Monday, July 16, 2007

Games on a train...

Excellent distraction on the train: a table of four ultra-cool young men brandishing PSPs, which they had wirelessly linked together to take part in a monumental pixel-powered battle that, for all I know, is still going on now. There were woops of laughter, shouts of "oooh" and "aaaah" and "d'oh!", cries of "shit!" and one young chap trying to beat a retreat due, he insisted, to travel sickness: "I can't look at this anymore. I took a tablet but I don't feel well. I don't want to play." The others wouldn't let him retire from the game. Yet they were nice lads. They had muted the volume, one of them getting quite panicky and apologetic when he accidentally un-muted the sound. Quite a large proportion of older passengers were dumbfounded by this contemporary behaviour; they shook their heads, they tutted, they wriggled and writhed in their seats, with thoughts of breaking the glass to bring the train shuddering to an emergency stop. They would have preferred a more obvious irritant - a drunk, perhaps, someone with a gratingly tinny mp3 player or even a touchy, feely traveller who brushed his hand close to their nether regions. Their looks and grumbs suggested that hand-held games consoles - indeed, any type of games console - are evil, unfathomable machines of the future that must be crushed before we all cease to sit quietly when travelling by rail and, instead, start shifting our fingers and thumbs and having fun.

I was re-reading Douglas Coupland's Microserfs as I headed down the line towards Leeds. It's remarkably un-dated, given that it's about a Microsoft and tech-generation that probably no longer exists (although it captures the mindset of anyone that has to spend eight hours plus in front of a monitor, whether in IT or not). As ever, there are remarkably profound moments when you realise that Coupland has been stupendously prophetic - The Oops! game being a spot on description of what Second Life is.

Leeds today, as per the usual pattern of my current life. Dropped in at the Leeds Art Gallery to look at Fairy Tale. As usual I was singled out by curators as a wrong 'un, and mysterious figures in black, wielding walkie-talkies, kept cropping up alongside me, forcing me to behave even more suspiciously than I - judging by legions of curators' attitudes - already do.

No comments: