Holidays Without Video Games Is Hell On Earth

Holidays Without Video Games Is Hell On Earth
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I’m in hell.

Family holiday hell, in Queensland, and with no gaming consoles, to be specific. This is the only postcard I’ve been able to get out to you, the ones that have the games. You are lucky ones. I once was like you. With games.

This communique has been composed in five minutes on the shitty computer that inhabits the Business Centre of this waterpark labyrinth. This terminal makes your average Pip-boy look like the PC from Minority Report. There is a ‘turbo’ button on the tower that makes the digital readout jump from 33 to 99. Why the fuck would you ever have turbo set to off? We cannot know this.

It doesn’t even have Minesweeper. First thing I checked. Ran a hard drive search two days ago. Finished this morning. No results.

I know now that I’m screwed. I honestly don’t hold much hope of this email ever reaching you, Mark. Only the subject line data might transmit properly, and so I’ve chosen it very carefully:

“Liberate me ex infernis.”

Why am I in such dire straits? Early on in this purgatorial trip, my better half “forgot to pack” our phone chargers and my Vita. She is “really” quite “sorry” I have no access to comms or an app store. I can’t even download the divorce papers I need as a pdf. Devil woman is two steps ahead of me.

This resort is remote, too. To buy any replacement product in this tourist trap is to surrender RRP x 3.5, and what I’d really be purchasing myself would be an all expenses paid guilt trip to “We Never See You, Why Don’t You Love Me and The Kids?”

Fuck. That. Noise.

I just have to accept that life has come full circle for me. I am now my father. Somehow, in this iridescently cheerful resort bursting full of fun, sun, slides, splashes, and delicious junk food, I’m the guy who is on-edge, exhausted, and quicker to aggro than an end-boss.

This place is paradise for any human that isn’t a dad. But all I see is an over-abundance of places for my two young boys to [worst case] drown [best case] slip and brain themselves, or gravel graze their skin down to the bone when some scumbag kid trips them over. Where my beloved ones see refreshment and relaxation, I see big overpriced puddles of piss, chock full of little shits, surrounded by half-wit parents I may have to piledrive at some point.

Oh, geez. I’m sorry. I’m usually a sociable guy, but going from every game ever available, all the time, to none… well, it’s a cold turkey you just don’t want to experience, friend. That shit does things to a man, and also his wallet as it turns out…

My eldest, God bless him, recently spotted a sign to a “Games Room” and my heart leapt. After a perfectly acted shrug to my wife that said, “Wow, how about these kids and their incessant need to play games, amirite?!” I scooped up my brood and took a time-travel trip back to how awful gaming once was.

Hiding behind two pinball machines (Johnny Mnemonic and Super Mario Bros) were the remnants of what might once have been a prized mini-arcade. The game selection was as batshit eclectic as it was expensive and disproportionately priced. $2 equals one credit for any of the following.

Transformers: Human Alliance (Sega, 2013) an old-fashioned on-rails shooter with two overly-round mounted “guns” that have all the tactile fun of pointing a rusty stage light at something. I remembered a time when arcade graphics would blow my mind, but this thing looks like an up-jumped Dreamcast. Also, the Engrish voice acting is so bad you’ll want to twist the light gun around so it shoots you in the face, thereby sparing you from any more quips involving Decepticons “being good at extreme sports”.

Virtual-On Cyber Troopers (Sega, 1995). Points for sheer nostalgia here, even if it isn’t worth 2 bucks a life. Going the tonk with Hajime Katoki’s mecha still has novelty-factor, thanks to those quirky twin stick controls (that I never bought for my Saturn). More bonus points are earned here because this arcade is rocking the twin cabinet setup. Downside: there’s no 2P to my 1P. The boys are too young to put up much of a fight, and, by the way my wife’s looking at me – an increasingly furrowed brow, with a mouth shrinking to look like a cat’s arsehole – I can see I’m in for some real gladiatorial combat when we leave this oasis. Why pay good money for the virtual?

Racing Hero (Sega, 1989). I almost don’t recognise this game for two reasons: firstly, because I mistake its sweet motorcycle handle bars for that of its progenitor Hang-On or Super Hang-On. Secondly, some urban prophet has taken a sharpie to the ‘c’ in the title and changed it to a ‘p’. This cabinet promptly eats my $2 and delivers a barely responsive throttle and a half-dead CRT screen that bathes everything in Grimace puke purple. I feel suitably violated, but the writing was on the wall. If humanity ever needs to crown something as a hero of rape, this cabinet’s a shoe in.

Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 (Nintendo, 2007). Speaking of being unnecessarily bent over, this oddity from the era of Mario Kart Double Dash thinks it’s ok to reward my first place podium finish with the demand for more money, then a Game Over. Screen. You can go fist yourself, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2. No coins were fed into anything after this point. Even if it was reasonably priced, the handling is bloody awful to the point where it’s massive step down, even from the Wii Wheel.

In the end, this arcade caused more pain than it relieved. You’re reading the scribblings of a starving man who has been robbed and thrown several stale crackers.

I tell you all this, because I want you to know how low things have fallen: both for your average arcade out there, and for me as a person who once had dignity. I’m embarrassed to reveal how much money I paid to get my fix. But I paid, and now I’m itching my arms again.

