My Mate Tommy
I’ve got this friend, he’s one of my best, and his name is Tommy. It’s not what the normal strags of the world would call a conventional relationship (no, we’re not Skype video chat swingers), but as a gamer yourself you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that I’ve never physically met Tommy, yet we are really good mates. Flashback to 2006 and I’ve not long had my Xbox 360; for some strange reason I was replaying Burnout: Revenge despite having been infuriated trying to 100% it the year before on the old Xbox. I figured it was time I gave online gaming a go and signed up to Xbox live; I got playing with a guy called Cliff and as we went from crash junction lobby to lobby, trying to find a stable game, we kept bumping into a girl called Tommy. I won’t lie, I had no interest in playing online with a girl – I felt like I had to let her win all the time but, luckily for me, Cliff was a bit of a sexpest and insisted we play with her. Eventually, after a night, it turned out that Tommy wasn’t a girl after all – it was just his missus playing on his profile. Not that there’s anything wrong with Laura (there’s nothing wrong with you Laura), it’s just that this is about Tommy and the dumb shit he does.
Tommy’s got a bad case of what’s known as D.R.H.S. or ‘Digital Reward Hoarding Syndrome’ to give it its full name, known more commonly as being a gamescore whore. It’s a horrible affliction and sadly one that’s all too common nowadays. I’m sure you will know at least one other person who suffers from it and, maybe in the worst of cases, lost them to it. I’ve not lost him to it yet but Tommy has a bad case – really bad.
You know that achievement in Mass Effect 2? You know, the one for saving all of your team: “No One Left Behind”; it’s worth 75g. Well, we all knew it was there right from the start of the game, it’s not like it was a secret achievement or anything and the title gave you a good idea of what needed to be done. If, on the off chance, the title did prove too much of a riddle for you then its description, “Keep your team alive through the suicide mission”, should have cemented it for you. That basic info wasn’t enough though, for my numpty-arse mate Tommy, he needed to know how to get the achievement well in advance. So off he trots to GameFAQs to find out what needed to be done. Now, anybody who has finished Mass Effect 2 will know that there’s no possible way to explain what to do and when to do it during the end of the game without spoiling the end (don’t worry if you haven’t finished it, my lips are sealed). Having read quite a well written guide that even went into explaining the reasons behind who you get to do what and when you get them to do it (in turn, learning a little about characters he hadn’t even met yet), Tommy decided to follow the guide to the letter. Armed with all this knowledge it amazes me that Tommy somehow managed to screw it up and kill half his crew. Twice! This was most amusing to me and another friend, Pete, who were in party chat with him at the time, because not only had Tommy ruined the brilliant end of a brilliant game for himself, it was all for nothing because he cocked it up for just 75g! Every chance Pete and I get to tell that story to complete strangers we do – it’s my favourite story about Tommy and his gamescore whoring ways; I can’t see him topping the stupidity of it anytime soon.
Party chatting with Tommy while you’re playing a single player game isn’t a good idea – believe me, I speak from experience. Cast your mind back to 2007: the Xbox 360 Elite had just come out (yeah I know, makes you feel old huh?) and so did one of my top ten games, Bioshock. Everything about Bioshock was brilliant; I loved the style, the gameplay, the graphics and the sound. Its one outstanding feature though, and one of those true stand out moments in gaming, has to be its story. “Hey lad have you got to that bit yet where you meet Andrew Ryan in his office and he tells you that he’s your dad and he was that chap on the radio and that you’re programmed like a robot to do what he tells you and he tells you to knock shit out of him with a golf club?” There was a pause: “TOMMY, FOR FUCK SAKE, NO I FUCKING HAVEN’T!” Happy I was not. I hate spoilers (apologies if you haven’t played Bioshock yet, technically Tommy spoiled it for you. Be mad at him). “Oh shit, sorry lad, I thought you’d done that bit.” I remained silent and carried on playing, in a huff. Then, not even a full minute after he ruined the best plot twist in recent gaming history for me, I stepped into Andrew Ryan’s office.
I mute my mic as the cut scene plays away, thinking about how awesome this would have been, had I not known what was coming. I quietly say the gamers vengeance oath to myself: “My name is justbiglee, commander of the Armies of Nod, Spartan of the UNSC, loyal servant to the true emperor of gaming, Peter Molyneux. Owner of a new Xbox Elite, Gold subscriber to Xbox live. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” I un-mute my mic, still filled with rage, before calmly, quietly and, with an almost serial killer style seriousness to my voice, I give Tommy the bad news: “I’ll get you back for that Tommy… one day when you are least expecting it, I’ll get you back.”
