I have always been a sucker for anything labelled Cyberpunk. At the age of 21 I rediscovered reading thanks mostly to William Gibson whose brisk style creats a cutthroat world of ruthless mega corporations and desperate criminals. At around the same time I learned about anime and after initially dismissing it as a perverse cinematic niche (it seems Urotsikodoji is a shared teenage experience for my generation) I saw Ghost in the Shell and was hooked. It brought to life the vision of a palpable future where technology is valued more than human life and AIs grow in the primordial soup of cyberspace. It may be no surprise that I also love Blade Runner.
Couple this with a growing love of board/card games and I have discovered a new obsession – Android Netrunner. Apparently it is a remake of a much older game that was released around the same time as Magic: The Gathering and created by the same designer and it is brilliant. The gameplay is asymmetric with one player as the corporation who is trying to further their agendas by installing them in servers and protecting them with ice (think Norton antivirus that fights back). The second player is a sort of digital Robin Hood that is attempting to access and steal those same agendas. Again, it is brilliant.
I know it has gripped me because when I start typing ‘andr’ into Google the list of suggested previous searches goes off the page. In some ways it’s nice to have a bit of an obsession with something, remember when you are a kid and just listened to the same song over and over, or made countless armies of Warhammer in school without the reference cards because you knew every Eldar point value by heart? Well maybe not the second one but I am pretty sure you know the first. The flipside is finding an outlet for this new passion. There is a group in Liverpool that play every Sunday night but seeing as I go to another gaming group on a Monday, two nights of gaming ineptitude might be a little too much.
Thankfully my wife patiently indulges these whims of mine and although she has never suggested a game (she prefers to efficiently destroy me at Carcasonne instead) she did say that she had ‘started to enjoy the last few games.’ Progress of sorts I guess. The last option is one that many desperate men turn to – strangers on the internet. There is an amazing site called octgn.net where you can play all sorts of card games including Netrunner and it looks fairly straightforward. I am sure that it’s a lovely community but sitting at a computer in my leisure time just doesn’t appeal (although I guess it’s just a little TV screen really). Maybe I should just shut up and do it, I mean, when a brave runner is on his last click, would he risk all and dive into cyberspace or just stay on the sofa watching Supersize vs Superskinny?