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What We Gamed - 2020

FBT and TheMorty reminisce about spending the year indoors. What lockdown?

TheMorty - What a year! Suddenly everyone has all the time in the world to game. Sadly, not for me… Being stuck at home 24/7 meant battling my toddler for the console, and he has backup – his Mam. It meant I had to reconsider what gaming means; I developed a new outlook, how a game’s purpose is the same no matter what world, characters or events occur. It’s about the experience, the connection, the sense of achievement that matters.

FBT – You buying that? TheMorty has not played anything this year that doesn’t have ‘Nickelodeon presents’ above the title has he. During Lockdown I discovered how much I like doing nothing – in the real and digital world. The original Walking Sim Gone Home came close to being my GitS (Game in the Sales), Previous Weapon’s version of GOTY. It’s a thing of beauty and revealed how nosy I am; rifling through people’s stuff was amazing. As was the nothing-really-happens Firewatch. It’s Hipster mumblecore for gamers but it’s so good.

TM - So FBT sat watching someone else do all the walking? Makes a change from him sat watching someone else do all the work. At least he’s gaming. For me, locked down with a toddler is a fresh kind of hell. Goddamn Paw Patrol. A household meeting was held, negotiations took place, and a trade-treaty was signed to avoid the disasters of a no deal XboXit. The compromise was downloading 3+ games “we can all play”. GTAV is technically 3+, right? GTV Online is full of people acting like three-year olds anyway.

FBT – Sometimes I didn’t even walk. Her Story should have been boring-as, a game where we sit at a Windows 95 PC and watch recordings of a woman being interviewed by police after her hubby turned up dead. But it was so compelling trying to figure out if she did it or not. Much like Stories Untold where I sit at my PC playing someone sitting at their PC playing a game of someone sitting at their PC. So confusingly good. I did leave the house though, virtually, in Cloudpunk, which lets me be a futuristic Amazon Delivery Driver. Like we won’t all be working for Amazon in the future. There was just something so calming about being an NPC, flying about the neon city with my AI-mutt, messing up parcel deliveries.

TM – I don’t feel so bad now if that’s how FBT spent his Lockdown. Kid’s gaming is essentially decaf gaming, but I see it as setting my son on the right path, the start of a life-long addiction. But as much as I try to introduce him to Sonic and Mario, my gateway drugs, his is … Paw Patrol: On a Roll. At least I’m gaming. There’s something refreshing about not dealing with a million key-combos, moral choices, action-scenes and, whatever.

FBT – Hey, I’m not one to judge. If the TheMorty wants to play puppy, good for him. I went for a different kind of animal. A replay of Jaws Unleashed confirmed it’s the most insane game of all time, and unplayable, but it’s impossible to dislike. As was Maneater. Blasting around eating everything in sight with a Discovery Channel Shark Week-style commentary was the most fun I had this year. Just the right side of nuts. Play/Swim it.

TM – Well, maybe Paw Patrol will have a Shark DLC at some-point. When I was kid, my dad distracted me with wooden train tracks, and I wanted to continue the tradition. Not real ones of course; I introduced my lad to Tracks: The Train Set Game. You can design the most fantastical and unrealistic tracks you can think of – while adding a nice authentic touch of having a bedroom floor as background. It’s like you’re really there. Yes, I'm doing onscreen what the kid has in his real toybox upstairs but whatever, it was fun. Even when the gosh darn ding-dong-diddily (there’s children present) controls erase the wrong pieces or join two random bends together by accident, triggering frustration and tears (from me not the child). It should be a Rage Quit review but not in front of the kids.

FBT – as Lockdown becomes the new normal, I needed to recall happier times, and is supposed to be about the replays, so I revisited Trespasser. And spent most of the time looking at my own boobs. I have been in Lockdown too long. No wonder my wrist doesn’t work. I finally caught up with Doom 64 which I’d avoided thinking it was just an N64 reskin. It was like rediscovering Doom. Talking of which, during lockdown I didn’t murder anyone; my 3-part article on Murder Simulators was a fun replay of all the games that ‘responsible parents’ think will lead you to kill, and I didn’t, not once.