I normally get very bored by computer games. The only ones I like really are ‘sandbox’ type games where you can wander around a world choosing what you want to do. I used to love Elite for this reason. Clever programming gave the illusion of a huge and detailed world full of other people going about their business independently of you. You could genuinely choose how you wanted to play the game: as a trader, pirate, bounty hunter, or just explorer.
The only other game I’ve any time for is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Even though this is quite an old game and the graphics are not all that, it still impresses due to its vast and lovingly detailed world, with three very different cities spread across a landscape of deserts, forests and mountains, and its rich and varied gameplay.
Because you can go anywhere you like and do almost anything, it’s hard to get bored. Although there are some semi-linear storyline missions you need to complete to unlock the whole world, there are plenty of side missions you can do or just explore. You can steal and drive any cars, motorbikes or boats you find, and there are also helicopters, stunt planes, airliners and military jump jets to fly. You can be a pimp or a vigilante or a taxi driver, or export stolen cars for cash, or gamble in the casino, or take part in race tournaments or lowrider contests.
Mostly, though, I find it comforting because it’s a complete fantasy world that you control and that you can go to any time you like and do anything you want with no real consequences. If you die, you just wake up again outside hospital, minus your medical expenses. If you get arrested, you just get released again straight away.
If things in the real world are not going very well, I can always go to San Andreas and blow some people up with heat-seeking missiles and machine guns, and then steal their car and crash it into the police. I find this immensely cheering.