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My newest gaming obsession is virtually walking around houses on estate agent websites

You too can spend your free time doing the most mundane "gaming" possible.

I've come to accept that I'm a pretty boring person. I don't particularly relish parties or gatherings of any nature where I can't easily talk to or hear people. I don't really get excited like other people do, although I did once stand up during a Champions League semi-final. In terms of gaming, in the past I've argued for games being easier - or at least having options to make reaching the end more manageable for a higher percentage of people.

I also regularly spend free-time on Rightmove, checking out houses in various parts of the UK due to the financial part of my brain telling me that I'd get more for the money if I left the expensive South. I've even worked out mortgages for houses I'm realistically not going to buy. So, as someone who is dull and seemingly averse to challenge, the new-ish 3D house floor plans that you can walk around have been, without wanting to use too much hyperbole… incredible!

If you haven't experienced these 3D walk-around tours, they are best described as Return to Zork/Myst-style experiences but without anyone around - Riven during Covid-lockdown if you will, where the only puzzle is finding the downstairs toilet. Each house is a mini adventure, and the prize is seeing how well the owners have made use of space in the kitchen or if they've managed to fit a small office under the stairs.

You can't dash about like you're playing Doom Eternal. This is like how many VR games make you warp from place to place, then allow you to freely look around while standing on one spot. It's VR without the goggles, on my phone, and instead of blasting enemies I'm tapping angrily on some stairs because I accidentally went back down a hallway instead of heading up to the first bedroom.

I realise this might come across as a bit strange, perhaps even creepy, but I really hope it's not. I have no interest in who lives in these houses in terms of who they are as people; I only care about the properties, their layout, what's in each room, and if there are any cool things to find. People that play video games love Easter eggs, but in the world of virtual house viewings these come in the form of hidden rooms. "They've got a fucking fully converted cellar! I mutter to myself. "There's even a PS5 in there," I add, the act of saying it aloud perhaps to convince myself that someone wants to know this information and that I'm not wasting my life away.

I fully appreciate that for many of you who perhaps clicked on this expecting some kind of tether to actual gaming, this is a behaviour you simply won't understand, but if you've ever been house hunting I'd like to think you get it, at least a little bit. "Those bastards have got an American-style fridge-freezer and a bloody utility room," I say through the tears, remembering how small my fridge is and the many icy cold trips I make to the garage to bring in a frozen loaf of bread or a new back of Dairylea triangles. If I simply uprooted my family and moved miles away from everyone and everything I know, we could have it all. Even an internal separate washer and dryer. Perhaps the platinum trophy of home ownership.

It's gone midnight and I've found a "doer upper" huge 6-bedroom house for less money than my current home. I wander its hallways like a ghost trapped on earth until the mansion reaches its true potential. Every second room is barren, stripped back to the floorboards, and the walls show decades of bodged decorating. My bleary eyes awaken when I stumble across a stairway that leads down. I've found another floor, three more desolate rooms in need of even more repair than the ones above. Rooms that weren't on the 2D floor plan. There's nothing save for one empty photo frame. "Environmental storytelling," I think to myself, an Xbox Achievement popping into my brain. "Another Easter egg found."

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About the Author
Tom Orry avatar

Tom Orry

Editor-in-Chief VG247, Deputy Editorial Director ReedPop

Tom has spent 20 years in games media after getting a pointless BSc in Software Engineering. He runs VG247 and works across other ReedPop websites. Previously he created VideoGamer.com and was managing editor on USgamer. He can often be found telling everyone how good Xbox Game Pass is.

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