My first World of Warcraft experience

The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) was the title I chose for my contribution towards last month’s post about the best games to play at Christmas. It’s easy to get into, and you can do a couple of quests before getting down the controller and grabbing more chocolate.

I can’t say I booted it up during my time off work though. My two-week holiday began with the sort release I wouldn’t normally pick up but was inspired to try after watching a blogger-friend stream part of it recently: Yakuza 0. It won’t be one I’m likely to end up finishing due to its long length but I’m having fun with it for the time-being at least. This was followed by several days of World of Warcraft (WoW), my first real experience with this MMORPG and only my third online game.

It probably sounds strange that I’ve been gaming for over 30 years now and have never played it before. MMOs weren’t on my radar growing up in the 1990s because I was more interested in my beloved adventure genre; and this meant I didn’t have the opportunity to really learn how to use a keyboard-and-mouse outside of clicking. It’s caused me to always feel a little comfortable with team-based games due to my lack of coordination and so I tend to stay away from them.

Saying that though, I’ve sunk way too many hours into ESO over the years. I started off playing by myself in 2015 then roped my other-half into joining me, and we started playing on a weekly basis with Tim from Timlah’s Texts & Unity3D Tech and his partner Jake during our 50-day challenge for GameBlast20. Although they ran us through some dungeons and I was clearly the weakest player on our team, it wasn’t something taken too seriously so I never felt I had to worry about my performance.

When I first met Pete and started discussing video games with him, he told me he’d had a long history and many late nights with WoW although he hadn’t touched it since 2009. His brother still played however and whenever we went to see him, the pair would talk about his current adventures. I asked my other-half if he’d like to get back into it after one such visit and he declined, saying he didn’t have the time; but I think this had more to do with his worry that I’d get frustrated with trying to play with him due to my lack of skill with a keyboard-and-mouse.

In mid-November though, Ellen from Ace Asunder began streaming and several mornings were spent watching her work her way through battlegrounds in the MMO on Twitch. Seeing how much fun she was having made Pete feel the WoW itch again and we somehow ended up organising to play with her and friend-of-the-blog Phil. I made an account and the four of us spent New Year’s Eve jumping from quest to quest until 01:30 in the morning, then making it up to level 37 after a few more sessions in the following week.

World of Warcraft, WoW, woman, warrior, Paladin, mountains, sky, view

Are the keyboard-and-mouse controls frustrating me? Yes, and I’ll have a tantrum about them occasionally. But after several restarts to find a character I feel comfortable with and making use of Pete’s old keypad, I’m doing a lot better than I was initially. I’ve finally settled on a Paladin named ‘Laterlevels’ (how original) because this fits in with the odd way I like to play RPGs: I always want to do a bit of everything rather than being confined to a single role so here I’m able to tank, heal and do damage.

Before you say anything, I know you’re not supposed to play like this; you’re meant to pick your class and stick with it so you become an expert at what you do. But I’m lucky enough to be playing with a group of friends who accept my quirk and are more interested in hanging out than me gitting gud. Whenever I’m not sure what I’m meant to do be doing or make a mistake in-game, they don’t criticise me for it or make me feel like a bad player – they give advice or lend a helping hand.

It makes me feel like I’m a part of the team and that’s what makes it fun. We’ll follow Phil as we head towards the next quest, take on rare spawns when they appear in the hope that Ellen will get another pet to add to her collection, and watching Pete regularly fall off cliffs. And while we’re doing all that, we’ll chat about our day and what’s going on in the world. This social interaction is the lockdown equivalent of hanging out with colleagues at lunch-time or meeting with friends in the pub after work.

There are only two things bothering me slightly, the first being that I’m not paying any attention to what the quests involve. We tend not to read the descriptions and simply head off to the next adventure after the last one. I think this would be different if I were playing WoW on my own, because I’d be doing it for the story; but being with a group means the social aspect has replaced this need and become more important than the narrative. I feel a little sorry for the writers and know I should be paying more attention to the effort they’ve put into the game.

World of Warcraft, video game, WoW, Phil, Pete, Kim, Ellen, witch

And then there are stairs – especially those damn spiral staircases in confined spaces. I can guarantee I’ll fall off every single one of them at some point upwards and if they have a bannister, you know my character will get caught on it coming down. I’m getting better at movement with more practice over time but I always seem to struggle with stairs, so I’m grateful to Ellen for letting me hitch a ride on one of her dragons or Mekgineer’s Chopper whenever I’m getting particularly frustrated.

