Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Even When You Win, You Lose.

Up until last weekend, I was playing Dead Space on Xbox 360. Hilbotron had a great laugh watching the mixture of fear and nausea on my face as I snuck along flickering corridors, blasting necromorphs and cursing my chronic lack of ammo. I’m glad somebody enjoyed the experience! You see, since Sunday last, I have hung up my plasma cutters. I have been cut in half, decapitated and watched my disembodied foot float across in front of my face in zero g more times than I care to count. I have been ambushed, harried, chased and otherwise abused for over 16 hours, and have finally had enough!

To be honest, I only made it so far because I was cheating. Every chance I got, I used codes to refill my ‘stasis module’, allowing me to freeze enemies so that I could shoot off their limbs in slow motion. Nice. On top of that, I had been following a walkthrough (Props to Mahalo once again!) that tells me what comes next in each room. It worked well enough, and probably saved me some laundering of underpants, but ultimately, it has proved my undoing. Because now I know what is ahead of me, and I don’t fancy it one bit! ‘In the next room you will face 5 fetus necromorphs, 4 explosive limb necromorphs, 3 black crawling necromorphs and 4 black necromorphs.’ Am I going in? Fook that! Not today Sir!

So… in a roundabout way cheating has undone the game for me. I normally wouldn’t know what I’m facing and would continue so that I found out, but now that I know, I am staying put! It’s not the first time cheating has spoiled a game for me. That was with Age of Empires 1 on PC. My civilization was still building pyramids and walled cities, but I was being harassed by enemies every step of the way. Until I found the ‘Corvette and Rocket Launcher’ cheat. I kid you not! Oh, the fun of racing over to my enemies’ settlements and peppering them with missiles! The joy! Next thing I knew, I had wiped out every enemy in the game. I explored a land that was mine from coast to coast. I sped up time and built the biggest pyramid possible. It took all of ten minutes. Then I was bored. My game was finished. I couldn’t start another, because I knew the first time anybody attacked me, I’d get the scent of blood and call up the Corvette again. How could I resist?

Games work on the principle that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. The uncertainty calls us back every time. Will I survive the next level? Will we win the match? Will my hand be enough to take the pot? If a cheat is powerful enough, it removes that uncertainty. Would you go to the bother of training weekly and showing up for every game if you knew you’d walk over the opposition and romp to victory? Would you feel proud of yourself as you hoisted the cup? Be honest!

But why is this topic relevant? What does it tell us about the human condition and our lives today? Simply this: how many friends do you know who have been made redundant lately, or can’t find work in the first place? How many are struggling to feed their kids, keep up their mortgage payments so they don’t lose their house, or keep the banger on the road? How many can’t afford simple necessities like booze, comics and DVD boxsets? Loads, that’s how many! And what are these people pinning their hopes on? That’s right! The Lotto! The golden ticket that will help them clear the visa, get a decent motor, fix the stupid gas boiler, get a non-recession hair cut (if you don’t know what that is, count yourself lucky. Ask Tiny Shazam!), tell your bosses to stick their pay cut, or get the hell out of Ireland for the next 50 years.

Unfortunately, the Lotto is just another cheat. Anything over 1 million is pretty much enough to hockey the uncertainty principle. Enough to break the game. Will I pay my rent? Yes! Can I afford to take a holiday? Of course. Can I stay at home all day and work on my alcohol dependency? Yes, if you like! Where’s the fun in that? Your life would be like a roller coaster that only went up, and never came down again! We need the trials, the tribulations, the tests and the tears to make everything else worthwhile, to make it mean something. We need to strive, or all our wins are hollow victories. A Lotto win is just a Corvette with a rocket launcher, and however much we think we need it, we don’t. Far better to play the game, and take life as it comes.

Having said that, tonight’s jackpot is heading for 3 million. I’m going to do three lines with Lotto plus. Can you blame me?


  1. I'll miss the look of near vomiting, pale twitching and pupils the size of plates...good times...oh, and not to forget the horrendous gobble gobble sound in dolby that even freaked me out in the next room!!

  2. Not everyone would segue so gracefully from 'Deadspace' to the lotto...nice. All I'll say is I forgot to do the lotto this evening, I am one of those friends trying to keep the banger on the road. It's very important to remember your friends....X