Let’s face it, real life sucks at times.
It’s filled with lots of annoying little things that nobody wants to do. Thank god games offer us some escape, yeah? We’ve compiled a top ten list of those irritating, annoying, boring and frustrating parts of day-to-day life that videogames handle so much better.
From saving the planet one recycled can at a time to getting poked and prodded by some random person in a lab coat, here are GameSpew’s top ten things that are so much easier in videogames.
1Cleaning and tidying
We’ve all been there; you’re wandering into town to check out what’s on sale at the game store, and it’s a fairly warm day, so you buy a can of drink on the way. You finish it. Now what? Either carry it around for hours and recycle it when you get home, or seek out a trash can and put it in. Simple.
But if you didn’t recycle, pangs of guilt would cripple you for weeks as you consider the lifetimes far beyond your own that will be severely affected by that aluminium can, sat rusting in a landfill until the end of time. “Welp, guess I’d better spill droplets of sticky, sugary drink all over myself and my new games until I get home then.” In a game though, you have no such worries. Drop it, and it’ll probably disappear into thin air. Sometimes you don’t even have to drop it. Once you’ve used an item, its container ceases to exist within the realms of our reality.
Well, there is one other alternative. Roll up all of your trash into a ball, starting with small things like staples and paperclips before moving on to your can then to old clothes, furniture, people, cars and even buildings. Katamari Damacy had the right idea for tidying up!
Real life is so boring. Dinner party? Suit. Wedding? Suit. Job interview? Suit. Compare it to videogames and it’s positively dull. Look, if I want to wear purple hot pants and a top hat while I run the (now second) most insane presidential campaign ever, then I will. If I want to snowboard in the Alps wearing a sleeveless vest and a spiked bike helmet then I will. If I want to attend my friend’s wedding wearing a dinosaur onesie, then I bloody well will!
Although I do reluctantly accept that Wei Shen’s supremely stylish, white-Tuxedo-with-blood-stains look was perhaps a little more cinematic. Show-off.
Eating is fun, sure, but mostly that means it costs more. Buying and eating a pizza is fun, for example, whereas trying to shop for a family of five on a budget in Tesco is not. Also in real life, you’re supposed to eat vegetables and healthy green things occasionally too. That’s why I’m happy that games let me replenish all of my health with a $3 Cluckin’ Bell. Or a random chicken I’ve just found in a wall. Mmmm, wall chickens.
Those of us old enough to remember WWII (well, the classic Medal of Honor games, at least) will fondly recall the health boost you got from sneaking bread from the dinner tables of hungry and unwitting French citizens. Try stealing French bread from your neighbours nowadays and see what happens. Clue: Nothing good.
4Paying for stuff
Unless you’re inherently filthy rich (…or a criminal), if you need something, you’ll have to go out and work for it. We need to give about 40 hours of our time every week to being a corporate shill in order to pay our rent, feed ourselves and put clothes on our back. Not in video games. Simply wandering around the countryside and chopping down a bush, or rifling through other people’s houses is generally enough to find something valuable. And it’s not even frowned upon. Well, unless it’s Skyrim.
Some games though, will have you doing manual labour in some form or another. In games like Jak & Daxter or Ratchet and Clank, some lowly villager might ask you to run an errand for them (herd yakows, catch fish, collect ten telepathopus brains – that escalated quickly!) and they’ll reward you with precisely what you need to continue: free stuff! Try rounding up 10 chickens into a coop in real life though, it’ll take a lot longer than it does in Zelda – and we’d want a hell of a lot more than a free jug of Lon-Lon milk for our troubles.
Consider this: It’s Christmas. Your workplace doesn’t even get a party any more due to budget cuts, but still, the boss gathers you all around to tell you all about the company’s performance over the last year and how well the market is performing in these turbulent ti… yadda, yadda, yadda. Press X to skip.
How good would that be? Lengthy conversations with mortgage advisors could be over in a matter of seconds, painful small-talk would cease to exist and that awkward experience of bumping into old friends or ex-partners would be a thing of the past. Fed up with someone? Choose the “Renegade” option and get rid of them. Actually interested? Choose branching questions and find out all you’d care to know. It would be bliss!
In real life, everything creates a paper trail. Buying food creates a receipt, and maybe you have to sign for your card. Going for a haircut or dentist appointment means that annoying bit at the end where you have to pretend that you know your plans for the next 12 months so you can book back in. It’s a nightmare.
