Gaming Addictions

Gaming Addictions
The Lost Years

Jorge Garcia | 24 Mar 2009 08:11
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My drug of choice was Quake II Capture the Flag (CTF) online, then in its golden age. CTF was a perfect blend of strategy and tactics, order and chaos, teamwork and mayhem. The free-for-all deathmatch didn't appeal to me - it was meaningless violence, devoid of any satisfaction. CTF, on the other hand, had goals, rules and roles for each player. It was, to a geek like me, the first sport I was ever any good at.

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Needless to say, Quake II was a great deal more fascinating than my schoolwork. I started playing it a few weeks into my first semester at college, and with frightening rapidity, simply stopped going to class - or doing much of anything, really, other than eating, sleeping and playing Quake. I would stay up until sunrise, absorbed in the continual, shifting madness of the battlefield, until finally I collapsed from exhaustion. Then I would wake up, run out to get something to eat and start playing all over again.

The rest, like I said, was trivial. I was academically disqualified.

There is a particular genre of literature referred to as "after the end" stories, which deal with how people survive not during a disaster of biblical proportions, but afterward, when the chips have fallen. Quotidian lives take on a certain degree of drama in these settings, and they allow storytellers to say something about both our capacity for self-destruction and our ability to adapt and survive.

In a some ways, my story, and stories like it, follow a similar arc. I didn't touch a game again for awhile, and instead focused on repairing my life. I got a job and attempted to heal the broken trust my actions had caused among my loved ones. It was slow, tedious and entirely unromantic.

There is a school of thought that requires you to go cold turkey from a substance you have abused and never approach it again, as though it were radioactive. This formulation always struck me as limiting: You treat yourself like a child, incapable of using something responsibly. You don't allow yourself to make something a normal part of your life - it must either be conquered or shunned.

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