It’s hard to say whether I’m preferring WoW to ESO right now; I think it would be more correct to say that it’s different. I do find the latter easier though because it’s possible to play with a controller and I’m used to how certain things work, like the camera and movement directions, after having sunk over 240 hours into it. But I’m sure this will come in time with WoW too and eventually I won’t need my teammates to give me a lift (although I’ll probably still accept because who doesn’t want to ride a dragon).

We’ve chosen not to stream our escapades so far. I’m not sure I’d feel entirely comfortable with the game being shown from my point-of-view while I’m still learning the ropes as I’d be too conscious about what I was doing onscreen to enjoy playing. I guess it could be something we consider in the future though once the controls feel natural. Who knows, WoW might become part of our #DaysForDonations challenge for GameBlast21 if we keep up our aim of playing at least once a week.

Being able to play with friends might encourage me to branch out into other MMOs in the future but I’m not sure I’d want to go it alone with strangers. Right now, I’m going to stick with hanging out with Pete, Ellen and Phil in Wow and seeing if we can increase Ellen’s pet collection.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


The best games to play at Christmas

There’s something about Christmas which gets everyone nostalgic. That’s usually the same feeling we want from video games this time of year: a sense of comfort and good memories to make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

And let’s face it, gaming with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie or two is far more entertaining than watching the Queen’s speech (sorry, Your Majesty). In case you’re not sure what to play during this holiday season, I asked some of my blogger-friends to tell us all about the titles they find themselves picking up at Christmas. Whether you’re looking for something that reminds you of your childhood, a game to take you away from it all or a good story to get wrapped up in, we’ve got something here for you.

Lorraine from Geeky Galaxy

Stellaris, video game, space, stars, planetStellaris is the game for me during the holiday season for a few reasons. I get far more time to play since I take as much time as possible off work. That means I can get in a full game without blinking an eye and a full game in Stellaris is not a short thing. BUT, I can also create a galactic empire modelled on Father Christmas and his elves. A corporate empire, with a leader with a white beard and a subservient second species as elves? See, you can make any Christmassy if you try hard enough!”

Charles from Comfortably Adventurous

Civilization VI, video game“The holiday season traditionally involves a long drive to see my family and the limitations of my laptop to satisfy my gaming needs. With no great predication for discovering new niche titles, the mainstay of my gaming habits in recent years has been an old favourite, Civilization VI. It’s an easy game to get lost in, that allure of ‘one more turn’ just pulling at you until you realise everyone else has left the room and your are a millennia into the history of your culture. Few games have held my attention as strongly as this classic.”

DanamesX from Tales from the Backlog

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, video game“The holidays have always been a great time to catch up on gaming. I have two weeks off from work, so this is the perfect time for me to finish up any long RPGs that I’ve started throughout the year. Last year, I wrapped up The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, and this year I am working on finishing the third game in the saga. This is the perfect time to get it done since the game makes you explore and talk to everyone in every area that you visit. It is not required to get through the game, but if you want to complete it, you can’t leave any area unchecked. So for me, there is always a good chance that I am playing a long RPG to finish it up before more games enter the backlog.”

MagiWasTaken from Indicator

“The best game to play during the holidays? Well, obviously, it’s got to be Headbangers in Holiday Hell. It’s an action-roguelike that my laptop can run and since runs can be somewhat short (due to my lack of skills), I can get as festive as I want as often as I want and quit at any time if I need to spend some quality time with my family. After all, I don’t get to visit my family all too often, especially nowadays, so I don’t play too many games these days. Happy Holidays! Sincerely, Magi!”

Nathan from Gaming Omnivore

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, video game“When I think of video games I associate with a particular time of year, one of the very first that spring to mind is Animal Crossing. One of my favorite parts of Animal Crossing games has been the changing of seasons along with the different scenery and activities to go with it, especially once the autumn season begins and makes way into Halloween and before you know it, we’re already approaching Toy Day and New Year’s Eve in the winter. Some of my most vivid holiday memories have been spent strolling through my village (or island) and taking in the seasonal sites with the neighbors. I still remember the New Year’s Eves that were spent with the GameCube hooked up to the living room tv as we’d visit the other village denizens and gather in the town square to count down to the new year at midnight. Of course, you could make it whatever season you’d like by simply adjusting the clock on your console, but time travel was never really my thing (I’m not a Doctor).”

