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Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

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Clash of Fans was a lovely surprise for us

From Dawn of War to Runescape.

This week we've been running a series called Clash of Fans. The idea is that we'd pair up - virtually of course, please stay at home if you can - and we'd trade our favourite games. Everyone would have to play a game someone else loves and everyone would get to make someone else play a game they love. And then we'd get back together and exchange notes.

Clash of Fans! That name sounds very partisan and we commissioned a big, chunky logo with rock letters and cracks in the ground. We were all ready for seismic collisions and lots of fighting.

But this didn't really happen. Sure, maybe one of us was a bit bored playing a Witcher card game, and maybe another was a bit confused to find a driving game that was all about being stuck. But for the most part this has been a week for the feeling of friendly sharing of perspectives. Here's what I like, now I want to understand what you like.

It's been like receiving postcards from places we've never been to. Never played OG Runescape or WOW? Here's what that's like. And more than that, here's why it's special. Special to me. I'm particularly struck by something Oli wrote while making Emma play WOW. He wrote: "These people - orcs? zombies? cow-folk? - are my people. They're my brothers and sisters. The sense of belonging is just so strong. Humans disgust me. Don't even get me started on gnomes."

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Gnomes aside, I think that sentiment links all these games together. The games we've shared all speak to some part of us, they have started to reflect part of our identity. So in playing a game someone else loves, you maybe get a glimpse into them somewhat. You get a chance to understand them, and at the very least understand what they value.

It's a silly experiment. We've had fun, we've tried new (old) things, we've been entertained and bored and confused and perhaps a little annoyed now and then. It's not the kind of thing that can bear too much interpretation placed upon it.

Even so, I'm struck by the fact that a few years back there was a lot of talk of people staying inside their bubbles, and rarely venturing out to try new things and test new ideas. It's nice to have an excuse to burst the bubble in a gentle, throwaway manner, and see what happens.