In which I star in my very own video game

Steve Dinneen
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Being inside your own video-game sounds like fun. Unless that game is Tetris; then you’d be locked inside an endless cycle of rotating blocks, falling towards you at ever increasing speeds. I had a dream about it once. The Tetris music still brings me out in a cold sweat.

So when I was asked to star in my own hostage rescue video game, I said “pass me my sniper rifle. And my axe” (yes, I rescue hostages with an axe). Chipmaker AMD organised the event on the slightly spurious logic that its chips allow graphics to render so seamlessly that the only way to get closer to the action is to actually be inside a game.

I was led to a “top secret” location in Milton Keynes, where former special forces operatives trained me in disciplines including sniper rifle shooting, axe throwing, hand to hand combat and pistol drawing. After that I was pointed in the direction of an armoured personal carrier and told to bring back a hostage. Preferably alive.

The rescue, which was captured by way of a helmet mounted camera, was a success – but only because killing the actor in real life wasn’t really an option. Otherwise they would have been scraping her up with a spoon. Here are some things I learned from the experience:

1) Military helmets are too big for my head. If I end up making a career as a special forces operative someone needs to look into this.

2) My hostage rescue tactics consist entirely of shouting “Put it down” over and over again, until the kidnapper eventually capitulates, presumably out of sheer boredom or some kind of hypnosis.

3) Finding a key during a hostage rescue situation is impossible, even when the kidnappers are whispering “It’s on the hook over there. No, over there. On the hook. Right in front of you.”

Back at the briefing room I got my hands on the video footage, which played like a tangible anxiety dream, the only saving grace being that I hadn’t stormed the vehicle completely naked.

As proof of the speed of AMD’s chips I was handed a laptop powered by its technology to edit and render the footage. And it’s fast. Video rendering is usually a process several notches duller than watching an infinite loop of Lewis Hamilton eating a scotch egg. In the time I have wasted staring at a screen, shedding tears of pure, congealed hatred, I could have written the great American novel. But this was painless. To a fully signed-up Apple fanboy, it was an unexpected reminder of why people still grapple with Windows.

No amount of processing power, though, could disguise the inevitable truth of the situation: I may have starred in my own video game but, given my performance, that game was more Kinectimals than Call of Duty.

Check out the video of my hostage rescue at