Ellen from Ace Asunder

World of Warcraft, video game, Christmas, tree, star, snow“I haven’t been able to say this for five years, but oh my gawd, I will definitely be playing World of Warcraft this holiday season. During my eight pre-20015 years in WoW, it was a Christmas day tradition to drag my characters to either Ironforge or Orgrimmar (I shamelessly play both sides) and collect gifts left under the Winter Veil tree by Greatfather Winter (yep! Blizzard’s version of Christmas). These gifts were limited time toys for your characters that could be used to interact with other players for extra fun. I’m so excited to resume my addiction tradition this year!”

Gaming Diaries

Monopoly, Fallout, board game“For games that are perfect for the holiday period I always come back to games you can play together. Quite often this combines with ones that reflect a more traditional board game or even a quiz show. For example, the various Monopoly or Risk style games, but also games like Knowledge is Power or Scene It. These give you so many fun moments as families and are great for the reluctant gamers in the family to get involved with easily and the tidy up at the end is far quicker. Anything that means coming together and having fun is perfect for this period and with a little extra time available to play and the opportunity for a lot of laughs these can be perfect.”

Athena from AmbiGaming

Journey, video game, mountain, stranger, dessert, sky, star, sand, clouds“December, and particularly Christmas, is a hard time of year for me, so I often find myself reaching for familiar games, like those in the Dragon Age or Mass Effect series, although I have a yearly tradition of playing Metal Gear Solid 2 on New Year’s Eve, as well. However, this year I might change it up and pull out Journey, a quiet, contemplative game that offers surprisingly close relationships with other (real) people on their own separate, but ultimately familiar, journeys, before gaining the understanding needed to become a light for someone else as they begin their own trek across the sands.”

William from WCRobinson

Pokémon, Platinum, video game, winter, snow“My pick is Pokémon Platinum. To start with, Diamond / Pearl / Platinum are my favourite games in the series for a multitude of reasons, and very special to me personally. So, why am I picking Platinum here? Well, to explain: Platinum was the third game, arriving in 2009 and bringing several changes to the formula. One of which is a newly wintery tone, with a snowfall and brisk chill covering the region, as shown with the addition of a scarf to each player outfit! This iteration of Pokémon has such a comforting feel, with soothingly melodic music (just listen to Route 209!), a beautiful 2D sprite-based art style, and endearing characters; add that snowy aesthetic and numerous other additions, such as animated Pokémon sprites, new story content, and map changes, and you get a warm blanket of a game that you can sink into. I associate Platinum with a sense of relaxation that matches this time of year so well, and I hope you can enjoy it too!”

Luke from Hundstrasse

Assassin's Creed IV, Black Flag, video game, sea, water, ship, island, pirates“There’s something about that lost week between Christmas and New Year, when I’m full of mince pies and Terry’s Chocolate Orange that makes me crave an open-world game. I can’t say that there is one specifically that I associate with the festive period, but over the years I’ve tackled many open-world adventures during the holiday season: Black Flag, Sunset Overdrive, and Dying Light all spring to mind from recent years, but there have been many more. I think it’s just that once-a-year combo of not having to get up early in the morning and not having anything else that really needs doing to beckon in hours of ‘just-one-more-sidequest’ and ‘Ooohhhh… I only need X $/£/points to unlock that fancy costume’.”

Kim from Later Levels

The Elder Scrolls Online, video game, tankard, inn, drink, woman, barman“I usually find myself returning to The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) at Christmas. The main reason is because I first discovered it at this time of year so it seems fitting, but it’s also because it’s so simple to get into. You can do a couple of quests before putting down the controller, step away to open presents and have dinner with the family, then dive straight back into it without having to try too hard to remember where you left off. It’s also easy to unwrap your next Quality Street while working your way through a conversation tree.”

What will you be playing this Christmas? And what will you be keeping an eye out for in the Steam winter sale? Let us know in the comments below, if you can put down your controller and mince pie to spare a moment.

We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
(*Not guaranteed.)


Great gaming moments

Gaming. We love it because of those moments it gives us. The unexpected that can make you smile, curse, gasp or scream. There’s no other medium like it and why, I like to think, we all love it so.

With that in mind, here are a few gaming moments that stick in my mind.

