I … I am back on the Euro Truck Simulator 2.
I always say the full thing, including the number. I like to be fully aware of the reality of what I am doing with mean.
Every now again a sim game will pop up on Steam, faintly hilarious in its sincerity and banality: Wood Chopping Simulator 9, Road Sweeper Simulator 6. Try and actually play game – and I’m a sufficiently ironic motherfucker dick to occasionally do that sort of thing – and the joke lasts all about five minutes before actual hardcore unfun sets in.
But Euro Truck Simulator 2?
I don’t know. It just love … simulating that Euro Truck (2). I’m damned if I can tell you why. I mean, if I want to get stuck in traffic on the outskirts of Birmingham, I can do that myself, thank you very much. But, somehow, impossibly, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is one my life’s pleasures.
(Err, and I don’t get me wrong, my life has normal pleasures as well, like food and sex and sunsets and friends … but it also has Euro Truck Simulator 2).
The … err … premise of Euro Truck Simulator 2 is that you are an upcoming young trucker. Your aim is to work your way up from a lowly driver to … well… I don’t really know … Hilary Devey, I guess. Mainly this involves freighting stuff around Europe, earning enough money to allow you to buy your own truck, enlarging your garage (that’s not a euphemism) and hiring staff.
My own, err, trucker is called Rizo because, from the limited selection of profile pictures available, I chose one who looked a bit like Rizo from Grease, if she’d really, really let herself go. Her company is, naturally, called Get Trucked.
So far I have two drivers, three trucks, £50,000 in the bank, and £400,000 of debt.
But I feel there’s a story here. Currently it’s kind of a rags to, well, rags to tale … but I feel Rizo is standing for something: this middle-aged woman building herself up from nothing in what I presume is quite a male-dominated industry.
Generally as I truck across Europe – hauling woodchips from Felixstowe to Milan – I watch the landscapes change and sunrises over the motorways, and I listen to country music. I don’t know why. Based on no knowledge or experience, I feel this is something a trucker might do.
You can’t really play Euro Truck Simulator 2 obsessively. Which is good for me because I can disappear into a good game like I can disappear into a good book, except a book will take me a couple of hours, and a game can give me a world vast enough it takes me seventy or so to explore (hello there Skyrim). But Euro Truck Simulator 2 is a game for twenty minutes here and there. Over the past week I’ve hauled hot chemicals (ooh la la) from Gdansk to Aberdeen and, honestly, I feel pretty good about it. I feel I’ve achieved something.
Now if only I could remember what possessed me to accumulate half a million quid of debt.
But I think what Euro Truck Simulator 2 gives me … is space. I love games, but games are demanding. They’re bright and loud: run faster, jump higher, blow up more things. Euro Truck Simulator 2 is quiet. There’s just you, and the open road, and the sky – and an enormous trailer of hazardous materials, but who’s counting? My first couple of jobs didn’t go so well: upended trucks keening like wounded bison by the side of the motorway. Then I realised: stop driving like you’re in Grand Theft Auto. There really is no rush, here. Aberdeen ain’t going nowhere. So now I just take my time, drive carefully, follow the rules, and breathe.
The more I think about it, the more I realise, Euro Truck Simulator 2 is my new smoking. Despite being able to addict myself to all manner of absurd things, smoking has never been that kind of problem for me. I just, y’know, like it. I’m a fast-talking, hand-waving, highly-strung neurotic. Smoking used to calm me right down. More than that, it gave me permission to … just … stop. Because when you’re smoking, you’re smoking. That’s what you’re doing. For however long it takes you to pollute yourself with a cylinder of tar and nicotine you’re occupied. It’s like – to take a less harmful example – travelling or cooking or having a bath (or, less effectively, a shower). Not exactly activities one would consider a hobby (with the exception of cooking) but I nevertheless enjoy: moments when all rules and expectations are suspended, so there’s only the activity of the body and the freedom of the mind.
Aaaand in other news, my steampunk western, Prosperity is out. That is exciting.
Release week is blog tour is nearly over but there’s still chat and giveaways and excerpts and silliness on the Steampunk Flashgroup if you care to join us.
I also have Prosperity postcards that I would be delighted to send to anyone who would like them. You can message me via the group or elsewhere. They are soooo pretty.