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