Since time began, human beings have experienced a natural and powerful desire to throw things at other things. Millennia ago, big pointy wooden sticks were thrown at huge hairy beasts. Today, small pointy metal sticks are thrown by huge hairy beasts. Woolly mammoths have been replaced by wooden dartboards and the chance to win a speedboat, caravan or luxury holiday.
Now the ancient art of throwing things is taking another evolutionary step with PDC World Championship Darts 2008. The game is due out on PC, PSP, PS2 and Wii early next year. It's said to feature a high level of realism and accurate throwing dynamics, and stars some of the world's greatest darts players.
These include Kevin 'The Artist' Painter, Dennis 'The Menace' Priestley and John 'Darth Maple' Part, who we've just picked off the press release becaues they have the best names. Topping the bill is Phil 'The Power' Taylor. He has won the title of world champion 13 times and is said to be the first millionaire darts player.
Eurogamer sat down with Phil for a chat to find out more about the game, what it's like to earn a million pounds for throwing things at other things and why he believes Eric Bristow should be England manager.
Eurogamer: You are the most successful darts player of all time, according to our extensive research on Wikipedia. What's your secret?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: When I first started winning, I didn't have instant fame and fortune. A lot of sports people, their biggest downfall has been money, becoming too famous too quick. They go off the rails.
I was eight times world champion and nobody knew who I was. It kept me going and stopped me being spoilt. Having a big family keeps your feet on the ground. I come from a working class family. I still think fifty pounds is a lot of money.
Eurogamer: Even though you've got a million of them?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: It doesn't matter. It's not the money, it's my council house mentality. I could be worth a billion pounds, but if twenty pound blew down the street I'd chase after it and put my foot on it. You would as well.
Eurogamer: Both feet.
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: I'd dive on it. But that's the way I am. It's not all about money. My money's spent on my family, basically. I buy them all houses and whatnot. I'm not bothered about money as long as I've got enough to survive. It's the winning; I like the competition.
Eurogamer: When you first started out you were sponsored by Eric Bristow. However Wikipedia does not explain how this worked.
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: We made a condition: whatever I won, I paid him back. If he sponsored me for eight thousand pounds and I won ten thousand pounds, he had his eight and I had two. That was a great thing because it kept me motivated.
If Eric walked in the room and saw me now he'd say, "Oi, you owe me four and a half thousand pounds. What are you doing sitting there talking?" That's how Eric was. He should be England manager.
Eurogamer: Eric Bristow went from being your mentor to being your rival, and then you went on to beat him. How difficult was that transition?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: Eric's career was coming to an end then. He knew that and he accepted it. He knows he'll always make a good living. Eric's a wealthy man and he'll always be a popular person in shows. So he was more or less resigned to it.
Even now he texts me saying, "Are you practicing, Taylor?" If he walked in the room now, I'd still feel funny for being sat down. I've still got that respect for him and I still love him to bits. He's like my brother. We argue, we fall out sometimes, but we love each other.
Eurogamer: What advice would you give to someone who enjoys a bit of pub darts and is thinking of turning professional?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: You have to set a target for yourself. You have to set out to be the best at what you do. That's my mentality. I'm a little bit like Roy Keane. It wouldn't make any difference if I was playing in a local league, I'd still have to be the best player in the team, the best in the league. I won't stop until I am, otherwise I won't play.
I've tried other sports. I've tried boxing, golf, snooker...
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: Tried badminton. Loved badminton.
Eurogamer: Synchronised swimming?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: I wasn't bad at badminton. I wasn't bad at snooker, but I could never beat Stephen Hendry. Darts - I could do it, it was natural.
I was working, I'd got three jobs, I had three children to look after, I was bringing home 74 pounds a week. Couldn't live on it. My missus had 70, I had four pounds a week pocket money. I'd weld cars, repair cars, I used to work behind a bar Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. That's the way I lived. But then when I could play a tournament and win hundreds of pounds...
The first tournament I ever won, they paid me 500 pounds cash. They gave me it in fifty pound notes. I went looking for the organiser because I was going to strangle him. I said, "What's this? Give me my money."
I thought he was trying to con me because I'd never seen a fifty pound note in my life. I said, "There's no such thing as a fifty pound note. I'm telling you, I'll strangle you." He's going, "It's legal tender!" I thought it was Monopoly money. He just laughed at me.
Then I bought my Mum a new coat. Paid a hundred pound for it, two fifty pound notes. "Here, mother." Brilliant.
Eurogamer: What's the most extravagant thing you've spent your winnings on?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: I used to buy things for the house, so new curtains, new saucepans, furniture, towels, because everything we had was second hand when I first left home. Then I remember buying a video.
Eurogamer: VHS or Betamax?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: The first one was Betamax. Sanyo Betamax. 299 pound. That was the tournament when I won 300 pounds and a year's supply of pickles.
Eurogamer: What, like gherkins?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: Yep, a year's supply of Heyworth's pickles. At the time my missus was pregnant and she had a craving for pickles. She'd sit there and eat jars of them. She ate them all. Had heartburn for about six months.
Eurogamer: Turning from gherkins to games...
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: The game's very good. I like the Wii machine. I'm not saying that because I'm part of it. I've got one in the house and we play the darts, but also we play the bowling and the baseball and the boxing. When we're doing it the kids aren't watching the television; they're up and moving about instead of sitting there doing nothing.
I like it because it's using the mind as well. The kids have got to know about mathematics. If I said to you, 'What's nine 17s?', you might think, 'Oof.' But I know what three treble 17s are, and that's how I work things out - by using doubles and trebles.
Eurogamer: Unlike the Wii, darts has quite a macho image...
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: There are ladies that play. I think I'm the last of the bigger breed. I'm 47. I was fit when I was a kid, but as I got older I got more content. I don't do as much exercise as I should do.
Eurogamer: What is your fitness regime like?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: I shed weight like that [clicks fingers] when I exercise.
I normally do treadmill, cross-trainer, rowing, bike and then maybe a bit of a swim. I can lose stones in a month, it just drops off me.
I went up the rescue home the other day and got myself a big doberman. He can run for England. And I've got a big forest where I live, it's dead fresh and crisp, so we'll be out there after Christmas. Lovely.
Eurogamer: Are you happy with how you're represented in the game?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: Yeah, I think it's very flattering. I look a bit muscly, a bit Ricky Hatton.
Eurogamer: Is playing the Wii version of the game good practice for someone who wants to be a professional darts player?
Phil 'The Power' Taylor: It's very similar to throwing a normal dart. More or less the same. Obviously there's a bit more thinking with the Wii machine. The thing is with children, they've got to work out their finishes. If you want 121, you probably wouldn't know how to do it. But if I was to tell you how, five or six times, you'd remember. I've got a grandson who's nearly five and I want him to do that.
When I was at school, we had a history teacher called Mr. Moore. We used to have a quiz between the girls and the boys, and he made it fun. I can remember everything about it because of that. That's what you've got to do with kids, make it fun. It's like any job. If you can go to work and have a bit of fun, you'll enjoy it more.
PDC World Championship Darts will be available for Wii, PC and PS2 on 11th January. The PSP version will follow on 25th April.