For sale: 49 hour misogynistic holiday. Genuine reasons for sale.
Around a decade ago, I became entranced and immersed in a seedy world of illegal acts. At first they were confined to the screen, as I ran around stealing cars, smuggling drugs and shooting female sex workers. It was a social activity that was enjoyed with friends. At first. Then it spilled over to my real life, and became something I would do on my own. Taking performance enhancing psychotropics so that I might steal one more car or visit one more lap dancing club. Such was the nature of my addiction that I quit my job and left the country. Goodbye Grand Theft Auto – Vice City.
No longer would I work through my inadequacies in a game, and confuse the actions of an on screen psychopath with personal vengeance. No more would I ignore the story, the goals and the aims, and just obsess about trails of destruction like some teenager from a small town in the Midlands. I was free, and I set about living again. Working on my real self.
Dick Chopp and I
Nine days ago I lay on the table listening to Phil Collins as Dr Richard Chopp performed a vasectomy on me, something I had mixed feelings about. The ends may have justified the necessary logical means – that’s not what I was mixed up about. It was the whole needles in the scrotum thing. I told everyone at the Doctor’s office that I have been described as “hard to numb”, referring to a phrase that my dentist once used, not to any Pink Floydesque substance abuse problems. I was nervous about the needles in the balls. So they gave me a Xanax before they shot me up with anesthetic.
The upside of course, was that I was confined to stay on the couch for two days afterwards, ingesting vicodin and asking friends and family to perform sundry tasks for me and ordering vegan pizza. Giving up sperm delivery and meat in one month was surely not a blow to any masculinity in my self image. Of course not. One thing I ordered from a good friend was Grand Theft Auto V and a Playstation 3.
Soon I had a wireless six axis controlled in one hand, and some frozen peas in my crotch. And pain killers on tap. In an instant it was like being a student again. Except for the bruised balls and the frozen peas. That was new. At least in a physical and real sense.
Bruised but not beaten
In five days with no responsibilities I had racked up about 49 hours of game play, which may not sound excessive. Unless you consider the fact that I have two small kids which limits how much day time play I can perform as my avatars run around swearing and slaughtering people in blood of a variety of temperature. Oh, and a wife and a business to run. And people visiting to see how I was doing. I was back in the noughties.
Grand Theft Auto is not a small game. It is vast. There are a set of non-linear stories which pulled me along while I had my nuts on ice. There are so many touches and experiences and little details that make the whole thing very very compelling. I say that when I was playing the last game in London, that it gave me a framework on which to understand America by when I arrived here. Gangs, disgruntled postal workers and consumerism where all laid out. This version of the game has more of the same. As you drive along you hear and see commercials mocking popular American culture. You wake up in tighty whities covered in blood surrounded by bodies and with a beer bottle in your hand. You sit on the couch and watch cartoons within the game. The experience is uncanny. Especially when you live in the US.
My wife humored me at first, and I was enormously happy when I was high as a eunuch on morphine, sharing the game with her on the couch. Taking it in turns to kill people, and showing her what the buttons did. I couldn’t believe she enjoyed it. Luckily, she didn’t see me torture that guy that one time. Even I was uncomfortable with that. After a few nights of this, she turned away from the game, and the slow motion annihilation of vanities. And perhaps more so, the effect that it was having on me – who I was becoming.
Houston in a day
One day, I unexpectedly had to drive for around nine hours to Houston and back during peak time. So in the morning I played at being a lecherous psychopath driving around going to strip clubs. Yes, in the game, the pole performers do more than just dance on stage, and they even call one of my characters up. So I drove on-screen. Then I drove all afternoon, and stopped at some stores. Western stores and outdoor sport stores with metal detectors to force patrons to hand in their concealed hand guns. All the stuff which is alien to my English self, and laid out so humorously and elegantly in the game’s world. I took care of my business and stopped off at a gentleman’s club in Houston. Just to see what it was like, and to see whether semi-naked art really did mirror art. Then I drove back home and popped some pills and drove on-screen some more.
Aside from the assault on my sense of balance, I had started to show physical effects. To maintain posture I would alternate standing up and sitting down while I played. I would go back to bed after the kids had gone to school so that I could stay up all night bathed in the glory of grenades and total overkill and drowned in the sound of siren wails.
It’s easy to empathize with the games dominant anti-heroes – one is a middle-aged family man full of guilt, another a psycho devoid of any moral compass and the third is an aspiring gang-banger. None of which accurately represent my position, so why do I find empathy with their situations? I rarely need to murder people. Though I have to say, old habits die hard. I can’t hire a hooker without shooting her and retrieving my hard earned gangster money afterwards. I just can’t.
Oh, and as for the three characters obviously I’m the first guy with the kids, the therapist and the yoga.
If I had to rate the game, I would say it is dangerously awesome. 100% fantastic. I can’t find a single fault with it – from the game play to the stories which are so engrossing that I actually laugh out loud while I’m playing – even when I’m not high. The story lines are so great – killing clowns, wiping out unruly hipsters, planning bank heists – that even when some of the sub-game missions simply involve hitting the X button as many times as possible, I do them willingly. I can find the motivation in my artificial life to perform mundane tasks that I lack in the real world.
In the 90s I wrote a Master’s thesis on the impact of video games on society. I never realized that I would be writing about my future self. I didn’t even dare open the Pandora’s Box of playing with friends and/or strangers online. When would it end?
It had to end so that I can return to pretending to be a functional member of society. I stopped taking pain killers and drinking and staying up late at night. Well, I will do as of today.
And the PlayStation 3 must go
My good friend paid $292 for it in cash at Best Buy last week, so I imagine an enterprising person could take it back and be reimbursed. It has been used for about 50 hours total. And some of that means that all of the updates are downloaded, so you won’t have to sit about with frozen peas on your balls while you wait for them to download and install for an hour. The controller is charged and ready to go, so you won’t have to sit three feet from the machine with the wire plugged in. If anything, it’s better than new, if dynamic burn-in means anything to you. It even has those annoying black plastic coated wire things to wrap the cables in, all the boxes, and a free month of Sony’s online experience as I never dared use it.
- One 500 GB Black PlayStation 3
- One wireless 6-axis rumbling controller
- Wires to connect it to your screen
- One copy Grand Theft Auto V
- 30 days free trial of PlayStation Plus – the online system with free games
- Lots of handy saved games
- All the boxes and manuals
- Frozen peas if you need them. No Vicodin though. Referral to a good urologist if you want a vasectomy
- Paid $270 ($292 including taxes). Have receipt if you want to return it. Available on Amazon for $269 plus tax
- Yours for just $240
Contact me if you’re interested.