Hello cherubs and cherubettes. Yes, cherubettes. That’s the preferred plural form for a fictional female angelic being, I believe.
“Cherubette”. It looks kind of like “courgette”, when you skim read it. Why do some people call courgettes “zucchinis”, huh?
Zucchini sounds like a brand of espresso coffee machine, or perhaps a hip new grooming style for your pubic region. “The Brazilian is so 2009 dear, true cosmopolitan women get a Zucchini.”
This is … I’m derailing myself, aren’t I? Derailing myself before the train has left the station. I should be continuing my game diary documenting my search for Liberty City’s 200 hidden pigeons, not debating the phonic associations of variations in vegetable-based nomenclature.
Courgettes are vegetables, right? They’re … squashes? Or … pulses? Just a kind of rubbish cucumber?
No, enough of this!
Let’s go find Nikko. What the devil is that crazy cat up to?
Not much, clearly. But we can change that. We have the power.
Well, I do. You really just get to sit there and read this anonymously. AND JUDGE ME, of course. Let’s not forget that.
So, off we go. I get in the Rust-a-tron 3000 and drive away.
— And I should probably point out the obvious here, which is that I’m not very good at naming things. Though you’ve probably guessed that, as you’re reading a blog called “World One-Two”.
It’s a reference to the first underground level of Super Mario Bros., if you didn’t work it out, playing off the subtitle “Notes from the Gaming Underground” — basically because I wanted everyone to know I’ve read Dostoyevsky. I should have just called it “Bobby P’s House of Gaming Goodness.”
NO THAT’S AN AWFUL NAME.
See what I mean?
So anyway, I get in the rusted-up-car-with-the-hip-name, and just drive. I dunno where I’m going. The methodical approach didn’t sit so well with me last time, and today I figure on not figuring anything out.
I drive to the affluent suburban community of Beach Gate. The reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you’ve got … THE CAR WITH NO NAME?
The Car with No Name, yeah? No? No. Oh well.
The peaceful little neighbourhood is the picture of Sunday afternoon tranquility. Cheap Mexican labourers water pristine lawns; sports cars and gas-guzzling SUVs rest in terracotta driveways; advertising executives and movie moguls and international arms dealers lounge around in tracksuits, reading newspapers and discussing their next corporate buyouts. It’s the American Dream in action.
What’s this? A quaint gathering of friends around the picnic table. I think they’re a book group. They look like a book group.
“Have you read Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter?” I ask them. “I know it’s about gaming, but it’s actually an erudite and moving account of –”
“– Wait, where are you going? Come back! The New York Times loved it!”
Why do people always do that to me?
I wander off and stare out to sea pensively. Look at this incredible world I’m exploring. The wrecked cars on the rocks under the broken fence. The steps down to the lonely pier, jutting bravely into an open ocean glimmering with untold potential.
This virtual land, existing only as blocks of light on a screen, lines of code, sequences of electrical impulses — it’s a breathtaking achievement, and one I wish more people saw the true significance of.
Sure, blasting space mutants, grappling orcs, rescuing your buddy from the downed chopper — these are all crude garnishings, simplistic attempts at colour betraying the industry’s birth from within the minds of programmers and engineers with limited creative touchstones to draw upon. But the form itself, the quivering, white-hot ideal at its centre — it’s something exciting, something so new and bizarre we don’t even really know what it is yet. The next few decades are going to be an incredible time for videogames, I’m certain of it.
To illustrate that point here is a six-hour Powerpoint presentation, complete with numerous pie charts and technical diagrams, of which I shall now —
— Oh look, a pigeon.
Umm, what were we talking about? Never mind.
I shoot the fucker post-haste and get back in my car and drive away. I can’t stay in the suburbs any longer or I’m going to, like, drown in ennui, and need the largest ever toffeemochachino from Starbucks to cheer myself up.
It’s getting late, and dark clouds are amassing.
I hit the freeway (those expensive-ways were getting tiring) as the first drops of rain begin to fall.
