Everyday Gamer

Everyday Gamer
The OCD Gamer

Michael Comeau | 18 May 2010 12:30
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After high school, gaming fell by the wayside. Aside from a tumultuous three-week affair with Tomb Raider and some Unreal Tournament play senior year, I abandoned gaming throughout college. There just wasn't any time. My mother went through several bouts with leukemia and my father had a serious work accident, and that meant a lot of traveling to and from hospitals. I was also working like crazy, playing in a band, and, most bizarrely, I had a girlfriend. My five-year college career was a complete blur. And no, I don't have a Master's degree.


After two years of underemployment in a post-internet bubble New York City, I began working as an entry-level Excel jockey in the research department of a major Japanese automotive company. It was my first "real" job and I loved it. But as excited as I was to finally get my career going, my new work environment was incredibly stressful. I didn't sleep a wink my first week there, and within two weeks I'd lost over 15 pounds.

I decided to seek some relief from the grind, so I did two things. First, I joined a gym and started working out pretty regularly. Secondly, I strolled into the big Toys 'R' Us in Times Square and bought an Xbox, along with Halo and Project Gotham Racing 2. And so began the second phase of my gaming life.

Whenever I had downtime, I was playing videogames - maybe ten to twelve hours a week. It was the perfect antidote to my intense day job, because I could turn my brain off and escape. Xbox Live escalated the fun for me. My first taste of online multiplayer came with Unreal Tournament on the PC, but talking smack to opponents and coordinating with teammates using voice chat made gaming as much fun for me as when I was a kid.

After departing the automaker, I joined the research department of a financial media company. I fit in well and my career trajectory took a rapid upward turn. I was quickly given a high profile, serving as a featured columnist for the company. I loved the work for the first few years, but things were going downhill fast for me by the end of 2007. I was stagnating intellectually and no longer liked the direction in which the company was going. My emotional stability, which was closely tied to the progress of my career, was starting to disintegrate.

At the same time, my obsessions were growing stronger. I became focused on the safety of my home, constantly making sure the doors were locked and that nothing potentially dangerous was left plugged in or turned on. I was often late to work because I felt compelled to return home to make sure my iron or the oven weren't left on, even when I knew I hadn't used either that day. I couldn't sleep, I was overeating, and I was destroying my social life by cutting people off.

It was at this point that my struggles with anxiety began showing up in my gaming habits. I'd previously enjoyed action-oriented games, but I was increasingly drawn to repetitive, pattern-based titles. Particularly, I became obsessed with Bubble Bobble.

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