How to be a video game guard: A professional guide

Military (un)intelligence?

So you want to join the esteemed ranks of video game guards, do you? Be warned, it's a tough life. The hours are long, the work is repetetive, and constant vigilance is a must. And then there's the bad PR to consider.

Forever being throttled, stabbed, shot and blown up, and usually without the slightest warning bar a slight shuffling noise in the shadows behind them, people tend to assume that our noble troops are a bit stupid. They're not. They're just trained in a very particular way. And if you want to join them, you'll have to get with that program sharpish. Click on, and we'll take you through the official training manual.

Keep your back to any open doorway

You definitely dont want to be looking towards the entrance to the room youre guarding. Why? Because anything and anyone worth protecting will be in the middle of it of course! Thats where any would-be thief or assassin will be heading, so thats where you want to look. That inbound doorway or tunnel entrance? Nothing to see there. Turn your back to it and pay it no heed. Whats the worst that could happen?

Know your patrol route and never deviate from it

Routine is the backbone of vigilance. If youre going to guard a room, cave, courtyard or repurposed Alaskan military base, youll need to stick to the plan. Patrol routes are there for a reason. You absolutely must follow the precise line and patrol timing designated to you, and you absolutely must synchronise your movements with those of your colleagues on every single circuit. Whats that, you say? Every three loops you end up leaving a brief gap right down the middle of the room, before ending up all alone in a dark corner? Nonsense. Weve had out best military strategists working on this for months with a sheet of graph paper and a stop watch. Dont think. Obey.

Definitely hang around near shadows

It shouldnt surprise you to find that we have a vast array of dark, gloomy corners in the facility. After all, if everywhere was well-lit, we wouldnt need security guards in the first place, would we? And God knows its cheaper to pay you guys than to buy a new bulb. So definitely, definitely hang out near any large expanses of shadow you find. Much like those doorways though, try to keep your back to any obvious patches of darkness. As we all know, theres nothing to see in the dark, so youd be wasting your time looking into it. And what would be the point of that?

Use any potential explosives as group meeting points

If you absolutely must stop patrolling and stand still, please, please do so near any large explosive object that may be in the room. That stuff is dangerous, so it needs as many people looking after it as possible, as closely as possible. Fireworks, fuel barrels, cars Anything that might blow up is something you should be right on top of, ideally with a small group of colleagues. Oh, and if you could make sure that youre all looking in the same direction as you do this, that would be great. If any threat does present itself, we want as many eyes on it and ready to react as possible.

How do we know that youll be looking in the right direction? Easy. Check if you can see the entrance to the room youre in. If you cant, youre looking the right way.

Clifftops, water and high windows are your friends

Guarding is a stressful business. We get that. And because we need your minds sharp, we want to help you to maintain a healthy, well-adjusted, efficient mental state. So you should occasionally take some time out to relax and take in the bigger picture. Maybe pause to appreciate nature and the awesome beauty all around you. We find that staring at water really helps. Its best if you stand very close to the edge for maximum effect. We also recommend the awe-inspiring vistas provided by cliff edges and high windows. Make sure that the latter are wide open first though, for total clarity of viewing experience.

It was probably just the wind

Seriously. Just the wind. The wind can sound like anything, you know. Breath, footsteps, the creaking of a door, small arms fire, explosions, the driving of a heavily armed motor vehicle The breeze is more than capable of sounding like all of these things and more. Dont worry. Even if you think you can actively see an unauthorised intruder with a gun right in front of you, the chances are that thats the just the wind as well. A wind mirage. The wind can do those. But if youre sure there really is something untoward going on

If you seriously suspect a disturbance, ignore it. It will go away

On the rare occasions that a perceived threat isnt just a blustery figment of your fetid, over-active imagination, theres a simple course of action to follow. Ignore it. Oh of course, by all means have a brief, cursory look if doing so will set your mind at rest. But give it 30 seconds to a minute at most, then go straight back to your previous business. If we show fear, then the terrorists have already won. If, however, we show them that were just not really that bothered about their assault on our property and people, then the opposition will become intimidated by our nonchalance and will probably just leave.

If attacked, don't cause a fuss

Okay, absolute worst case scenario. There really is a threat, it isnt made of wind, it doesnt leave when you ignore it and as a result, you find yourself in the (very rare) state of being choked into the inky black velvet embrace of unconsciousness. Theres an easy solution to that one too. Just go with it. Dont fight back, dont cause a fuss, dont make any noise, dont go for your weapon and absolutely dont make any serious effort to alert any of your colleagues to your predicament.

You see with any luck, the effort of all that choking will see our adversary become too tired to effectively function afterwards. Thus, the next chap he comes across will find him far easier to overpower than you did. Even if not, the one after him probably will. Attritionally, over the course of many chokings, we will wear this interloper down. Its a subtle, devious tactic, and he wont see our trap closing until its far too late. Though if our opponent is going lethal erm... well, sorry about that.

Don't look up

Theres nothing for you up there. Stay focused on the job. The core objective. The room, down here, that youre guarding. On the ground. If its more than three feet above your head-height, its outside of your remit, and therefore really not worth your attention. If youre having particular trouble with elevated distractions, we have some specially formulated vertical blinker contact lenses you can collect from the supplies office.

Guarding the ceiling Honestly, you guys. What do you think this job is? Pigeon security?

Any other important tactical advice?

So that's the current handbook exhausted, but of course the noble profession of video game guarding is always looking for ways to increase its prowess. Do you have any other suggestions that might help? Spotted any other staunch pieces of guard behaviour that you feel should be officially documented in order to help further trainees get things right?? If so, drop them in the comments.

And while we're on the subject of the daily turmoil of gaming's unsung heroes, why not check out 6 soul-destroying jobs characters have to do in games. and 8 reasons why Bowser always fails.

David Houghton
Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.