Let’s take a more videogaming approach. Have Ammu-Nation ever run a background check on you? No. In The Sims did you have to apply for planning permission to build that pool to drown the family in? Hell no. Crashed your car into someone else’s? Just drive away. Ever been given a receipt for anything you’ve bought in any video game ever? Didn’t think so. A true paperless utopia. Well, unless we’re talking Papers, Please. But you know. The clue was in the name.
If you’ve ever tried to decorate a room of your house, you’ll know how much of a ballache wallpapering and laying laminate flooring can be. Don’t even mention plastering or painting ceilings. Let’s think about The Sims. Isn’t it great deciding you want vomit-green walls and diarrhoea-brown carpet, then with just a couple of clicks, it’s all done for you?
In real life, those jobs would take not just hours, but days! Agonising days of traipsing around B&Q to find just the right colour of paint or style of wallpaper, then yet more days of back-breaking labour to get the job done, before you decide you actually preferred it the way it was before. Ohoho, there’s no “undo” button in real life, kiddo!
In videogames though: click, click, click. Want an extension? Done. New bathroom suite? Voila. Ripping out a kitchen? Ten seconds max. No builders to pay, no scaffolders to annoy your neighbours, no freezing house because the wall’s missing, no left-over cement in the garden to ruin your patio. Just job done, no mess, no fuss. Great!
In Earth’s 4.5bn year history not a single living organism has ever visited a doctor’s office or a hospital for fun. You’ve got uncomfortably warm rooms, constant sneezing, overpriced vending machines and 15-year-old copies of Angling Times to contend with and the longer you stay, the more likely you’ll have to return.
Of course, I could do a better job of running them! How dare you. Haven’t you seen my Theme Hospital article? Things in games are so much simpler. Fallen from the top of Mt. Chiliad in GTAV? Wake up outside the hospital, already fixed up. Shot 73 times in the face in (the chronically over-looked) Resistance 3? A medkit will have you right as rain. Leeches attached to your bare flesh in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater? Burn them off with a lit cigar! What could go wrong? Lost a fight (and a couple of limbs) with Ragnaros in World of Warcraft? Chug down a potion and you’ll be back on your remaining foot in no time. All of these options are way better!
How many times have we been in a car or on a bus that’s broken down? Even if it’s just that one time, then it’s still too damn many. The wait in the cold or the heat (it’s never quite right) for some help to arrive is uncomfortable, dull and long. Let’s take a leaf out of Far Cry‘s book.
With the exception of Far Cry Primal any vehicular breakdown can be fixed, sharpish, with a blowtorch. Just stand there and heat up the front end for a few seconds and wahey! Off you go! Even the tanks in Battlefield 1 can be fixed this way.
An obvious trope to include here is GTA‘s famous “Pay ‘n’ Spray” garages – roll up in your significantly on-fire piece of junk that recently fell down a mountain and 5 seconds later – good as newt! Even Trials Fusion lets you ride your bike/minecart/unicorn as roughly as you like and by the time the next race begins, it’s purring like a kitten. (Sometimes literally, if it’s a cat riding that unicorn.)
Here we are at number one and I think it’s safe to say we’ve saved the greatest difference ’til last. In your day-to-day life there will be dozens of times when you must act responsibly. Crossing the street, driving a car, looking after your kids, not bumping into people when you’re walking around. We’ve got to be good citizens.
In videogames however… not so much. Run across roads, train tracks, runways, whatever you need to get where you’re going (who follows the map?!). When driving your vehicle, if a shortcut takes you through a heavily pedestrianised area, several lamp-posts and a duck-pond, then so be it. Jason would never have wandered off in Heavy Rain if we’d been paying attention, but hey, finishing shopping was way more important. It didn’t matter. He knows where he lives, right?
Now for my favourite – handing people things – Do it wrong in real life and you’ll get a funny look or called a dumbass. In videogames, however, who cares? Throw whatever you like at whoever you like and nobody says a thing! Place a coffee on their head; launch a hunk of animal flesh at them from across the room. “Oh, this necklace is very precious to you and you’d like me to deliver it to your daughter on the other side of the valley, would you? Oops, looks like I dropped it down that massive chasm. Bye!”
Videogames are great.