Like everyone else I have been sinking a lot of time into The Witcher 3, now first things first, this isn’t a review, but what I will say is that it’s a bloody good game. A truly staggering achievement in world building that’s bursting with incredible detail and lore. If you haven’t played it yet and are curious, give it a go, it might surprise you.
As I said, this isn’t a review about The Witcher 3; it is about how the game made me more awkward than ever.
Rounding off this god awful introduction is the fact that this is also my first proper piece in a while and my first for GamingReel. The very site that myself and a few other journo mates decided to launch thinking “well if everyone else is getting away with talking pish, why can’t we?”
But if this turns out to be a big pile of feature-wank, then apologies, as it means I am surely on my way to becoming Twitter famous on the inner circle.
So before I go all Kanye on you I wanted to share with you this tale of shame, awkwardness and something that completely removed me from my beloved hobby, albeit for a split second. This tale involves Geralt, a saucyress (sorry) named Yennifer and a unicorn.
You know where this is going….
Picture the scene, I get back from work and decide to plant myself down in front of the TV and stick on The Witcher 3 for an evening of epic quests and adventure.
The first few hours is pretty standard fare for me, as someone who has clocked in nearly 40 hours playing this fantasy behemoth, I am slaying werewolves like a pro and weaving through webs of intrigue better than GRRM without a deadline.
All this action is what the game does well, but what it does better is giving you a beautiful world to get immersed in. But I wanted to see more, it was time to put Velen and Novigrad behind me, it was time to visit Skellige.
This place is beautiful, filled with spacious isles that are filled with terrain reminiscent of Scotland. The music fits this place perfectly, the picturesque scene is set. I am there, horse and all.
The thing about immersion is that you have got to have complete concentration on what you are doing, a relatively routine task for any gamer. What can break this? Well having your shocked and embarrassed partner sitting right beside you during this immersion.
Without going into any real detail, let’s just say following the main quest line in Skellige will bring you to an infamous sex scene on the back of a Unicorn. Don’t start screaming spoilers here, we have all heard about it, and yes it is every bit as ludicrous as it sounds.
Sex scenes in games is something I have got used to, not that I spend my evenings playing porn simulators, anyone who has picked up a Mass Effect or a Catherine will know all about it. It happens in real life…for most…
This time however, I found myself absolutely mortified for the first time. The pixels on screen forming to show candlelit naked gyration prompted immediate cries of “Liam what the fuck are you playing?!”
Queue the explanations, “it’s not what it looks like, it is part of the game”. I would have been better off being caught watching porn now you mention it, would have been easier to explain.
For the first time, I was sitting there completely removed from the immersion, not of the game, but in playing games themselves. In explaining how this was normal I realised, for many this is actually, well, pretty fucking weird.
To the untrained eye, we gamers have complete control of the situation on screen, implying that we have gone out our way for this on screen. Really we don’t, it is merely a short cutscene, if we did have total control I can guarantee folk would see much worse.
That unicorn is better off as a prop believe me; there are some sick bastards out there.
Awkwardness settled in quickly, and turned to laughter soon after. Before I knew it I was back to exploring the world and slaying all before me. Learn from my tale fellow gamers, if you’re going to go stud with Geralt, avoid it getting awkward, stay away from an audience and game in peace.
Now if you excuse me, I’m away to find a unicorn.