I haven’t played videogames in many years. Now, before the pitchforks come out and you all take to Google Maps to figure out where I live so that you can set fire to my house and murder my chickens, let me explain why. I have several other hobbies which take up all of my time. When I’m not writing or reading, I’m training at the gym, and when I’m not doing those three things, I’m trying to keep my son fed and watered and occasionally bathed.
There just aren’t enough hours in the day.
However, it wasn’t always like this. As a child, and as a spotty teenager, I was a rabid—if not competent—gamer. Many hours were spent steering a mutant blue hedgehog through Green Hill Zone. I could batter the shit out of Dr Robotnik all day long, and Bowser took a pasting just as often. Growing up, console graphics were like modern-day glitches; if a fifteen-year-old was gifted a Frogger cartridge nowadays, and the console upon which to play it, there would be hell to pay. Childline would get involved, there would be lawyers, parents would end up serving ten-to-life in Sing Sing.
My brother and I were fortunate. Over the course of our childhood, we sampled many of the computers and consoles available at the time. Our screeching ZX Spectrum (48KB Ram! That’s less memory than your average garden hose) kept us entertained for years. We made our own games using the three-hundred-page program book which came with the computer, games which turned out to be nothing more than a rudimentary clock slowly ticking around the monitor, or an extremely basic choose-your-own-adventure RPG. So not only were the graphics shit, but you were the one responsible for putting them there in the first place. There was something almost masochistic about that, which is probably why I’m on so much medication as an adult. Thanks, Clive Sinclair.
Things got slightly better with the NES, and then the SNES—which was our main console throughout our entire childhood—but Photoshop was still many years off. Thankfully, we had Mario Paint, a basic drawing utility whose only redeeming feature was its built-in fly-swatting game, Gnat Attack. With Mario Paint, I created many awful 6fps B-movies, which were saved by hooking the whole thing up to a VHS and hitting record.
Still think you’ve got it tough, millennials?
When we weren’t creating our own Mario-themed texture stamps in Mario Paint, my brother and I would spend hour upon hour working our way through Super Mario All-Stars (1993), leading Link upon ridiculously tedious quests in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (1992), kicking seven shades of shit out of each other in Super Street Fighter II: The World Warrior (1992), and steering an anthropomorphic fox through the galaxy in Starfox (1993). Other games came and went--F-Zero, Sim-City, Kid Klown in Crazy Chase, Streets of Rage—but those were our mainstays, the ones I always remember playing, and the ones I would happily return to now.
If only the kid, whatshisname, didn’t need a bath once a week.
The Bad Game is out now from The Sinister Horror Company.
YOU DON'T PLAY IT... IT PLAYS YOU.
Hemsby is thriving; a seaside town on the up. The holidaymakers are flooding in, and so is the money. For the majority of those who live there, the resort is idyllic.
But not for Jamie Garrett. Fifteen years old and bored to tears, Hemsby is the last place he wants to be. Aside from the occasional sea rescue, nothing exciting ever happens.
That's about to change as a mysterious new game arrives at the beach-front arcade. No one knows of its origin, or the rules of the game, but soon it is the talk of the resort, attracting children far and wide with its complex gameplay and surreal graphics.
When the children of the resort become the perpetrators of uncharacteristic and brutal violence, Jamie realises that it is a side-effect of the game, and sets out to pull the plug on the machine before it is too late.
Dare you play THE BAD GAME?
Writer of bestselling "The Dead" Series. Author of paranormal novels, The Susceptibles and Deathdealers, and bizarro novellas Larry, Hamsterdamned!, Vinyl Destination, and The Human Santapede.