Smile and Nod

Smile and Nod: That Which Does Not Matter

Russ Pitts | 31 Mar 2008 21:00
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But all of this was a momentary annoyance. The dismal weather and onset of my good old friend, Depression, created the perfect environment for continuing my obsession with Oblivion and rejecting, I thought, the harsh lessons of a vacation well spent. But, in an ironic sort of way, burying myself in Oblivion and wallowing in my depression-induced game-a-thon led me right back to happiness and contentment.

I played Oblivion for approximately 20 hours this weekend, and one of the few times I left the house was to go fetch bagels and another copy of the game to replace the disc I'd apparently worn out. Twenty hours. That's half a working week. I know how much I accomplish in a typical week, what with writing articles like this one, vetting submissions and doing all the other various things that my employers pay me to do. After 20 hours of editing and producing at The Escapist, I often feel I've been spending time in a labor camp, and dread the thought of sitting in front of my work PC another hour, much less 20 more. Sitting in front of my own PC writing stories or blog entries doesn't feel much better, and it was this exact feeling my mind rebelled against sitting on that sugar-white beach in Jamaica; these activities I believed I'd be swearing off. But even though I've so far spent just over 70 hours with Oblivion - about 20 of those just this weekend - I still feel like I've barely scratched the surface, accomplished practically nothing, and can't wait to subject myself to more.

Playing Oblivion, I'm reminded of walking my dog. She's a puppy, and taking her outside to pee is rarely just about taking her outside to pee. First there's the struggle to get her to the front door so I can put on her leash. She's usually pretty excited to go out, but halfway to the door, remembers that she'd like to play with her rope toy. Then she decides to play with the rawhide bone. Then a ball. Then my shoe. Finally, after much coaxing and a few veiled threats, she's sitting at the door, waiting. If she keeps her mind on sitting long enough for me to get the harness around her body and the leash attached, I consider it a minor victory. If she spots a rock, or a Twinkie, or a caterpillar, or a piece of paper, or a leaf, the walk turns into a trek, with every stray object requiring a thorough investigation and, on occasion, ingestion. I often have to remind her why we're outside in the first place, and by that time we're on to something else. Hours could pass in this way. If we take a walk of any significant length, they do.

Playing Oblivion is just like that. In the game, I have a journal full of half-completed quests, each imploring me to help some person or another, each of which I fully intend to complete. It's just that on the way to completing them, I find more quests, which are then added to the stack, from which I then get distracted by accumulating more quests and chasing off into the hills looking for the source of that mysterious glow on the horizon ...

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