Assassin’s Creed Unity online

A complete car-crash at launch and not much better when I picked it up a few months later, Assassin’s Creed Unity has gone down as a lesson in how not to do things. Which is a shame because when it went right it went really right.

Online was amazing. I’ll never forget the first time I teamed up with three other assassins and we swarmed over the Parisian rooftops. We were a wave of silent murder, climbing up towers, leaping off, rolling, running, dashing through windows. The guards never stood a chance. It all felt so fluid and free.

Then the game crashed, kicked you out and you had to keep your fingers crossed you’d reconnect. But for the brief moments it worked? Unbelievable.

Mortal Kombat X-Ray Moves

Remember the first time you saw a finishing move? Some made you laugh, others made you say how gross it was and some even made you wince. They are so ridiculous, so over the top though that they arguably lose their impact over time. Not so the X-Ray Moves.

Unleashed in the middle of a fight they zoom in to see ribs crack, backs break, bones shatter and spleens sliced wide open. All in glorious slow motion. Even now I still groan in shared pain every time I see one. They are so brutal, so violent and so well executed that their impact just isn’t diminished. The visuals are complimented by the sounds as slowed down the muffled screams are drowned out by the sharp crack of bones cutting through the fog before it’s all rounded off with a well timed vibration of the controller.

It’s a moment that never gets old.

Halo Warthog escape

At the very end of Halo the player is tasked with escaping the collapsing ring by driving along in the game’s signature vehicle, the Warthog. Might not sound much on paper but when there’s two of you playing (one driving, one shooting), the epic Halo theme music booming out of the speakers, explosions going off all around and the huge Duke controller rumbling in your hands it’s really quite special.

That it all happens after the grand final battle makes it a thrilling, fitting end and I loved it.

Molten Core for the first time

Coordinating 40 people to do anything at the same time is hard. Coordinating 40 people across the world to take down an ancient lava-tornado god-monster armed with a huge, fiery hammer, most of whom have never met in person is bordering on the heroic. That’s what it took to complete one of World of Warcraft’s first and most legendary raids.

It takes time to even get to Ragnaros, taking down multiple sub-bosses on the way. Then the fight itself is epic, and even the slightest deviation from the plan or your specific role can spell certain doom for the entire raid group. It’s a colossal effort all round and the feeling of completion is really quite special. So much so that it was traditional to take a picture of the whole party around the defeated foe’s hammer.

I only did it once and wish I could find the screenshot (it was ten years ago!) to share, but the experience lives long in the memory.

So what are your favourite gaming moments? It could be when The Legend of Zelda theme plays, using the pedal to duck in Time Crisis or zombie-dogs through a window. Maybe it’s a last minute winner in FIFA, a perfectly-timed resurrection in Overwatch or breaking into Shadow Moses. Let us know in the comments!

Love hearts and levels

Following on from the Secret Valentine event earlier this week and my declaration of love for William from Willtendo, we’re still feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Thank you to Ian from Adventure Rules for hosting yet another awesome community project!

For Valentine’s Day last year, I roped a few of my >blogging buddies into sharing their favourite partnerships in video games. But what about real-life relationships and the connections formed through gaming? Continuing the loved-up vibe this week, here are some heart-warming stories to make you put down your controller for a moment and feel all soppy inside.

Cameron from Dragon In The Castle

Dragon In The Castle, blogger, Cameron

“My girlfriend at college asked me to teach her how to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. Said girlfriend is now my wife of 13 years and mother of my child, so something must have gone right after passing on my ollie skills.”

Luke from Hundstrasse

Hundstrasse, blogger

“I was wooed by my now-wife through the medium of Dead Island… Not that we ever completed it, we didn’t get on with those sewer sections! All the best romances start with zombies, right?”



Megan from The Dragon’s Tea Party

The Dragon's Tea Party, blogger

“I met him at a party but when I found out he had a PlayStation 4, I pretended I didn’t know how to use PS Plus and asked him to add me and show me how it worked so that I’d have an excuse to talk to him again. After that I interviewed him about World of Warcraft for my dissertation and seduced him with my impression of a hag in a Dungeons & Dragons game.”

Shelby from Falcon Game Reviews

Falcon Game Reviews, blogger, Shelby

“I walked into my wife’s work wearing an N7 hoodie and Cerberus cap from Mass Effect 2. She recognised both and said, ‘Mass Effect huh?’ We hit it off and have been together since 2011.”



