Daygame is a Sisyphean task. Depending on how you do it, it’s either hunting or fishing. Most of the time it’s the former – we go out onto the streets and search for women. When we find one we like we pounce on them. Fishing is also possible; sit in a good spot outside a cafe and chill with your friend waiting for the right girl to amble past – then you pounce.
This is both the joy and the sorrow of daygame – it’s all on you. When you’re in the mood for the work, it’s exhilarating. You have the ability to roll up into a new city and make things happen. If you get the right combination of effort, skill and luck you’ll bang a pretty girl that week. Long-time daygamers will also know the downside to that calculus – when you aren’t in the mood, it’s a grind. You know that if you stop putting forth the focused effort, your results dry up.
I was watching a video analysis of Dark Souls last night  Towards the end of the video the speaker addressed the game’s theme, something widely contested in that geek’s corner of teh interwebs. For him, Dark Souls is about a bleak choice – you either strive or you die. The world or Lordran is fierce, unforgiving and no matter how hard you try you never make real progress. You put forth your best efforts, step-after-step, facing never-ending hardship and then any time you stumble you’re thrown back to the beginning. It’s a never-ending struggle just to stay in the same place. Any time you lose an engagement, you’ve had a little of your humanity whittled away from you never to return. The game is like walking up a down escalator.
And yet you persist. It’s compelling. Why is that?
Is it because that while the world is harsh, it’s fair? Every time you replay an area you learn a little more about its traps and opportunities. Every time you face an adversary you pick up on the tells and patterns in his attacks. You learn his weaknesses. There are few moments as satisfying as taking down a boss at the tenth attempt, crowning a learning cycle that began with you getting smashed into a pulp on the first attempt.
Is it because the alternative is simply death? There’s no easy mode in Dark Souls. It sets you a herculean task and you either press ahead or you give up.
Is it because that perilous journey feeds a never-ending supply of small engagements with enemies and forces you to become intensely aware of every metre of land in the level? Dark Souls forces you into a hyper-awareness of your surroundings and you come out of every play-through with a collection of mini-dramas from the battles – the wins and the losses.
When you play Dark Souls you experience video games very differently to blasting through on-rails levels like Call Of Duty. You sink into the world of Lordran and are immersed. Time ticks by while you are focused on the task. You are in a flow state. But sometimes it’s all too much. You creep down the spiral staircase of an abandoned castle tower to the spot where you died ten minutes ago. You see the bloodstain marking the spot – if you reach that you recover all those souls that took you an hour to collect. You step into the room and….. smash, crash, bang the Black Knight has just killed you. You’d forgotten there was one there.
Those souls are gone forever. An hour of work evaporates before your eyes while the Black Knight stands above, hacking at your lifeless corpse. FUCK THIS! Your controller goes flying across the room. You simply cannot bear to play it any more.
Obviously if daygame was that shit I wouldn’t have done it for seven years. That’s just the downside. Conversely, the upside creates feelings which are – without exaggeration – the most addictive and joyful I’ve ever experienced. Two days later Dark Souls is back on your mind. You’ve been strategising while in the bath – if I throw an alluring skull into the far corner he’ll investigate then I can creep in and backstab him. Yes! I’ll try that! Four hours on the Dark Souls roller-coaster and the controller goes flying across the room again . But you learned something in the interim. You opened up a new zone and unlocked a new shortcut. You had a compelling four-hour struggle and you remember some of the battles in exquisite detail.
For the past six weeks I’ve been deep in Daygame Revulsion, the rage quit equivalent in our world. 2016 has been a fantastic year with tremendous upsides and many memorable encounters (win or lose). I’ve unlocked new areas in Lordran  and encountered new enemies  and also helpful NPCs. But now it’s cold, I’m worn out, and I’ve already banged enough girls for the year.
Just as I can’t go long without picking up that controller for another run at Dark Souls, I know with certainty I’ll be back out on the streets putting forth real effort again. But not for a while. I’m done with 2016 . I’ll do a little half-assed opening on auto-pilot, akin to the zombies in Dawn Of The Dead stumbling around a shopping mall listening to the echoes of a former life.
 – Go on, tell me that surprises you.
 – I exaggerate. I’ve only launched the controller once ever. Usually I’ll just shout expletive-laden rants at the screen.
 – Specifically, Odessa and Moscow
 – There’s one big muscular brown mini-boss with an Indian accent. His main attacks are smoke and mirrors. It’s pretty easy to just aggro him and watch him kill himself.
 – Personally,I blame Donald Trump. It’s impossible to focus on getting laid when the entire future of Western Civilisation is to be decided within a week.
If you thought this was a bit negative, you’ll be glad I was banned from Twitter. In the meantime, buy my book.