As we increasingly creep through crumbling VR sanitoriums with real-as-your-thumb zombies waiting to chew our throats out around every corner, we might start to wish for a less stressful gaming experience. A spot of virtual gardening perhaps, or video Bake Off. But let us not forget the worst excesses of video boredom; these 10 dull excuses for entertainment, each of which could make even a Brexit negotiator wish they were back at work.
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The one that sucked the fun out of violence: Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots (2006)
Platform: Game Boy Advance
Based on a ‘70s toy consisting of two plunger-operated plastic robots in a boxing ring with a couple of punching moves each, kind of like if Pacific Rim had been directed by the makers of Hungry, Hungry Hippos. Amazingly, the game was almost as static, and every single enemy could be beaten in six seconds just by mashing A.
Most boring bit: When one of the robots gets to just whale on the other one until they die.
The one that even put the character to sleep: Tail Of The Sun (1997)
The joy of open-world environments, of course, is the variety – the snowy norths and desert souths, the mountain vistas and poison-spewing swamps. PS1 bore-quest Tail Of The Sun had all those but, crucially, they all looked the fucking same. You played a caveman or woman jogging pointlessly around a largely identical landscape eating everything and falling asleep on the spot with no warning. Imagine Minecraft but without the mining, or crafting, or pretty much anything else. Far Cry Primal this was not.
Most boring bit: Falling asleep mid-swim, and inevitably dying.
The one that was so bad it was buried in the desert: ET The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
Platform: Atari 2600
The – at the time – revolutionary hi-tech sci-fi classic was transformed into what’s widely regarded as the worst video game ever made in 1982, as your vaguely ET-shaped blob wandered about five screens of pits, falling down each in turn to find pieces of a phone you need to phone home. Sure, you’re chased around by a scientist and a detective, but if they get too close, hey, just fall down a pit, there’s always one nearby. Ironically, the thousands of unsold copies of this six-minutes-to-complete stinker were buried in a large pit in Mexico.
Most boring bit: Falling down the 50th empty pit.
The one that’s just like having a job as a lorry driver: Euro Truck Simulator (2008)
Platform: OSX, Microsoft Windows
As the makers of Farming Simulator 19 will attest, there’s nothing so boring to drive that people who aren’t allowed to will pay to pretend they are. Hence the success of Euro Truck Simulator and its multi-million-selling sequels(!), wherein the player picks up a truckload of cargo and drives across Europe abiding by all traffic regulations. Except of course you don’t. You drive the wrong way up motorways, take a kip straddling all three lanes and search in vain for the big-money Refugee Run DLC developers have yet to release.
Most boring bit: Missing your motorway exit and dutifully driving up to the next one to turn around. Roll on fucking Self-Driving Euro Truck Driver, frankly.
The one that’s more boring than train spotting: Sensible Train Spotting (1995)
Anyone in 1995 expecting this to be a game with a banging Underworld soundtrack about doing a dodgy drug deal while trying to stay off heroin would have been bitterly disappointed. Instead the player sits on a platform and ticks off the numbers of the trains that pass by. Bingo on rails, basically.
Most boring bit: When you’ve only got one more number to tick off your card, and the remaining train is clearly being run by Southern Rail.
The one that actually tries to be boring: Waiting In Line 3D (2013)
Produced to accompany a track from Denver electro act ManCub rather than as a legitimate form of gaming entertainment, Waiting In Line 3D involved the player standing in a queue for nothing that rarely moves, jumping needlessly and punching themselves in the face to stay awake. A reboot could be called Citadel Festival: The Game.
Most boring bit: All of it, that’s the point.
The one that makes church look fun: King James Bible (1994)
Platform: Game Boy
Hey kids, you like Legend Of Zelda huh? You know who else has lots of legends? Lord Jesus Christ Our Saviour. This doomed attempt to stop the impressionable youth of 1994 having Tetris blocks rammed up their arses by Beelzebub for all eternity wasn’t just The Bible you could read on a Gameboy. Oh no. It was mostly that, but there was also a kind of word-search and a hangman style game where you saved three sheep by guessing the letters of obscure Biblical tribes. The video on YouTube of some poor Gameboy completist playing this game for six hours straight is all the evidence you need that The Bible will definitely not save you from hell.
Most boring bit: Leviticus.
The one that hid the fun: Sneak’n’Peek (1982)
Platform: Atari 2600
Yes, a video version of hide and seek, played in a house with just four rooms, two of which are identical and none of which have more than one item of furniture in it. And you wonder why there was a video game crash in 1983.
Most boring bit: Hiding. Oh, and seeking.
The one that’s a babysitting simulator: Imagine: Baby Club (2008)
Platform: Nintendo DS
Nintendo: world of dreams. Ubisoft’s Imagine series set out to give kids aged six to fourteen a simulated taste of some of the most sought-after professions, from fashion designer to model, rock star and ballet dancer. And, um, babysitter. Yes, fantasise about having the weekend of your bored older sister as you feed, tickle and generally try not to murder the babies in your care, then make your way along one short street to your next job. Unfortunately, a babysitting simulator can never replicate the real thing, until they invent a controller capable of shitting down your arm.
Most boring bit: When you successfully complete a babysitting job and are told to hunt down someone with a new task for you. Another babysitting job.
The one thing more boring than Euro Truck Simulator: Desert Bus (1995)
For those that found Euro Truck Simulator too much of a heart-in-the-throat thrillride of hi-octane adventure came Desert Bus, unarguably the dullest game that will ever be conceived until someone writes a game based on the rollercoaster ride of UK interest rates 2010-18. Your task in this mini-game taken from an unreleased Penn & Teller title is to drive a passenger-free bus at 45 mph along a straight, characterless desert road from Tucson to Las Vegas in real time, sticking strictly to the highway code. That’s eight hours of gameplay you’d need to get as stoned as Otto from The Simpsons to get through, and since the bus leans ever so slightly to the right you can’t even just set it going and come back after a lengthy pub lock-in for the triumphant Vegas finale – you’d go off the road and get towed, in real time, all the way back to Tucson. As with all atrocious creative endeavours – The Room, The Horrors – a tiny, (presumably ironic) cult has built around the game, organising endurance charity playthroughs with, we hope, heavily stocked bars. Watch a full playthrough below.
Most boring bit: Five hours in, a green bug splats against the windshield, a reminder that there’s only three more hours to go.