Gaming at 36,000ft

Long haul flights are boring, there’s no escaping that fact.

Of course, you can consume hours and hours of movies and TV shows, but after several hours into a 12 hour flight that can become boring, and quite frankly, agitating.

It’s very rare that the hours drift away unless you’re completely compelled by what it is your watching. But, there’s only so much ‘gripping’ viewing you can take before the novelty wears off and you start counting down the hours, minutes and seconds until landing.

So what does pass the time with ease? Simple. Gaming.

Let me ask you a question – how many times have you been wandering the wastelands on Fallout 4 or locked in an intense scrap on Battlefield 1 and you’ve looked at your watch and realised its just gone 3am? It happens to me A LOT.

It’s because gaming is immersive. You’re actively consuming media as opposed to passively consuming it.

I travel a hell of a lot in my job. So much so that on average I will spend more than a week in the air every year! A WEEK!

I also have the added issue of not really being able to sleep on planes. So for me, that 12 hour flight to Shanghai really is 12 hours. No snoozing, no napping, just 12 hours of intense boredom.

I often load up my iPad with various games but realistically, as good as mobile gaming has become, there’s only so much you can take. The lack of a physical controller in your hand also makes the whole experience tiresome.

I have an emulator on my Macbook. But, as fun as it is, the battery life is often down to critical levels before I’ve even lowered my tray table. And with no AC power charging on the flights I’ve been on it’s a real no go.

The best solution is of course a handheld device, such as a Nintendo 3DS. The likes of Mario Kart, Pokemon, etc do pass the time well, but only in short bursts. It’s hard to have a gaming marathon on a handheld device. Eye strain is an obvious issues, as is the lack of an immersive story and gripping gameplay (especially if you’ve already played through the likes of Pokemon and Zelda). Charging can also be a problem, unless you have a usb adapter with charging capabilities.

In flight entertainment systems also have ‘games’, if you can seriously call those monstrosities games. It’s honestly more fun to just stare at the back of the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight. This is 2017. Offering backgammon and Tetris as viable gaming options is just insulting. It’s exactly the same as only making TV shows and movies from the 70s and 80s available. It just wouldn’t happen.

But, the in flight entertainment system is where the solution lies.

Why haven’t Microsoft or Sony developed in flight gaming systems? It’s a completely untapped market. I’m sure there’s a million and one reasons why they haven’t, but imagine the following scenario for a second…

The seatbelt signs have just been turned off, you’re now at cruising altitude. You look at the flight time, it reads: 11 hours 54 minutes. You take the controller out of the slot in the seat in front of you and delve into the gaming section of the entertainment menu. You go into the gaming sub-folder where you find the following; Skyrim, Battlefield 1, Fifa 17, Rocket League.

You choose Battlefield 1 and select multiplayer from the menu. You join a lobby to find that seats 14B, 1A, 23E, 12F and 40C are already in a game. You put your headphones in, you join the game and you shoot, explode, and melee your way through 12 hours of tedious flying. You barely stop to eat or drink because you have just obliterated the guy in seat 23E for the fifth time in a row and he’s losing his shit, but, just like you, he’s still having the flight of his life.

Can you actually imagine how much fun that would be and how quickly the hours would melt away? You would forget all about the leg room tailored for a hobbit, the food that’s been frozen since the 80s and the screaming baby in the seat next to you, because you’re gaming at 33,000ft.

So, this is a plea to all airlines on behalf of gamers and in-flight insomniacs around the world – PLEASE MAKE GAMING POSSIBLE ON PLANES.





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