Summer Lovin’

Summer is really the dreaded enemy of video gamers. The sun is shining, the birds are singing and there's a spring in your step. Everything is calling you out to bask in the bright sunshine, or sit on the cool grass in the dappled shade of an oak tree.

Everything except the final boss on that pesky adventure game you've been trawling through in the murky months of what turned out to be a cold dark spring. Now, you've finally made it to the last level and the weather pixies have switched on summer. Oh fie ye weather pixies!

The trouble with summer is the sun. Oh, don't get me wrong, sun is good. I like sun. I live in England, so I probably like sun more than the next gamer, due to the fact that we don't get much.

The British are rather like fish; sensitive to changes in temperature. That is to say, once the temperature gets to about 19 degrees Celsius [that's 66 degrees Fahrenheit for you US readers] shorts, flip flops and pasty legs all come out to play. What north easterly wind whistling down off the shores of Norway, they say. It's sunny dang it and I'm wearing shorts to prove it is summer.

The only trouble with sun is that no matter where you place your TV, the screen always glares with a reflection of your own room instead of the alluring, flickering images within. So there I am on a beautiful sunny summer day and what am I doing? Frolicking in the neighbour's sprinkler in a summer dress? No. Eating strawberries in a flower meadow? No. I am sitting in my room with the curtains closed annihilating alien fiends. A wonderfully summery image I'm sure you'll agree.

There I am in the semi-darkness, killing, maiming, puzzling, swash-buckling and avenging. Meanwhile, every essence of my body is urging me to go outside or at least onto the balcony to bask in the glory that is a hot summer day in England. It just seems wrong to waste these infrequent days. But there are always planets to be saved and regimes to be overthrown, new outfits to be won and extra body kits to be earned.

So, I've done the next best thing to going outside and that's find a game that provides an outside experience. Step forward Harvest Moon. The tragedy is that I've swapped summer for a farming sim. But you do get to go outside and rear sheep and cows and chickens; all outside activities, albeit none of which provide a vital source of vitamin D.

I've just harvested my turnips and my cow, Nursey, is expecting her first calf. Hopefully, it'll be born soon so I can get back to milking her and earning some money. It's autumn on the farm, quickly becoming winter and I'm saving up for another cow. Luckily, autumn brings forth mushrooms, so I don't need much money to survive. I've become a bit of a forager, but things should pick up when I get my second cow.

Who needs an outside when you can farm night and day? My diligence has paid off because I've got me a fiancée from the next farm. Everything's gearing towards a spring wedding I think and I want the farm ship shape by then. Summer will just have to wait I'm afraid.

I've grown particularly fond of my sheep, Cloudy. He's particularly friendly and follows me round the field when I'm gathering hay for fodder. But the best thing is that if I brush him his eyes shine (with glee, not literally, I don't own a demonic sheep). And with enough care and attention he produces a golden fleece. Now, I don't care what you say, but a fleece of Homeric proportions is not something to be sniffed at.

Yes, all the illusions of an outside life are present. And the thickness of my curtains lends itself well to denying the existence of sunshine.

I have tried playing with the curtains open, but to no avail. It is the curse of the gamer, that they are doomed to spend summers in darkened rooms clutching the umbilical cord that is their joy pad.

The one saving grace about living in the UK is that the likelihood of having a long, hot summer is slim to not a hope at all.

I have a bank holiday to look forward to this week, so I guess I should get out and about to make the most of that third day. Fortunately, the weather pixies know exactly when it's a bank holiday weekend and switch on the rain.

Do not fear for my health and my sanity dear play chums. I live in a town that is nestled on the banks of the river Thames, so the call of riverside drinking is often too much to bear on a sunny day. I think I'll reserve Harvest Moon for rainy days. Then I can pretend the weather in England doesn't really suck by drawing the curtains and raising some summer crops in Forget-me-not Valley.

Most played:
Harvest Moon

Most wanted:
Halo 2

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