I have an uncanny sense of direction. I’m quite pleased that I’ve developed this over the years, because it’s an incredibly useful thing to have. It gives me confidence when going to a new place because I know that I can 1) generally find my way around pretty quickly and 2) won’t panic if I do happen to get lost. In fact, when visiting a new place, I tend to find getting lost is actually a good thing because it forces you to find your way around, spot landmarks and, occasionally, yell at your navigator. (I’ve never yelled at my navigator. Largely because my navigator is usually Google Maps, which doesn’t respond well — or indeed at all — to constructive criticism)
I’m not entirely sure where this special ability has come from, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s something to do with video games — particularly, in my formative years, old-school first person shooters and more recently, open-world sandbox games like Grand Theft Auto.
Modern first-person shooters wouldn’t help, of course, being mostly linear in nature. If you want to get a good feeling of being lost and having to learn an environment, go play Doom or Duke Nukem 3D and marvel at how useless their 2D maps for 3D-ish environments. If you really want to get lost, have a go at Wolfenstein 3D or Catacomb Abyss, where all the textures fit on a single 1.44MB floppy disk.
The more I think about this, the more I feel it’s probably where it came from. If I think of Bully, which I played through recently, I’d happily be able to navigate you around the map without having to refer to, well, the map. Want to go to the carnival? Sure. (Leave the school, turn left, go over the bridge, follow the seafront and go through the tunnel.) Looking for the town hall? Got you covered. (Leave the school, turn right, go over the bridge then keep going straight ahead until the end of the street.) Want to find your way to the mental asylum? No problem! (Leave the school, turn right, over the bridge, turn immediately right, go under the underpass, follow the road around as it bends left, then right, then right again, then around the end of the building, over the bridge, through the docks to the end and through the tunnel.)
The best thing about having a good sense of direction is not having to be a slave to satnav. When driving at night these days, pretty much every car cockpit you see seems to be lit up with some kind of satnav device. I actually very rarely use satnav, despite having a good app on my phone for it (CoPilot Live — cheap and has a sexy voice) and tend to use Google Maps if I need to see where I am.
So, then, if you need someone to guide you home after a big night out? I’m your man. You can drop me down in the middle of an unfamiliar city in the middle of the night (possibly drunk) and I’ll get you home. Eventually. And there may be a stop for a kebab on the way. But I’ll get you home.