game, too!

  8. Kat says:

    I’m guilty of pretty much everything you mentioned Rook! I *always* get an itchy nose the moment both hands are occupied, Guitar Hero is the worst. Plus I’m a leaner AND a controller tilter. I fell off the sofa once during a GTA race :/

  9. Lorna Lorna says:

    I didn’t think that I was a leaner until Mirror’s Edge…then I became a bloody lunatic. Leaning, holding my breath at big jumps, you name it. As for the tea thing…guilty of that….have had so many cuppas go cold…also the danger of trying to snack while playing because I can’t stop, so have to eat on the move, so to speak. This means cake crumbs down the side of my buttons and grease on the controller leading to the danger of button slippage.

    I think that Leon has a great point about why some folk maybe talk through cut-scenes…they see it as a break where you aren’t doing anything and don’t get that it is a crucial part of the game to you. They can’t be paused or repeated most of the time and frankly, cut-scene interruption is one of gaming’s biggest sins in my book. Story is king for me and anyone who interrupts during cut-scenes should have their skin shaved off and their body rolled in a vat of salt and vinegar kettle chips.

  10. Rook says:

    Thanks for all the comments gamer peeps.

    My worst leaning was experienced whilst playing TrialsHD. Not happy enough with changing the rider’s postion to get over obstalces, but my own. I have found myself sitting on the edge of the bed, leaning forward almost flat and arms oustretched at times, and then realising what the hell I was doing. :)

    As for Lorna’s last comment – methinks too much Hitman for you.

  11. Richie richie says:

    Oh man, the amount of times my bladder nearly explodes like it’s Dawn French’s gut. Civilisation was the worst for that kind of thing. Even though on the Amiga it took about 10 mins for the AI to do all its moves.

  12. Adam Adam says:

    The Pause button just isn’t what it used to be is it? If you’re playing online then you’re screwed, if its competitive then sometimes you just have to take a hit, hide, go for whatever it was you were needed out of game for and see what happens -it was always pleasantly surprising coming back to find that you’re still alive, at full health and still loaded to the nines. In games like Counter Strike, you knew that everyone was watching you and that the was suddenly a great expectation to perform, wonderful stuff :D

    But when you’re playing just any old game, you just can’t bring yourself to do it. Pause isn’t pause anymore, its access to a menu that you havent been in for ages. There’s all sorts of new equipment you need to look at and skill points to spend, an audio log to play or maybe you want to adjust the contrast for some strange reason. Either way, you just get distracted and you’re back playing before you know it, testing out the new gear, skills and settings.

    Occasionally you stumble upon a game where the Start Button is actually Pause and the background fades, only to replaced by the word ‘Pause’ -Great, but don’t you just feel cheated and like your game is cheap all of a sudden? It’s like the developers couldn’t afford to do anything better, Pah!

    Of course theirs the 3rd option, making sure the room is clear and that all danger is removed and then go. But you can’t, because you MIGHT miss something. Remember on Sonic, remember how he would lie down or tap his foot? Do Game characters do that anymore? Do you know? Have you Tried it?! All of a sudden, you’ve stopped playing and you’re just staring at it incase it does. Then you get a little bored and you pick the pad up and spin the camera around to look at something which you decide you don’t like and I refer you to my earlier point! Or! The game designer has snuck something cool in, like Burnout Paradises Classics Gallery or GTA/RDR’s Interest Cam. Burnout in particular is transfixing! How could you move when you’re so calm!

    I think I have the pad twisting out of me though I still lean when I’m driving first person -I also try and look around the side of the screen to see if I can see better -Kinect may actually be of use there!

    Nice Write up Rook!

  13. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I thought I’d commented on this but hadn’t, sorry! I was about to quote Adam then I suddenly realised that I was nowhere else to be seen so I’m here now… leave me alone. I’ll start with Adam’s comment…

    “I also try and look around the side of the screen to see if I can see better”

    I’m not going to admit to doing that, ever, but I’ll just say this… I haven’t NOT done it. A lot. Especially if I’m convinced there’s an enemy waiting around a corner… I can’t help myself from (not) doing it. Although if I ever did, which I never do, then I’d find it somewhat embarrassing if someone caught me (not) doing it.

    It’s those sudden “not NOW!” itches which were never even close to appearing prior to the moment in the game where you absolutely positively CAN’T take your eye off the ball or the finger off the trigger. I blame suggestion. It’s psychosomatic isn’t it… in your head you think “Shit, I need to concentrate on this” and suddenly your eyes dry up and you need to blink a little more than you would normally, you get that little itch, your bladder starts contemplating aurora borealis and waterfalls, and you develop a sudden thirst which must be satiated.

    So I’m told.

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