In The Name of the Father: Metal Gear Solid

It is 1998 and my father’s nicotine-stained fingers are much more nimble than my own. I need his fingers because without them Solid Snake will die.

Metal Gear Solid is a videogame, ostensibly, about infiltration. The protagonist, Solid Snake, must access a nuclear weapons disposal facility and neutralize a nuclear threat. Eventually Snake is captured and tortured and my childlike eyes are tortured too. My hero is dying.

My childish digits are incapable of the rapid tapping required to refill Snake’s health meter. It’s difficult even for my father, and I can see there’s an option to submit but my father is ignoring it. Maybe his temperament meant he refused to be bested by mechanics, maybe he wanted Snake to survive, maybe he knew I wanted Snake to survive. It didn’t matter. All I really know is Snake survived, the game went on.

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What Happened to the Animals?

According to the Rumour Mill located inside my mind where imaginary elf slave-workers craft speculative, semi-fictional statistics to coincide with relevant pieces of “journalism”, the amount of animals currently in existence is in rapid decline.

The ever-lengthening list of critically endangered animals features friends both feathered and furred – the Asiatic Cheetah, the Ethiopian Wolf, the Philippine Eagle, and the Puerto Rican Parrot are all dwindling in population. In reality, this is has no bearing on my life. I simply do not care.

However there is a species of animal whose critical status is highly significant to my survival. Not feathered, nor furred, not scaled, nor skinned, the creature that commands my allegiance, appreciation and adoration is in fact – pixelated.

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Hitler Did The Right Thing…

Relax. Not that thing. I have a few issues with his ‘pro-genocide’ stance myself.

No. Ze Führer did another thing. Something that would eclipse all of his previous atrocities. Something that would ensure he would once again patrol the bunkers beneath the Reichstag. Something that would ensure he would dominate the annals of history as not only a vicious dictator and diabolical genocidaire but as a cunning tactician and gatling gun-toting, sharpshooter extraordinaire.

He did a courageous thing, a noble thing, the right thing – Adolf Hitler posthumously allowed id Software to use his likeness and presence in their 1992 FPS Wolfenstein 3D.

Had he not had the good grace to condone such a pixelated arrangement, nobody except Hitler himself would have ever shot Hitler.

See, he wasn’t all bad? Pretty easy-going actually.

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The Teachings of Fiction: What Games Have Taught Me

When I’m not hiring and killing prostitutes, jacking and crashing cars, or ruthlessly gunning down helpless, disabled civilians due to a feckless overexposure to violent video games, I like to kick back, relax, and play some video games. It’s the perfect way to unwind.

But amidst these barbarian broadcasts urging all players to repeatedly stab everyone they meet in the face or heart, video games transmit an altogether different message. Saturating the minds of gamers with the most potent and dangerous weaponry known to man – knowledge.

Throughout my life I’m perpetually enlightened by a medium considered by many to be corrosive to the mind. There are studies relating gaming to the improvement of cognitive abilities, hand-eye co-ordination, logic, memory and multi-tasking. But in addition to these less tangible attributes, video games spray out facts like an edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica thrown in a petrol powered wood-chipper.

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Was gaming better without collectables?

A generation ago games were simpler. Since then TDM, fastest lap times and online leaderboards have hijacked the humble pleasures of the gamer. Back then you played for fun, you played for yourself. Back then you had no competition. Back then there were no trophies, no achievements to collect. You simply played. Or you didn’t. The choice was yours.

Now that choice has been snatched from us. Now not only must we play, but we must play until the bitter end, until 100%, until Platinum. Because now Jean Girard from Jarrier, Rhône-Alpes can scan our collection, Billy Sanchez from San Antonio, Texas can probe our performances, and Dave Smith from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire can scope our successes. Anyone can view our online achievements and stalk our statistics like some horrid progression goblin.

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