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Hex Box

Hex Box

by Brandon Edmonds / 10.04.2012

I took a hammer to my Xbox. Imagine me frozen in my lounge with the hammer upraised. A look of serene release on my face and casing flecks suspended in mid-air like globules of come. Ha. Let’s rewind the existential steps leading up to this console assault.

I’m having a mid-life crisis and I can’t afford hookers or imported cars. My frustration, rage and despair has to manifest somewhere – provided it’s within the punishing horizon of my bank balance. So junk food and video games, the suburban dilution of crack cocaine.

I began playing video games on an Atari 2600 I got for Christmas in the mid-80’s. It was black with a “wood veneer” and came bundled with games like Combat, PacMan and Night Rider. The latter was especially mesmerizing to a kid. The road billowed in darkness and you felt grown up driving home. The graphics were so simple you had to do all the cognitive embellishment yourself. It was basically radio. Playschool David Lynch. Ours was a fractious household with occasional bouts of domestic violence. The Atari took you out of that. It calmed everyone down and brought us together. Like a fireplace on the old frontier.

By 1995 I had a Playstation. The gray moon-shaped console you flipped open like a petrol tank, exposing its own innards like few other consumer products. You looked right into the machine almost forcing you to be a geek. That glance alone helped prepare the millennial appetite for gadgetry. Just as colonial composer, Edward Elgar’s music soundtracked the British Empire, the whirr and thunk of a loading disk was the prophetic sound of a multi-billion dollar gaming industry. The leap over the Atari in processing power and game graphics was mind blowing. Everyone in the room stopped what they were doing when Lara Croft appeared onscreen. I lowered her into a cave in Tibet, marveling at the snugness of her hot pants, the porno rendering of her magnificent breasts, and was snapped out of objectification by a pair of advancing tigers.

That was already ten years of sitting around playing games. Habit sending signals to my limbs. Sedentary orthodoxy wiring my brain for keeps. This is a body that lives to be supine. A body semi-permanently at rest. The slow seeds of adult obesity were being sown with each bad guy Lara dispatched. It was her vaulting over crevices, sprinting across snow, repelling and rock-climbing, not me.

In Newlands, with a pile of ESL savings, I once spent a year basically gaming and eating Butlers pizza. Doing nothing else. Much of it devoted to GTA San Andreas, a note perfect recreation of the blunted menacing glow of West Coast gangsta rap. It was always a weird moment getting up from the sofa, after untold hours, to open the door to a fresh-faced teen with braces with my order. Being a drug dealer would have felt more dignified. I wildly over-tipped with guilt.

That ended when I ran out of money and remembered how good exercise makes you feel. Even pizza gets old. I knew I was through the looking glance when I had CJ, the star of San Andreas, go into a corner store and play asteroids. It induced a sickening postmodern vertigo. Here I was playing a man playing a man playing video games. Whoa.

Then I fucked up with the hipper than thou creatives of Cape Town. We went away to an annual thing they do in the Karoo. A lovely weekend of togetherness and creativity. Being a negative shit, I couldn’t get into it and got very drunk and high. Then kicked in the door of a room that wasn’t mine in an old hotel. Waking up, I didn’t even remember doing any of it. My impulse was to flee and lie. I couldn’t face anyone and fled to Muizenberg. Where I’ve been a beached male ever since.

Back to carbs and video games. The twin pillars of a wasted life. I picked up an Xbox cheap from Cash Crusaders and avoided life again. Led my team through Gears of War, solved murders in LA Noire, walked a hundred miles in put-upon immigrant Niko Bellic’s stinky shoes, shot ghost tornadoes in Alan Wake and mowed down civilians (without hesitating) in an airport in Modern Warfare 2. I mined planets in Mass Effect and murdered little girls in Bioshock. I became John Marsden in Red Dead Redemption.

Gaming is one of the highest forms of mass escape the market offers today. Keep your package tours and adventure getaways. Sit and stare, loser, and win. I’m halfway through Skyrim. One of the most detailed and elaborate open worlds ever created in a video game. A role-player challenge immersive and expansive enough to close your curtains against the sun. It promises hundreds of hours of play.

Let’s unfreeze the moment. I take a hammer to my Xbox. To be free.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Edmonds has elevated pitiful and pathetic middle-age breakdowns on public fora to the level of art.

    PS: Don’t lie. We all know you didn’t actually smash that Xbox, son. Pictures or it didn’t happen. Pictures with you in it.

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  2. Andy says:

    Mahala comment board douche bags surface to slate the name “Edmonds”… read the goddamn story and stop worrying about whether he really smashed his xbox. The wood for the trees, son.

