The world's gone mad and predictions say it should last at least a month. Gamers the world over are sliding their consoles back under the TV and hanging up their control pads. There's a more important game to be played at the moment and that's the beautiful game of football (or soccer to all those Stateside). Yes folks, it's the World Cup.
There is of course the small matter of the United States of the Blissfully Unaware. Er"hello, America! For once your team doesn't totally suck. It's very uncharacteristic for you to miss such a prime flag-waving opportunity. Are you feeling feverish? Or maybe it's a patriotic commitment to playing your home grown console, the Xbox. Fair play if this is the case, but somehow I doubt Middle America's dedication to that most noble of pastimes – that's gaming by the way. Come on people, keep up.
Meanwhile, across the pond"
Last week a nation came to a stand still, as England played Argentina. The streets of London were deserted, apart from stray shoppers who gathered outside TV shops to watch. The only other people about were the criminally insane and American tourists wondering where all the "British people" had gone. The games industry switched off their consoles and actually used the televisions in their offices for their original purpose – watching TV!
The American tourists soon knew all about it when we erupted onto our streets to celebrate a one – nil victory!
The Government has urged employers to let workers have TVs and radios at work to minimise mysterious bouts of illness during England matches. Extended lunch breaks, to accommodate the footie, are now officially allowed. Even pubs are opening for the 7 a.m. matches, for those that can stomach a beer that early. What other sport could achieve this?
Fear not dear gamers because of the time difference the matches are all over by 2 p.m. and the console can be restored to its rightful position. Of course the only option is to slip a football game in and replay all the matches you've just watched on TV!
Konami, those champions of all the best football games, have spared a thought for gamers who want to watch football and play football (via a game obviously). The little masterminds have been plotting with UMBRO (they're quite big in football shirt circles and the like) and they've come up with Bar UMBRO, a dedicated World Cup drinking hole in London. Apart from serving food, drink and football all day and night, folk will be able to sample the delights of Konami's latest football offering, ISS2 on PS2 and Xbox. Now you can't say fairer than that.
But I know there are some among you who have absolutely no interest in football (just keep a low profile and maybe nobody will notice). So to accommodate, because that's the kind of gal I am, here's a list of games you should be playing to break the football monotony.
Ico – Small boy in big castle rescues ethereal girl and has to protect her as they try to escape together. No game matches it for atmosphere, sense of scale and no game will break your heart like this one does.
Rez – Hypnotic, eye-bleeding graphics that hark back to the wire-frame style of Tron. A shootemup with a difference – create music as you shoot and watch your character evolve. Frankly, it's awesome.
Halo – Needs no introduction. Immerse yourself in the mass execution of alien hordes. You know you want to.
Monkey Ball – Hey, there's like these little monkeys and they're in these balls and then you have to roll them around and stuff and this one time"well, anyway, it's fun.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2 – Oh, did I say games to break the football monotony"oops, I forgot.
But before I go, I must just congratulate Jeff Agoos of USA for a)scoring an own goal (gutted) and b)giving away a penalty kick in his next extraordinary World Cup performance against South Korea. Two quality moments to be remembered and yes we did laugh. I think the FBI should be doing a background check. He could be an Afghani plant, sent to sabotage the US World Cup efforts. It's something to be considered.