Nervously, I reach forward and press the buzzer. My heart is beating like a Venetian Snares tune and I consider, for a second, turning and running. I could make it to the car from here. It might take a moment to get it started, but it's possible.
No. I'm not that type. I promised myself I never would be again.
The door opens and I give bear hugs and kisses to the gorgeous, roughly shaven bloke with a floppy fringe who lets me in.
This weekend I was challenged to start World of Warcraft
and get to Level 10, at least, in a night. I don't go back on a dare, even when it's one I've been purposely ignoring for the last three years as more and more acquaintances succumb to its enveloping and enthralling nature. Enough is enough. I'm strong. I've seen the Southpark
episode in preparation and I've bought offerings of 24 Strongbow and a pizza. I'm in for the long haul.
It does help that the bloke who's invited me is devastatingly attractive. It has to be said that most of my WoW
-obsessed mates have the flabby bodies and pasty skins typical of this genre of gaming. If the worst comes to the worst, I tell myself, I'll buy a Slendatone and some fake tan. Drink Nourishment. It'll be fine. I doubt my own reassurance. Platitudes ringing hollowly in my ears, I am sat down in front of the PC by rough hands and I hear the 'krikwish' of a can of cider opening by my ear. As the first few sips go down and I get on with creating my character, my misgivings arte growing. I have a career! I have rent to pay! What if it all gets too much? Over the phone we've decided on the basics as, terrifyingly enough, this guy can tell me all the races and the classes that they can be, along with all the benefits and drawbacks of said combinations, off the top of his head. Oh for that kind of memory! I seem to have inherited my family's memory which stretches to approximately the previous six minutes on a good day, often it's less.
I decide on a Blood Elf Warlock with white-blonde hair and quite chavvy earrings and call her Vishnu in honour of my newly-acquired nickname ‘The Maintainer’ (a step-up from my previous one: ‘The Laminator’. I do enjoy the fact that my nicknames often begin with 'the'; it gives me an aura of power and dignity which is lacking in my actual persona. Power and dignity? Over-rated benefits, in my opinion.)
Starting the game, pretty much my first act is to kill a passing cat. As it falls to the floor with a forlorn mew I feel the same pang of guilt in my heart as when I killed my first deer in Oblivion
. It always takes me a while to grow the hard-heartedness required in these games. Laughing, my mate kills another just to see the look on my face. I feel far too strongly for AI creatures, but am not allowed to mourn for too long as I'm sent on various quests to kill more animals who were, until my death-dealing blows, just minding their own business, harmlessly roaming the Eversong Woods. I try to maintain some sense of ethical fair-play by killing whole families - no orphans on my watch.