Sunday, 26 May 2013

Have I finally grown up?

Last week I wrote about board games having been usurped by Playstations, but there's a more personal aspect of this that's been bothering me recently.
I think I'm bored of video games.
I started back when Space Invaders and PacMan were all the rage in the arcades, and the only game consoles were the ones with the built-in games of tennis, football and squash that just had a simple rectangular bat, a square ball, and a really annoying beeping noise when the two met each other.
In 1981 Clive Sinclair brought about a revolution with the release of the ZX81. For the first time Joe Average could afford to have a computer at home, and although kids today would piss themselves laughing at its capabilities it really was a milestone product. Not only did it kick start a generation of programmers, but if you plugged in the 16kb RAM pack you could actually play Space Invaders without having to go to an arcade and blow all your pocket money.
My first step beyond the old bat-and-ball basics was a Sinclair Spectrum and that was the start of a parade of assorted consoles and computers that has progressed through the years. There's been two Spectrums, a Sega Master System, an Atari ST, a Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Gameboy, Playstation, XBox, XBox 360, and probably other stuff I've long since forgotten about.
All this time I've had enthusiasm by the bucket load and I've always been looking forward to the next generation of games and hardware. Never what you would call a hardcore gamer, but enthusiastic nonetheless.
The last couple of years however have been leaving me more and more disappointed. Now I know that many would say that gaming has never been so good, and in terms of graphics, speed and complexity there's no doubt that things have progressed to a staggering level since we were blowing up dodgy looking asteroids with a heavily armed triangle.
But all we seem to be seeing these days is prettied up reworkings of the same games we've been playing for years, and as brilliant as 'Modern Warfare' and 'Forza' are, there doesn't seem to be anything new and innovative to tempt me into buying games any more.
Both Sony and Microsoft have recently made announcements of their next-gen consoles and all they seem interested in is how to cram as much social media as possible into the machines, before chucking it on the market bundled with a copy of 'Call of Duty Forza Zombie Theft Auto'.
I've no doubt that the new hardware will be faster and have better graphics but things won't really be any different. With all the supposed new innovations the manufacturers bang on about, they seem to be drifting away from what video games were about to begin with - buy a game, shove it in the machine, and play until your eyes feel like they're full of cat litter and premature arthritis has taken its toll on your thumb joints. I just want to play the game. I don't want to talk to people I've never met while being shot for the hundredth time by everyone that's better at first person shooters than I am, and I have no interest in Twatting or Bookfacing my friends while I'm waiting to respawn into someone's rifle sights. If video games ever become like 'Better Than Life' from Red Dwarf then I'll be at the front of the queue, but I've just lost interest now, and at this stage no matter how shiny and fast the new consoles might be, for the first time I really couldn't care less. Maybe this is a sign that I'm finally growing up and I'm ready to take up gardening and sitting on the sofa watching endless repeats of 'Last of the Summer Wine'.
A few weeks ago I had a bit of a tidy up during which I disconnected the XBox and shoved it out of the way in the bottom of the wardrobe, and I haven't touched it since. That doesn't mean this is a permanent state of affairs, but aside from fleeting thoughts that a couple of levels of 'Sniper Elite V2' might make a change during bouts of terminal boredom, I haven't really been bothered. I'd rather listen to music or go and fanny about with motorbikes in the shed.
On the subject of which, Project Donkey is now complete. It is MOT'd, taxed, insured, and currently awaiting a decision as to whether I sell it, keep it for a winter hack or just hold on to it for when the boy is sixteen. It's not a bad little beastie, although getting off a 1200 Bandit and getting straight on to that is the biggest culture shock imaginable ("there's lots of noise but nothing's happening") but eventually it struggles up to about 85kph (just over 50mph) leaving a delightful plume of blue smoke in its wake which is a great defense mechanism against potential tailgaters. The seat is hard, the riding position is cramped, and the vibrations through the bars and footpegs turn your hands and feet numb. On the plus side, having taken so long to wind it up to any kind of speed the last thing you want to do is slow down again, so it's fun to plot lines through bends and roundabouts that allow you to avoid needing to close the throttle, and eventually you start to feel that although it's slow, it is actually sort of a laugh. How long it will tolerate me wringing its neck is as yet unknown though so if I do use it from time to time the boy will probably need something different anyway because Donkey will be dead. Again.

My how things have changed...