When I was growing up, I spent more money on the magazine Mean Machines than I actually did on the games it covered. Games were just games, after all. Mean Machines was a whole world, and the king of that world was Jaz Rignall, a quick-witted and amusingly-haired writer who always called things as he saw them.
In truth, Rignall was more of an older brother than a king. He felt like an older brother to me, anyway. In my class at school, we looked up to this man. He was on our side. We loved him. We wrote him letters. I was so excited to get my first job writing about games, because this is what Jaz Rignall does. Then, several years later, when he joined Eurogamer's parent company Gamer Network to work for USGamer, I was like: of course! This was meant to happen. A Casablanca-style friendship beckoned. I was happy to be Claude Rains.
That isn't quite how things turned out. In fact, last week, I killed him.
By accident, I should probably point out. It was all a terrible accident. Sticking with Casablanca for a minute, imagine if Bogart was taking part in a heroic last-stand at Rick's. He's low on ammo, but he's fighting off the tide of aggressors, and it looks like he's going to make it. Then Claude Rains drop out of orbit in a five ton insertion pod and squashes Bogart flat. Papers of transit suddenly don't seem quite so important.
I was only trying to be useful! The game was Helldivers: a co-op blaster in which you can join another player's game at any point, dropping in and helping to turn the tide. Alas, you have no real control over where you land. I landed on the man whose game I had leapt into, just as his evac ship was about to whisk him away to the warm embrace of the XP screen. Instead, he was flattened, and I was so flustered, I didn't have the presence of mind to resuscitate him. I just ran away and bagged all his XP. (There are benefits to being flustered.)
I wrote about this in my review. Here's the section:
"The other day I decided to head into multiplayer, and I landed in a map just as a heroic Helldiving stranger was finishing off what had clearly been an epic one-man stand while he waited for evac. Sadly, dear reader, I squashed him flat with my falling Hellpod. It is hard to make up for something like that, so I simply leapt into the evac ship that he had called, and disappeared back into single-player as swiftly as I could."
That Helldiving stranger was my childhood hero, working on his own review. Inevitably, he wrote the event up rather differently:
"One thing I quickly realized when I finally got into some multiplayer missions is that this game has friendly fire. Indeed, I discovered that when a player jumped into my game, literally on top of me, which killed me outright. Considering I was running towards a shuttle to be extracted, that was extremely frustrating. It was an accident, but needless to say, the opportunities for griefing are rife in this game."
Readers quickly put the episode together in the comments on USG;
"eolith: LOL, you were killed by your EuroGamer compatriot when that pod dropped on you..."
Jaz, I am so sorry! I am so very, very sorry.
Helldivers, then: proof positive that you only ever hurt the ones you love.