Here I am again for another dip back in to the games 2010 that left a mark on me. It was a bad year for me, and while gaming was not to blame but it did provide emotional touchstones, both good and bad. These posts are not a summery of the year’s best games, nor are they in any order or relevance, they are simply the titles I remember and the emotions I will forever connect with them.
After a lifetime of sharing apartments and houses with friends and family I finally found myself alone. Indeed more accurately I found myself homeless, lost and emotionally empty. It is no exaggeration when I say that I was riding the streets calling friends to ask them for a roof for the night. Riding my bike through the dark night I called, and when someone finally I answered I went to his sofa.
I took comfort from having a friend willing to put me up, and in no small part I was relieved to have company. But my luck was not to endure so completely. Not that I was again about to find myself riding the streets looking for a room, but instead that my friend was to go on away for the weekend leaving me to fester in my own numb melancholy.
Come that weekend, with nothing planned and little money, I found my options limited to the entertainment available in the apartment in which I found myself. Fortunately my friend was well equipped being a gamer himself. Surrounded by games I looked at what was on offer. I had some specific requirements for my selection, a title that I couldn’t taint for myself, which I could leave and never look back at if I had to, and something I would be able to just slip into the mindless repetition of. I picked Blur.
I don’t mean to suggest that Bizarre Creations street racing game is dull by calling it mindless, but like many racing games Blur’s controls are relatively simple (with a few easy to pick up tweaks) and demands replays and perfection of tracks to advance.
Zooming around the exploding colour filled tracks Blur felt surreal with its glowing HUD beneath my car, red and blue explosions filling the screen, but real cars and locations. The vehicles even handled in a manner more akin to a simulation than an arcade racer, but I was armed. Collecting Wipeout style weapons and blowing up part of Brighton or Tokyo in my attempts to gain an advantage over the other cars I found it possible to push to the back of my mind concerns about my life as I jostled for position up the pack.
Sat on the sofa/my bed for the two days of the weekend, some two meters from the screen on which the neon racer was displayed, the flashing greens and pinks burned my eyes as they shoot past at incredible speeds. Tactics and strategies all bubbled in my mind as I fought for the required stars that would unlock advancement through the competitions. I played levels repeatedly, unwilling to move on until I had perfected it. Able to lose myself in this, my mind became slowly anesthetised. It was much appreciated.
Blur’s soporific effects remain with me. On my return to the UK I bought it again and still find it akin to a comfort blanket. I can sit and play, almost without thought, advancing or not with very little passion but none the less happy. Even abject failure elicits little more than a shrug from me as I happily… or at least contentedly replay the race.
I couldn’t honestly say if Blur is good game, or even a good racer. It certainly possessed more replay value for me than any games that could reasonably be considered its competition. But for me it is now more like medicine, a painkiller. A game I played with the express purpose of losing myself and then abandoning found a place in my heart from the medicinal service it provided.