Katherine Hayton | Art imitating life
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07 Apr / Art imitating life

I can’t drive. Not even a little bit. I’m not one of those people who can operate a vehicle but don’t have a license – I’m hard core. I don’t even know how to turn the things on or put petrol in them.

I do sometimes wonder what life would be like if I learned to drive. Usually when I’m sitting at a bus-stop in the rain. But these small miseries are temporary – my dislike of the open road is long-lasting.

But I didn’t expect that my aversion would make itself known when playing a game. Granted, GTAV was not in my top list for purchase otherwise I would’ve bought it back when I was using my forgotten-in-the-front-room PS3. Still, I’ve always had it in the back of my mind as I thought it must be pretty good otherwise it wouldn’t have beaten out The Last of Us in so many awards last year.

When the opportunity to redeem some points for the PS4 version presented itself I took the plunge and ordered it. Having today off on leave (because I got used to long weekends and don’t want to let them go) I managed to peel the clingfilm off in little pieces that I then had to vacuum up off the floor, opened the case, stuck it in the PS4 and got ready to rumble.

An hour later it had installed, and I’d been distracted by Farm Heroes instead. Farm Heroes never takes an hour to install – it’s ready when you want it. Large gaming companies could learn something from this.

Eventually I ran out of lives and went back to the PS4. I wasn’t too bad in the first couple of scenes, but then the trouble began. I got in a car.

Maybe it’s easier with a steering wheel, or if you don’t have your finger glued to accelerate, but these things are hard to steer. And I’ve never noticed before that cars have a propensity to turn in the opposite direction to where you want to go when you drive them through snowbanks, hay bales, tractors and trains. What’s that about? Does that happen to anyone else?

It did not help one bit that I didn’t know that there was a reverse on the other side of the controller (in the logical place) and was attempting to do three point turns without the backing up bit in the middle.

And I must admit to being slightly disappointed that when I hit some pedestrians (which I’d kinda thought was maybe some of the point of the game) that police started chasing me. I managed to turn the car off the main highway and straight over a bank (which I’d naively hoped would be another road shaped perfectly in the same direction that my car was aiming) and landed on the roof. I managed to right the vehicle, and then promptly steered it over another bank and landed on my roof again.

When I righted the vehicle for the second time I found myself in the Los Angeles river which was the most fun that I’ve had so far in this game. Why? There was nothing else down there to avoid. As long as I steered between the pillars of the bridges I was sweet. But all good things have to come to an end, and I managed to end mine by manoeuvring into a tunnel. A thin tunnel.

My car didn’t look great when I finally pulled into the dealership lot. No one really noticed except for me. There wasn’t a panel of that beautiful sports car that I hadn’t dented and scraped. I hoped they were pulling that puppy into its disparate parts because it was no longer a real car.

I have a feeling that if you put me in a real sports car right now and said GO it would end up in a similar state. Except I think I would come out of it slightly worse off than my character in GTAV. I was still walking and talking. Scratch that in real life.

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By Katherine Hayton in Katherine Hayton's Blog

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