Dear Mr Key, writes Tim Thurn, I am a huge fan of Hooting Yard and an even huger fan of computer and console games. Can you tell me if there are plans afoot for a Hooting Yard-based game I will be able to play on my Gameboy, Wii, or what have you?
Oh dear, is all I can say. I can only assume that Tim is a teenage boy, for only teenage boys ought to be playing computer games. (Teenage girls are busy editing the features pages of The Guardian.) That so many adults spend their time â€œgamingâ€ is clear evidence of the culture of infantilisation which we see all around us. I recommend compulsory reading of The Anatomy Of Melancholy and enforced contemplation of the paintings of Oskar Kokoschka, as a start.
Meanwhile, somewhat shamefacedly, I do have to confess that I have granted a licence to a Japanese software development company to create a thoroughly enticing game based on certain Hooting Yard characters. The working title for the game is Fictional Athlete Bobnit Tivol Magnificent Sprinting And Polevaulting Golden á¹ºberchallenge. As far as I can understand such things, the titular challenge for players is to lead a little pixellated fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol avatar through a series of increasingly difficult virtual sporting tournaments. As one progresses through each level, cantankerous trainer Old Halob is on hand (coughing and spluttering on a variety of high tar cigarettes) to offer tips and advice. The further along the player goes, of course, the less help is available from Old Halob, and at the highest levels he occupies a corner of the screen languishing in what looks like a sanatorium.
The putative teenage purchaser of the game can choose from various options. You can play as fictional athlete Bobnit Tivol, or compete against him. In this mode, Old Halob acts as a fiendish adversary, given to such tactics as poisoning your pre-sprint cornflakes, blinding you with pepper spray, or breaking your legs. You can also select different locations for the stadia in which the contests take place, including ancient
The developers hope to gain some celebrity endorsements before the game is released, and I understand that they have already made tentative approaches to such luminaries as Chris de Burhg [sic] and David Blunkett MP. According to marketing strategists, a touchy-feely version for the blind is predicted to outsell the sighted edition.