I played games as a kid. Nintendo’s consoles were my bread and butter, and you can probably estimate my age with considerable accuracy when I say that they were the Super Nintendo, the Nintendo 64, and latterly the GameCube. I varied my diet with the Playstation 2 and the PC, and refreshed my palate with Game Boys of various types. My tastes were not elite, nor were they especially refined, but I had a lot of fun in my virtual worlds of choice – Hyrule, Spira, Lylat, the various monochrome worlds inhabited by the Pokemon, and countless others. I exhausted them, turning over every stone, using them as playgrounds, sometimes regardless of the way the game was meant to be played. I spent far longer than was probably intended by the makers of Mario Kart 64 off-piste in ‘Royal Raceway’, exploring the grounds of the castle (though somehow never discovering this). As my ideas of success expanded to include exam grades in the real world instead of high scores in the virtual world, the former began to take precedence. I got my place; I went to university.
For a lot of people – dare I say the majority? – that’s where this virtual side of life ends. Technological playgrounds become limited to social networking websites, which are deemed for some reason an acceptable waste of time, quite unlike childish immersion in video games. Avatars become profile pictures. I can haz job, let alone cheezburger. ‘Real life’ takes over. Read the rest of this entry »