Do not become me. On your next trip, take your 3DS, or your Vita, and a phone charger – two, just in case the first one breaks. Hide them in your carry-on if you must. Because this life without games – or the god-awful replacement of: a games-as-a-service shitshow where there is no credit given where credit is due – it’s no life.

As for now, I hope for the world to turn, and for things to get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you in an online lobby, accept a friend request from you, level with you, or grief others with you, I love you. With all my heart, I love you, and envy your easy access to 35 years of videogames.

Play something. For me.

This story originally appeared in March 2016.


  • You are fucked up man. And at no point did you take responsibility for your own inaction. Next time you go on holiday, man up and pack your things for yourself. Also, your wife is a legend and you should listen to her and do what she says.

  • Grab a few boardgames – things with replay value and not too much drama, to play with the kiddies and wife. Start with Codenames and Deception and work from there.

    If you’ve got a few bucks left over, maybe dropping by a local shrink mightn’t be a bad idea.

  • Interesting article from a non-regular contributor to the site. I think it would have a lot more positive impact if we knew who you were.

  • Most convenience stores sell phone chargers. You can even make an excuse to buy one “in case of an emergency at work.”

    Went on holidays with sister+nephew+sister’s friend not long ago; every night there were something like six devices plugged in. Seven? My phone + Vita + tablet, her phone + tablet, friend’s phone – and maybe others. A couple of cameras I think. The batteries on the Vita and tablet were usually dead by day’s end, largely because my nephew is a POWER DRAINING DEMON.

    But my tablet I usually use for reading rather than gaming, so usually the batteries last a full day anyway.

  • Damn Adam, truly you have known suffering. Get one of those wallet chain things and attach it to your Vita instead of wallet. Then attach the other end to your new nipple piercing. THat way you’ll not be separated easily.

    Also, the bit about arcades sucking is true and unfortunate. Now they are a place to go to see the games that time forgot rather than the most cutting edge graphics.

  • I appreciate the humor on this article but it still feel like its a little extreme. People call me an addict, i just clocked 100 hours in the division in a matter of a week and a half. But when i am on holiday (preferably as far away from Australia as possible) i make the most out of it. I am married and am a father too. But holiday is for times when you need to set your self apart from the ordinary, from everyday routine, everyday people and the place. I love gaming and i have been gaming for over 20 years. But holidays and travelling with my family i love more.

    Ps: Dont you dare calling any arcade game garbage. They are legendary memories. Even the very old and crappy made ones. We are lucky they are still making those machines and games to keep that spirit alive.

      • Its an impossible task to do without arguments if your wife or girlfriend is not a gamer, its gotta happen. (Mine certainly isnt a gamer) Most gamers see games as an interactive journey a chance for us to step out of our ordinary lives and become something new. But none gamers see it as simply waste of time and call you an addict or anti social. (typical)

        Back to your question, what i do is, the weekends are for family time, weekdays all about gaming. I dont have much time after work to go out or do any activities anyway. Straight after work i shower, get a nice drink and sit in front of my platform. (I am at work atm and dreaming of this already). Mind you though i do this many hours only if i really love the game and it has enough content in it to keep me going. Like witcher 3, fallout4, gtaV and the division etc. On the weekends i spend enough time with them and we go on holidays overseas twice a year so no one can blame me for being boring.

        • Do you work outside the usual 8 to 5?

          Once I get home it’s catch up with kids, dinner for them, dinner for us, bed time routine and 8pm before I can catch up with the Mrs. 8:30 if I’m lucky I can slink off. Then awake at 6am to start it all over again.

  • I see big overpriced puddles of piss, chock full of little shits, surrounded by half-wit parents I may have to piledrive at some point.

    Queensland sounds lovely…

  • Fun fact – that “Turbo” button on your old computer doesn’t actually make things faster, rather slower instead. It slows the clock speed of your CPU so that it could play older games. Obviously a really shit idea for a button name because if you leave it turned on all the time you’re essentially bottle-necking yourself (albeit to a small degree I’d imagine)

    • That’s odd. It used to behave entirely the other way around on my old 486 and Pentium uh… 3?
      We always noticed because some games needed to have turbo turned OFF or they were lightning-fast unplayable.

      • Same here. I also found out years later it does the opposite of what was described. Or maybe it was right; from the software’s perspective the user was running in turbo mode.

        I sometimes wonder how much better the ol’ machine may have worked if I just turned it off.

        But then again I doubt I would have notice any real difference. It was used for either word processing or playing SimCity.

        And given that money was tight, it was all I had until my second semester at Uni where I got a AMD Athlon (back when they were leading the pack before they started believing their own hype and letting Intel over taken them in spades).

  • Luckily I have awesome relatives & actually enjoy catching up with them over the holiday breaks. The games will always be there for me waiting at home.

  • My family is camping beside a river in Moura. Remote? Yes. Pretty? Meh. Do these people understand what gaming is? Hell no. If it’s not black and extracted from the earth or has trotters or gills, these people (bless their soles) are not my people and common ground is scarce. I wish I was a better, more social person but alas. I’m cold turkey until at least Monday.

  • I loved this post! I’m a father of two young boys and I TOTALLY get it! Games are solace for me in this crazy, turbulent world.

    Thanks for sharing, bro!


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