Fresh Air Sucks

Written by Andy Boulton

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that my life changed forever on one horrific afternoon in the winter of 1989. This was the instant, dear readers, that my Sega Mega Drive exploded.  I doubt there’s a moment in my childhood that is more vividly embedded in my mind. I can tell you everything, from the game I was playing (Golden Axe), my character (the angry, axe wielding dwarf), the move I was performing at the time of the tragedy (leap and downwards slash) and the number of eyebrows remaining on my face following the blast (0.5).  The reason I am sharing this now, however, is not to gain some kind of closure – a face full of molten Japanese plastic cannot be so easily forgotten.  No, the reason I am revisiting this most painful episode some 22 years later is that it helped form my very firm opinion on one of the great debates of our generation – indoor gaming vs ‘fresh air’.

Now, various untrustworthy scoundrels from the ‘adult’ world would have us believe that gaming is far less healthy and enriching than ‘getting out and getting some fresh air’. As a man who has collected more gaming hours than Justin Bieber has accumulated ‘twat points’ I feel I am ideally placed to lay to rest this filthy lie.

Ask yourself this: when was the last time a lengthy blast on Red Dead Redemption left you swathed in agonising grass burns?  Does a game of Halo result in you being angrily chased by the local teenage knife crime association because you’ve innocently strayed into their ‘turf’?  Have you ever been savaged by an uncontrolled dog/horse/badger while peacefully enjoying a tootle through Assassins’ Creed?  Of course you haven’t and the reason for this is very simple: gaming is comforting, warm and safe. Fresh air, on the other hand, is cold, confrontational and, quite frankly, lethal.

An example of what's waiting for you out there...

In the few weeks I had to amuse myself in the foul ‘freshness’ as a consequence of Mega Drive misery, I was (in no particular order):

  • Stung by nettles
  • Stung by wasps
  • Stung by a jellyfish (despite living in the Midlands and therefore over 70 miles from the sea)
  • Chased by an angry dog
  • Chased by a fairly indifferent dog who just took quite a shine to my imitation Nottingham Forest shell-suit.
  • Shot at by a hooligan with an air rifle
  • Shouted at by the unsympathetic doctor who extracted the pellet from my arse.
  • Badly soiled having innocently slid down a shute covered in dog (or, just as likely, human) piss.
  • Bizarrely (and inexplicably) struck in the face by an eel (Don’t ask).

And yet, to this day, the moral crusaders continue to insist that there is no finer way to spend one’s childhood than in the midst of this hellish world of unexpected attacks, mindless abuse and general aggravation.  Not a moment went by during these ‘happiest days of my life’ when I didn’t bury my head deep into my He Man pillow case, cuddle my imported Japanese copy of Double Dragon and weep myself to sleep.

Shell-suits - catnip for angry dogs

Not content with misrepresenting a world of potential outdoor dangers to unsuspecting children, these same villains then have the audacity to point their crooked fingers of scorn at gaming.  To them, games fill our childish minds with violent thoughts, suck energy from our tiny limbs and poison our souls with uncontrollable feelings of aggression, a deviant social outlook and disgraceful table manners.

I can assure you that there is nothing in even the most gruesome game that could have damaged me more than skateboarding into the prize ‘pimped out’ Vauxhall Nova belonging to the local king of the meat-heads. There is, I can tell you, no pause button when one finds oneself on the receiving end of a real life pummelling in the ‘fresh air’.

Happily, my Mega Drive was eventually restored to working health and I was able to once again lock myself away from the harsh and cruel reality of ‘playing’ outside.  Since that happy day I’ve always been careful to care for my games consoles as if they were blind, asthmatic puppies, proving that gaming teaches you about compassion and appreciating the things you truly love. And could anyone honestly say the same about, say, Swingball? Of course they couldn’t. All Swingball teaches you is that God punishes those without hand-eye coordination, and that punishment manifests itself most commonly as a high-speed tennis ball to the scrotum.

