Merry ChristmasBrains


It is half past two, and I am on a coach heading away from London. It is half past two, and I will be on a coach heading to Glasgow until ten to eight.

Every other bugger but me has put out their light, put down their head and gone to, if not sleep, at least some sort of waking delirium. I am a little island of white. I am a crystal jellyfish in an ocean of cut-price public transport. I have four hearts in my pocket and I am very, very happy.

Plastic hearts, I should stress. This was neither the aftermath of Aztecan revelry, nor an ill-considered metaphor for my feminine wiles – especially not the latter; I look like God ran out of faces and had to make do. No, these are cute little pixel hearts printed on cute little plastic rectangles, and they stand as testament to how bad Grant Howitt is at Rock, Paper Scissors.

I love you, Grant Howitt. I love you and your drunken lack of pattern recognition.

Grant is the reason I was at VideoBrains. I was set on culling the stragglers left on my Internet Friends To Drink With list, and he had strayed from the herd. We were finally in the same country. He couldn’t play the Atlantic Ocean Card anymore.

Also, he’d invited me.

Don’t get me wrong, I was in no way averse to VideoBrains as a concept. It sounded pretty cool, I’d watched the odd video here and there. But it wasn’t nine fucking Megabus hours worth of pretty cool. Nothing – except maybe Caro Emerald, a champagne jacuzzi, and a predatory smile – is nine fucking Megabus hours of pretty cool.

SPOILER: it was nine fucking Megabus hours of pretty awesome.

(It was also a week ago now, of course. But that was before the run-up to Christmas, so fuck y’all and your in a timely manners and your at least within the same weeks. I’ve had shit to do. Put a jumpcut here and picture me reminiscing into a glass of whisky.)

Grant turned out to be a seven-foot dandy in a gunslinger’s coat; as if Space Marines were engineered to be lady-killing machines. He looks like he should be riding a robotic horse across an alien desert. Absolute doll1 of a guy. Smart. Good at talking about shit. Unfortunately, we can no longer be friends. Between his willful refusal to enjoy boardgames and my habitual sobriety, we have literally nothing in common except a mutual crush on Sue Perkins. We shall leave him and his NO LONGER DASHING coat to the ravages of time.

VideoBrains is like a miniature sci-fi convention, right down to the boozing and the cute, smart people who are way out of my league. It makes me wish cons other than Nine Worlds ran a dedicated videogames track.

You’d think that fifteen-minute talks would cut content thin, with speakers stripping out depth or detail to save seconds, but instead it just lends itself to smaller, more personal subjects. Rather than filleting the muscle and veins of, say, whether the player-focused structure of games lends itself badly to ensemble narratives, you instead talk about the first time your father played something you had made. Or what you learned about debugging your SNES game (ANSWER: make really sure you don’t need to, apparently).

Glasgow, with our energetic little indie scene, could really do with something like it2. It’s small and the best kind of personal – the one where you don’t need to know anybody to feel personable.

VideoBrains is really fun, guys. It is really fun, and if you live in London you should go to it. Even if you don’t play games. Even if you don’t like games. Why? Because I live in Glasgow, nine hours of ungodly budget travel away, and so I can’t.

Dance for me, my vicarious pleasure puppet. Drink for me. Laugh for me. Put up your hand, then realise your question is stupid and take it down for me3.

Most of all, enjoy it for me. Say thanks for me. We should do this again sometime, VideoBrains. I owe you a beer.

1 Is it alright to call grown men ‘doll’? My boyfriend tells me it’s patronising and objectifying, but he giggles when he says it. But that’s boys for you, am I right, gals? It’s a mystery what goes on in their pretty little heads.

2 So could Edinburgh, probably, but fuck those guys. I don’t live there.

3 But never quick enough that they don’t call on you. Never quick enough.

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