It’s not that I hate everything…I mean, I do hate everything, but I don’t set out every morning thinking ‘What can I find to piss me off today?’. What’s happened is that everything appears to have been specifically designed to fit in a specially carved out section of my brain; a section I like to call ‘WTF Central’.

And, when I say everything, I mean everything.

Take games consoles for instance.

Now I am, as they say in the trade (I’m not sure which trade specifically, but definitely ‘a’ trade), a child. I like cartoons, I like explosions, and I enjoy running a stick along railings to hear the clicky-clacking sound. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than watching an episode of Spongebob in which he picks up a stick, runs it along some railings, then explodes for no readily explainable reason.

I also enjoy playing video games (though, why do we still call them video games? Why haven’t they become DVD games?). I mean, let’s face it, regardless of how retina thrashing the graphics get, the fact that they are essentially interactive cartoons that let you blow people the fuck up (the railings and stick patch is, I’m sure, just around the corner) can’t honestly be lost on anyone.

Back when I was younger and my friends and I used to have the ‘Which is the better machine: PC or Amiga?’ argument, the console market was, well, somewhat lacking. Oh, sure, Mario and Sonic were kicking some ass (and, I’m pretty sure that was the last time Sonic kicked anyone’s ass. The state he’s in now, he probably makes money by spanking ass….god, there’s an image I wish I could scrub) and the Zelda franchise was embarking, fresh faced, on its ‘Get as much mileage out of exactly the same game, time after time after time’ business model, but the rest of the games didn’t really grab me. This could have had something to do with the fact that I had a Sega Master System and all my friends had Mega Drives meaning all my games were shitty, cut down versions of their games, but even when I played their machines the games seemed, I don’t know, the same I guess.

Run, jump, get the coin. Run, jump, get the coin. Run, Jump, fall in reddish hole designed to look like lava.

But, the one thing you could guarantee was that, if nothing else, if you bought a Mega Drive game, it would play on the Mega Drive…anyone’s Mega Drive. It was the single, solitary advantage that consoles had over PCs; whatever you bought for your machine, it was going to work. No checking out system requirements, no realising that your sound card wasn’t supported, just unpack, run, jump, get the coin.

And it stayed that way for quite a while; the PCs led the way with technical innovations like Alone in the Dark, Prince of Persia, Leisure Suit Larry, and the consoles played catch up with their rigid, static, ‘not updating until the next generation’ philosophy, but the consoles would play whatever you bought and the PCs needed near constant upgrading and updating to keep up with the latest in monster kicking action.

Unlike PCs, You knew what you were getting with a console and you knew, without a doubt, that your machine wouldn’t be out of date until the next generation appeared.

Now, however, things have moved on, and I’m not entirely sure that everything worked out for the best.

I have a PS3 (don’t judge me fanboys, it’s a decent piece of kit. Besides, I have a 360 too) and it’s fun. I get to play all the latest games (except Halo, but that sucks ass anyway…..ssh…forget I said that), get to blow up my friends online for free (for the moment at least) and get to enjoy everything that’s new in the world of cornea shattering graphical awesomeness.

But it all comes at a price (and I’m not talking about the kind you pay with those little plastic cards in your wallet).

See, I’ve just turned my machine on, and I noticed that I couldn’t see who else was online; the little smiley square and its accompanying number were missing. Then a little message pops up in the corner that informs me I need to install a system update before normal service is resumed.

And that’s my problem. Every other fucking second a system upadte is required, which wouldn’t be such an issue if there was a choice involved; if I could decide that I didn’t want to be able to play 3D blu-rays thank you very much. But there isn’t.

Oh, there’s the illusion of choice. You get to the little ‘Terms of Agreement’ screen and you’re given a ‘Don’t Accept’ option that will allow you to not install the update, but your machine will remain hamstrung until you install it. Which bites.

‘Yes, we understand that you’ve just paid a shitload of money for a games machine, but we want you to enjoy it to the fullest. To ensure this we’re going make sure that you can’t play it until you’ve installed software that we tell you too. I know, we’re motherfuckers, but we really have you by the short hair. If you want to continue to play soldiers with your little friends, you do as we say, otherwise, well, you have to play on your own. I know, boo hoo.’

How is this OK? Fixing bugs or glitches with auto patches I get, but effectively holding machines that people have bought with their own hard earned…..earned…OK, gifted to them by a company for little or no actual effort, to ransom is tantamount to….something. I’m not sure there’s a word that conveys how I feel about this, but you know what I mean.

Anyway, I’m off. I have 3D Blu-Ray software to install.


P.S. If this entry is full of spelling errors, blame my wife. She won’t let me use Word to spell check it just in case I see a secret she’s been working on for me. Tsk, women.