Gaming

The VICE Gaming Guide to Playing Video Games Properly at University

House party going south? Slam on <i>Crash Bandicoot</i>. Party, saved.

by Oscar Dayus
03 March 2016, 11:22am

Photos by Oscar Dayus and Denice Wong

If you're there now, or you've been there recently, you know what university in Britain is all about. More house parties than lectures, more bottles of Sainsbury's Basics vodka than you care to admit, and you've likely endured at least 13 shit nights out at Pryzm (or an Oceana, depending on which university you resorted to after being rejected by your top choices). At least, that's how it goes for the first couple of years, right? Like learning to drive or facing a terrible first fuck, these are the modern rites of passage we must all traverse. Don't lie, you love it.

But while university demands that you at least half act like an adult, part of you wishes you were still 14 for the whole time you're there. An age when your social life equated to nightly marathons of whichever Call of Duty was being slated at the time, and a periodic match of FIFA to determine that, yes, Chelsea were still better than your mate's beloved Leyton Orient.

But these two lives can be reconciled. It just might take some creativity when it comes to the drinking games.

THE BEST VIDEO GAME FOR PRE-DRINKS DRINKING

It's half nine. Only three people have turned up for pres so far, and they're the ones you only invited out of politeness because they did the same to you in freshers week. You need something to re-break the ice, as the seemingly bottomless crate of Foster's in front of you can only do so much, and everyone's bored of playing Ring of Fire already.

Mario Kart 8 drinking game it is, then.

There are multiple versions of this, but the best one is "No Drink Driving", in which you have to finish a beer and complete a race, but you can't do both simultaneously. Do you take the chequered flag first and save your bloatedness until your victory lap, or down your drink immediately to get the best power ups by racing after the pack?

However you approach it: you get drunk quickly, you can fit four players around the telly, and the game's beautiful soundtrack means you don't have to sit through yet another play of "Where Are Ü Now". Plus, you can now boast you managed a podium finish on Rainbow Road while half cut.

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THE BEST GAME TO PLAY IN LECTURES

University isn't all about getting hammered, playing games and (unsuccessfully) pulling in clubs – there's also some learning to be done.

But on a scale of "thrilling" to "my brain has departed the Earth's atmosphere", most lectures rank around "my face has dissolved into dust and been reconstituted into a peat bog".

Luckily, because we live in Space Year 2016, laptops exist, paving the way for students around the world to surreptitiously squeeze a match of Hearthstone in. The slower pace means you won't be involuntarily hammering away at the keyboard with your tongue hanging out, so the lecturer won't suspect a thing. Meanwhile, the turn-based structure, coupled with the fact sound isn't required, means you might pick up some of the lecture by osmosis.

THE BEST GAME TO IMPRESS YOUR INDIE MATES WITH

So you're fresh off the plane back from Indonesia, you've just bought a new puffa jacket, and your charity shop-worn Air Forces are on fleek. But your friends still won't take you seriously as the hipster you so dearly want to be. You've even tried getting into Twin Peaks and taking what you think was MDMA, but it still won't do. You need something really esoteric, something from out of left field they'll never expect.

How about a gruesomely violent fencing game in which the victor gets eaten by a giant worm dragon thing? No, it's not post-watershed Pokémon – this is Nidhogg.

The process of showing uni friends indie games is always the same: initial responses of "What's this bollocks?" and "Looks shite mate," soon followed by cheers and cries of laughter. Nidhogg especially, with its immediate simplicity, induces an intense atmosphere I've never experienced in any other party game. Also, its satisfying backstabbing will facilitate your sweet revenge on your flatmate for not taking the mountain of recycling out last week.

THE BEST GAME TO PLAY AT AN ACTUAL HOUSE PARTY

I think, of all the drinking holes students frequent – pubs, clubs, park benches, particularly tough library sessions – house parties are the most unpredictable. Never mind there are at least 80 people here you don't know (seven of whom are raiding your fridge as we speak); there's also a certain something in the air. Is it... sexual energy? Love? Laughte... no, it's vomit.

It's definitely vomit.

You need a game to distract the guests from the stench. But nobody plays video games at house parties, right?

I once thought like this, too. That was until I went to a house party where, inexplicably, one guy switched on a stray PSone and started speedrunning Crash Bandicoot. He soon got over the other guests' sideways glances, and by the end of the evening he had pretty much the entire street cheering him on, rum being chugged quicker than post-Domino's water but not quite as fast as he was charging through the final boss battle.

THE BEST GAME TO PLAY WHEN MISSING SCHOOL

When I was at school, all I'd hear from grown-ups is "It's best time of your life!" Well, adults, it's not – it's shit. School is a seven-year slog of puberty, ill-fitting clothes, and the most ignorant brats you'll meet in your life. They're second only to the most poisonous scum on Earth: students.

Students consume, drink, pollute, drink, destroy, drink, smoke, cheat, drink, lie, sleep, and drink. And for the most part we love it; but sometimes we feel like slipping under our favourite blanket and blocking out the world and... Wait, I already covered this with the sleeping part, didn't I?

My point is, sometimes we do get fed up of being Young Adults, and, despite what I said about school, occasionally we want to get nostalgic over pissing around in double maths before home time. Step up, Life Is Strange.

Chemistry experiments, bullies, tentative flirting with the opposite sex, the ability to rewind time – all of your favourite teenage memories are here. Life Is Strange's obvious headlines are the rewind ability and its branching storyline, but its embellished version of school life is delightful to play through, allowing me to finally experience that period of discovering music and smoking weed and hanging out with actual friends that I never got round to in real life.

On VICE Sports: FIFA's New Museum Glosses Over the Sepp Blatter Era

THE ULTIMATE PARTY GAME

Listen, stop trying to tell people PES is better; we all know this one's FIFA. Despite claims of stagnation for the most recent edition, FIFA 16, this really is the ultimate uni video game, mostly due to its flexibility and accessibility.

FIFA is excellent at easing in new players, affording you and your friends the freedom to use it however you like. You can start an online season with your flatmates, if you're in it for the long haul. You can deploy FIFA drinking rules (drink for fouls, offsides, goals conceded – basically anything, with extra points for trick shots) if you're heading out. You can even discuss your deepest worries with your closest friends.

Everybody knows the rules, you can get loads of people playing at once, and – this season at least – your mate can at last prove that Leyton Orient are better than Chelsea.

@dayusz

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