I finished Metal Gear Solid 4 in one night, having played for 8 hours straight. I played Diablo II until I saw mana and health globes everywhere I went.
I’ve spent more time playing RPGs than I spent at school. I would make up excuses so that my ex-girlfriend would leave so that I could play DotA 2.
I played so much Battlefield 4, that I would spend delirious nights in bed, continuing the rampage in my mind, in full dissociative HD. I’ve come close to failing exams and semesters due to my uninterruptable involvement in an artificial world.
These are just a few examples of antisocial behaviour I’ve exhibited, and I’m not even ashamed. When I play a game that I really enjoy, I will be stuck in a rut that no amount of berating from my family can end.
That is just my obsessive personality, but I am not alone in this phenomenon. There are legions of gamers all around the world that shun the most important of responsibilities in order to lose themselves in a digital world.
It is a fantastical form of disassociation I liken to drug abuse. The classic ‘Nerd Rage’, in which one will transfer fury from losing a game to loved ones around, is all too common. I sometimes wonder if games are a good thing.
Sure, I love nothing more than being alone and immersing myself in the shoes of a valiant knight, a fearless commando or a debased psychopath.
That is just the human condition, to dream and to live out different stories and experiences, distanced from our mundane lives.
It is a basic principle in psychology that humans will navigate different roles when faced with stress. But I think that it goes beyond that.
I believe that dissociation is a natural feature of human life. The thin veil that constitutes our egos and personalities can only be lifted too easily and we can become anyone or anything that we want.
I think this is exactly why we enjoy video games so damn much. Obviously, the gratification and excitement of dominating other players as well as unleashing violent torrents of sadism has a huge part to play.
But I believe that it is the transcending, voyeuristic principle of assuming a different role that creates the enormous attraction.
Life is stressful, depressing, boring. Video games aren’t (unless you’re a pro gamer or a game tester of course).
So this is where a large part of ‘gaming addiction’ comes from. Some people read for endless amounts of time, losing themselves in magical kingdoms or turbulent romances.
Some people listen to music and drift away into hidden dimensions of the mind, guided by the vibrations. Of course, I enjoy these things as much as anyone, but it’s the complete sensory submersion into a different world that gets me the most.
Nothing fires up all modes of perception like video games. It’s the vibrant imagery and enchanting scenery, the atmospheric and thrilling soundtracks, the furious, blister-forming handiwork on the controller or mouse and keyboard.
Sure, I could have spent all of that time playing sports, or doing something ‘productive’ with my life. But I’m not athletic. I have flat feet and am clumsy in general.
I’m lazy and I prefer to not be challenged unless the situation is thrilling or stimulating.
Maybe I would have enjoyed socializing or learning how to play the guitar more, maybe I could have studied harder and cracked more A’s, but that would take away all of the laughter, tears, rage, sadness, excitement and that unexplainable emotion of losing oneself.
So now, I’m going to wreck some scrubs online for hours, even though I’m in the midst of exams, and I don’t even care. This is my thing, my calling in life, and nothing is going to take that away.