I’ve worked at many places but none as comfortable as TSA Towers. And that’s without factoring in my summer treat of one day per week in the air-conditioned office alongside Nofi. But apart from Andy Torr’s brilliant LBP re-imagining of TSA Towers, it’s not the ideal place to set a game. Aside from Nofi’s effortless waltzing across his keyboard to keep TSA ticking and my effortless existence <strong>full stop</strong>, nothing much happens.
Then again, I have worked in a hospital, a place where the computers had air-conditioning and the employees had their free water taken off them in a cost-cutting exercise. But as a location for a game it’s without rival.
Hospitals are massive, sprawling complexes, with many buildings, often multi-levelled. There’s the pristine main entrance co-existing with the chaos of A&E, the barely provisioned offices of the non-clinicians sitting alongside the luxurious apartment of the student doctors. Long disused wards are repurposed as office space giving a mass of nooks and crannies it’s easy to become lost in. There are more sights and sounds and smells than your brain will know how to process. And you’ll want to keep the touch to a minimum: If you become lost enough to find the kitchens, taste nothing.
There are few places more sinister than a morgue. Especially at night when the darkness and the smell are enough to heighten already tingling senses. And they house a staple video game enemy; the Undead. Some of these places can leave a body in situ for, literally, years. A mistake, of course, but who knows what could happen in all that time.
Scary as the morgue is, the orthopaedic and fracture clinic is often worse because of the audio. I’m not talking about the elevator music playing in the reception area, I’m talking about the sounds that come from curtained-off cubicles. Bones were designed to do specific jobs in specific places. When they are removed from their home turf it hurts. But when they have to be put back it really, really hurts. White-haired consultants emerge from these cubicles leaving behind something that sounds like a wounded animal caught in a trap. As a boss fight, an orthopaedic consultant would be flat out terrifying.
Before these patients end up at that torture cell though, they have to take a trip to Radiology. X-ray is a fairly benign looking department, but look closer. People sit in their wheelchairs in drafty corridors awaiting their turn in the room where staff stand behind protective barriers firing invisible stuff at their bodies. They’ll either end up at the morgue or rise from their wheelchair looking like the Chimera. And they’re the lucky ones, otherwise it’s a trip to Ortho.
There are obvious dangers in a hospital kitchen too; anyone wielding a potato peeler and a carving knife and who is paid about £4 an hour is going to be fairly desperate. However, they are really the least of your worries if you do end up there. Firstly, the smell will make you wish you were in the morgue on a hot summer’s day, and while your nostrils start to bleed someone may force-feed you a bit of mash, which if it doesn’t break your teeth will kill your stomach.
The odds are clearly against survival – ironic given the hospital’s purpose – but there are things that can help turn the tide. A visit to the eerily clean theaters will yield surgically sharp weapons. That is if the third-party companies that supply them have delivered on time. A&E has enough stock of laughing gas to turn the most psychopathic surgeon into a grinning Hyena. And if you’re careful and can evade the security, there’s a stash of drugs so powerful the Government wouldn’t be able to classify them. Even they won’t get you through an NHS Management Meeting though.
Hospitals have featured in games before, but it’s always a weird, distorted version that is a lot less scary than the reality. Of course, once you’d played in a real hospital you’d never want to go there for treatment again…