4 parts companionship, 1 part psychotic disappointment.

There are various points over the course of the year when video gaming over the Internet against faceless teenagers is just no longer rewarding enough. In fact it’s rarely ever rewarding considering nearly everyone I play against is better than me. There is not much that is more unfulfilling than being shot in the face a hundred times by the representative avatar of a carbuncle infested, friendless 13 year old with more time on their hands than all the incarnations of Doctor Who put together. Except Christopher Eccleston. He actually wasted everyone’s time. Possibly a harsh presumption of my average opponent too – I’m sure they have lots of friends on Xbox live.

Roll on ‘La Liga’, a 5-player FIFA 12 tournament between ‘friends’ in a remarkably hostile environment. I’m not saying playing a football simulation in a nice house in Hackney is akin to walking the streets of Mogadishu in a union jack two-piece, but it does often get a little bit nasty. It is, however, completely justifiable. The joint prizes are worth more than the love or respect of your friends – a beautiful, hand crafted trophy and the knowledge that you have managed to successfully make 4 people you normally care about feel small and worthless (or you have just put one particular player into an uncontrollable 3 day rage). All good fun, to say the least.

Impressive, huh?! It's actually about the size of an egg.

‘La Liga’ has a normal league format. You play each other twice, with 3 points for a win, 1 for a draw and obviously nothing for losing. It means that we often have very close leagues with the title relying on a result here or a late equaliser there. Not so on Saturday. Just after the halfway point it was all over, the trophy won with 3 games to spare. Not by me. Congratulations definitely in order, although to sum the winner up in one word I would have to choose ‘smug’. This makes it a teeth-gritting experience having to applaud someone whose downright duty it is to ram it straight back down your throat. Feelings in the room were mixed – one indifferent, one incensed and one, as usual, sitting somewhere between ‘oblivious’ and ‘mystified’. I think my feelings about this overwhelming thrashing were more complex. As the previous holder of the coveted prize, it was my obligation to pass the mantle with dignity, grace and respect. As already discussed, however, this was defeat. Defeat brings out the usual emotions; I was hurt, soiled, wounded and hurt. Nothing a post tourney trip to the ‘the Kenton’ wouldn’t solve.

For me video games are at their best when you are playing against a person sat next to you. Trash talk becomes an element of the game itself, trying to psyche out the other player in the hope they’ll make a mistake. Telling your opponent during a Street Fighter session, “I’m about to kick you in the face”, and then doing exactly that is tremendous fun. With one of our ‘Liga’ players you just have to say “offside” when they are attacking and they instantly stop playing. Idiot. To be fair, he really doesn’t know much about football. He once cheered in a pub by accident when Uruguay scored against England because he didn’t know who was who.

I suppose this blog is also meant to be about food. We ate 2 disgustingly large (and ‘meat’ infested) Papa John pizzas. Papa means father. I’m glad he’s not my dad.


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