I hope I have been able to lay one of life’s most deviously perpetuated myths to rest once and for all. If you have learnt that truth and nothing else then my time here has been a success.  If you’ve also learnt that a 16 bit games console is not designed to cope with 14 marathon Golden Axe benders then, well, that’s just one more invaluable nugget for the knowledge bank my friends.

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  1. Richie rich says:

    best dog picture ever.

    This was a fun thing to read. True also. There ain’t nothing out there but dead folk.

  2. Joeydale13 says:

    A nice start to the morning for me, always good to be laughing first thing. Best Line:

    “As a man who has collected more gaming hours than Justin Bieber has accumulated ‘twat points’ I feel I am ideally placed to lay to rest this filthy lie.”


  3. Stu stu says:

    I’m afraid I am going to have to ask about the eel slapping! ;)

    Amusing read and I have to be honest, I couldn’t agree more. Fresh air does indeed suck! =D

  4. Kat says:

    I have violent thoughts, uncontrollable feelings of aggression, a deviant social outlook and disgraceful table manners. But I probably didn’t get them from games. Probably.

    Very funny read and I’d totally forgotten all about Swingball. I hated that thing.

  5. Edward Edward says:

    Hahaha, hilarious job and I congratulate you on the runner up position! It was well deserved.

    It’s something I rarely think about, but I have to admit I’ve accumulated more injuries from being outside and social than I have indoors, but I’ve still incurred a fair few injuries just by playing videogames.
    But as Stu said, we need to know about the eel.

  6. Adam Adam says:

    I’m with everyone else, more of this eel :D

    A great gues article, very very funny stuff :) Must have been crippling to have a Mega Drive blow up so soon after release :(

  7. Samuel Samuel says:

    Them hoodies are fucking terrifying. They look just like a boy band. I’d rather be stabbed than dub-stepped and hip-hopped at… *shudder*

    I’d love to say that I had an easier time of it as a kid growing up in Cornwall in the countryside, rather than in a filthy and violent city, but really it just means that the dangers were slightly different, like the time I was chased by a bull in a field trying to find my dog, and the way my go-kart was obliterated by a bus that came too fast around a blind corner on a narrow country road. Outdoors is indeed a scary place.

    What astounds me though is that your Mega Drive blew up! You must have had the one dodgy one ever made or something, because those things are bulletproof. I still have mine, works great, and whilst I take fantastically good care of my games now I was 4 when I got my Mega Drive. My sister once filled the cartridge slot with half chewed liquorice and that didn’t kill it even.

  8. Lorna Lorna says:

    This is the article that had me weak from laughing in the final cuts and I still love it :) Took ages to find a suitable dog pic, and the same for the chavs. Great work :)

    I tend to get more angry when I go outside, mainly because as soon as I go out I get hot, I get irritable, I end up with a headache and aching eyes, and wonder what else I could be doing inside. At rare times I have tried to be reasonable and take my indoor hobbies outside. FAIL. Laptop gaming/internet? Fuck off sunlight, I can’t see a thing. Writing? Fuck off sunlight, you’re bouncing off the paper and blinding me. Fuck off wind, you’re rucking my pages up and… oh look, one’s blown away so now I have to weigh all the others down with my drink while I retrieve it and… oh dear, my drink has fucking toppled over and soaked my blanket. A blanket which has a bee hovering around it. A bee. And is that a wasp’s nest I spy up in the corner of the garden? Yes, yes it is. Yep, that’s my summer over in precisely five minutes. Fuck off outside.

  9. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    I remember going through all the Writing Competition submissions and Lorna being in tears trying to read out the bulleted section of this one. I’d already read out the “number of eyebrows remaining on my face following the blast (0.5)” part as soon as the article came in to my inbox. The whole thing just cracked me up, and yet that’s the thing about “outside” that was so great when I was a kid… it was an adventure! These days, going outside is so inconsequential because kids aren’t allowed to play in the mud, they’re not allowed to throw pen knives at each other to play chicken, they can’t hang upside down from crudely fashioned rope swings… everyone is so molly-coddled now that “outside” is about as exciting as gently stroking a pillow with a cucumber.

    Also… Swingball is fucking evil.

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