Teri Mae from Sheikah Plate

Sheikah Plate, blogger, Teri Mae

“When I was a freshman in college, I would hold regular Mario Kart 64 tournaments. My husband and his friend were the two who came the most often. Eventually it was just the three of us nearly every weekend and the rivalry between he and I allowed some pretty fun flirtatious banter. Though we were in the same freshman dorms and had met previously, this was one of the things that really allowed us to bond. Cut to ten years later and we still love gaming together.”

Zach from Beard and Curls Gaming

Zach Bowman, blogger

“My wife and I met very early on as kids, but we are avid gamers and it’s a big part of our relationship. Discovering a good cooperative game is an awesome thing for us. Diablo III is one of our favorites.”



Kim from Later Levels

Kim, Later Levels, blogger

“My other-half and I met in a local pub after he overheard me talking about Street Fighter to a friend and then started trying to guess my favourite character. In a conversation over a couple of drinks, we realised we’d grown up in houses located on parallel streets before moving to the same town as adults but had never come across each other before. He’s been my player 2 ever since and I wouldn’t do without him.”

Have you got a story you’d like to share? Leave your tales of gaming and love in the comments below so we can all have an ‘Aah!’ moment.   ❤

Creative Christmas: need for speed

It’s day six of the Creative Christmas collaboration, where a group of bloggers are joining forces to tackle 12 video-game-related questions all based around a loose festive storyline. Following on from yesterday’s entry about cheeky mistletoe kisses, the next we’re facing is:

You’re woken from your drunken haze by another frantic call from Santa, who’s worried he’s not going to make all his deliveries in time. Which video game item or vehicle would you recommend for him?


My answer

There are over seven-billion people in the world, meaning that Santa has an awful lot of stops to make on Christmas Eve. It’s therefore no wonder he’s fretting that the reindeer won’t be able to move their butts quickly enough! What we need here is top speed over a variety of terrain and there are plenty of video game vehicles and objects to give the man in red a bit of a boost (sorry Rudolf).

Super Mario, video game, Mario, pipes, warp zone

Both Chris from OverThinker Y and Kevin from The Mental Attic picked up on great ways to travel in December’s question of the month. The fast-travel option in games such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will instantly teleport you anywhere you’ve already been, making zipping around the world an awful much quicker; and the warp pipes from the Super Mario series would take Santa straight into people’s houses without the need to sneak down the chimney.

World of Warcraft, video game, vehicle, Mekgineer's Chopper, chopper, bike, sidecar

In terms of rides, how about the Mekgineer’s Chopper from World of Warcraft? Activate the sidecar and there’s room inside for plenty of presents and perhaps an elf with a mince-pie or two. Or if something more animal-orientated is to Santa’s tastes, there’s always the Strider from Horizon Zero Dawn; this horse-like machine can be overridden and will come whenever you whistle if you have the Call Mount skill (which the big guy obviously does, because reindeer).

The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild, video game, Link, fire, cooking pot, recipe, hut, trees

There’s also the option of taking a little something-something to boost your speed – and it can be healthy at the same time. The Energizing Glazed Vegetables from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild will instantly refill your Stamina Wheel and are a healthy antidote to all those mince pies (check out this recipe from Teri Mae at Sheikah Plate). And the Potion of Swiftness from Minecraft, as recommended by my stepson, will increase your speed by 20% so drink up.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, video game, sweetroll, cake, lizard, plate

No child will be left disappointed on Christmas morning: there’s no way Santa can be late in making his deliveries with this range of video game items at his disposal. And the thought of that nice tankard of mead and sweetroll waiting for him by the fireside at home will make him move all the faster.

Other answers

🎁   Thero159 from A Reluctant Hero
🎅   Athena from AmbiGaming
❤   ClanGeek
🎄   Luna from GamersUnitedGG Blog
🎮   LightningEllen from LightningEllen’s Release
🤞   NekoJonez from NekoJonez’s Gaming Blog
🎉   Dan and Jon from nowisgames.com
🎁   Chris from OverThinker Y
👪   Austin from Reaper Interactive
🎅   Retro Redress
❤   Brandon from That Green Dude
🦌   The Dragon’s Tea Party
🎄   The Gaming Diaries
🦃   Kevin from The Mental Attic
👗   The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

The Creative Christmas collaboration is open to everyone and further details can be found in this post if you’d like to join in! Wednesday’s question: Your help must have worked, because it’s now Christmas morning and presents are under the tree! There’s a fancy box with your name on it; which gaming-related item are you hoping is inside?

