Flagging Heart

flaggingheart1It’s a weird thing, seeing the now-venerable Assassin’s Creed games coming back. Not that they ever went far (what does, really, these days?). The Ezio Collection was announced a while back and while it shouldn’t come as a surprise, it certainly gives one pause. So often, the media we consume is tied into specific times or memories in our life – sad times, happy times, fresh or fearful times. It’s why nostalgia is so powerful and now so pervasive. It’s something that has been beautifully weaponised by media and retail, and our wallets are near defenceless, it seems.

The Ezio games come from a slightly easier time in my life, and take me back to their predecessor, the original Assassin’s Creed game. Seen by many as flawed, it was, nevertheless, a game that I came to love. It was fresh, original, and the feeling of freedom as I scaled buildings and leapt from rooftop to rooftop before diving forever from stunning heights into shockingly meagre piles of hay never ceased to thrill me.

I enjoyed the characters, history, and setting as much as the gameplay and it was a gaming experience that I look back on fondly. As ever, with nostalgia, however, things weren’t as rosy as I remember them. And while time may have healed those particular wounds, at the time they ran deep. Especially the trauma inflicted by the flags. A nightmare for any achievement collector. And I used to be one of those. Not a lemony-whore like our lovely Richie, or someone who would rinse that Hannah Montana game for the cheevies, no, I was a completionist. If I loved a game then I would have to max it.

flaggingheart2Those flags were one of my most trying achievements (and that says a lot when you consider that I maxed bloody Mirror’s Edge). But I got them all. Looking back, I suppose that I think so fondly on a very frustrating time, not because I’m a secret masochist, but because it was a happy time, too. And having a place in which to rant about the damn things was pretty special. That place was this place. My flag rants were the first words to go up on hereGamingLives. It was a strange honour and an odd post to have as such an important one. But there it is and I wouldn’t change it.

That’s why the game and the flags now mean more to me than they otherwise would. Because they are now irrevocably tied to the post they spawned, to the words they inspired. To my fond memories of a site that’s been home to my gaming life for almost seven years. A site that Mark started out of boredom one day, and which quickly evolved into something bigger and more important. A place we could all call home, to talk about what we wanted and focus on the games we enjoyed or discovered and were keen for the world to know more about.

I remember writing a 7000+ word piece on the various Alan Wake conspiracy theories and story twists. I remember writing about giving up on achievements, and the pain of struggling with time and apathy with regard to games, and complaining about game boxes. I remember the first games I ever reviewed. I remember the thrill and exhaustion of writing about E3 from the trenches over there (or, rather, a nice apartment and my fave spot at the dining table), and I remember the sadness as I missed out on it over the following years. Not too sad to write Not The E3 Diary 1 and 2 though. Whatever I was feeling or playing, whatever indie gem or neglected adventure I wanted more people to know about, I could set down words. This was a place to lay out my thoughts, explore my feelings, make some jokes and dodgy puns, and talk or rant about games and everything they affected. It was hard work sometimes, especially among the cogs and gears of the place, but it was a good thing. Which is what makes this so hard. But then, anything enmeshed in memories and a web of nostalgia usually is hard to pull away from.

flaggingheart4It’s been a hell of a fucking ride and we did, played, and said some fun things. Along the way I had the privilege to meet, talk nonsense with and write alongside some incredible people, many of whom I’ve come to regard as good friends. I can’t really put into words how much the site has meant, or still means to me. In writing and editing for GamingLives I changed for the better and so did my work; I saw the people around me change and grow and move on. Better still, some of them grabbed a few dreams along the way, which made us happy.

We did what we set out to do. We created something pretty special together and it sucks a bag of dicks to have to leave it behind but, for now, it’s for the best. I was going to replay Assassin’s Creed this month, but I can’t. It’s not that I have flagging energy anymore. I just don’t have the heart, somehow, to ripple the waters of those memories, not with the pain of a goodbye so fresh, anyway. Because that’s what this rambling train of words is, really. A goodbye.

To those who read and enjoyed, thank you; to those good folk who were a part of it, and who supported us and the site, thank you more. For our writers and our friends, it’s been totes emosh. And especially to Chris and Richie… thanks for holding the line with us until the very end – it’s been a privilege and an honour, chaps. I did have a cunning plan. A cunning and subtle one. As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. But I’m afraid… it’ll just have to wait.

