Years ago I worked at a cinema with this fellow usher called Jess. Jess was amazing and wise and she worked the popcorn stand, and she worked it in a very particular way. She spent hours and hours there every day, ignoring customers and rooting through the depths of the popcorn, head bowed, a scowl of deepest concentration on her face. It was always the sweet popcorn that held her attention, and rightly so. What she was looking for was the rare, one-in-a-million piece of popcorn that had far more than its fair share of sugar on it. Most popcorn has a sort of matte, papery surface, doesn't it? But these special, over-sugared pieces looked like they had been varnished. They crunched in a different way between your teeth and there was something syrupy to them as they exploded with gritty sugar in your mouth.
The first video game my son ever played - I mean really played, rather than toyed with - was Burnout Paradise. We played together, but he took control; he decided what he wanted to do and he did it. The 2008 open-world driving title from Criterion, which is being released in a remastered edition on PS4, was a formative entry in the emerging universe of free-roaming multiplayer racers, leading us to the likes of Forza Horizon and The Crew. It gave you a city and a car, and it just said 'drive'. That's exactly what my son did.