Games and ghosts: gaming urban legends

That time of year when the ghosts of the dead are said to return to our world will shortly be upon us: Halloween. In celebration of All Hallows’ Eve tomorrow, I’ve been bravely exploring the darkest and most sinister corners or the internet to bring you eight video game urban legends that will keep you wide awake tonight.

So put the controller down, turn the lights down low, pull the screen close and prepare to be spooked…

Berzerk

Berzerk is considered to be one of the greatest titles of the arcade-era and was one of the first games to use voice synthesis, an incredibly-expensive process back in 1980. It introduced the world to the demonic smiling face of Evil Otto, a bouncing villain who would chase the player down if they spent too much time lingering in a single panel of his maze.

It also holds the morbid honour of being the first video game to be linked to the death of a player. During 15 minutes of play in 1982, Peter Bukowski (sometimes reported as ‘Burkowski’) wrote his initials at least twice on the leaderboards screen but then turned, took four steps, dropped a quarter into a different machine and collapsed.

Unlike Polybius (see below), this tale is a fact and you can read about it online. The cause of death was ruled as a heart-attack but some say otherwise: they believe Evil Otto possessed the supernatural ability to influence life-threatening conditions and cause instant death to any intruder who failed to heed his warning…

Fallout 3

2008’s Fallout 3 contains several in-game radio stations, the most important one being Galaxy News Radio (GNR). Most players know that you can kill Three Dog and he’ll be replaced by technician Margaret; but what fewer know is that under certain circumstances, GNR will become a ‘numbers station’ and broadcast unusual coded messages.

You’ll hear a voice reading a series of numbers in a depressed-sounding voice, which are then followed by lengths of Morse code and the song I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire. Some say these messages are predictions of what will happen in the future after a player realised one referred to the passing of Gary Coleman, with the numbers relating to the date and time of his death.

You can find out more about the communications themselves on the snopes.com website. Bethesda has denied the claims several times and the Queen didn’t pass on 19 March 2014 so it looks like this story is an elaborate hoax; but we’ll know the truth for sure on 27 February 2023 if Britney Spears wins an Oscar. It may also be worth noting that the latest date on any of the Morse code messages is 01:27 on 06 July 2027…

Killswitch

Killswitch was supposedly created by Soviet gaming company Karvina Corporation in 1989, with only limited copies produced and proving very popular. The video game itself was a pioneer in the survival-horror genre: players had to choose between two characters, a shape-changing woman named Porto or an invisible demon named Ghast, and the goal was to navigate through an abandoned coal mine whilst battling monsters.

As it was hard to do this with a transparent character, most players chose to complete the title as the female protagonist. But there’s no proof that anyone ever managed to finish with either Porto or Ghast – because upon beating the game, all evidence of it would be erased from your hard drive. Karvina Corporation apparently made it in a way so it could only be experienced once and as very few copies were made, it faded into obscurity.

But in 2005 an unopened copy of Killswitch surfaced on eBay where it was promptly bought for $733,000 by a man from Japan named Yamamoto Ryuichi. He had planned to document his playthrough of the game on YouTube but the only video he ended up posting was of him staring at his computer screen and crying. This footage has too since vanished… or did it never really exist at all?

Pokémon Red

The release of Pokémon Red in Japan in 1996 supposedly corresponded to a huge spike in illness and suicides amongst children aged between seven and 12. Players succumbed after reaching Lavender Town, a haunted and ghost-filled area that’s home to the only cemetery within the series. The significance of this shouldn’t be underestimated: for one of the video games to deal so directly death was unusual.

Red’s score was said to be the source of the suicidal tendencies and this was eventually dubbed ‘Lavender Town syndrome’. The music in the level was changed before the title was released outside of Japan and Nintendo have always claimed that this was because the high-pitched tones caused a strain on the Game Boy’s speakers. However, in 2010 someone who analysed the score revealed Unowns that spelled out ‘LEAVE NOW’.

