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

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Why virtual reality is the future

By Ellie Gibson, lawnmower woman.

I am immediately suspicious of people who say you must try something to find out if you like it. I have been told this about many things over the course of my life: snowboarding, whisky, karaoke, bottom sex, olives. I have tried all these things. I like one of them.

So historically, I have paid no attention to people banging on about how amazing virtual reality is. "But you MUST try it," they say. Hmm, I think. I like video games. I do not need them beamed directly into my eyes to appreciate them. I don't think this would improve the experience, in the same way I don't think I would enjoy a glass of wine more if it was served in an IV drip. (Although I did have a friend at university who tried this using a box of Piat D'Or and a Capri-Sun straw, with mixed results.)

Ellie Gibson, yesterday.

"But you can't POSSIBLY KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE until you've done it," they say. I particularly hate this phrase because it's the same one smug parents used to bark at me when I was pregnant. "You've got NO IDEA how your life is about to change," they would add, failing to realise I did have some idea, having spent the last two hours listening to them list the 478 ways in which my life was about to change.

I did have a moment of weakness recently when Sony announced the £349 price point for its new VR machine. I mean, that's cheaper than an hour at Center Parcs during half-term! And hey, it's Sony! If they think this is the future, it must be. We are talking about the prophetic technical wizards who brought us the MiniDisc, the UMD, and Killzone on 3D tellies! ... "CANCELLATION OF PRE-ORDER CONFIRMED."

But then, the other day, I found myself casually hanging out with WiFi Wars' Steve McNeil and Rob Sedgebeer, with whom I am appearing in the new Dara O'Briain TV show, Dara O'Briain's Go 8 Bit, with Dara O'Briain. We were mucking about with some of the mad tech Rob likes to construct out of lasers, moon dust, and old Spectrums.

Rob handed me an Oculus Rift headset.

"Go on," he said. "Have a bang on that."

"What game is it?" I said.

"It's a Minecraft mod," he said.

Well, this'll be rubbish, I thought. I've only played Minecraft once, and as previously mentioned in this column, I fell in a hole and got eaten by spiders. I've never seen the appeal of the blocky visuals; in fact, like most parents, I step on Lego with bare feet at least 18 times a day, and so have developed a pathological hatred of anything that even vaguely resembles it.

Then I put the headset on. And suddenly there I was, stood under the bluest sky I've ever seen, gazing up at sugar lump clouds. I looked down at the impossibly green grass beneath my feet and walked carefully to the edge of the cliff. I surveyed the vast cobalt ocean, watching it stretch to infinity in every direction. It all felt instantly natural, and completely magical.

Ellie Gibson, in about three months' time.

This, I realised, is the dream come true - the one I've had since I played Thundercats on my friend Rosalind's Amiga, the one that nearly got me thrown out of Angkor Wat for trying to climb up a temple like Lara, the one that's kept me gaming all these years.

Just like everyone else, I enjoy games that are about fun and murder. But the ones I really love are the ones that present you with a fantastical new world to explore. This is the closest I've ever been to feeling like I'm actually in one.

So I just stood there for a while, on the edge of the cliff, savouring the moment.

"Can I have a go?" said Steve.

" **** off," I said.

This is the problem, of course; virtual reality may herald a bold new dawn for gaming, but it also means the end of emotional interaction, human achievement, and civilisation as we know it.

The only way I can cope with the weight of this massive existential burden is to remind myself that when the real world has collapsed and we're all corpses - perhaps because of wars over hardware shortages, perhaps because we just forgot to eat - Jeremy Kyle will also be dead.

In the meantime, here are the top five VR games I'd really like someone to make.

Rainbow Islands VR

I just want to live in a world where everything is rainbows, red trainers make me run faster, and my worst enemy is a predictable spider. Is that too much to ****ing ask?

The Last Year Never Happened VR

This game lets you experience what it would be like if the Tories hadn't won the last election. Wander around an exciting virtual Britain where normal people can afford housing, no one is punished for being disabled, and massive multinational corporations have to pay tax.

Coming soon: it's the President Corbyn mod! Live in a socialist paradise, and spend your time enjoying free healthcare while firing decomissioned nuclear missiles into the sea.

Knightmare VR

This game is for people whose small children have broken their £349 VR machine within two weeks of it arriving from Amazon. The good news is that a broken headset makes an ideal "helmet of justice". The game doesn't come with software, just three pale youths from the home counties clutching clipboards, who sit in your lounge shouting "SIDE-STEP TO YOUR LEFT" for 25 minutes at a time.

Being Jeremy Kyle VR

Ever wondered what goes on inside the head of Britain's most exploitative television personality? Find out whether it's like Inside Out, with little cartoon characters called Ego, Ethics and Conscience embroiled in a constant struggle for dominance - or whether it's just a colossal black void containing a tiny penis, crying.

Seems legit.

Just Dance VR

This new instalment in the classic party game series is set in the nightclub out of Saturday Night Fever. It's just like being in the seventies - the music's pumping, the dancefloor's jumping, and John Travolta can still move his face.

No matter what your actual dancing is like, the VR machine makes it seem like you have the coolest moves ever. You're so fly that Virtual Beyonce comes up and asks if you can teach HER how to dance like that. You high-five.

Kanye wanders over, asks where you got your awesome trainers, and apologises for all the nobby things he's ever done, explaining he really shouldn't go on Twitter after he's been at the Stella. You tell him it's OK, and he gives you a double thumbs-up.

Benedict Cumberbatch starts dancing vaguely near you in that way British men do when they fancy you. You tell him you really like Sherlock. He says thanks. You say you think Sherlock's coat is nice. He says you can have it if you like. You get off with him. Later, you get married, and Martin Freeman is best man at your wedding.

Actually, I'm not sure I've thought this one through.