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John Lydon on his destructive love of gaming


Those who love me and look after my money assure me I spent 10 grand on video games over a relatively short period of time. Blame Lu Edmonds, the guitarist of PiL (Public Image Limited), because he said, “You should get an iPad, John. Once you get one, your whole life will change.”

There’s only four things to do on an iPad: one is playing games, which is great fun; two is emails, which is not so fun; another is dictionaries; and the final one, of course, is porno because no matter what you do, you’re gonna run into one of them channels.

The car games I love very much. Real Racing 3 is just bang-on. I suppose the attraction of all video games is they convince you you’re just a master, and it works very well for that. It’s fantastic because I hold the iPad like a steering wheel. You just zoom like a rocket. I like them zippy little box cars. If you’re not too competitive you can stop the car at certain points and the background visuals are great. It really looks like the real thing, if you squint hard enough. Take a little picture of it and then send it off to your friends. I email everybody with them and they’re f*cking well sick of it.

real racing

I never liked Grand Theft Auto. It was too slow and frustrating. I wanted my man to just wander everywhere and I found it wouldn’t allow me to do that. New York was the backdrop and I’d lived there so I was keen to go and visit the house I stayed at, but it wouldn’t let me. I never quite grasped the concept, so I lost interest.

Clash Of Clans is one I love. The precision of the graphics thrills me no end. It reminds me of when I took acid once and I was staring at that picture – the ‘Tower Of Babel’ – and I could swear they were all moving. It’s bizarro armies of wizards and witches and goblins. But I don’t like the actual raiding of somebody else’s castle, so I play it as a pacifist. I refuse to attack. I just let this thing build and build and build, and for me that’s fascinating. I just build them up to the highest maximum I can and it takes years to do that. You’ve got to rob others in order to progress quicker. Well, hello – no. Not gonna do that. Patience is a virtue for me. It makes me highly unliked when I join teams. They feel I’m letting them down, so I get booted a lot. I suppose my ambition is to reach the absolute pinnacle where I can’t be attacked because I’m impregnable. I won’t attack as that’s against my principles.


There was another game years ago, called Touch Fish. That was insane. You picked a fishy, and you just built up your fish tank. Very childish.

I remember Space Invaders when it first came out. Keith Levene in early PiL was addicted to that silliness. I remember saying, “Why? You can’t win anything. It doesn’t give you any money,” so maybe he was ahead of his time in that respect. Me, I’m a slow learner.

I have an evil side, and thank God there’s video games to take that off me. What I do love is the Battleship games. You’re getting smashed to bits, bombs being thrown at you from all directions; and you’re trying to fire back and not panic. I love it. Three minutes of intense barbarity and then I sink. I love to see the simulations of the ocean.

I attached my PlayStation 3 to the dining room table; loved it for a bit but I’m over-zealous and a bit on the Humpty Dumpty side of things and ended up breaking the table, the game, and everything. One swerve too many.

I’m not really progressing on those games; I like them for what they are. I think there’s a great deal of joy to be got out of it and frankly I can sit there and play on them for hours on end. It’s a kind of compulsion. It’s very interesting, what it does to your brain. It does alter you somewhat.

I don’t believe in that ‘Act your age’ philosophy that Britain indulges in; I think that anybody who says that to you is a liar and you’re not to listen to them ever again. Everything is available for anyone at any time.

PiL will reissue Metal Box and Album on 28 October ahead of UK tour dates. Details at pilofficial.com

(Image: Jason Alden / eyevine)



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