In addition, the reported six-hundred-plus seizures that occurred after the Porygon episode of the series was aired is true, which makes this urban legend seem all the more plausible…

Polybius

According to legend, an arcade cabinet named Polybius appeared in several suburbs of Portland, Oregon in 1981. It proved to be very popular with lines forming around machines and players fighting over who would get their turn next; could this have something to do with the subliminal messages it supposedly contained? It’s said that the title induced psychological effects and many complained of amnesia and night terrors, but some sources claimed the side-effects were more severe with players experiencing suicidal tendencies.

As if that wasn’t frightening enough, an unnamed arcade owner apparently reported that men in black coats were seen collecting data from the machines. This led some to speculate that it wasn’t a video game but a CIA-type experiment, and the name of the company that produced it seems to back up this theory. ‘Sinneslöschen’ is the German word for ‘deletion of senses’: were they in fact a secret government organisation?

Around a month after its release, Polybius is said to have disappeared without a trace. A single machine has never been found and, while some have said they worked on the game and others have attempted to recreate it, nobody has ever been able to produce definitive proof it ever existed…

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

Legend has it that there is a sinister mod to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind that could potentially drive a player insane. File jvk1166z.esp was originally thought to be a virus as it would freeze and corrupt all save game files when loaded, but it was soon discovered that it would work when ran in DOSbox.

All the main characters were already dead when the player started. Staying in one spot for too long caused their health to deplete and if they died in this manner, a new character revealed himself: a man whose limbs were long and bent like a spiders’. They noticed that if they paid close attention they could see ‘the Assassin’ around corners or scurrying up walls for brief moments, but that wasn’t the only weird thing; characters left alive would come outside at night to stare up at the sky, and attempting to interact with them would cause them to only say ‘Watch the sky.’

A new dungeon was also discovered, inside of which was what started being referred to as the ‘hall of portraits’ as it was lined with pictures which were in fact photos from the player’s PC. At the end was a locked door and nobody has ever been able to prove they’ve opened it (although it was claimed it would do so upon some kind of celestial event). Some have alleged that after hours of trying to do so, they began to see the Assassin scuttling around in real life… As made up as this story seems, the scariest part is that the mod does in fact exist so download it at your own risk.

Twisted Metal: Harbor City

Since the first edition was released on the PlayStation in 1995, Twisted Metal has had a cult following. In 2003 Sony were set to develop a follow-up called Twisted Metal: Harbor City but only four levels were completed and the video game was never finished. In March 2005, the six founding members of the team died in a plane crash and the project was cancelled shortly afterwards.

Things turned surreal when a note appeared in the developer’s headquarters, pleading with them to let fans play the levels mentioned above. It was signed with the names of the six deceased team members and read: ‘We are disappointed to hear of your decision to keep the world from seeing the last of our work… We beg of you… Show them all what we have done… Show them our last earthly deeds… If you doubt our existence, look to The Dark Past for proof that we are who we say…’

The note is available to read online and The Dark Past refers to a documentary on the Twisted Metal: Head On disc, where groups of numbers appear onscreen and correspond to letters of the alphabet. The fact the message reads ‘Twisted Metal is coming on PS3’ when deciphered has led many to believe that this was nothing more than an elaborate piece of marketing… but could the note have been real and a message from beyond the grave?

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft is still one of the most popular massively-multiplayer online RPG (MMORPG) games, even 13 years after its release. It’s no surprise that hidden secrets and odd moments can be found when you consider how big its world is but one of the creepiest is the Children of Goldshire. In a normally empty house by the edge of a lake, a group of six kids form a pentagram formation when the game server’s clock hits 07:00.

Players have reported that when they stand in the centre of the group, they can hear strange noises such as banshee screams, crying, the voice of C’Thuan saying ‘You will die’ and an old woman laughing hysterically. Perhaps the strangest thing though is that when you enter the room, a track starts to play which isn’t found anywhere else within the game; and we all know how much Blizzard likes reusing its assets.

You can follow the group from Stormwind City to the house and they never once break their formation, and they aren’t part of any quest line. The developer has never released an official statement about the Children of Goldshire and their silence has caused many to claim the kids are some sort of doomsday cult; some believe they’re creating a code with their pentagram movement which is just waiting to be cracked…

Although I’ve tried to provide as many links as possible within this post in an attempt to provide some evidence, I think it’s fair to say that these urban legends are nothing more than stories to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. But still, you might want to unplug your PC or console before you go to bed this evening… just to be on the safe side…

Happy Halloween!   🎃