The long and short of it is that I play games, far far too much. They infringe on my daily chores and routines which would be normal to the average person, but have become rather exotic in mine. My routine is to walk to my small office, sit in my little fortress of solitude and hover over several links on the net, or booting up a game. Getting lost for hours on end. I try to escape reality in this virtual world, I have it move me, comfort me, envelop me and make my in game persona more important than the one controlling it. But why am I so trilled to lose myself in this kind of activities?
The main and probably the most obvious reason is that your character in one way or another matters in this reality. If you say something, or act upon certain events, you are rewarded, you get recognised. At first just by some NPC’s, though later on you can build a solid reputation for yourself among the other players, if you are playing in multiplayer. Single player games tend to revolve around a single cataclysmic event that either just happened or is about to happen and you are there to help restore order and balance, or prevent the catastrophe from occurring. You are one of the pivotal plot mechanisms and a lot revolves around you. Thus you are everything you are not in real life, namely important.
Social stigma’s attached to being addicted to video games you accept as they have no real meaning inside your bubble of safety online. Besides, no one on the outside really seems to care. They have harsh critique and ‘helpful advice’ that only push you further in. In the end you just ignore the outside and set your schedule to be optimal online. Grind, level up, get gear, items, advance further and get better at it, pushing the numbers. Faster, more economical and tackle the most hard core content to make you feel alive again. Achievements that mean absolutely nothing outside the world you achieved them in are your badge of honour, maybe other players on the forums and the server will applaud your stats and perseverance and you may even be considered a local celebrity inside the game. But all of this… you never think to experience on the outside.
Employers lie about wanting someone with such sheer dedication to a single objective and have not yet grasped the fact that if motivated properly, these so called slackers can be their hardest workers. If only half of their dedication to completing the tasks in game are transferred to the real world, then you have far less need for more automated systems. These people will do it for you, better and faster all the time and maybe as a positive side effect find out they matter in the real world too. But this is not about gamers in general, this is about me and my involvement, my perception, my experience.Even if I wanted to I could not possibly speak for every single addicted gamer out there anyway.
I pick up habits and games as quickly as I sometimes drop them, which is rather annoying, though there are a few games that tend to stand out. Mostly they are MMO’s and multiplayer games. Very rarely I keep going at single player games over and over, unless I attempt to quench my perfectionism which also translates harshly to my online and in game persona. Does a game have achievements? I am likely to attempt to get them all and in record time no less, as I am obviously not an average gamer. No I must be the best, the king of kings, the queen bee among the herds of drones. Generally I manage to achieve some sort of status and feel better about me whenever I am inside, sometimes it lingers and affects my daily mood for some time in a good way.
But in the end I am limited to what little sleep I can get, I am only hard working when I am not battling my real issues. It makes me dig in deeper, makes it harder to make that turn around I need and want so desperately. I escape. My days and nights sometimes intertwine beyond healthy and I forget to eat or drink when I do get into a long gaming session, compensating too much later and making me feel bad about the whole ordeal once again. It cycles down to the same thing over and over.
Apparently WordPress decided to eat a fair chunk of my post, which is kinda sad to me, but gives me a moment of reflection to what I wrote and how it has been received by some of my closer friends whom are reading this. They know of my tendency to hide, they know of my gaming history and how I used it to escape reality, how I engulfed myself in anything not related to real life problems, often making those problems bigger. But now I find myself still playing, but less so to escape, it does no longer infringe too much in my work, which in mind is a blessing and I am reaching out more to others, dare to speak up a bit more often.
The grip of the virtual escape is loosening on me and I hope to one day be able to just play a game because I want to, not because I feel I need to.