There was a story in the Times Online today about a boy who collapsed after playing the latest World of Warcraft expansion for 24 hours straight. Now, I've joked in the past about personally avoiding WoW because of the countless hours I know I'd lose to it, and the potential to become addicted to the game. But honestly? To be this level of a gaming addict - and by "this level" I'm talking about a person who is being critiqued and quite frankly, made fun of (sorry, kid) by someone who has a blog fashioned around his struggle to not play video games for a year.
Now, the whole issue of 'bad parenting' being mislabeled as a story about 'a game almost killing a young boy' for the sake of a sensationalized news story notwithstanding, I have to say I can't really identify with this kid. Discounting my current 317 day streak of not touching games, back when I was 15 and I had oodles and oodles of free time, and no women or athletic events to distract me, I couldn't pull off that kind of marathon. Anything more than about 4 hours in a row and my eyes start to hurt. Then the headaches follow.
Maybe this doesn't happen to everyone, but I imagine there's some of physical toll sitting in one position, staring at a video screen and not moving takes on the body after a certain amount of time. And you have to ignore that pain in order to continue playing. I don't know about most people, but once pain overtakes pleasure, I'm done. The same goes for drinking, eating, and all those incredible 7 1/2 hour sex sessions women have been known to demand of me.
If nothing else, I'm convinced that I genuinely don't have an addictive personality. The "behavior" of gaming is certainly very rewarding to me - but I guess I'm happy to say I'm always "in control" of my habit. Although this past month's credit card bill (I've been scouring the net for deals on the games I've been holding out on playing for the past 11 months) might imply I could be afford to be exerting a bit more control than I currently am.
Going back to this 15 year-old, it sounds like someone else could use a year off from games. Maybe I can start some kind of program for addicts. Go with the cold turkey regimen. Maybe a little bit of internet browsing and game podcast listening for the ones who gets the shakes. Come to me, my friends. Dr. Shafeek is in the house.
Yeah, but I'd still rather be playing: Outside?