Log in | Jump |

The Other Side of Everything

making all our lives easier, more fulfilling, lovelier journeys


Written on June 20, 2005, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
You can follow comments through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.

When I was an adrenaline-and-sugar-fuelled teenager, “video games” were still being invented, and having games in your pocket would have meant having a portable power supply as big as a tank and pockets as big as a chest-freezer, so I never was much of a “gamer” like you get now, wedded to my PSP or my Nintendo and boasting about the things my XBOX could do, if only it wasn’t gaming. But in Palmers Green, N19, I was King of the Phoenix.

In fact, to be truthful, I had three (brief) periods of “virtual” gaming. At age thirteen I played table top ping-pong in my school friend’s parents’ pub, and at age eighteen I played space invaders sometimes in Croydon College canteen – the original “thud-thud-thud-thud” stand-up black and white arcade version. Generally though, I was just too interested in having as much sex as possible, getting stoned, and listening to the Psychedelic Furs, Transformer and Here Come The Warm Jets.

Two years later, at art school in Proper London, I experienced my greatest and last phase of gaming, and the very last game I played was sited in my local Greek Cypriot chippie/kebab shop, where after an evening of TV-less entertainment with my fellow impoverished artists, I would head with several 50 pence pieces and enough left over for a bag of chips on the way home.

Phoenix was the only game I ever truly mastered. I felt I had to at least be King of one. I dedicated myself to learning all the tricks and this mainly included shooting the fuck out of the bottom of the ship to kill the evil space-alien Motherbird inside. As I did, purple mini space-eggs were decending and hatching into large beaked freaks which would shit alien bird crap all over me and force me to put more 50 pences into the machine. With a pumping heart, hitting the fire button like a demented jerking obsessive, my victory was nothing more than the replay screen, which inevitably, after a 15 minute death-spree, I would achieve. For months my nom-de-guerre was 100,000 points higher than the next highest high score.

I can’t say I learned anything from this phase, except how easy it is to throw money away at the same time as developing RSI. If they taxed masturbation, it would be the same. My feeling of power lasted only a few days at best, and I would creep back into the chippie not to play… just to see… the screen… and whether… Yes! I was still King. It couldn’t last, and I knew I should let go of this obsession before it broke me, so I quit at the top, never to take up a joystick again.

This game did little for good gender relations or ending xenophobia. The plot of the Phoenix game bore no relation to the mythic pagan Firebird, it had no intoxicating Stravinsky accompaniment, no narrative of spells, capture and release. Just a big, purple fuck-off alien who wanted to lay eggs all over you that you had to kill. However, its beauty was not lost on me, and it was in the very nature of the electronic beast. However many times you consigned the alien aviators to their fiery grave, win or lose, the machine reset itself to start anew. The Phoenix rose once more, unburned, to take its magical place next to the post-pub queue for doner kebabs with chilli sauce.

Although I still play games like cards and dice and pool and darts and pinball and expose the fascist and lick the badger, and I admit that I did tinker with various Sim worlds long, long ago, these days I only really love to play games like spend the budget, put the lyric on the tune, and extend the popular form. There is something still haunting me, though, from those days far in the past, something which smells like lamb on a spit, hash oil, and burning feathers, in which I feel the heady rush of fire-power, sense the knowledge of rebirth, and the inevitability of running out of cash.

You might want to read

  • Alternative Accident Yesterday, GGF and I enjoyed a pleasant day on the south bank of the Thames. We cycled down took in a couple of art exhibitions, we saw a capoeira performance, we ate chocolate cake and […]
  • Bluejacked! I went out with Richard to the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts) in the Mall to catch the highly spiritual "Seeing God" exhibition. We thought we'd go to the bar first and chill for a […]
  • Walking On The Moon Dum De-Dum..... CHING!!! ing-ing-ing.... Dah, Dah Dum.... Dum De-Dum..... CHING!!! ing-ing-ing.... Dah, Dah Dum....It's hard to believe now, but once, Sting wasn't the New Age […]
Written by .
More about the author.

You can follow comments through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and trackbacks are closed.

This thing has 2 Comments

  1. RuKsaK
    Posted 20 June, 2005 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the nostalgic ride – Phoenix was great – I was the town champion on Donkey Kong – and achievement I feel proud of until this very day.

  2. Blog ho
    Posted 20 June, 2005 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    best to go out on top. if you can.

Comments are currently closed