Unwanted conditions that games can cure

Condition: No sense of humour

There are many genuinely funny things in the real world, like watching a seagull steal a toddler’s ice-cream or observing a fat man chasing a taxi cab. Game developers are often too busy developing the mechanics of killing to focus on hilarity (the two don’t often co-exist). Some games, however, are veritable rib-ticklers. The Secret of Monkey Island’s witty brand of self-awareness is guaranteed to turn your frown upside down, as is the ingeniously inventive Psychonauts.

Above: This man is Tim Schafer. He makes games that are genuinely funny. Use his power and laugh you miserable bastards

Highlights include the homage to monster B-movies Lungfishopolis level, where your character Razputin grows to gigantic proportions and stomps around a city as tiny Lungfish run in terror, and sticking a portrait of someone important on your head to bypass a short-sighted security guard.

Prescription: Actually, just give designer of these two Tim Schafer a call. He’s a funny guy.

Condition: Obesity

No, we’re not going to recommend Wii Fit, however much your mother or older sister swears it burns calories. There are other games that’ll make you thinner, faster. In following our routine on World of Warcraft you won’t have to perform any strenuous exercises, but you might have to sacrifice your social life and self-respect.

Play enough WoW to get suitably addicted and your appetite will become just another meaningless distraction from the land of Azeroth. When you’re striving to get your Mage to level 80, you won’t feel hunger. You’ll be in a trance-like state, sort of like sleep, but much closer to the living dead without the inclination towards eating brains. However, addiction to WoW can have the opposite effect, with fatty finger foods looking all the more appetising when you’re too busy grinding characters to get off your ass and cook yourself some real food.

Prescription: a week-long World of Warcraft marathon (make sure there are no Doritos, Oreos or Hot Pockets in the house first.)

Condition: Depression

The world can be a bleak place. The gaming landscape, with its post-apocalyptic obsession and increasingly inventive ways to show the many different ways humans can die, can be even bleaker. However, there are a few shining lights in the darkness. Why not go on holiday in Wii Sports Resort? Perpetual sunshine and Frisbee throwing – a perfect cure for the blues.

Above: It's so happy! Woowee!

For something less physically demanding, tending to your very own garden in Viva Pinata has all the therapeutic benefits of real-life gardening, with candy-filled animals replacing back cramp. Lastly, bouncing around the levels of Wii’s De Blob and bringing color back to the monochrome world is sure to put some color in your cheeks too.

Prescription: A week-long vacation on Wuhu island, with added De Blob and Viva Pinata (avoid Professor Pester’s garden-ruining Ruffians. Having a flowerbed trampled will only further your depression.)

Condition: Loneliness

Find yourself slowly going insane as you sit alone in your bedroom, with your only company a pillow you’ve named Fred? Look no further than your games console or PC, gateways to all kinds of social interaction. Granted, this interaction mostly comes in the form of a one-way dialogue from them to you, filled with all kinds of mother-blushing profanities.

Above: A true friend

Sometimes, however, you can get lucky – real, mature people to talk to! Shooters requiring well-thought-out tactics, like Rainbow Six Vegas or Battlefield: Bad Company 2 are perfect. Online gamers may not be able to replace Fred the Pillow, but can Fred call your sister a whore? Didn’t think so.

Prescription: Take two rounds of a popular shooter each day for a week. If griefers agitate symptoms, make use of the mute option.

May 28, 2010