Game On

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 “gaming” 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 Ṻberchallenge. 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 Latvia, the Essex seaside town of Jaywick, and the mystic and frankly terrifying Land of Gaar, alive with nightmarish monsters and things that creep upon the face of the earth. The only game setting which is fixed and unchangeable is the colour scheme, which as you would expect is sepia.

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.

One thought on “Game On

  1. Frank,

    Why have you failed to mention “Dobson and Blogett’s: Celebrity Grott”, the game of which one reviewer exclaimed “Never in the history of video gaming, has one title so richly captured the full breadth and vigor of Dobsian thought”, indeed this is the only game that puts the player through trials and predicaments inspired by actual incidents in the great pamphleteer’s life.

    The game is set in an ice-girt seaside resort, where Dobson having recently arrived in town seeks to make his fortune writing and declaiming a series of inspiring pamphlets, but from where does this inspiration come? Naturally, from a series of chilling, yet comedic mis-advetures which begin through which the player must guide the Dobsonian avatar.

    Naturally, many of these ‘adventures’ have been embellished for dramatic effect; For example the sequence in which Dobson must resuce his budgerigar, impounded by Trebizondo cultists includes ludicrously far-fetched dialogue concerning an owl taxonomy library.

    Neither Ulm nor Winnipeg possessed such a building, and at the time Trbizondo cultists professed no interest at all in any form of bird-life.

    These minor factual discrepancies aside, the true Dobsonian spirit shines through the game – and will serve as an adequate introduction to the Pamphleteer’s life.

    But what of Blodgett? Entirely absent from the game – he is the great unseen, the “muguffin” if you will around which the plot inexplicably revolves, the reason Dobson has exiled himself, the reason that Dobson must collect gas-canisters and finally the unseen cause of his redemption.

    In short, you would be bonkers to miss this game, a shining example of Dobson’s relevance to this modern era and a vidication of all that Dobson stood for.


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