Saturday, 16 January 2016

Other Worlds

I'm a geek. I won't apologise. Give me a great book, great movie, or a great computer game and I can be gone for hours. I like to inhabit other realms, to transcend my own experience and step into the imagination and creativity of others. I'm particularly intrigued as to what this year's crop of virtual reality equipment is going to offer. I've been monitoring this with ever increasing interest, and the potential for Internet beating virtual experience is closer than we could have imagined. Ever since I was a kid I've loved sci-fi and fantasy, the 80’s being the decade when I evolved from chubby kid to creative young adult. Oh God the movies I consumed, the books I read. And I'm from the original stock of people for whom computer games were an obsession. One of my particular bugbears is when I hear people saying “It’s just a game”, and whenever I hear that canard I immediately file the speaker as an ignoramus. The amount of artistry and creativity that goes into some software truly blows my mind, and I'm not in the least surprised that gaming is now the largest strand of the global entertainment industry, outstripping film and music and literature. For almost four decades I've used this medium to visit and virtually experience things I shall never do in the real world. I've raced grand prix cars, I've hidden from the alien from the iconic Ridley Scott movie, and walked post apocalyptic landscapes in search of ancient artifacts. What I love about gaming is that it is the one medium where you get to be the hero (or the villain), and that the world responds to your choices and actions. For me it's a richer and more engaging experience than just watching something, even though I also adore a good movie or well made series. As an aside, I spent some time a few years back getting quite good at Go-Karting. I was genuinely pretty good, and if I'd had money or time I'd have loved to pursue this further. Just the other day I was playing a Karting simulation with a force feedback wheel and pedals, and the experience was eerily similar to the real thing. That's a good example of how far the technology has come. It felt almost real, from the feedback through the wheel to the nuanced responsiveness of the pedals. And that's but one example. Add some 7.1 headphones and you've got 360 virtual surround sound making the experience even more authentic. I've been a gamer since I was 12-13 years old. I'm now 44. I enjoy the experience more than ever and it's been cool to see this medium rise to prominence. That's not to say that a good book cannot be just as all consuming because I've read too many great books to dare suggest this. But for me I enjoy the complete aural and sensory immersion of a well crafted piece of creative software. I should also add that I'm also a huge fan of TV shows like Game Of Thrones or Homeland, and House Of Cards is also magnetic viewing for me. In fact to heck with it; I love it all. Anything that lights up my neurons and takes me out of the day to day. Not that I don't adore reality too, because I'm actually just as happy up a hill or walking around a lake or negotiating the perils of a coastal path. Oh fuck it I'm into everything, and I haven't even discussed the bedroom yet. In fact I'm not going to. If you've the stomach, or too much free time, I'm afraid that's one story you'll have to concoct yourself.

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