My Favourite Game

The sub­ver­sive co­me­dian on spend­ing pocket money on Sega Power and play­ing Skyrim in co-op

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Co­me­dian Su­nil Pa­tel talks play­ing Skyrim in co-op

Su­nil Pa­tel is an award-win­ning stand-up co­me­dian, re­turn­ing to the Ed­in­burgh Fringe fes­ti­val this year for a sec­ond per­for­mance. In ad­di­tion to tour­ing the coun­try with his wellestab­lished brand of ni­hilis­tic com­edy, he stars in Chan­nel 5 mock­u­men­tary Bor­der­line and runs a pod­cast called Why Is Har­riet Cry­ing? with fel­low co­me­dian Har­riet Kem­s­ley.

What was the first game to ex­cite you? It was be­fore I had my own con­sole, play­ing on my cousin’s SNES. It was Su­per Mario World. We played it end­lessly – it was a three-week sum­mer hol­i­day, it was re­ally hot, and all we did was stay in­doors, in this house in New Jer­sey, play­ing it. I didn’t have a con­sole for ages af­ter that, be­cause I had to wait un­til Christ­mas. And then in­stead of get­ting a SNES, I asked for a Mas­ter Sys­tem – I don’t know why.

Did you re­gret that? I didn’t, ac­tu­ally. I got a Mas­ter Sys­tem be­cause my par­ents said, “We’ll buy you a con­sole and one game,” and the Mas­ter Sys­tem had a game built in – so I could get the free game built in and an ex­tra game. It was Alex Kidd In Mir­a­cle World that was built in. I think I got Shi­nobi as well. Do peo­ple who played games from that era in­sist that they were harder back then? I feel like they were. It’s like GCSEs, isn’t it?

Do you play games now, and do you find them eas­ier? I do, and I do. But I’ve got to the stage where I’m play­ing Farm­ing Sim­u­la­tor. I like the fact that it’s quite chilled out. There’s no one else about in it. I was read­ing some­where that a lot of YouTu­bers are peo­ple that used to play Call Of Duty on­line, and they just got tired and old. So now they play Farm­ing Sim­u­la­tor in­stead. I never played Call Of Duty on­line. I find it a bit too hec­tic.

Your com­edy’s known for be­ing quite dark, but it seems like you grav­i­tate to­wards cheer­ful games. The dark­est game I’ve played is prob­a­bly Skyrim. I never re­ally got into Res­i­dent Evil or stuff like that. They scare me. When I played Skyrim, I’d play it with my house­mate for hours, be­cause we both didn’t want to be play­ing it on our own. It’s not even that scary, is it? I think we were both be­ing re­ally pa­thetic. Skyrim’s built for you to play on your own, but it’s so much more fun when you’ve got some­one else with you – read­ing the map and ar­gu­ing with you. Any game can be mul­ti­player, I guess.

It’s the ex­act op­po­site of per­form­ing stand-up, surely? Com­edy’s quite a lonely busi­ness, so the last thing I want to do is play a game alone. But then no­body wants to play Farm­ing Sim­u­la­tor with me. I did get my friend Jay in­volved for three hours and then he just got an­gry and left. We had an ar­gu­ment over which trac­tor to buy.

Did your in­ter­est in videogames trans­late into your tal­ent for com­edy? As a kid, I couldn’t af­ford to buy games a lot, so I al­ways used to buy Sega Power. It was re­ally funny – I think that was when Char­lie Brooker used to write for it. The old games mag­a­zines were great for that. I re­mem­ber I used to have a Com­modore 64 just be­cause I thought the games would be cheaper, on the cas­sette tapes, and you could buy the mag­a­zine and get a free game on the front. But they just never worked. Rub­bish. The other thing to do on the Com­modore 64 if you couldn’t get the game to work was to do a bit of cod­ing, and I was not go­ing to do that. It was such a big risk, wasn’t it? You had to pay 30 quid for a car­tridge, and you can’t just take it back if it’s shit. You’re just stuck with this bad game, and all that money gone. You’re not go­ing to get that much pocket money again in the ‘90s.

“The last thing I want to do is play a game alone. But then no­body wants to play Farm­ing Sim­u­la­tor with me”

What’s your favourite game? The one I al­ways go back to – and it is just as bor­ing as Farm­ing Sim­u­la­tor – is prob­a­bly SimCity. I can spend three days to­tally en­grossed in it, and at the end of it I know I’ll just be sick of it and I won’t be ad­dicted to it any more. Then I can go back to it again in six months’ time. Any­thing else I’d prob­a­bly get too stuck into. That’s gone against ev­ery­thing I’ve said about en­joy­ing games with other peo­ple. I’m mainly just in­ter­ested in do­ing a great pub­lic tran­sit sys­tem. That’s mainly why I play games. That, and oc­ca­sion­ally re­leas­ing Godzilla.

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