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Gaming used to be such a simple pleasure. You'd fire up your console, put in the disc, then flop down on your sofa and bask in the explosive torrent of colourful HD goodness bursting from the screen. And it was a simple pleasure to share, too. A few friends, a few seats, a few snacks, and you were set up for a whole day and night of communal rowdy fun-times.
Now though, we have 3D games. And dear God, does the process of playing them make you look like a berk. You sit there in your technologically-enhanced Roy Orbison specs, looking every bit like the last extra to get to the costume department on a swiftly-cancelled ‘80s sci-fi show.
Above: Roy Orbison
You squint through the dark lenses trying to distinguish anything you can on what was once the incandescent glow of your TV screen. Then you bite the bullet, get up, and spend half an hour tweaking your previously perfect brightness and contrast settings like some medieval alchemist caught in the midst of a desperate attempt to turn a horse poop into gold.
It works. Amazing. So you settle back down into the game, amazed and enthralled by the newfound world of triple-dimensionality spread out in front of you. You want to share your joy at this new techno-wonder with your friends. But you can't. Because all they can see is an overly bright double-image, and a grinning idiot in stupid glasses ducking, weaving and flinching around things only he can see.
Above: 3D gaming without glasses is blurry gaming
And you then become aware that your wraparound, black-tinted isolation has cut you off psychologically from the rest of the once-merry group. Gaming is no longer a shared experience. It’s you and them. And they think you look like a dick. Which is a strange coincidence, because you feel like one too.
Even for people with a sense of rhythm, trying to play DDR and not feel like a complete floundering Johnson in the process is a challenge. It's a game that requires insane levels of we don't even know what because whatever it is we don't have any and if you don't have any then you might as well play something else instead unless you're happy feeling like the Mayor of Fucking Dicksville.
And how are we not meant to feel completely inadequate and self conscious when tiny children in dungarees are better at it than us:
And people with only one leg:
And kids that are large:
At least he has the common decency to fall over at the end.
Unless you're one of those people that possesses the magical DDR essence in your DNA, then playing the game of hit the coloured arrows with your feet at the right time is less about dancing and more about staring gormlessly at a screen and shuffling about uncomfortably on the spot. And there's a reason nobody's made Shuffle Shuffle Revolution yet (it's because people don't like playing games that make them feel uncomfortable in public places).
Never mind the social pariah that owning a fake pet makes you. It's a bit like the Tamagotchi you had at school, which was snatched out of your hands by your cruel, heartless 'friends', who injected it with the medicine until it was so 'well' it was dead.
Only worse. Tamagotchis can be discreet, under-the-table vices that you can get away with if you're good enough at distracting people. Probably with someone else's Tamagotchi. No, owning Nintendogs is impossible to keep quiet, because you can't play it and be quiet.
Above: It's not the one with all the pink
We're grown men. We're sat on the train, trying to call our fake woofer's name, 'Mr Scruffles' without anyone noticing that we're not little girls and playing with a fake pet called Mr Scruffles. We murmer it to get his attention.
He's not listening.
We cough into the palms of our hands, nonchalantly looking out of the window as we do. Nothing. Tears well up in our eyes.
Why? Because we used to be children. We would have been yelling 'MR SCRUFFLES' at the DS, like John McEnroe trying to interact with a line judge who just happens to be a fake pet dog unable to hear him because the tennis match is in the middle of a busy train.
Above: How to feel like a dick at over 100mph
We don't have those amazing inhibitions any more. We can't just shout: 'F***ing roll over or I'm going to f***ing sell you to Cooking Mama's f***ing kebab shop!" because we know everyone will stop what they're doing and look at us with wide, scared eyes like we're a terrorist. With an imaginary pet dog.