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I play games with street lamps

24 July 2000
James plays games.

I play games with street lamps. Is this because I am Grorg, mighty ancient Giant, finally emerged from my hidden magic Cave in the Andes, eon-dormant until awakened by cosmic alignment, and there is nothing I like more than trampling some Scandinavian hamlets, and plucking the edge of a bahn or two to play nocturnal pick-up-sticks at the summit of Table Mountain?

No, it is not. The lamp game can only be while lying supine on the back seat of a moving car at night.

The game is played thus, and it is a very good game. Each street light is an enemy, and you are the hyper-turbo laser gunner. Specific raindrops on the window (it also must have recently rained in order to play) form your cross-hairs. Therefore, you aim by writhing around until you align your cross hairs with the target instantaneously. You must destroy each enemy that passes (by consciously making some form of sudden physical movement) in order to ensure that your ship survives and the child-queen is safely delivered, and the accession ensured. If five get past your vigilant watch, you die a death of instant vaporisation as the hull of your turret-pod is breached, and every cell of your body instantly evaporates due to the immediate pressure release. You may be glorious, or gaseous.

This is a good game, because it makes sense. If you do not play the game, and play it well, it is the end of civilisation as you know it, and the evil tyrant dynasty will begin their reign. It is not real, of course, but that is immaterial. It makes sense. Games are about good and evil. Game is soft war. While you (probably) survive at the end of the game, to have won is a victory for justice, and a future of peace and harmony for your people is ensured.

To lose is to have bowed to the powers of Lucifer to pillage the smouldering villages of your vanquished civilisation to find any remaining impressionable virgins to take back to their stinking capital and enjoy during their festering, drunken sinful celebrations of ill-gotten victory. But such are the spoils of war.

To make a game 'good' is to make it feel that it is important to win. Physical sports do this the best. Tennis is a joust. Two face each other alone - only their skill and the gods of fate stand between victory and honour, and defeat and disgrace.

Football is a curious mixture between a Roman colosseum, as your team of honest righteous slaves take on the pack of hungry stupid beasts with large teeth, and a medieval battle ground, where archers send volleys forward, pikemen form supposedly impenetrable lines, and the swift cavalry dash up the flanks in the vain hope of cutting across the opposition for victory. The crowd chants on their team, feeling like they are the reinforcements on the hill, waiting for the order to charge in and seal victory. Football is unnaturally fair - why have eleven men each, when you could have eleven thousand? Now that would be a game.

Computer games are the most obvious pretender to the throne of true war. They have to make up their own little fantasy of importance, and so are the very good games. From the almost sexual frisson as the Space Invaders drop zig-zag bombs onto your five meagre defences, to the long-term planning and plotting required for Civ II, all computer games create some sort of imaginary battle between good and evil, where you must pit your wits against adversity in order to gain some full-motion-video giving you the satisfaction of knowing you have saved the day.

Some games take a while to understand why they are 'good'. One of these is golf. I don't get golf, and so it is a bad, stupid, waste of space and excuse for dumb clothes. And is boring on TV. This is because for me it is pure frivolity - no reference to any sort of primal need for victory and survival, apart of course from the obvious progenitive references of trying to get your ball in the far-away hole with your big stick.

But I do get snooker. The dark rooms in which it is played, the silent deliberation of the mutual enemies, snooker is the game of the pure strategist. Always thinking several moves in advance, a snooker player uses Machiavellian cunning coupled with pin-point physical skill to vanquish his opponent. A snooker game is not a battle (like most other games) but a full scale war, played over many battles, horns locked in the ultimate tense conflict.

But face it, not as good as Giant pick-up-sticks. If you're an enormous neolithic one-eyed palindrome. Did I not mention that Grorg is also a cyclops? He is.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
16 October 2003. James writes: Jakesy's School of Urban Driving
24 September 2003. James writes: Chapter One
4 September 2003. James writes: The Silicon Soul
14 August 2003. James writes: A Room With 100 Seats
24 July 2003. James writes: English For Beginners
3 July 2003. James writes: Coldplay are crap. Discuss.
9 June 2003. James writes: It Takes All Sorts
22 May 2003. James writes: Lesson 2: Buying his Gran for a tenner
1 May 2003. James writes: Rosencrantz and Leytonstone
10 April 2003. James writes: Character Building
20 March 2003. James writes: So This Is It. What Are We Going To Do About It?
27 February 2003. James writes: Street Level Zero
6 February 2003. James writes: Reference: James Noteworthy
16 January 2003. James writes: Kissing George Clooney for just £99!
26 December 2002. James writes: Hongkong In Four Tableaux
5 December 2002. James writes: We Are Your Idea
14 November 2002. James writes: The Knight Of Spring Fervent
24 October 2002. James writes: Go On, Be Honest
7 October 2002. James writes: Cold Comfort
12 September 2002. James writes: Peas In A Pod
22 August 2002. James writes: Seed Investment
1 August 2002. James writes: We Are QPR
11 July 2002. James writes: The Road to Ossuna
20 June 2002. James writes: Pret A Teleporter
27 May 2002. James writes: A Play On Words
2 May 2002. James writes: Labour Saving Device
8 April 2002. James writes: Beggaring Belief
14 March 2002. James writes: Small Things
18 February 2002. James writes: Drop Dead Letters
24 January 2002. James writes: High-Rise Rhapsody
27 December 2001. James writes: My drift's too hip to resist.
6 December 2001. James writes: My Lord Has No Nose
12 November 2001. James writes: A Job For Life
18 October 2001. James writes: Which is the cleverest animal?
24 September 2001. James writes: Interview With An Automatum
30 August 2001. James writes: Each To Their Own
6 August 2001. James writes: An Escape, In Sonata Form
12 July 2001. James writes: Truckloads Of Goodies
18 June 2001. James writes: There's No Such Thing As A Coincidence
24 May 2001. James writes: It's All True - The Paper Says So
30 April 2001. James writes: A Letter From Prisyn
16 April 2001. James writes: I Quit
15 March 2001. James writes: An Essay In Procrastination
15 February 2001. James writes: Confessions Of An English Sand-Eater
22 January 2001. James writes: The Future And The Pasta
28 December 2000. James writes: Never drink with men in red
4 December 2000. James writes: The Underground
9 November 2000. James writes: Right answer. Wrong answer
16 October 2000. James writes: The March of Proudfoot: Part I
21 September 2000. James writes: You haven't got a chance
28 August 2000. James writes: Bad, man. Wicked
24 July 2000. James writes: I play games with street lamps

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