8 March 2011

Driving Games and Me - by Mathew Stone

      Posted 03/06/11 02:28:00 am  

I don't care for racing games. At all. There isn't anything important here for me to do. Just go fast. Gotta go fast. Faster than the other guy. Then you win. Which is good? I want to win? For... reasons?

Anyway, they're not for me. Maybe they're for you? Maybe you wake up in the morning with a boner thinking about exactly how much faster you were going than that other guy. I'm not here to judge. Your shame is safe with me.

Point being, I was musing somewhat over exactly what it would take for me to really, sincerely appreciate a game like Gran Turismo or Need for Speed, where all you do is drive cars around, and here's what I ended up with.

I want to play as Jasper. Who's Jasper? He's an accountant in a small suburb. He works at a small firm that mainly covers families and a few small businesses on the side. It's not very difficult work, but he doesn't really enjoy it, either. It's just comfortable and easy, like everything else in his life that he's too afraid to change.

Bernadette, his wife, has always had his best interests at heart. Wanting him to be better, do more, push forwards, climb higher in life - even if it wasn't want he wanted. Then again, she knows better than he does. She thinks he just needs direction in his life. Somebody pointing him down the right path, telling him where to go. So that he can maximise his potential.

Jasper doesn't get up to much these days. He prefers to keep to himself, so he doesn't really know many people. Back in his college days, he used to be in a band. He played bass guitar. It came pretty naturally to him. Numbers always made sense to him, so he had a good feel for the rythm, and he enoyjed doing something with his hands.

The creative aspect to it wasn't overly important to him, but he enjoyed making sense of things. This note beloned there, so he put it there, and things were a little more organised. It was that same warm sort of feeling people get from stacking their books properly on the shelf, or folding the laundry. Knowing the world is a little bit more under control now.

That was then. Bernadette didn't like his playing the guitar. She thought it was distracting him from important things. They wanted to have a good life together, didn't they? They weren't going to get there playing music. No, it was going to take work, dedication. They both needed to be pulling their weight, not slinking off to the pub to strum on the guitar every other night.

For at least four months or so now, Jasper's been drinking most nights. He made up an account, and told Bernadette they needed to work on it during the evenings. She seemed more glad than anything else - more work was good. It got them a bit closer to the end goal.

Jasper didn't even particularly like the stuff. He just needed to do something. Needed to take a stand, to take control, to convince himself that he could still make choices. Convince himself that he was as free as the next guy to do what he wanted. Convince himself that he was happy. Or at least, was going to be happy. At some point. Later down the track.

Bernadette didn't notice. She was throwing herself into her work, too. She was a legal secretary, so she worked all sorts of hours. They never ended up spending much time together. Even when they did on the weekends, all she ever did was talk at him about finances, about work, about what he should be doing and how he should be doing it.

A few months later, and Jasper cracks. He can't keep it up. It isn't worth it anymore. He leaves work early in the morning and heads straight for the bar. He downs half a bottle of gin, then jumps right back in the car. Bernadette has the day off, so he drives straight home with a blank, dead look on his face.

She appears confused, and a little frustrated, immediately questioning why he's not at work. Jasper's eye starts twitching violently. Bernadette seems taken aback, and starts inching away slowly, asking him if he's okay.

Jasper takes control back. He beats her, savagely, again and again and again. She's screaming. He's crying. For a moment, he looks away, and Bernadette manages to kick him off. She jumps up, snatches the phone, and locks herself in the bathroom.

Still crying, Jasper runs back to the car. He downs the rest of the bottle of gin, then drives. He doesn't know where he's going. He doesn't care. It's just come to the point where he needs to go far, far away, for a long, long time.

In his drunken haze, he crashes the car into a primary school, brutally killing himself, and a teacher. Bernadette becomes agoraphobic, and has a psychiatrist come to the house each week for the next four years.

Enjoy is not, I think, the correct term to use here. I would play more driving games if they involved more alcoholism, more domestic abuse, and more pedestrian collisions. Is there a market for that?

Jason Lehman
7 Mar 2011 at 9:59 am PST

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