oh man i really wanna try pick out a few of these
Pokémon Crystal, in the back of the car on a dark and miserable winter evening in suburban north London when my mom had to go rescue my sister from a broken down school bus in the snow and couldn’t leave me at home.
Pokémon FireRed and Advance Wars: Black Hole Rising, on a tatty old sofa that smelled of Airedale and decade-old cigarettes, in my grandmother’s house in a crisp South African winter, watching cricket and Fawlty Towers VHSes.
Stick Murder Mysteries, actually getting somewhat traumatised, blasting The Strokes on suggestion from my sister, on the first computer I ever actually had myself. She was a cool 13 year old, I was a lucky 7 year old, the computer was her hand-me-down.
Ridge Racer PSP, the best feeling handheld game in existence. Sharing it with my cousin and uncle in our family place on the beach in South Africa. Summer evenings trading lap-time trials in between card games and intermittent chat around the open kitchen. I got really good at making salads. I had Pokémon Diamond when I wanted to be more private.
Mass Effect 2, a game to hide in through teenage depression. Saturday afternoon, rented house that I hated the smell of, long hours of junk food, not changing out of school clothes from the half day, doing my best to not acknowledge my shit. Same with Civ 5, I have 500 odd hours played, and about 3 finished games.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, endlessly frustratingly difficult, such a sweeping expansive intrigue that turned into genuine love. Add in Dissidia Final Fantasy. A new PSP-3000, hiding under duvet feigning sleep, allowing myself to crush on Bartz. A slow slow inching towards self-acceptance.
The first three episodes of Kentucky Route Zero, in one sitting. Completely dark room, back in our place in South Africa. Excessively large house with no-one else sleeping on the same floor as me. Hideously plastic red blanket that I’ve since claimed as an inheritance from my grandmother. Orange and mango juice that actually tastes of oranges and mangoes. Fugue state at 3AM. Episode 3 is still without a doubt my favourite game bit ever. No question.
Desert Golfing and ∞ on my phone. Suddenly, very pleasant and simple repeated loops of mobile phone gameplay became really, intensely important to me. Going to Gamecamp, hearing about games as a coping strategy, meeting a bunch of very cool people, giving a talk about KRZ myself, avoiding the VR demos because I can tell that any untethering from immediate reality would be intensely dangerous. Learning who the Cool Ghosts people who are now some very good friends are, when we’re socialising afterwards just hiding in a corner seat at the pub and burying myself in Desert Golfing.
Netrunner on jinteki.net. A refuge during my worst depressive stretch, a massive and intensely demanding cognitive load to stop thinking about so much stuff. Early hours, NBA commentary in the background, poring over strategies and tweaking endlessly. Camped in my shitty second year room, dinner of cheesestrings and crisp multipacks, dropping the uni year. In that space, making time to play The Beginner’s Guide and 80 Days, probably numbers 2 and 3 on my favourite games of all time. My head running in overdrive on escapist fantasies about digging into virtual spaces and critical theory. Nowhere near my actual body and mind.
Slowly unentangling the process of taking the year out, reading The Transreal by micha cárdenas (on reference by Robert Yang and merritt kopas in Woodland Secrets 32) and Literary Theory: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton on trains between home and uni. A start to a process of intellectual healing.
Soul Calibur 2, digging my PS2 out of storage and finding a copy on eBay so me and my then-bf could play a game I had only ever tried on arcade and he hadn’t touched in years after his older brother left home with their copy. Lazy 1v1 matches, learning a fighting game character for the first time (Kilik, then Sophitia), folding out the sleeper couch for easier cuddling, breaks to watch Planet Earth, eat waffles and drink smoothies. (I am 100% not over him, we broke up 3 months ago)
…and here I am, having spent a lot of time not playing games in the last year or so. That’s OK too.