My newest gaming obsession is virtually walking around houses on estate agent websites


You too can spend your free time making the most mundane “game” possible.

I have come to accept that I am a pretty boring person. I don’t particularly like parties or gatherings of any kind where I can’t easily speak or hear people. I’m not exactly excited like the others, although I have stood up once in a Champions League semi-final. In terms of gaming, in the past I’ve advocated for games to be easier – or at least have options to make the ending more manageable for a higher percentage of people.

I also regularly spend free time on Rightmove, checking out houses in various parts of the UK due to the financial part of my brain telling me I would get more for my money if I left the dear South. I have even established mortgages on houses that I am not going to realistically buy. So, as a boring and seemingly averse to challenges person, the new 3D house floor plans you can walk through have been, without wanting to use too much hyperbole… amazing!

If you haven’t experienced these 3D guided tours, they are best described as experiences returning to Zork / Myst but with no one around – Riven during the Covid lockdown if you will, or the only heist – head is to find the downstairs toilet. Each house is a mini adventure, and the payoff is how well the owners have used the space in the kitchen or if they have managed to fit a small office under the stairs.

You can’t rush around like you’re playing Doom Eternal. It’s like the number of VR games that make you warp from place to place and then let you freely look around while standing in one place. It’s virtual reality without the glasses, on my phone, and instead of blowing up enemies, I angrily bang on stairs because I accidentally went down a hallway instead of going up to the first bedroom.

I realize this might sound a little strange, maybe even scary, but I really hope it isn’t. I have no interest in knowing who lives in these houses in terms of who they are as people; I only care about the properties, how they are laid out, what’s in each room, and if there are cool things to be found. People who play video games love Easter eggs, but in the world of virtual house tours, they come in the form of hidden rooms. “They have a fucking fully finished basement! I mumble to myself.” There’s even a PS5 in there, “I add, saying it out loud maybe to convince myself that someone wants know this information and that i am not wasting my life.

I fully appreciate that for many of you who may have clicked on it expecting some sort of bond to the actual game, this is behavior you just won’t understand, but if you already have looking for a house, I would like to think you get that, at least a little. “These bastards have an American style fridge freezer and a damn laundry room,” I say through tears, remembering how small my fridge is and the many icy trips I take to the garage to bring a loaf of frozen bread or a new back of Dairylea triangles. If I just uprooted my family and walked miles away from everyone and everything I know, we could have it all. Even a separate internal washer and dryer. Perhaps the Platinum Home Ownership Trophy.

It is past midnight and I have found a huge 6 bedroom “doer upper” house for less money than my current house. I wander its halls like a trapped ghost on earth until the mansion reaches its true potential. Every second room is sterile, stripped down to the floor, and the walls show decades of phony decor. My teary eyes wake up when I stumble on a staircase leading down. I found another floor, three more desolate rooms needing even more repairs than the ones above. Rooms that weren’t on the 2D floor plan. There is nothing but an empty photo frame. “Environmental storytelling,” I told myself, an Xbox hit popping up in my brain. “Another Easter egg found.”

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