The year is 2277. In front of me is a robot that thinks he’s one of the founding fathers of the United States. I’m trying to convince him that I’m Thomas Jefferson, so that he’ll give me what’s left of the Declaration of Independence. My character is a young woman. It works.

 People who play a lot of games know that it’s more than a simple way of whiling the time while being slightly amused. It can be, but in that case you’re just playing the wrong games.

Games are immersive and put you in virtual situations that you’d only ever live if you were playing the hero in a Hollywood action film. In that respect they are much more like books than like television. They put you in unusual, often impossible and sometimes downright silly situations.

The difference then, between decent games and good ones, is that while the decent games entertain you and let you identify with the main character, the good ones sometimes put you in a situation that makes you go ‘Awesome!’.

 I tip my mailman’s hat to the two guards outside the gate. One of them motions me through with his semi-automatic while the other looks on as I casually walk back to my car. In the villa behind me are thirty equally well-equipped guards, making rounds and going about their business. Their boss, a Columbian drug lord, lies dead two stories beneath his bedroom window. He ‘fell’ off his balcony.

It would be unfair to rate the quality of a game to the amount of ‘awesome’ moments. Games aren’t passive. You make your own moment. From having your favourite team winning the world series, even though they haven’t even come close since 1902, to seeing the People’s Republic of Luxemburg finally take over the world.

 I am blasting down the Las Vegas Strip at a speed that blurs the palm trees, weaving between other cars and bumping into motorcycles. Chasing me are four police cars, two FBI vehicles and a helicopter. In an effort to shake them off, I make a handbrake turn into a small alley, grazing walls and smashing boxes as I race the length of it. When I emerge from the alley I see my goal: a small garage with a paint can sign. I hit the gas and speed up a set of stairs as the helicopter hovering above me opens fire. Smoke pouring from the bonnet, I slam the car into the back wall of the garage. The door closes to the sound of a rocket hitting it. I am safe.

It’s the rush of adrenaline you get from beating the odds, the knowledge of a job well done. I know I’m not being paid for this and none of it has any discernable effect on my life outside this little virtual world. But sometimes, the moment is a reward in itself.

 I awoke this morning in a bare cell, to a man across the hall mocking me. The events that led to my escape are blurry, but involved rats, skeletons, and royal assassins in the dark tunnels leading from my prison to the outside. I emerge blinking into the daylight. In my hand is an amulet that will make or break the future of the lands I’m in. A whole new, beautiful world stretches out before my feet.

So what’s your favourite game moment? And how many can you think of?

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