Liberating Limitation

The vents of Goldeneye 007.

The toilet can be a magical place. Goes without saying, really. But there’s one bathroom in particular that stands bowl and cistern above the rest in terms of the profundity of its impact on me.

That revelatory lavatory is found within the Facility map in Goldeneye 007, originally released for the N64 in 1997. The true star of this show, of course, is the ventilation shaft above the stalls, which my friends and I bafflingly dubbed ‘the Vendies’. For those who’ve never had the pleasure, this air duct is little more than a dingy, cramped L-shape, accessible most notably via an elegant glitch that requires you to stand in the open bog below and twirl around like a flushed floater until you teleport up and in. 

Doing so altered my adolescent dreams.

Behind a grill in the playable area, the vents can be seen extending further and branching off into the tantalising unknown. Every fibre of my inquisitive younger self ached to explore that inconspicuous, inaccessible labyrinth. I literally dreamed of finding similar passageways in the real world. I imagined all the fantastical chambers and kingdoms that might lie beyond seemingly unremarkable sights.

Nowadays, we’re spoiled by impossibly detailed open worlds littered with explorable corners and crevices. And probably many more unexplorable ones, too. But when technology is more limited, environments more simple, boundaries more oppressive, the thought of breaking free is so much more enchanting.

I often think about the Vendies to this day. They remind me to look for the magic in the mundane. Embrace the liberation in limitation. And to always find inspiration, even in the shittiest places.

By Adam Grindley

Adam spends his time searching for a game that can top the indescribable genius that is Mount Your Friends, documenting his discoveries along the way. You can find him on Twitter @boddling

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