For the want of a couch, the battle was lost

Thursday, 25 April 2013 16:06 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Out gaming habits are changing, they say; mobiles and tablets are taking over and the PC is making a bid for the living room. But it’s not the platforms shaping how Brenna plays – it’s her furniture.

For years, I’ve let the pressure of flatmates, entertaining and appearing not to be one of nature’s geekiest creations push gaming to the periphery of my life – a corner somewhere out of the way, or a few hours tacked onto my work day. I like it so much I turned it into my job, and yet I’ve let it be marginalised by the arrangement of cheap bits of Swedish wood and fabric.

A lot of game journalists hit a point in their career where they just fall out of love with the medium a bit. The cynicism is a bit like mercury; you’re constantly imbibing little bits of it and it takes ages to get out of the system. You see too much of the man behind the curtain. You see too many games to find very much of what they do exciting any more. You have kids who want the TV, or your attention. You waste hours on little mobile games instead of firing up the console. You get older and games just fall off the radar.

This is something they say is inevitable, but I’m determined not to fall into the trap. Cynicism meets my deeply-rooted existential angst and slinks off, unable to bear the comparison. The more I know about how games work, the more fascinated I am in their subtle differences. I don’t like kids and my smartphone is too out of date to run anything decent. I’m safe, right?

Apparently not. I have to admit my gaming has waned considerably – over the past few years in particular. I know exactly why: I cannot remember the last time I sat really comfortably and played a video game.

It wasn’t until I moved out of home that my PS2, my shiny new 35″ CRT (phwoar! It was a beauty for 2001. It met an ignoble death abandoned on the curb on hard rubbish day just a few years ago) and my very own couch (the shittiest futon imaginable) came into conjunction. This brief, shining time of comfort and marathon gaming (100% all the Grand Theft Auto 3 generation titles back-to-back, kids; it’s certainly a memorable experience) was not to last. In the years that have passed – I’m not going to say how many – I’ve moved a dozen times at least and on each occasion that simple dream – decent-sized TV; couch; console – has been sacrificed to the necessities of space, share housing, and presenting a less geeky face for visitors.

Currently my flatmate and I don’t even have a couch. (We own exactly three chairs – one in front of each PC, and a solitary armchair. When people come over we hurriedly drag out camping mattresses and scatter cushions.) We’re going to get one quite soon, but then we’ll have to figure out how to fit and the Bravia into a space apparently designed by an architect with no conception of how people might like to spend their leisure time.

What all this means is: when I play a game on a console, I’m uncomfortable. The TV is too high; the floor is hard; the screen is too far from my astigmatism. When I think about spending eight hours plodding through a campaign haphazardly inclined on a beanbag working up the god of all cricks in my neck, I suddenly find about six things I’d rather be doing than playing video games – such as washing the walls, or cutting the lawn with nail scissors.

Does this man look comfortable to you? Is that – a folding lawn chair? [image]

I’m still playing a lot of games, but I’m playing them on my Vita (in bed) or at my PC – a bad idea, since it huddled at my workstation, and sitting there outside my regulation eight hours every day is probably driving me bonkers. Meanwhile, barely three metres away, my PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 sit maliciously adding to my power bill and contributing absolutely nothing to the household.

Isn’t that ridiculous? For years, I’ve let the pressure of flatmates, entertaining and appearing not to be one of nature’s geekiest creations push gaming to the periphery of my life – a corner somewhere out of the way, or a few hours tacked onto my work day. I like it so much I turned it into my job, and yet I’ve let it be marginalised by the arrangement of cheap bits of Swedish wood and fabric.

Well, no more; in the next few weeks, my living room is going to undergo a transformation, from a place we have to walk through to get to the kitchen to a place where I can sit shouting into my headset and sprawling in comfort and ease. I still love my consoles, and I really want to get back the relationship I used to have with them – pouring hundreds of hours into Demon’s Souls, Fable, Dynasty Warriors – before the next generation arrives and finds me working in an accountant’s office and wondering where all the fun’s gone. A couch will save me.

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