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  3. shuttup says:

    jeez andy. that comment was actually nice. did you even read it? or did that knee jerk defensiveness get the better of you again?

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  4. Urk says:

    @shuttup andy was right there, douchebag no2 quick off the mark. he has a point though. as do you. however do i?

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  5. Urk says:

    lekker article. i’m reminded of the unbridled fury escaping from a friend’s throat (while standing atop a little saffa enclave in taiwan): “POOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEESSSSS!” for losing at games suck ass, as long as you are captive.
    Oh, and winter is coming. gaming is not unreasonable in these climes.

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  6. Skuit says:

    Welcome back. First decent bit of writing since you left.

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  7. outside weeier says:

    I wish I was your friend.

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  8. Andy says:

    Hang on shuttup… you’re saying that Anonymous was being nice? Describing Edmonds as “pitiful” and “pathetic” before demanding pictures of the smashed xbox?

    Please dude.. that’s not constructive or even critical. It’s just douchie

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  9. YellowElevator says:

    I think you meant “rappelling” but the blame for that lies on Andy.

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  10. Dorkmeister says:

    Ha. This really resonated. Except the being fat part.

    But games can be more than escapism can’t they? They’re narrative texts like books and movies, only they’re playable. And by playing them we are taking part in culture. We are being present, not escaping… right?

    Well that’s what I’m telling myself after a long weekend spent in my underwear on the couch.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Dope piece of work… the smashed Xbox that is

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  12. Mashunga says:

    Edmonds, you could really use a semicolon every now and then. You write like you have asthma.

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  13. Onan the ambidextrous says:

    Scintillating writing. Shines like a shilling up a sweep’s arse, as my grandfather used to say. The sweep’s arse being the rest of Mahala, of late.

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  14. Oliver says:

    I think it’s a good piece. No politics, no socialism. An easy somewhat nostalgic read. Was an Atari far from those Commodores or a ZX Spectrum?

    @ Dorkmeister. I agree. Gaming is quite social actually and I’ve heard of people who made real business contacts through online games. MMORPG’s cannot really be compared to the narrative of traditional games. Then I think you are taking part in a modern culture.

    I liked this piece.

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  15. Captain Lombard says:

    Lovely piece Edmonds – you were missed!

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  16. Captain Lombard says:

    P.S. @anonymous – Edmonds is well capable of taking a hammer to his xbox and actually doing it. I’ve seen him punch through his new PC laptop screen when it refused to connect to the wireless. Very impressive.

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  17. Pool says:

    Mahala needs to run some kind of raffle feature, where we have to guess how long it takes after Edmonds’ makes a drama-queen resignation on the comment boards, and then comes crawling back later to write about Marxism and middle-age and how pathetic his life is. Seriously, if I had a blowjob for everytime Edmonds quit this site in a display of self-righteous arrogance, I would have the slickest dick in Cape Town.

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  18. Andy says:

    I have the pictures…

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Cool. Let’s see ’em. I’m eager to see what Edmonds actually looks like.

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  20. Polyps Thousandaire says:

    Edmonds’ tagline = firstworldproblems

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  21. Gumbo says:

    Is that really Edmonds’ smashed Xbox. It was nice of him to post it on google image search and on this website: http://gizmodo.com/5426360/smashed-xbox-gallery

    Edmonds, don’t smash your pristine x-box. Sell it instead. Make some money. Let someone else buy the thing cheap and get some pleasure out of it. Don’t be selfish.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Surprised you never took it to the next level and got a PC gaming rig. Also how about and article on professional gaming. I am sure many here would be shocked to know you can get provincial and national colors for gaming.

    Brandon if you have never played games online in a team based environment also know as scrimms or clannies then all I can do is call you a fucking casual console noob.

    That’s from one gamer to another>troll

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  23. Super Mario says:

    “Brandon if you have never played games online in a team based environment also know as scrimms or clannies then all I can do is call you a fucking casual console noob.

    That’s from one gamer to another”

    You sound more like a loser than a gamer to me, Anonz.

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  24. YellowElevator says:

    Haha! Andy has the pictures… Yeah, because he found them on Google. Fucking jackass.

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  25. Juice & Gin says:


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  26. cnut says:

    Only 340 more Mahala-‘articles’-of-Edmonds-melodrama before he can afford an upgrade…

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  27. poster says:

    wow, that was amazing. didn’t even need the pictures. they distracted actually. wish there was more of it to read. thanks.

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  28. er.... says:

    the fbook pic and article pic are different. the fbook one (real one) looks like edmunds jst stepped on it or somthing

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  29. Anonymous says:

    shame you okes get grief from your readers hey. i like the article.

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