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Why can't I shoot people in the face?

Opinion: Tim Ingham is struggling to level real life with in-game...

"This one's actually got a really good story."

"You've walked in at an unfortunately grisly bit."

"Typical! You only ever get to see the gory stuff."

My ammunition belt of excuses is running low. It's time to admit it: I get a part-accomplishment, part-fairground thrill from video game violence. And my girlfriend is ruining it.

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WHOA! Don't you dare fraternally flip the ringpull on that Stella or load up some smut in the other window, chump. Tell your chauvinist, bitch hatin' superego that he's not 'amongst friends', here. We're all brothers in the wantonly distractive prison of testosterone, sure - and this occasionally needs to be vented. But some decorum, please.

It's important you know (you too ladies, *wink*) that this is not some Clarkson-fellating 'er indoors column where blokey bloke bloke mockingly waggles his scrotum at the pretty 'ah, bless' ideas of his missus. If it were, I'd have made far smuttier use of the fact I've just written 'column'.

In fact, my girlfriend is delightful - and, perhaps more congruously, delightfully tolerant. Opinionated but contemplative; liberal minded but moralistic; understanding but inquisitive. Case in point: She once said, 'It's terrible. My friend XXX's boyfriend slept with some girl in a toilet on Friday.' Slept with. Consider the sanguine semantics of that for a second.

Yet although I push this educated optimism to breaking point on many, many levels, there's been an especially profound recent smite on our harmonious coupling. And it involves me smashing metal into the necks of countless evil dudes. And then into their jaw-lines. And then into their torsos. Whilst they loudly and lucidly beg for their life.

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It's not even that she's said anything. It's just how uncomfortable it makes me to be watched. When I'm in the inescapable mandibles of the cranium-piercing, limb-butchering, digit-perspiring murder of innocents, I don't wish to suffer her observation. It make me feel what I'm doing is somehow, I don't know, wrong.

It's not specific to my beloved, either. Same goes for anyone who's ever made me a real-life priority (hi mum!). Except Jackie Banns, who dumped me in Year Six for ginger Ian. I'd consider maiming in front of her.

Anyway, recent example: Alan Wake. If you've played it, you'll know how fully justified I was in jettisoning bullet after bullet t'ward brain stems. Demonic, malignant projections of Alan's warped mind (or were they? etc. etc.) deserve nothing less.

But with another, less fevered human presence in the room, my mind turned to what it must be like to scrutinise me gobbling up the profligate slaughter. It's odd when one becomes aware of your mannerisms during the extinguishing of life; pupils transfixed, the tendons in your wrists twitching with every kill, tongue flicking manically from cheek to cheek. It just doesn't look good, you know?

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Then there was Modern Warfare 2. Admittedly, I didn't help this one. Truncating terrorist legs at the kneecap is one thing. Doing it expertly, with one eye anticipatorily shut is another. But whooping "yeah!" with each agonising shot is probably, with a solo audience of your supposed soul-mate, a tad beyond the pale.

Add in Wolfenstein 3D, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Quantum Of Solace (yes, Quantum Of Solace. I said I enjoyed violent games. Not necessarily good ones), and it's become a tangible issue.

It's not necessarily even blood and guts that cause unease. One Sunday afternoon, having accrued a notably high body count of bandits in Red Dead, she did articulate some disdain - at nothing more than the aural commotion. "Those are noises I associate with depressing acts," she said.

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