I’ve had a stay in Santa Monica, I’m now in San Fran, and I’m starting to feel like I’ve bushwhacked by randy kangaroos. This trip is definitely a working trip for me, more than for any other hack out here; I’ve been kept busy every hour I’ve had awake, and the time I’m not interviewing or filuming, finds me sat in LAX or some other godforsaken airport being endlessly checked, having to unpack my bags, take off my boots sign more forms than , and then either run for my plane or wait many, many hours for it. I saw Vegas for a day, had a half-hour stroll on Santa Monica’s beachfront and pier, but beyond that I’ve had no respite. Grind, grind and indeed grind.

Each night I find myself in hotel rooms which are spectacularly gorgeous and cost hundreds of dollars a night, which I can’t appreciate because I’m too knackered. Each morning I wake up at five, jet-lagged to mother mary, more tired than the day before. On top of that, all the footage I’ve taken is useless as I’ve just found that the camera guy neglected to give me a microphone for the camera. Arse. So every piece is dead-silent developers mouthing to themselves in some parody of a silent movie. And now I’ve got to write four pages on what I’ve seen so far. Games that is, not airport interiors.

Vegas is dust. It rises from nothing in the arid desert, and at first you think some travelling circus has got mislaid, in its death throes setting up in the desert. Then the scale hits; those buildings are big, enormous sprawling masses of concrete and cheap paint arrayed into shapes from all though history filtered through the perceptions of Hieronymous Bosch. Yet your first impression isn’t wrong; the place is a theme park, it is designed to entertain and entice adults only. As adolescents this place is taken by the theme park, children have the playground, a baby has its blocks and toys, adults have Vega$, a place gaudy enough to make liberace weep, where binge eating and drinking is cheap and staying up all night acceptable; it is Pinnochio’s dreamland, a hedonist’s heaven, a puritan’s purgatory, and all the expected iniquities are visited on the visitors.

I’m in Vegas, and I’ve been awake for 32 hours. There’s a Jacuzzi next to my double bed. I’ve slept 12 hours in the last four nights/days. My body is covered in these strange blotches, my feet are only held together by Dr Marten’s patent leather, and my mind is wondering how the hell we ended up pissed in a scummy lap-dancing club a few hours back, and whether I got any receipts for my expenses. Celine Dion’s finally shut up downstairs. The 24 hour buffet is still going strong amidst the shopping centre splendour of Caesar’s palace, as are the slot-jockeys, who strike me as in serious chance of popping a vein, and my hands are shaky (and my mind reciting old Woody Allen jokes) as I reach for the Eggs Benedict.

I think… This is just what Vegas should be.

I’ve been criticised recently for putting too many shit links and not enough of myself into this blog. This criticism is fair; you go to sites like B3TA and Rotten news and get most of what I whack up on here. But the reason I’m tonking this mufti up is that I?m not entirely sure that you, beloved audience, are going to be actually interested in what I’ve been doing.

Because what I do is mundane, as far as the techy whirl I live in would allow me to be. A hundred years ago I would have been playing games and reading books, if I’d been a member of the same indolent middle class I am now. Now’s pretty much the same; I?ve been playing computer games and reading far too much, like some info-hibernator storing up ideas for a coming winter, which’ll either never come or has been here all the time.

The two big games that have fix’d my flitting eye have been Planescape: Torment and World of WarCraft; If you don?t care about games skip the next two paragraphs; if you don’t understand, stick around and I’ll try to explain.)

Remember those role-playing games that the spotty kids at school indulged in, hurling dice and shouting as they binged on coke and pizza? Well, they’re unfortunately the basis of the most innovative games around at the moment, the Role Playing Game (RPG). Planescape (and look at the website) is the simpler of the two; a gorgeous fixed viewpoint game, you take the role of an amnesiac (cheesy we know) who simply can’t die. Upon waking . Gathering a motley band about you consisting of various tormented and damned souls (a floating skull who’s a wicked sense of humour but no-body to share it with, a redeemed succubus, a pyromaniac human torch, a walking suit of armour motivated solely by Justice, and so on.) as you seek the reason for your immortality and who or what has killed you so many times. The locations range from the city of Sigil, mounted atop a infinite screw’s head with holes punched through it to a thousand world, to a town toppling into hell, to a logic puzzle in the void.

World of WarCraft has a simpler plot, if there’s one there at all. It’s the typical fantasy world, with dwarves, orcs, dragons and elves, all drawn in gaudy cartoon delicacy. The thing is, it’s online, massively multiplayer and persistent; and there are several thousand people wandering around, chatting, mining, manufacturing, duelling and hunting 24 hours a day, seven days a week; all the characteristics of a frontier state. And at the moment, it’s just in a testing stage, and there literally millions of people around the world wanting to get into it; Korea is mad for it, but people simply can’t buy accounts, as they’ve been allocated by the PRs. It’s addictive and endless, and very, very time-consuming, as your character gradually learns magic powers and new abilities… very sad I know, but, hey, it’s my job.

Meantime, the books; the books are getting silly; I’m reading them at a rate of about one every two days, and to detail them all would be both boring and foolish (like many of the books.) The best one of the lot by far is Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman; it’s simply anecdotes by the greatest film scriptwriter of the 1970s and 1980s, each presented in digestible chapters, with a pretense of structure. Similarly fun and wholesome is Alan Clark?s Diaries – The Early Years; watching Clark’s staggering egoism (hypochondria mixed with equal portions of megalomania, patriotism and lechery) develop is fun and educational, when you realise that his personality is the lot of most politicians. On a difference tone, but with the same extremism, is Under the net by Iris Murdoch; coming from the viewpoint of someone who has only read her arid philosophy on virtue, this depiction of London as a playground for a irredeemable rogue and his larger-than-life chums is astonishing and laugh-out-loud funny, her sharp ideas hidden beneath blobby comic farce.

Phoow? enough for one night. Oh, yeah by the way I got promoted! Games Editor now apparently. Will put feelings on that down another night though.

Real people that some believe never existed

Ethelred the Unready King of England 978 to 1016 – 63 per cent

William Wallace 13th-century Scottish hero – 42 per cent

Benjamin Disraeli Prime minister and founder of the modern Tory party – 40 per cent

Genghis Khan, Mongol conqueror – 38 per cent

Benito Mussolini, Fascist dictator, 33 per cent

Adolf Hitler – 11 per cent

Winston Churchill – 9 per cent

Real events some people believe never took place

Battle of the Bulge 52 per cent

Battle of Little Big Horn Scene of Custer’s last stand – 48 per cent

Hundred Years’ War 44 per cent

Cold War – 32 per cent

Battle of Hastings, 15 per cent

Fictional characters who we believe were real

King Arthur , mythical monarch of the Round Table – 57 per cent

Robin Hood – 27 per cent

Conan the Barbarian – 5 per cent

Richard Sharpe , fictional cad and warrior – 3 per cent

Edmund Blackadder – 1 per cent

Xena Warrior Princess – 1 per cent

Fictional events that we believe did take place

War of the Worlds , Martian invasion – 6 per cent

Battle of Helms Deep , Rings Trilogy – The Two Towers – 3 per cent

Battle of Endor , The Return of the Jedi – 2 per cent

Planet of the Apes , the apes rule Earth – 1 per cent

Battlestar Galactica , the defeat of humanity by cyborgs – 1 per cent