Best of 2011 – I Want To Play A Game

Nominated by Tania and Ed

“Where am I? Who are you? What’s going on?! WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”

I want to play a game. You are a game developer. You have made your living designing videogames in what might be considered the golden age of gaming. You have an army of coders, designers, producers and games testers working on your projects and budgets of millions of pounds. Your games are bought by hundreds of thousands of gamers around the world.

You have wasted our time.

The inexplicable design choices, transforming your games from enjoyable entertainment to soul-destroying chores. Your insistance on sticking to gameplay conventions that nobody wants has gone too far. Now it is your turn to endure the misery that you have inflicted on others. If you survive the tests I have planned, you will become a better developer. The choice is yours. Live… (dramatic pause) …or die.

“B-but… I just make games… I’ve done nothing wrong….”

You are in a maze. The walls are lined with razors, broken knives and syringes of Russell Brand’s blood. You must navigate this maze without a guide and get to the exit before the time runs out. Or this maze… (dramatic pause)… will be your tomb. However, before you can leave you must find the two hundred collectable coins that I have hidden in the maze.

“Coins? Two hundred of them? Why would you do that?”

Why indeed. Given that you keep putting these things in your game, I thought you would find the distraction… (dramatic pause)… enjoyable.

Several hours and two hundred coins later, a grumpy, well-lacerated developer emerges from the maze and goes through a door which locks behind him.


“You bastard…. let me go. I did what you asked!”

Not when we are having so much fun. This room illustrates the pitfalls of game development; in so far as there is a big pit and you don’t want to fall into it. The only way across is a plank of wood. It is ten inches across. Just as your games need to balance content against timescales and budgets, you too will need to maintain your balance.

“Oh fuck off.”


The developer walks over to the pit but finds that the plank of wood isn’t as wide as he expected.

“Hey… this plank isn’t ten inches wide. It’s only five.”

Yes. That’s the free version. We have a ten inch wide version but that will cost you extra.

“But surely if it’s there and you’ve got it, you should just put it in the room instead of wasting time later making me acquire it!”

You’d think. Anyway, would you like to purchase the new plank? It will cost you two hundred coins.

“But… I left the coins in the other room!”

I know.

“Why didn’t you say anything?!”

I thought you’d like the surprise.

“Well can I go back in there and get the coins?”


“But it’s just there!”



You can never go back. No matter how silly that seems. Time is a-wasting.

“Oh you fucking arse.”

He carefully edges onto the plank of wood. Oh this is dramatic. Honestly I wish you could see it. Ooh! He’s about to fall off. Close shave there! Shuffle! Shuffle! Eek! Anyway, whatever, he’s made it across. He’s shaking, his nerves are shot but he’s made it.

Congratulations. You have survived that test.

“Can I go?”

Not yet. You have shown your skill and determination. Your efforts have been admirable but can you perform as well when playing with others. The next room will test this. Run out of time and the explosive contact lens that I have placed in your left eye will explode. Killing you instantly.

“You’re not right in the head, mate.”

There are other people in the room. When the buzzer sounds, all of you must work together to solve the puzzles I have set. Your very survival depends on their cooperation.

“Who are they?”

I thought it would only be fair that you could pick your team mates. Perhaps choosing people with the skills and intelligence to help you through this task. However, I then thought it’d be a lot more fun if you did this with random people with no manners or social skills. Tell me, how do you feel about being… (dramatic pause)… racially abused? Send in the borstal kids.


Cue an agonising and arduous period of repetitive tasks that goes on for far too long as Mr. Developer is forced to solve challenges but with the active distraction of horrible bastards.

Good, good. I see you are enjoying this. I may well charge you £40 per year for the pleasure.

One of the borstal kids starts shouting abuse loudly, another is looking for a camera that he can expose himself to. One particular arsehole is playing 50 Cent tunes loudly on his mobile phone for everyone to hear. Mr. Developer is becoming frustrated with their lack of assistance but soon has more to worry about when three of them realise it would just be funny to lie down near one of the puzzles and then fling rocks at anyone who goes near it.

Eventually though, against the odds, the developer solves the last puzzle. The door unlocks and he stumbles out into the next area. The borstal kids have decided they like this game and will stay here forever.

Did you enjoy… (dramatic pause)… playing with others?

“You fucking absolute arsehole. Why make me do that with that scum?”

Why indeed.

“If I ever get out of here… I swear….”

Now is not the time. Your final challenge awaits. This is your moment of truth. Will you perish or do you have… (dramatic pause)… some fight left in you?

A hole opens in the wall, revealing a man in chains. He is six foot five, built like a wrestler and has a face that has seen more punches than Tina Turner’s.

This is your final challenge. I call him… (dramatic pause)… ‘The Boss’. He is strong, pathologically violent, educationally subnormal and will attempt to kill you as soon as the chains are released. I have left weapons around the room that you can use to defeat him.

“All I see are small pebbles, a tennis ball and a wet sponge.”


“Are you taking the piss?”


A buzzer sounds. The Boss is released and immediately charges at the developer who dives out of the way. The weapons are doing nothing and the developer is tiring a lot faster than Boss-prick here. He charges again. And again. And again. After ten minutes, The Boss looks stronger than when this all started. The developer scrambles over to a wall to try and catch his breath. The boss charges at him once more. However, as the developer is about to be hit, he dives out of the way.

The Boss stuns himself against the wall and falls to one knee. In ways that make no sense in physics or biology, this causes The Boss to stand up suddenly, so suddenly that displacement of air and energy sends the developer flying backwards. He scrambles to his feet and runs to another wall. Surely this can’t work again?

It does. After just forty five minutes, The Boss finally knocks himself out permanently. The developer makes sure by kicking him repeatedly in the head, like a gang of teenagers might when confronted by a lone man who objects to ‘happy hardcore’ music and the souping up of Renault Clios.

“I did it… I beat you.”

You have done well, developer. However, this challenge is not over.

The Boss stands up again. He seems, somewhat inexplicably, to be back to full health.

“Oh fucking WHAT?”

Yes, annoying isn’t it?

The fight continues, with the developer using the same tactics as before. The Boss falls once more.

“Any more?”

No, this challenge is over. You have survived against the odds. You have shown a great willingness to live. To survive. All that remains is for you to go through this final door.

Wearily he drags his cut and bruised body through the doorway. The room is in pitch blackness. He enters slowly, feeling his way in.


The lights turn on. The developer has cut himself on the walls.

“W-wait! This is the maze from before!!”

Yes. With one difference. There are now 300 coins.


Yes. You must complete all the challenges again but this time they will be a bit harder.

“Oh go fuck yourself.”

Gets on your tits, no? Let’s call this (dramatic pause) ‘Hardcore’ difficulty. Does that sound like a good idea?


Do you see?

Last five articles by Richie


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