What A ‘Productive’ Day

January 2nd. My first day off in TwentyEleven (Yes, I did write it like that). Surely, after what I spewed yesterday I should absolutely jump at the chance to do something productive! For heavens sake it’s my first day off from work, and I had no prior plans! Maybe I should come up with a new campaign, scribble some ideas down, start a new video game, and maybe even tidy the flat before the girlfriend gets home? Already I can hear the hordes of people screaming ‘Why yes Ciaran! This is your year! You can’t do it without hard work, but we all believe in you! You’re the best around, and nothings going to ever drag you down!’

And now for something you should all get used to; disappointment.

I play a PC game called Team Fortress 2. You may have heard of it, or you may have not. It’s a class based first person shooter in which two teams (red and blue) fight against each other to secure various objectives.  This seemingly innocent FPS game has a deadly and highly addictive meta-game. Every now and again, while playing this raucous shooter, you find (are given) an item. This item can be one of a huge variety; new weapons, paints, weapons crates, name tags to change the name of an item, duelling mini-games, but most importantly, hats. Hats are big in TF2. Hats are where the money really is. People work night and day for their next hat fix. Did I really say work? I’ll rephrase; people work their fingers to the bone and then use the nubs to trade on forums for their next hat fix. Valve, the makers of TF2 saw money-making potential, and created an online ‘store’, a hot bed of micro-transactions where people can spend hard-earned real money to buy a virtual hat they might not be able to get otherwise. With the store, Valve also implemented a trade system, in which users can swap hats for hats, and their lives for more hats. Valve also include promotional items with the release of video games. One off hats or weapons that are ‘gifted’ as you pre-pay for a newly announced video game. It is one of these promotional items that has absolutely ruined my sleeping pattern, and destroyed any chance of a productive day. It’s also going to bore most of you to death if it hasn’t already, because all of this, I imagine, is sounding like a load of old tosh.

Left For Dead 2. Another video game released by Valve. With a preorder of this game, you were given a swanky new hat. Bill’s hat. Now this isn’t any ordinary hat, because the Bill in question is no ordinary Bill! We’re talking about the leanest, meanest, zombie-killingest son of a bitch out there. That’s right, Bill from the original Left For Dead. What a man, what a hat. Rarer than most hats, and impossible to obtain outside of a trade! With this, Bill’s hat is a form of currency in TF2. It’s worth anywhere between 4-8 other hats. That’s a lot of hats! And here’s the kicker, some time ago when Valve introduced the ‘store’, they made all existing items ‘vintage items’, to show they were gained before the implementation of micro-transactions. As Bill’s hat was a pre-order bonus and couldn’t be received from a drop, it would not be made vintage. That’s where you’re wrong. Apparently, around 1% of Bill’s hats glitched and became a new swanky ‘vintage Bill’s hat’. It was a Vintage Bill’s hat I stumbled upon last night for the low-cost of a set of none vintage goggles, and that’s where my evening began. To make sense of my trade, it’s like me paying £2 for something that any sane person would value at around £60. I knew I was getting a good deal, but I didn’t know how much I was ripping this poor soul off. That’s right, I under sold something to the point of nausea. I am a bad man.

With this new hat came four hours of bargaining and absolute panic on my behalf. After it dawned on me what a horrible human being I had been, I needed to get rid of it. Wash it away like the blood from MacB’s hands. I posted on the TF2 Trading forum, with a simple title – “Selling – Vintage Bill’s Hat”, and I was inundated with offers. I didn’t know what to do, and baring in mind this hat fell into my lap at 2AM, when it got to 5AM I sold the damn thing so I could actually go to bed. I now own a pair of earbuds, 2 versions of the Big Kill, and a vintage set of Ze Goggles, a hat which I had traded earlier for the Bill’s hat in question.

Now this surely would be where the problem ends? I’m up about £40 in ‘hats’, and I should quit while I’m ahead right? Wrong. I don’t want a Big Kill. I certainly don’t want two of them. In fact, I don’t know what I want. After 6 hours sleep I immediately logged onto the Trading Forums and began again, this time with a new objective. Sell the Big Kill for something else. I imagine that when I do sell it, I will then go to sleep, wake up the next day and proceed to sell that newly obtained item. And now you’re beginning to realise why I haven’t done anything productive today. Hello, my name is Ciaran Watkins, and I’m addicted to hats.

Luckily, this blog has provided me with an escape. Not bad for a second day on the job! I can see the benefits already. I am now going to dinner with a friend, and shall tidy the flat. I am in no doubt that I will be back onto the trading forums later this evening in the hope of fulfilling my aim of selling this Big Kill, but at least I know it’s not in vain. I practised writing, I practised story telling, and in my head this means I have practised and further honed my copy writing abilities.

Tomorrow brings a day at work, and a visit from an old uni friend which will no doubt end in a drunken haze, but that my friends, is a story for another day.

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