Ram­ble on

As I am pre­par­ing to leave the UK for at least a few years (for­tu­nately to a place where it is still pos­si­ble to buy Edge), my life has been rather busy lately. Be­cause I’ve been run­ning around like a head­less chicken in the real world for the past few weeks, my care­fully ring-fenced gam­ing time has been even more crit­i­cal to my san­ity than usual. So when I read Prze­mek Marszal say­ing in E279 that “games do not need to of­fer es­capism”, I beg to dif­fer. It is of course a mat­ter of def­i­ni­tion, and I think what he meant was that they do not need to let us flee the harsh re­al­i­ties of the real world and take us to La La Land. But if es­capism is a taste (or need) for spend­ing time in a rich imag­i­nary uni­verse that dis­tracts us from the all-too-of­ten mean­ing­less chores of our daily lives, then I’d say that it is still games’ chief ap­peal, at least for me.

It is the type of es­capism that is, per­haps, chang­ing. There was a time when all games had to have one qual­ity: they needed to be ex­cit­ing, putting us in the shoes of space pi­lots, com­bat­ants, rac­ing driv­ers, and so on. This is ar­guably still true of most gen­res (I’m talk­ing about you, FPS) and ma­jor fran­chises to­day, but a strong un­der­ground move­ment chal­leng­ing this view is slowly be­com­ing main­stream.

Ev­ery­body’s Gone To The Rap­ture is the per­fect ex­am­ple. Here is a game that looks ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic, is as en­gag­ing and im­mer­sive as any ti­tle I’ve played re­cently, and yet is the very op­po­site of ex­cit­ing. I mean, any­one who gets an adren­a­line rush wan­der­ing about in a post­card English coun­try­side vil­lage lis­ten­ing to ghostly con­ver­sa­tions be­tween the lo­cal pri­est and his flock needs to have their head ex­am­ined! And it’s not the only re­cent game of its kind: this sort of al­most con­tem­pla­tive ex­pe­ri­ence is ar­guably also at the heart of

The Long Dark. And for all its re­ported game­play short­com­ings (I chose not to buy it af­ter read­ing E284’ s re­view, so haven’t played it), Sub­merged at least de­serves credit for dar­ing to proudly pro­claim it­self a “com­bat-free” ex­plo­ration game.

I be­lieve this goes far be­yond the old de­bate about what con­sti­tutes a ‘non-game’. As the en­ter­tain­ment me­dia ma­tures along­side its au­di­ence comes the need for ex­pe­ri­ences that are more sub­tle and mul­ti­fac­eted than be­ing the strong­est or fastest kid in the school­yard. Noth­ing wrong with oc­ca­sion­ally in­dulging in th­ese prim­i­tive emo­tions, of course (I bought Forza 6 on re­lease day in or­der to get high on pure speed), but I’m old enough to re­alise they’re not the only ones worth hav­ing. I have lit­tle doubt that, as I’m set­tling down in a more arid land­scape, I will spend quiet hours in Yaughton, fondly rem­i­nisc­ing about England’s green and pleas­ant land.

Fabrice Saf­fre

Happy trails, Fabrice. It seems that you’ve al­ready got this cov­ered, but if not – ahem – an af­ford­able over­seas sub­scrip­tion would be the per­fect op­tion for your time away.

Cel­e­bra­tion day

I re­cently re­turned to the UK af­ter three or so years in New Zealand. I was a lit­tle dis­ap­pointed that my fam­ily wasn’t able to meet me at the air­port, but it didn’t mat­ter. She would be there.

And she was, ex­actly where we said we’d meet, in WH Smiths. Sat on a shelf, call­ing to me… Edge 283.

She was still as gor­geous as I re­mem­ber, and had all the fea­tures one could want. Great re­views, in­ter­est­ing ar­ti­cles, and the only let­ters page in pub­lish­ing his­tory that doesn’t make me want to gnaw my own arm off, just for some­thing less painful to do.

“She would be there. And she was, ex­actly where we said we’d meet, in WH Smiths”

Is­sue 285

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