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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Gaming Withdrawal

First, apologies for the missed update. I hope today's topic clears it up a little bit. This will also be the first almost completely personal blog I've done, but it has pertinence beyond my own experience, I think, especially for the really hardcore crowd.

Since I went to Vegas, my gaming setup reduced to only my laptop with no wireless mouse, keyboard or high quality screen. I left my best headphones at home as well, and when you go to Vegas, you don't go to play video games. You go to lose (gamble) money. That, combined with the small break from gaming I took on the days just following my return left with me with a serious case of what I'll call gaming withdrawal. What I mean is this: as a gamer just this side of hardcore (I'll never actually have that level of skill), I'm somewhat addicted to video games. I've come close to medical drug addiction too, right after my wisdom teeth removal, so I know what real withdrawal is like. I sat down to play Battlefield Bad Company 2 at around 10:00 PM and didn't stop until 4:30 in the morning. Granted, I do this even when it happened just the night before, but the experience was deeper, less frustrating and far more liberating. I played a class I suck at, the engineer, and had a blast. I argued with an arrogant noob-caller, finding him to be a shell of a man with no way of expressing his discomfort with other people than by demeaning them. I insulted him several times in ways he could not and did not respond to, but he always came right back at me, or others, with the same tired phrases. It's typical, I suppose.

This thing's happened to me before. I took drastic steps a few months back by completely uninstalling all my games and deleting all related files on my computer. Suffice it to say, this lasted a total of 33 days (which, by my estimation, is something to be a least a little proud of). I did something very similar the night the games returned: 4:30 to 5:00 AM, sleep until 1:00 PM. Horrid for my health? Yes and no. Yes because I need better sleep schedules, but no because it relieved the ache in the back of my head that pushed me farther and farther from sanity the longer I went without the games.

This is not to say I need games to breathe, eat and sleep (the last one, especially), but I use them as a way to unwind from the day, to prepare myself for sleep by using up any excess energy in my body and, most important of all, have a little time completely to myself. Gaming is my escape, and when I finally put up the mouse and keyboard, I've either had my fill and am ready to sleep or my frustration grew so great I simply turned the computer off. Yet regardless of any anger the game creates, it servers its purpose and does so well. I'm ready for bed, completely drained.

I suppose I think of the need for gaming like this. When we arrive home from work or school or whatever occupied us during the day, there is some kind of ritual that we go through to welcome ourselves into the relaxation of home. It is a general formula that we follow, allowing us to unwind. We add or subtract activities from it, change its location or the various pieces that make it up, but the structure stays relatively the same. Gaming is, for me, the final act in that ritual. It is a habit I enjoy that ends the day for me in a way that I wish it. Interrupted for a few days and things are fine. Stopped for more than ten and there is a breakdown. For more than a month and the urge is at its strongest. If I quit cold turkey for two or three months, the ritual formula would change in a bigger way than it has in a long time, but I don't see that happening. I have an addictive personality, and this is an addition that costs me far less than I gain from it (considering I'm not constantly changing my game of choice).

In the end, I see myself playing games for many years to come. Withdrawal will happen as it has in the past, and I'll go on binges and then slowly rebound to a regular schedule.

Thanks for reading,

1 comment:

  1. Xiant, are you still around? Did you give up gaming and/or writing? I really thought your stuff was great, didn't know why you didn't respond after doing that guest article