Last Saturday morning, I found myself at a loose end. "First things first, I guess I'd better drag myself out of bed," I thought and hauled on some clothes.
Now, some girls (and boys) would have gone shopping, or called a friend to "do lunch." I could have gone to the pub for an afternoon drinking session with friends, but only one thing was on my mind – a day of quality gaming stretched before me. No distractions, no interruptions and no pressing engagements. It was just me, the PS2 and a couple of games that needed thorough investigation.
There's a lot to be said for solitary gaming. It's often when I get my best results. Left to my own devices, I'm free from the pressure to impress onlookers and hence ending up making a right hash of anything I was trying to achieve. You may deny the need to impress, but mark my words, in the back of any gamers' mind is the overwhelming temptation to pull off a fly move and bask in the gasps and hoots of approval from their peers. And sometimes, adrenaline is your enemy and makes your hand a little shaky or a little clammier than you'd like and instead of hitting triangle, it slips down and catches the edge of circle and all is lost.
Food and drink were pushed to the back of my mind, as I set up the PS2 and camped myself on the sofa with a box of Pringles. It's official, Pringles are the bread and water of gamers; a stackable chip that comes in a box, no heating or preparation required and you can pop a couple in whilst games are loading or saving – perfect! Anything that involves cutlery doesn't even bear thinking about because it just ends up in your lap whilst you're gazing at the screen.
Chocolate's no good either, because little crumbs drop down and melt in embarrassing places or make your pad sticky with chocolate fingerprints. No it's honest to goodness carbs, mixed with a dash of MSG that's needed in a situation like this. And "original" is the best flavor, otherwise you end up with all the flavouring powder stuff all over your fingers, then you have to lick them and then it's back to sticky fingers again.
There's a certain kind of game needed to get the most out of solitary gaming. Quality is of the utmost importance. It's all very well taking pleasure in assassinating a bad game with a bunch of mates, but the truth of the matter is there's no room for shabby gaming when you're playing solo.
The next step is to decide whether you want a singular gaming experience, or whether you're going to chop and change between games. If you're going for the singular option (my personal favourite), then the choice of game is essential and can make or break your solitary gaming day. The trick is to strike a balance between mindless fun and absorbing gameplay.
I had Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force for company all day and quite frankly, it served me well. Not only does the game feature the voices of the actors from the show for the ultimate in authenticity, but the first level was on a Borg ship. You can imagine my joy, dear play chums. When you're playing a Star Trek game, all you want to do is blow some Borg butt to Smithereens and shout, "Assimilate this!""er, anyway. The second mission involved running around Voyager and shutting down the warp core!! I mean, how much more Star Trek can you get? No answers on a postcard, thanks anyway.
My solitary gaming day was a roller-coaster ride of emotion. Irritation and frustration were right up there, but when you're on your own it's a question of knuckling down and clicking "restart."
"Quit game" is not an option when it comes to solitary gaming. Well, I mean you've got nothing better to do, it's now half three in the afternoon, all your friends are out by this time, leaving televised table tennis and fishing programs as your only other source of entertainment. Let this be a warning, solitary gaming needs complete commitment and the burning of all other social bridges, so no getting bored by the afternoon.
I didn't get bored, I just got a gamers' migraine"occupational hazard.