Last five articles by Lorna



  1. Chris Chris says:

    *Stands, continuing to clap*
    *Dries eyes with sleeves while awkwardly clapping like a seal with an itchy nose*
    *Sits down, the clapping ceases, heavy sigh rattles out of my chest*
    *Silence, wondering, thought, worry, realisation, another few tears, a smile, a chuckle, another bigger smile, a nod. The end*

  2. Jo Jo says:

    I sit here sobbing at my desk. So many good memories, friendships made, and moments had.

    Thank you to you and Mark for letting me be part of the crazy ride – whatever little it helped. You guys are incredible, and have acheived incredible things.

    GamingLives will always mean so much more to me than anyone can ever know.

    Thank you <3

  3. Richie Richie says:

    Fuck revisiting AssCreed though. I haven’t got the energy to go back to that series on my best day either

    #GLEXIT #missingthepointentirely #peopleagainstgoodnessandnormalcy #wereallyshookthepillarsofheaven #thisbeatistechnotronic #bethechangeyouwanttoseeinothers #letstakeatriptoasdainthetwilightzone

  4. Mark Mark says:

    No words Lorna, just hugs. The best hugs.

  5. Ste Ste says:

    Thank you GL, especially Mark and Lorna for all the good times that were actually some of the best times in my life. The site might be gone but we’re not.

  6. Rook says:

    GL – never have I experienced so many Marks in one place at one time before or since.

  7. Stu Stu says:

    I miss my fantastic sideburns (and am honoured to make the photo gallery). But more importantly I won’t ever forget the time I spent in the GamingLives family. I truly mean ‘family’ too. It was always inclusive – I still chat to and enjoy the tweets, Facebook posts and various going-ons of a number of people I met through GamingLives.

    Heading to London for the AC3 briefing with Pete will be a lasting memory and I was so glad to have had that opportunity to be at a press briefing – A PRESS BRIEFING WITH NDA’S AND SHIT!! Me…an average gamer who liked to write about games…how did I end up in a room with people from Outside Xbox, Eurogamer and other places?! Literally blew my mind.

    The GLBBQ was a highlight of my calendar, even though one year it was cut slightly short by the tiny little thing of buying/selling a house.

    Although the site may be winding down, I think the spirit and community of the writers past and present will live on. How many now actually work in the industry as paid writers, community managers and so forth? That is a testament in itself to the ability for Mark/Lorna to spot talent and giving people a platform from which they could make a start.

    The online world just got a little darker with the passing of GL, but all good things must come to an end. I’m sad but also happy that it is going out as a strong, consistently great independent outfit. That’s the GL style and I’m so proud to have had the opportunity to be a part of it. Thank you.

  8. Mark R Mark R says:

    You know what I’ll miss most of all about GamingLives, the site? Your interpretation of everything, Lorna. Sites come and go, and writers along with them, but very few have ever been able to stand astride the shores of creative writing and journalism as well as you have. Every article has a creative flourish that you don’t seem to get anywhere else, but you never stray away from what you’re supposed to be doing, which is to report. You’ve always inspired me to be a better person, and your writing inspired me to learn more about language… and I’m glad that I did.

    Loved seeing all the old photos; I bet there’s still a load of folk who have come and gone but didn’t make the gallery. Can’t think off the top of my head, but there’s definitely more. It’s been a wild ride, tumultuous at times, but always with a sense of purpose and the desire to improve.

    When I think of the people who have stayed at ours, arriving as strangers (remember when we were convinced that Ben didn’t actually exist and was just a bot, right up until he walked up the drive?), leaving as friends, and returning as family, it’s crazy. We did EXACTLY what we set out to do – create a place where writers were treated equally, given a voice, listened to, and given the opportunity to learn and grow. We knew what we wanted to do, but were never sure if it would be possible.

    We fucking nailed it, Lorna.

  9. Keegan says:

    This is a wonderful, wonderful farewell. It’s crazy to think that this is the end for GL, but I also know that it’s something that will stick with me forever.

    Thanks for taking a chance on me, Mark and Lorna :) you guys changed my life.

  10. Ian Ian says:

    I am sad but happy. Happysad. Thank you all for just being wonderful. Thank goodness this isn’t a goodbye to the people, to the family. That makes me smile.

  11. Victor Victor says:

    How awesome an article. And how sad an event. But the ride was beautiful. Thanks for all your hard work, Gaminglives.

  12. Jan says:

    We’re just turning another page. I’m glad I’ve been part of this ride and can’t wait for whatever comes next. Love you guys.

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