[New to AJ's New Year's Resolution series? Read the intro here, or just dive straight in.]
With the first game written off and the accompanying article finished bar a few screenshots, I felt that taking a holiday in Spain would be no problem. I figured I could start my next game when I got back, write up some rambling nonsense that was barely related to it in no time, and be done with it.
After getting up at an inhuman hour (7AM) to catch my flight out I found myself with 15 minutes to spare, so I decided to browse this news vendor. Picking up a copy of Official X360 magazine I flipped through to a page that, coincidentally, had information on new releases for 2013. As I read on I could feel a weird, growing itch that started in my brow and spread through my scalp.
I caught myself poring over a column on Sacred 3. I didn’t even like Sacred 2, in fact I actively disliked it, but I still found myself wondering when Sacred 3 was due out and whether I could play it.
Only two weeks into the year and I was aching to buy a new video game. I put the rag down and went to catch my flight, but not before picking up a PlayStation magazine and lingering on images of the new Devil May Cry.
Four hours later I was in Barcelona and sitting in my hostel room. I had a few hours to kill so I went out and got lost in the criss-crossing pedestrian streets in city centre. Barcelona is a beautiful city with a ton of history and an obsession with skateboards.
I overheard a comment from a travelling American about the buildings being several centuries old and it made me laugh as I was reminded of one the dumber lines in Mass Effect 3. It comes when Liara, the blue-faced alien, tells you that a building on her home planet is “several thousand years old”. This comes after she has just talked about the fact that people of her species live for around a thousand years. So to put that into context, this blue alien getting all breathless over a building that old would be like me getting giddy over an edifice constructed in the 1960s.
I almost kicked myself. Here I was surrounded by Picasso museums and Gaudi parks and all I could think about were video games.
I snuck a couple of litres of San Miguel into the hostel and started twiddling my thumbs, at a loss as to what to do. I ended up catching up on a few emails while watching four hours of UFC in which Henderson demolished Diaz. Don’t worry; you don’t need to know who those people are or what UFC stands for.
Without realising I found myself googling THQ, the erstwhile owners of the UFC game franchise. I tried to snap out of that and went for another walk.
On the second day it was worse. After walking for about two hours through a few of the streets I had already wandered through the day before I was bored of Barcelona.
I entertained the idea of buying a DS and a game I already owned. I tried to rationalise it as not breaking my New Year’s Resolution as it would not be adding to my backlog, per se. What eventually dissuaded me was the cost… and the fact that I couldn’t find a games store.
Returning to my hostel and logging onto my PC, I booted my Steam client. Maybe there was a cheap copy of a game I owned on X360 (like Beat Hazard or Spelunky). That went nowhere as the wireless connection was way too flakey for me to envisage downloading anything significant.
I checked my games folder before remembering that I had deleted everything – including Minesweeper – to stop myself from getting distracted when I should be working. I went to my Kindle and groaned as I knew I had done the same thing with that.
I felt like Ewan McGregor’s character in Trainspotting when his parents lock him in his room to go cold turkey, except in my case there were neither hallucinations nor shitting in buckets.
A lot of ex-smokers say that they miss having something to do with their hands. I totally understood that as I sat in that room, craving a controller or just something to fiddle with (in a purely platonic fashion, obviously) to take my mind off the fact that time was ticking away.
I was so desperate for a distraction that I started picking arguments with people on the Internet and even going on Twitter to see if Jean Grey was continuing her war with sports fans.
By the third day I had resorted to the gaming equivalent of a nicotine patch and was watching endurance playthroughs on YouTube and 2012 compilations of “Two Best Friends Play”.
It is a miracle I made it on to a plane on the fourth day. I shared a row with a Wrigleys representative who had breath like an open sewer pipe. Every time he sneezed in my direction it was like a spinach-inspired fart in my face.
It was fucking weird.
Next Week: Halo 4.
Addendum: Please note that a lot of the above has been exaggerated for comedy purposes. I wasn’t physically shaking or showing any other withdrawal symptoms. I can imagine that this article, in combination with last week’s post and its exhibition of violent tendencies, implies that I was one step away from selling my body for a game of Tetris and have no control of my video gaming vice.
Well, if there had been no Tetris, Puyo Pop or Doctor Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine would have done.