Gaming on the move is no longer the novelty it once was. Where the handhelds of the ‘80s and ‘90s paved the way with iffy screens and monumental battery consumption, gaming’s modern ubiquity – much like with TV and internet use – sees a high-quality ‘do it anywhere’ approach as being borderline expected. We even have the full power of home console gaming to play with, with Remote Play on Xperia™ Z3 paired with the PS4 opening up the full sized experience to any location you can connect from in the home. And beyond that, home-made solutions are getting even more creative. Simply, gaming locations are getting weirder.
So let’s look into that, shall we? Let’s investigate some of the oddest, most off-kilter, and most technically creative places people have been playing. Because it turns out there are rather a lot, indoors, outdoors, and even off the planet.
In the shower
You know what it’s like. You’re in the zone. You’re making progress in leaps and bounds. You’re utterly locked in, and nothing can stop you. Well, nearly nothing. A few hours in, you uncomfortably remember all the general real-life housekeeping stuff you were supposed to do today, before you ‘accidentally’ got sucked in. You need to hoover. You need to do some washing. You need to have a shower.
Well now, that latter task need not get in the way. With the waterproof Xperia™ Z2 or Xperia™ Z3 series from Sony you can carry on playing with only a brief pause to warm up some towels along the way. Playing in the shower could actually be great for immersion in certain circumstances. Seriously. Start drafting that e-petition for a Bioshock remaster right now. Heavy Rain and Silent Hill: Downpour, too.
On the International Space Station
Games and space have been synonymous for as long as they’ve both existed. Let’s not forget, the game often cited as kicking off the whole medium is 1962’s Spacewar, coded by Steve Russell on MIT’s PDP-1 computer. So it makes sense that games would eventually make their way up above the stratosphere, right?
While the first game to physically make it into space was StarCraft, transported as a physical copy by astronaut Daniel J. Barry on the first docking mission with the International Space Station in 1999 (you might question the wisdom of taking an interstellar war simulator up there, but it seems no alien observers were offended), we know that games are now actually played on the station as well. In a 2009 White House video-conference with the ISS, a Washington school kid asked the crew if video games were a space-bound pastime and got an answer in the affirmative. There was a more ambitious attempt a year earlier, when Ultima creator Richard Garriott finally realised his dream of space travel, but his plans of playing his MMO Tabula Rasa from the station were scuppered. NASA feared that someone on Earth might tunnel backward along the ‘net connection and take control of the ISS’ systems. To be fair, there’s little doubt that would have ended badly.
On a mountain
When British mountaineer George Mallory was asked why he wanted to climb Everest, he famously (and with no small amount of applause-worthy badassery) replied “Because it’s there”. In 2014, when website Tek Syndicate pledged to break the (probably) hotly contested world record for highest altitude LAN party with a session of iD’s most famous game on a mountain top, their reasoning was quite possibly “Because it’s Doom”. Because as we all know, nothing is truly benchmarked until someone has hacked it to run Doom. Not even a mountain.
Lugging a bunch of laptops and a modded router system up Mount Elbert, the second highest in the USA, the team braved altitude sickness, exhaustion, and the potential for fatally broken equipment in order to pay tribute to the granddaddy of FPS (Wolfenstein is the great granddaddy). And they nailed it. Taking a game from the bowels of Hell up to the cloud-draped (almost) top of the world? There’s something nicely poetic about that.
On a river in Prague
We don’t know much about this one, but it happened, and really, that’s all that matters. Late in 2014, Imgur user MyAbility caught this floating LAN party in the middle of a river in the Czech capital. Much respect to those involved for both getting this thing together in the first place, and THEN using it to proudly show off their hobby to such great effect. But it doesn’t look like the clearest day. Here’s hoping they had enough tarpaulins on board to avoid the tragic death of their whole set-up.
On the side of a building
Now this one is a stunning feat of engineering. As part of the Royal Institution’s 2014 Christmas Lectures series, the University of Manchester’s Professor Danielle George headed up a project to turn a whole building into a Tetris console, wiring up one side of it with WiFi-controlled lighting and effectively turning its windows into pixels.
With a custom controller hooked up to a remote laptop, 14 year-old Harrison Wood turned Alexey Pajitnov’s greatest creation into a temporary part of London’s South Bank skyline. And all it took was a pile of desk lamps and a few sheets of baking paper. Months of hard work too, of course, but mainly lamps and paper.
In a fountain
Who says video games even need video, anyway? At the Granary Square fountains near King’s Cross, you can now control the aquatic action with a freely downloadable, official smartphone app and the locally available WiFi. But, believe it or not, there’s an even better use for that power than shutting down all the jets and ambushing unsuspecting tourists.
Included with the Granary Squirt app is a set of controls for Snake, that crowning glory of the ‘90s mobile market. Up to eight players can get involved, with the fountain’s jets standing in for those blocky serpent segments. Okay, so you’re still going to drench tourists, but at least now you have the excuse that you were playing a game.
On Air Force One
And just because this photo turned up recently, and is brilliant, here’s presidential candidate and former First Lady Hilary Clinton, playing on a Game Boy, on Air Force One.
And it’s definitely Air Force One rather than just a generic plane. You can tell from the napkins. Seriously. Have a closer look.
Truly mobile gaming
So that’s our run-down of the weirdest places currently on record for gaming. And it’s only going to grow in the future, with things like Remote Play blowing the options wide open. Check out our recent Remote Play Bloodborne tournament to see how far into the future we're currently living.