… Did you like my parenthetical joke about freeways there by the way?
You barely noticed it, you say? In fact it wouldn’t have registered had I not paused to draw attention to it like this? But now I have paused you’re regarding it fully, scrutinising its every facet?
Good job it’s so well-crafted then.
What? No, it is.
No, you’re wrong.
Did you even get it? What I was doing, you see, was taking the word “freeway”, which is an alternative term in American English for a controlled-access highway, and pretending that the “free” designates the price of entry (or lack thereof) to the road, when in reality it refers to the flow of traffic being unobstructed by access to properties or intersections.
Then I was extending the reaches of my imagined universe to surmise that the opposite of a freeway would be an expensive-way.
I didn’t bother exploring the possibility of moderately-priced-ways, as brevity was at this stage an issue to be considered. Had I the time, however, and I would have reconnoitred this avenue extensively. Saying nothing, of course, for premium-yet-value-for-money-ways, and budget-brands-that-cut-corners-on-ingredients-to-such-an-extent-the-concept-of-saving-is-invalidated-ways, which are whole other stories.
… You know, there’s this school of thought in comedy writing that says if a joke isn’t amusing to begin with, carry on digging at it long enough and eventually you’ll arrive at something humourous.
But I’m not sure that’s always true.
The rain’s really coming down now. I tune the car radio to Jazz Nation. The streets are wet, I could just be in a seventies Scorsese movie.
I instigate some Johnny Boy anarchy.
And patrol the night like a seething Travis Bickle.
Down a tangle of back alleys I find an empty police car. I climb the stairway behind and discover a solitary cop on stakeout, LCPD raincoat over uniform, staring silently into the gloom.
“HE’S OVER HERE! HE’S OVER HERE! WOOOOEEEYY!”
But enough of the tomfoolery. The weather clears, the night becomes calm, and I hit the streets hard, looking for those elusive pidgeys …
Boom, here’s one behind a diner in industrial Broker.
Boom, here’s TWO chilling out way up in North Dukes.
Boom, one on the roof in a nearby graveyard.
Sun-up brings me to Burger Shot for some meat-based recuperation. And what do I find on the land round the back but pigeon numero diez. If my rudimentary grasp of basic arithmetic (and Spanish) is correct, that leaves 190 pigeons to go.
I believe that qualifies for a BOOM.
The po-po, apparently, disagree. A cop car idling nearby comes to investigate the pigeon-related gunshot, so I slip back in the Crapmobile (no?) and make a break for it.
Except the Crapmobile is a touch uncooperative in its handling, and I sort of accidentally run over one of the police officers a little bit during my escape.
The other cop doesn’t take too kindly to this, and before I know it I’m embroiled in a high-speed pursuit, more cops converging on my position, bullets thudding into the passenger-side door and the rear window.
The chase is exhausting. The Crapmobile is a piece of crap, and every time I think I’ve shaken the cops I end up sliding out round a bend and crashing down an embankment or into a wall. The cops tail me all around the island, wrecking my car in the process.
I lose them eventually, somewhere beyond the airport, but the Crapmobile is hurting bad. It’s chugging black smoke from the engine, I need to get it fixed up fast.
And then the worst thing ever happens.
Oh shit. Oh Crapmobile don’t do this to me. Are you doing this because I called you a piece of crap? I’m sorry, okay. You are crap but you’re also majestic, and you’re mine and I love you. The fire is going to go out, isn’t it? I’ll cut the engine and jump out and the fire will stop of its own accord.
I think it’s stopping. Yes it’s definitely stopping.
I run over in a daze. The flames are so high. It can’t end like this. I try to put the fire out, but the blaze sets me alight and I fall to the ground, rolling, choking, burning … And then blackness.
I dream I’m back in the Crapmobile and we’re both shiny and perfect, and we’re flying over Liberty City in a cloudless sky. We climb, higher and higher, into emptiness … and then the driver door opens and I tumble out — the ground rises to meet me …
And I wake up outside the hospital, alone.
I have nothing. The car is gone. I start walking.