My Favourite Game
Comedian Stuart Goldsmith on the joys of Gears Of War’s Horde
Stuart Goldsmith is a standup comedian and street performer who also hosts the popular The Comedian’s Comedian podcast. Here, he takes a break from preparing for his new tour to discuss another of his passions. Do you find much comedic inspiration from playing games? I actually wrote some material for the last show I did [Compared To What], which I’m touring, which was about Clash Of
Clans. I love strategy games, and I thought there was a funny element to be found in the fact that because I spend so much time playing them, I don’t get anything done in real life. Which is not much of a strategy. I only got into Clash
Of Clans because my ten-year-old godson had got into it, so because I had him in mind I joined it with the username UncleStu, and then I felt more and more like some kind of awful predator that was trying to get kids to join his clan.
I thought they were both funny ideas, but they fell by the wayside because, while Clash Of Clans might be hugely popular among gamers – or at least phone gamers – there still aren’t that many of those in a room full of average people. There was too much establishing the territory to make it universally funny. How often are you able to make games work in that sort of context? There are one or two bits of standup that I’ve ever done about gaming. One was a long time ago, when Halo 3 was just about to come out, and was about me and my brother and a random kid in the Science Museum in London, playing what was then a really amazing setup – there were three monitors and we were all playing it against each other in the same room. The child starts annihilating my brother and I, and then at the end, just before he’s about to get his 30th kill and win the match, his mum turns up and takes him away. That was broad enough that everyone could visualise it. When did you first play videogames? I had a ZX Spectrum 48K. That carbondates me. Even before that I played the
Lord Of The Rings text adventure on the Amstrad, but I must have been about nine and I couldn’t get past walking around and around in a circle in a forest. But I remember playing Hungry Horace,
Jack The Nipper II, and I remember mapping games – getting A4 sheets of paper, taping them together, and drawing out the world. Innocent times. I also remember buying Repton for my best mate, Noel, and then secretly taping it before I gave it to him. I felt terribly guilty. Was that the point at which you fell in love with games? Those were the very early games, but I can think of two or three iconic moments where I thought, ‘Woah, this is another world.’ The first is when you first see the T Rex in Tomb Raider – it was a joint moment of, ‘Oh my god, it’s a T Rex,’ and then at the same time, ‘Oh my god, this is possible now.’ The second was when the dogs first jumped through the window in Resident Evil. I was playing it with three mates and we all shat ourselves. Were games always a social thing? When my mates came round when we were teenagers, we’d play Command &
Conquer: Red Alert, with two TVs back to back. Being able to play a game together, each on our own screen where you couldn’t see the opponent’s hand, as it were – that was really exciting. Later, I also had a friend who worked in QA at Codemasters in Leamington Spa, and he lived with another of my friends. He would be playing Micro Machines V3 for nine hours a day, then he’d come back and play it with us. He also brought back a blue Japanese N64 before it had been released in the UK and we played Mario
64 in Japanese. It’s surprisingly difficult to understand all of the cartoony instructions with one or two key words of English.
“I remember buying Repton for my best mate and then secretly taping it before I gave it to him”
How about your favourite game? Because I now have a child, I play fewer things than I did before. But for me the pinnacle was playing co-op Horde mode in Gears Of War 2. I used to use computer games a lot to hang out with my brother – he’s in the Midlands; I was in London at the time – but, two or three nights out of seven, we could put on a headset and then also have my housemate or another friend elsewhere play. It stimulated all of those memories of playing as a child with my brother. We had the time of our lives.