It was March 2009, time hadn’t healed the wound; it was still as raw in my mind as it had been, back in 2007. I think Tommy still knew this even though we hadn’t spoke of the incident in years. We’d somehow set up an unspoken rule between us to avoid such instances in the future. From then on, we wouldn’t discuss the story of a game until we have both finished it and, when possible, we would both finish co-op games together. We were playing the world’s most un-scary, scary game, Resident Evil 5, and Tommy had been reading up on GameFAQs again about a glitch where you could duplicate golden eggs in your inventory. You could then sell the eggs and use that cash to buy guns and upgrades which, of course, leads to achievements. It involved Tommy giving me his eggs on the trade screen, then turning his Xbox off before it had chance to save; he comes back online, I invite him back in, he trades his eggs before he disconnects again. We rinse/repeated this for what seemed like hours. “Right, I think that should do it lad, now you pass them back to me and turn your Xbox off before it saves.” There was a pause not unlike the one two years before.
“I thought you said I was supposed to sell them?” I reply.
“Yeah you do, but you have to pass them all back to me and turn your Xbox off and on so that you have them all back too and then we sell them.” Another pause.
“Tommy, I sold um mate, I thought that’s what you wanted me to do,” I said. Tommy laughs.
“Stop fucking about lad.” The only thing I took away from the rest of that conversation was that Tommy was pissed, really pissed. I had sold all his eggs and I had spent the money on buying and upgrading my guns every time he disappeared offline. My betrayal wasn’t what upset him though; Tommy was upset that I had three achievements that he didn’t. I played dumb at the time and have done ever since, but he knew, deep down, he knew why I sold his golden eggs. So here it is… here is my confession to you, Tommy, for the entire internet to see. I sold your eggs mate and I did it with a big fucking revenge filled smile on my face, I’m sorry.
Co-op-ing with Tommy is not all bad though, he’s my wingman and he always will be, but trying to keep him under control is enough to test the patience of the pope. If there is an achievement for shooting 50 guys with the shotgun, Tommy will grab the first available shotty and blow away the next 50 bad guys. He’ll get angry if I pick up any shotgun ammo and he really doesn’t take kindly to you stealing his kills. *bleep bloop* “Ohh I has cheevables lad.” He’ll suddenly go quiet mid firefight. “Tommy, what the fuck are you doing, you’re getting shot?” is the next thing you’ll hear from me as his character stands there, motionless, taking round after round to the chest. “Oh sorry lad, I was just checking my achievement.” Now, I’ll rip the piss out of Tommy and his “problem” at every opportunity I get, but I’ve never called Tommy out on this one because it’s something I do myself.
You know how it is – you get a new game in the console and as it loads up you study the achievements:
- 50 kills with the shotgun – 25 g
- 50 kills with the sniper rifle – 25 g
- Collect all the shiny things – 50 g
- Complete the game on bollock hard mode – 100 g
I don’t see anything wrong in doing that, it’s like an instruction book of sorts, letting me know what kind of things there are to do in the game. I also do it so that I know in advance what I need to do for a few easy gs. This way, as I’m playing, I know exactly what achievements need grinding away at and which ones are the easy ones – again, nothing wrong with that. So why the hell is it that the first thing I do after seeing the *bleep bloop* pop is hit the guide button, go across to achievements and look at it? Like I need more confirmation that I have definitely got the achievement. The fact that I’ve seen it pop up with the name of the achievement and how much it was worth simply isn’t enough; I have to see it in that list with all the others otherwise, for whatever reason in my mind, it doesn’t count. This is why I let that one slide when Tommy does it. I just wish he’d stop doing it in the middle of a pissing tricky bit miles from the last bloody checkpoint.
I’ve got so many other things I could tell you about Tommy: there was the time he tried to get the achievement for playing Dead Space on hard and the one for only using the Plasma Cutter at the same time! Or the way he pronounces FAMAS (as in the gun) as “famous” and flat out refuses to believe anybody when you try and correct him (he thinks we’re taking the piss!). I never even went on to mention the shit games on his gamercard. Maybe I might be being a bit hard on Tommy, let’s be honest we’ve all taken a sneaky peak at GameFAQs and read something we wished we hadn’t. We’ve all let that spoiler slip that we shouldn’t have and you’re just a dirty liar if you say that you’ve never shot a mate in the back on purpose, only to follow it up with a innocent sounding “Oops, sorry mate!” You’ve even raced your wingman to the shotgun so you can pick it up first and ensure your 50 kills before moving onto the sniper rifle. Love it or hate it…
There’s a little bit of Tommy in all of us.
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