At time of writing, I'm in my living room. Outside the window it's raining. Goddamn is it ever raining. It's been raining for about three days non-stop. All of its life-giving properties aside, rain is a pain in the ass. But there is one silver lining in that massive, never ending, stratospherically huge cloud currently squatting above Sydney. And that silver lining is video games.
It's a love-hate relationship.
Growing up in Scotland, where the weather is — let's be honest here — brutally god-awful, I've got a strange relationship with rain. For the most part rain is bad, I would say, but it does provide us with a glorious excuse to stay home and play video games.
It's a feeling with years, possibly even decades of reinforcement for me. In Scotland we rarely have sunshine. In the depths of winter we have about six, maybe seven hours of sunlight. And the rain? It might not be as intense as the storm we're currently enduring here in Sydney but by God is it ever consistent.
The word is ubiquitous. In Scotland rain is never more than a handful of days away.
The end result is this: on the off-chance that we do manage to get a decent day (read: sunny, with temps above 15 degrees) the chances of your parents allowing you to stay indoors and play video games? Slim to zero.
"Git oot there an' play ya lazy bugger."
In Scotland your Mum doesn't provide you with an option. She gives you an ultimatum. Go outside and play. Or die. Talk about living in the age of Aquarius. Scotland has been a matriarchy since the highland clearances in the 18th century. You don't mess with your mum. Ever.
The end result of that childhood, of living in a place where it rains a lot, is this: in my mind rain is inextricably linked to video games. When I see the rain pummelling the streets, it bothers me, but not too much. Because I know not a single reasonable person will be able to question my decision to stay home all day and play video games.
It's an issue I've struggled with in Sydney, a place where (outside of the last three days) the sun always shines and the weather is mostly incredible. In the back of my mind the voice of my Mum: "WHIT YE DAIN' IN HERE, GIT OOTSIDE". I'm 33 years old and it's a difficult one to shake. It's been internalised. The idea that I shouldn't be playing video games when the weather allows me to do something else instead. I'll never shake that feeling.
One strange thing I've noticed about living in Australia: the polar opposite of that idea. It can get so bloody hot that no-one would question your decision to stay at home and play video games. It's an idea so alien to my ears that I've flat out ignored it and gotten heavily sunburned in the process. It's been one of the most difficult things to acclimatise to. I imagine Australian mothers, barking at their kids playing footy in the streets: "what the hell are you doing outside? Get the hell in here and play some video games." I imagine this and I'm dumbfounded.
But regardless, this rain — this pounding rain that batters off the street and is the process of ruining people's lives or at the very least making their day a challenging one — I have a mild nostalgia for it. I know what I'll be doing while I wait for the storm to subside. I'll be playing video games.
In your face Mum.