Monday, April 16, 2012

The Nerd Stuff - I Love Switches

So as I may have mentioned below, I'm a little beat at turning 30. In particular, my long-held ambition (that I was seriously just about to get around to doing) of becoming a military pilot is now beyond the ability of my feeble elderly reflexes to pursue. So what shall I do instead?

A mature course of action would be to take up a new hobby- perhaps learn French, take up sailing, or beginning knitting a quilt. All of which are highly productive activities, which would add a line to my otherwise barren CV (except the quilt knitting - I don't see employers taking me seriously with that one).

Of course, the key word there is mature. If I was mature, would I seriously be writing this blog during office hours, just so you, the guy who was googling "quilt porn" could read this?


So instead of doing something productive with my time, I'm going to do something time-consuming, mentally taxing, and ultimately completely unproductive instead.

I'm going to learn to fly (or play, really) Falcon 4 and DCS Black Shark - at the same time.

In full realism mode.

That's right, full realism mode. And I realise that for most of you, that makes absolutely no bloody sense whatsoever.

Suffice to say, both of these games (games? Works of art more like) are incredibly nerdy, with the player/ allegedly responsible adult masquerading as a pilot having to flip numerous switches and toggles just to get the damn engines to start (seriously, in Black Shark you have to manually open the cockpit door to talk to the imaginary ground crew).

I loved these games when I was a kid, loved the in-depth knowledge required, loved the excessive obsession with detail (it's shocking I wasn't invited to more parties).

At first glance, two things jump out at me:

1) How the hell did 16 year old me (let alone 12 or 11 year old me) memorise this many buttons?

2) Was younger me as comfortable with the very true-to-life campaigns in these games? In Falcon, you take part in a NATO campaign over Yugoslavia (closely resembling the real thing) or in a campaign against North Korea (reflecting the near future, perhaps). In Black Shark you are, no kidding, taking part in a Russian campaign in the Black Sea region, against Georgia. Was teenage me at all perturbed by the thoughts of my digital missiles mirroring the flight of real-life missiles? Or is this just the thinking of an addled, 30 year old Guardian reader?

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