However, I have long sought to become a professional video game player. Pro e-sports athletes (the only sport other than sumo wrestling that you can be both obese and “athletic”) get paid ridiculous sums of money for sitting around and bashing buttons on a controller. I can remember someone winning a Quake 3 tournament and receiving £100,000 in prize money. That kind of cash could buy loads more games! But is a particular game that I excel at?
Luckily enough, I am rather good at Tekken. I was local youth club champion for two years running, and I still have the medal that I made for myself. It was time to hone my skills and step up to the big leagues.
In a similar fashion to a martial arts student taking a grand pilgrimage to train with a wise old master, I booked a plane ticket to the land of e-sports and high broadband speeds, South Korea. Over there, Starcraft players are revered as Gods, with legions of screaming fans at their beck and call. I figured that if I did enough training montages, I too could become the object of affection for one million young Asian girls. Although my weak, Western technique wouldn’t stand a chance against the major Korean players, so I would have to begin my training as a complete novice.
|Paul is a triumph of super-hold hair gel.|
I had arranged to meet a Tekken master named Ji-hu who would show me the ropes of competitive Tekken fighting. A young man who hadn’t even reached puberty arrived to greet me at the main interchange in Seoul. When he introduced himself as said Tekken master, I laughed at him, brushing it off as some sort of bizarre joke. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The young boy leaped up and plucked my eye straight out of my eye socket for “casting him a dismissive glance”. As I rolled around in excruciating agony, Ji-hu arranged for my “fat corpse” to be transported to his dojo for training.
Ji-hu was an impossibly strict master. Now with poor depth perception, I was forced to complete seven obstacle courses before breakfast. I wasn’t allowed to speak any English at all. In fact, I wasn’t allowed to speak at all, or else he would have pulled my tongue straight out of my head without a second thought. I was forced to eat individual grains of rice from between floorboards with a pair of tweezers. I slept upright on a chair with a mousetrap near my balls that would snap shut if I leaned forward. I wasn’t sure how any of this would teach me to play Tekken to a greater degree, but I had to trust in my master if I wanted to learn his lessons, even if his methods seemed cruel and unnecessary.
The day of the tournament began. I chose my favourite character (Bryan Fury if you’re wondering), and I was up against the number 5 seed. Ji-hu was waiting in the wings with some sort of rudimentary flail, ready to strike should I slip up. It was time to put my training to the test.
I lost two straight rounds without landing a blow. I felt like I had become a far worse player since I started my training, as if the dehydration and mutilation I had suffered over the past few days had affected my motor skills.
In severe danger of losing the match, I decided to forget about Ji-hu’s training and revert back to my old tactics. I went over to the other competitor and thumped him on top of his head, knocking him unconscious. I was immediately disqualified, which I didn’t understand since that’s how I managed to beat all my rivals back home in England. I left South Korea with a cloud of shame hanging over me, and a huge medical bill after Ji-hu flayed the flesh off of my back. I guess this isn’t the game for me.