Kicking Pigeons: Part Two

Discipline! What is it? Where does it come from? Why are some of us born with none whatsoever?

I felt Part One of my game diary came off quite well, all things (laziness, a redesigned Edge to read, Assassin’s Creed 2 to play) considered … but now I feel sick. I really don’t want to be doing this. I promised I’d do it but now that I actually do have to do it I’d rather not do it at all. You know what I mean?

It’s like having a job. Except there’s a bed in my office, the kitchen is just downstairs, I don’t have a boss and I’m not getting paid. And my workstation doubles as a portal to every embarrassing video of people falling over ever recorded by mankind. And also the kitchen has biscuits in it.

But no. We must not think in such terms. We must be strong, dedicated, disciplined. Then later … later there will be schadenfreude. Schadenfreude and hobnobs. Oh yes.

Well here I am then, right where I was when you left me. I’ve just been stood on this beach waiting, while you lot have been off tweeting moral outrage into your iPhones about tabloid skullduggery that is itself only a product of society’s insatiable hunger for gossip that you yourself have helped contribute to. I mean not that I’m blaming you personally for everything the News of the World did. But it is essentially your fault.

“Press E to use the binoculars,” a disembodied voice commands of me. I obey.

What a view.

“Press E to quit,” I am commanded. I do so.

Gosh, I’m glad of that discipline. I hope you’ve got as much discipline to read this guff as I have to write it …

Oh but what’s this?!

Adventure! Excitement! Intrigue!

Well no, not adventure. Or excitement. Or intrigue, per se. But a pigeon. An actual, hidden pigeon — one of the fabled 200 — on the pillar behind me.

I pop a cap in its ass (it’s whole body, really), and strike another off the list. 198 to go.

(And I was lying when I said I was waiting on that beach for you all. Actually I was doing story missions to open the gun shop and kit myself out with some weaponry. Breaking the narrative flow of the diary I suppose, but at least I wasn’t out buying Heat magazine and discussing Lindsay Lohan’s waistline and feeding into a climate where hacking missing teenagers’ answerphones was considered acceptable. You shits.)

The discharging of my firearm into a stationary bird appears to upset the beachfront tourists, so I jog away briskly. I’ve not gone far when two bald men screech their car to a halt and start shooting in my direction.

What are they, like plain-clothes investigators of pigeon-related crimes? The Pigeon Detectives, I guess you could call them.

“I can’t control myself,” I shout at them. “And I’m not sorry.”

“We found out,” they shout at me.

“I’m caught in your trap,” I shout at them.

“Take her back take her back take her back take her back boys,” they shout at me, which isn’t contextually very relevant, truth be told.

I shoot the Pigeon Detectives with my gun and they totally die — a sentence I’ve wanted to write for such a long time — then I steal their car to evade the regular cops who are now on my case. I reckon a judge would probably sympathise with me that I was making the world a better place by killing the Pigeon Detectives, but hey — car chases are fun, right?

This particular chase proves uneventful. The police input is decidedly lacklustre, as if they don’t really care that I just killed the Pigeon Detectives, as if the Pigeon Detectives were utterly charmless and entirely irrelevant and everyone is happy they’re dead. I drive a little way and the cops give up and go home, so I wrench the car around and head back in my original direction.

I pause at a hotdog stand to eat lunch and regain health, then continue with my mission.

The sun begins to set. All facetiousness about landfill indie bands aside, GTA IV is absolutely gorgeous at sunset. Store fronts glimmer, shadows stretch, and the streets are bathed in a golden light that makes me wistful, melancholic about the eternal passing of our world.

This was GTA IV’s real strength, I always felt. The driving and shooting systems were solid but not extraordinary, the missions a little uninspired, but Liberty City itself is still probably the most well-realised environment in all of gaming. It feels complete, I believe in it — and wandering its streets, watching its motions and cycles, I often experience the kind of emotions usually reserved for real life travelling. “Meditative,” is perhaps the word.

There is a little stairway down to the waterfront behind me. I follow it purposelessly, a Zen adventurer strolling through a new land, lost without the desire to be found, a rambling child, cloud-hidden, whereabouts unknown.

I have no needs. I want nothing but what is. I am empty, I ride the wind, thinking not of the weight of the past nor the terror of the future, but simply of what the present moment brings. I embrace yet I do not strive. I am silent as morning dew, alert as the deer, fullsome as cherry blossom in spring. I am Ryokan the fool-wanderer. I am Chuang-Tzu the butterfly-dreamer. I am —

FUCKING PIGEON! I’ve found a fucking pigeon! Waaaahhhh ohyesohyesohyes.

Oh I am so amazing at this game. I am the god of pigeon hunting. Bow to my superior pigeon-stalking skills. 197 to go, motherfuckers.

Ahem. Well yes. And perhaps we should leave it there for today munchkins. I think these diary entries will work better if they’re shorter but more frequent; less planned, more spontaneous. You know, like diary entries.

So tune in … at some unstipulated date in the future, for more adventures of Liberty City’s most lackadaisical pigeon hunter. Perhaps I’ll even travel further than 100 yards next time. No promises though.

Now … to the biscuit tin!



Filed under Ramblings

10 responses to “Kicking Pigeons: Part Two

  1. Will

    I got 5 after playing the game, I don’t remember killing them, I think it was just badly directed gunfire or reckless driving. If you ever find a swing set and slide in a playground next to a block of flats, drive a big car into them. Lots of fun 🙂

  2. Sam Rhodes

    I got steered here by RPS, and I just want to say that you’ve got a real gift. Some of the best games journalism I’ve ever read, easily and consistently up there with Bow, Nigger. (Here if you haven’t heard of it:

    • Rob

      Thanks, that’s a hell of a compliment!

      • Sam Rhodes

        No worries. If I can make one request, it’d be an interview from Taz. Because people who are not games journalists talking about games journalism is always interesting, and it’d be good for you.

      • Rob

        Haha ace. This whole blog is really a front to launch Taz’s career as a minor internet celebrity.

  3. I must say, your ability to express the Zen ethos via popular video games is a gift. I honestly feel myself de-stressing massively while reading a lot of your articles. The Zen perspective is the perspective of winners I’ve come to realise. Be in the moment, be now, and you’ve got everything you could ever want. You’re absolutely right that walking round a GTA game brings out that inner peace. I walk around my own city with the same attitude and I’m just chlled as can be these days. The past and future are cut away like balloons, and I stop floating and return to earth as-it-were.

  4. Great link to Coogan on Youtube by the way.

  5. Jonikiro

    I don’t always comment on fantastic gaming articles, but when I do, I post on yours.

    And Dos Equis.

  6. This has that great taste that kids love, and gives them what they need to grow and learn – with fifty percent of the recommended daily calcium intake!

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