My name is Robert Florence, and we are going to have a fight.
Not today. Today is a day for introductions and pleasantries and regrettable flirtations, but I felt it was only fair to warn you that somewhere down the line we are going to fall out. I will write terrible things in this body of text here, and you will write terrible things in the comments section below. You will pretend that you will never read my stupid column again, and I will pretend that I don't read your stupid comments anyway and that you can't hurt my feelings. We will make liars of each other. We will detest the very skin of each other.
And that's fine. Because we all love games.
I believe that we are in a gaming golden age right now. Everything is pretty much fantastic. Big games are all shiny and amazing, and we can play them online with our friends as easily as clicking our RSI-crippled fingers. Every console is magical. It's like having a wizard in the corner of your living room. He even lets us shout spells at him: "EGZBOZ CANCEL!" Every handheld is magical too. It's like having a tiny, shrunken wizard in your pocket who makes you happy with every stroke and push. Even the indie sector is thriving again, with new innovations breaking through on a weekly basis, and all because there is once again a way for weirdos who would otherwise be serial killers to enter the industry. Everything is absolutely wonderful and fantastic, and I could happily swallow a bottle of pills and go to my grave right now if I wasn't so terrified of the oblivion of death.
I want you to be clear on how I feel about where we are. I think it's important that you know that I think everything is super sweet. I am sitting here writing this with a massive smile on my face, hardly able to sit still at the thought of all the unbelievable games we have to play while elsewhere on the planet people are starving to death.
And now I'm frowning. Because this is a weekly opinion column. And we all know why opinion columns exist. It will be my job to annoy you and make you hate me. I will lose some humanity in the process, like that poor soul from one of the greatest games ever made. But I have been a professional writer for fifteen years, and when I get given a job to do I try to do it well. As a result, you will be irritated by the things I say. I could say something as simple as this - "The people who buy all these Call of Duty games are idiots and virgins..." - and half of my readers will tweet about it in a wet fury. When those three tweets happen, one might translate into a click, and I will get a five hundred pounds raise. The reason why the hateful Mail Online website is the biggest newspaper site on the web is because everybody who writes for it behaves like such a dick all the time. That's why I've been brought on board. I have a lot of experience at behaving like that. It comes naturally to me, as anyone who follows me on Twitter or is in a relationship with me will attest.
See, the difference between me and other opinion columnists is that I will actually believe everything I type. Most opinion columnists just say things for effect, for cheap hits, transforming themselves into cartoonish hate figures to further their careers. You can trust that if I say something in this column, then I'm actually being honest with you on that day at that time. If you think I'm an egotistical blowhard who deserves to be shot, it's because I actually am an egotistical blowhard who deserves to be shot. If I say, as I will say (right now in fact), that "video gamers are an incredibly unsophisticated bunch who will swallow any old crap and ask for more", then you can be sure that any punch in the jaw you want to give me for that comment will be a fair one. There's a beautiful old saying that I try to live by - "An honest punch for an honest face." How lovely is that? Make sure you give me that punch if you ever see me. I'll thank you for it.
Here's the truth. I've always felt that there's been something missing in games coverage in the UK. I've always felt that there needed to be a prominent, regular column that asks the difficult questions about the industry in a really annoying way that winds everybody up and causes fights. Too many people within the games press know each other and share the same bath in the same flat in Bath. They all discuss review scores during make-up sex after a lukewarm Twitter debate about DLC. Copy is released late because editors of websites and freelancers get trapped in unending "You hang up..." "No, you hang up!" cutesiness. It's all too cosy. And while it's probably cosy because they're all nice people who like to behave decently, I would rather see them all swinging for each other. I think that fighting is a good thing.
I am Scottish.
I need you to trust me when I say that our relationship will not be harmed by the punches we aim at each other's virtual genitals on these pages. We have an understanding.
The best kind of fight is the fight that always breaks out at family weddings. Terrible things are said, punches are thrown, fat men fall (deliberately) through buffets, girls' tights are ripped off... It's a horrible sight, but a beautiful sight too, because everyone in that fight is on the same side. They are all family. The family at that wedding are bound by their love for Derek and Natalie, who met in Ibiza and have a boring sex life. Our family is bound by a love for Miyamoto and Newell, who met at a conference and I don't want to think about it. We are tight, me and you. We will one day get drunk together and talk all night long about the little kitten in Shenmue, and where it might be living now, and if it's okay (we'll be crying). But for now we will fight, in this function hall we call Eurogamer, and knock over the video game cake to the screams of a hall full of drunken internet grannies.
Man. I love video games. Anyone who remembers me from the show I did called Consolevania will tell you that I am a guy who is a gamer to his very core, and a guy who used to be much fatter than I am now. And all of you love video games too. I know this because you sit reading video game websites when you could be streaming pornography. I mean, there's 24/7 access to it these days. It's unbelievable. All sorts of stuff too.
Me and you? We're family. I love you, and would go to war for you.
Hate you next week.
The Weekly Mini-Reviews
At the end of every weekly column I'll be doing mini-reviews of games that I've been playing. I am doing this partly to keep you informed and mainly to get free games sent to me. An honest punch for an honest face.
Lollipop Chainsaw - Ever since the Fire Pro Wrestling days, I've made an effort to play every game that Suda 51 lays a finger on. A games designer who once did interviews in a wrestling mask is my kind of guy. Sadly, I can't say I'm very impressed by Lollipop Chainsaw so far. It's not as funny as they promised, and not as funny as I hoped it would be, and all I'd hoped for was "slightly amusing". It's about as funny as a drunk games developer shouting bad words through your letterbox. All that's left is bad taste and average gameplay. But then, I'm only halfway through. Maybe Neil Simon wrote the dialogue in the second half. Maybe Walter Matthau takes over as Juliet. Yeah, maybe. Doubt I'll ever find out.