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Paper Monitor

11:43 UK time, Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The papers are in a playful mood - leading Paper Monitor to wonder whether someone, on their last day, has been allowed to bring in games.

The Sun - which normally takes a hard line on fraudulent claims of poor health - reports cheerfully that "there were empty desks after sickies galore yesterday as gamers skived off work to play new computer game phenomenon Call Of Duty: Black Ops".

Such are, apparently, the addictive qualities of this software that the paper has lined up a brace of case studies featuring "wives and husbands who have lost their lovers to the computer game".

Janine Foulgar, of Yately, Hants, tells how her husband Jay ducked out of a friend's wedding to play it.

"It has affected our sex life," she wails. "There have been nights when I've been waiting for Jay to come to bed then woken at 3am to find he's still playing against a stranger on a different continent."

The Daily Telegraph treats the release more soberly, though only just.

Writer Harry DeQuetteville test-drives Call Of Duty, despite admitting that, for him, "video games are objects rooted in boyhood and the past, not the future", having outgrown a childhood affection for "rudimentary titles on systems such as the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, a home computer, released in 1982, whose entire memory would today be consumed by less than a second of a single song on an iPod".

But, in time-honoured fashion, DeQuetteville discovers something new from the experience:

Soon I learn that video games have come a long way since Jet Set Willy. Photo-real images, all moving at blistering pace, careen across the screen. The detail of shade and light is astonishing. Backdrops are beautiful. It is often tempting to linger simply to admire the landscapes.

The Times is also preoccupied with gaming, though of an off-line variety. It devotes an entire page and a leader to the story of Jonathan Duhanel, a college dropout who won the world's largest-ever poker prize worth $9m (£5.6m).

Former Republic of Ireland and Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino - who himself claims to have won £450,000 at the poker table over the past five years - insists the feat is not all that surprising.

"Duhamel is only 23 and I've noticed the faces round the tables get younger as poker has grown in popularity," Cascarino adds, insisting that the game is "easy to learn and practise online". (The faces are getting younger, or is he getting older?)

Back to the wonders of technology. The paper's leading column [subscription required] is concerned with more metaphysical questions.

"Poker has always prompted serious debate," it intones. "Is it a game of luck or skill?"

It is, the article continues, little wonder that "poker terms run through our language. Get into a showdown, have something up your sleeve, pass the buck, up the ante, keep your cards close to your chest, make blue-chip investments, cash in your chips, full house, feeling flush, I'm in: we owe them all to poker."

Paper Monitor is suddenly struck by mid-week blues. Roll on Friday home time.

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