My Favourite Game

The co­me­dian on a sus­pect diamond trade, feel­ing like a hitman on tour, and when videogame hu­mour grates

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Co­me­dian Ed Byrne on Res­i­dent Evil and sus­pect free-to-play tac­tics

Ed Byrne is a co­me­dian and three-time host of the Golden Joy­stick Awards, with a pen­chant for games. As a stu­dent wel­fare of­fi­cer, Byrne would regularly host events and per­form across Scot­land’s in­sti­tu­tions, and proved so in-de­mand that he quit his hor­ti­cul­ture stud­ies to set up a com­edy night called The Com­edy Cel­lar. To­day he’s an award-win­ning standup and reg­u­lar pan­elist on Mock The Week, among other shows. With so much go­ing on, he’s had to be­come in­creas­ingly cre­ative to make time for games.

We know you love Skyrim, but have any of the mods ap­pealed to you? I have to ad­mit there are no games that I de­vote that much time to! I keep play­ing un­til the next one comes out and say, “Oh, I should play this”. The last game I com­pleted was the new Tomb Raider. I got to the end, then went back and tried to do a more thor­ough job of col­lect­ing all the doo­dads, be­fore say­ing to my­self, “What the fuck are you do­ing?”

What kept you glued to Tomb Raider? It was one of only two games I had with me on tour! If you bring a con­sole there’ll be no way to get the TV to go to the AV chan­nel. You get some weird pro­pri­etary re­mote which only works the TV’s en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem and there’s no way to get to the HDMI port. So I took my Xbox One – I’ve got one of those carry cases with a screen in it, from Gaems. It’s an amaz­ing in­ven­tion.

Pre­sum­ably quite a heavy one, too. Yeah – it makes me feel like a hitman ev­ery time I ar­rive at a ho­tel.

Do you have a por­ta­ble sys­tem as well? I used to have a PSP. But (a) I kept los­ing them, and (b) I never re­ally could get on with the size of the screen. I do some stuff on the iPad, but I just can’t be do­ing with any of the free games where you’ve got in-app pur­chases. Be­cause ob­vi­ously they’re de­signed to be an­noy­ing un­less you buy, that’s the whole ethos of them. For a while there I was en­joy­ing Clash Of Clans and Hay Day. My wife plays Hay Day, and I’ll be on the road and buy eggs from her, and there’s some­thing quite nice about that. But it’s de­signed so you just keep miss­ing your boat un­less you buy di­a­monds. I’m not buy­ing fuck­ing di­a­monds! So I just stopped.

Talk­ing of mis­guided lead­ers, you’ve also said you’re a big fan of BioShock. What was it about the game that ap­pealed to you? This was be­fore I had my game box thing with the TV, but I had a pro­jec­tor that went with me. It was a quite small thing to carry, but I re­mem­ber go­ing into a ho­tel in Birm­ing­ham, clos­ing the cur­tains, turn­ing on the pro­jec­tor, and fill­ing the wall with BioShock. It’s just such an at­mo­spheric game, that art deco aes­thetic. And I love that there’s se­ri­ous con­se­quences depend­ing on whether you de­cide to go dark or choose the path of light, you know?

It has a dark sense of hu­mour. What do you think about hu­mour in games? Most games hu­mour I find slightly grat­ing. I can’t re­ally be do­ing with Grand Theft Auto. Ev­ery time a new one comes out I buy it, and I’m just, “Ah, I’m not re­ally en­joy­ing this”. Maybe be­cause I’m used to first­per­son shoot­ers. I love Halo, and then when you’re do­ing the bit run­ning around shoot­ing in Grand Theft Auto it feels very coun­ter­in­tu­itive. And I find those very dif­fi­cult, so I’m do­ing them again and again, and the char­ac­ters are re­peat­ing the same shitty one-lin­ers that maybe I thought were funny the first time, but they re­ally grate the mil­lionth time. So some­times hu­mour in games, if you’re like me and hav­ing to replay lev­els, is grat­ing. But, for ex­am­ple, Por­tal 2 had some quite funny lines in it. And then there’s the stuff that makes you laugh when you get scared. I think my favourite game of all time would be the first Res­i­dent Evil. I got so to­tally in­volved with it, and the first time a dog jumps through the win­dow you just shit your­self! And then you laugh at the fact you let a game scare you so much.

So would you say Res­i­dent Evil is your most cher­ished game? I think so. That and Wipe­out 2097 were the two games I played un­til I had to prise the con­troller out of my own hand be­cause it had be­come a claw. I was 23, in a flat in Fins­bury Park and glued to it. I re­mem­ber jok­ing about it at the Golden Joy­sticks: “The PlayS­ta­tion came out and I had Res­i­dent Evil, Wipe­out 2097 and Road Rash – be­cause you can’t just have good games!”

“I played Res­i­dent Evil un­til I had to prise the con­troller out of my own hand – it had be­come a claw”

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