The scourge, the blight, the bane, the plague, the curse, the thorn in your side that is responsible for so many divorces, disownings and even a few emancipations, has crept its way into popular culture over the last three decades or so and is really starting to take a toll in urban and rural areas alike. The world is starting to shift in a direction that, frankly, scares the hell out of me. I’m not here to talk about the violence or about the sexism. We all know that shit’s in there, but those are topics for another day. I’m talking about the fact that video games are an addiction which cripples 1 out of 7 relationships. Ok, so I made that number up, completely. But seriously, I have watched so many couples wither away into divorce or separation just because Fable III had just come out. Halo… Call of Duty… whatever the strain, it’s all pretty potent, destructive, and just plain dangerous. Playing video games can cripple your emotional awareness, which can lead to a catastrophic ending to a perfectly wonderful relationship; it virtually guarantees it.
For a person my age (we’ll say 25?) it all starts fairly innocently, usually around the age of 8, with something like Mario Bros World or Tetris. You play for long periods of time, you don’t go outside as much, but alas, your parents think it’s benign and, if anything, it will enhance your mental abilities. That slowly rolls into a rendezvous with Crash Bandicoot, and before you know it you’re playstaytioning amidst a web of controller cords, spiraling deeper into Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider long after mom and dad have said “lights out, controllers down”… Then one day, along comes the Mighty-Mighty Xbox, wireless controllers and all, and you fall into a pit of Oblivion, Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed, and whatever else you can get your hands on. Your parents beg you to stop, but… you just can’t. You hear their pleas; they’re only standing 5 feet away, but you are way too busy completing this mission to deal with their ridiculous demand to “please use the bathroom to relieve yourself instead of just going on the rug”. You become one with the floor in the middle of the room where you have lost feeling in your legs from sitting Indian-style in a pile of your own defecation for days. It’s a tragic tale. So many people have lost themselves down this path at a young age, never to be seen or heard from again, long before they even have the good fortune of reaching adolescence.
The most horrific stage in the process of becoming a full blown video game addict is when you finally move out on your own, and you stop eating anything that resembles food, hole up in your house for DAYS on end, lose jobs over not wanting to walk away from WOW, and start gaining weight. Lots. Of. Weight. Your body mechanics begin to suffer. The arch of the backbone of a video game addict begins to resemble that of a person suffering from scoliosis. Your skinnier-than-chicken legs don’t like holding you up for more than 3 minutes, and your neck bones have started to fuse together. The only thing you can stomach to drink is Mountain Dew Code Red. True addicts know that at this point things can go one of two ways…
- You realize that you’ve just entered the ninth circle of hell and you are doomed if you continue, so you scramble for a way out… or…
- You reheat those pizza rolls from yesterday that sat on the coffee table where the dog’s tail probably dragged across them, sit back down into your couch depression and hit “X”.
If you choose path #1, you may have a chance for a normal life. The first step is admitting there is a problem. We’ve all heard it, but an addict needs to accept it for there to be any chance of recovery.
If you choose path #2… don’t be surprised if your “equipment” falls off and crawls away to try to reattach itself to someone who doesn’t burst into flames in sunlight, and maybe, just maybe, your bloodline will go on.
Path #1 person has a fair chance to be a productive member of society. There’s no telling if they’ll make it. There’s no saying they won’t fall back into the trap… But they have a chance. They probably read books, they may even take walks. They feel sunshine and breathe non-air-conditioned-air at least twice a month. They know what clouds and trees look like in real life.
Path #2 person is more than likely going to end up moving back in with their parents several times before just being given a house (those rich brats), or at least their own door off the basement so their poor parents might have at least a few years rid of the sight of a Resident-Evil-4-hangover-zombie-man-baby before they die.
Either path has the chance for relationships. For an addict, the main priority is and will always be games above all else, so nothing in the addict’s life will last, aside from video games. But I’ve seen it happen, I’ve seen addicts nab some pretty awesome people, even with their debilitating crutch. From there, the variables are endless… but one thing is certain… if either path leads to marriage… in order for a marriage to last, and in order to have a life with that person, maybe have a family…. at some point the controller will have to be put down. The system will, dare I say it, sometimes have to be turned off. The microwave will no longer be the sole appliance used to sustain life in the household. No. More. Code. Red. In order to regain a normal life, the addict may have to endure countless hours of Pause Therapy. But for any of that to even start, there must be a shift toward adulthood — free from the addictive burden of video games — in order for a relationship with another human to develop and last for any length of time. But it won’t be easy… most recovering addicts will tell you themselves, to conquer this fantastic obsession, it takes inner strength equal to that of a liger. (They are bigger than both lions and tigers!!!!)
In all seriousness, this epidemic is out of control… It won’t be long until it exists in every nook and cranny on this planet. It is thriving, and spreading… and I really don’t know if we can escape its clutches. Maybe we just need to let it run its course for the next 200-300 years. .Hopefully some of us will come out of this OK on the other side and look back at our species’ fascination that nearly led to our demise — highly addictive, extremely destructive, life retarding, emotionally stunting video games — and learn something from it.
Good luck humanity.
*Subtle Assist Cred -Asshole-
** If we’re still waiting on you to catch up… give yourself a pat on the back, and a gold star sticker for being a winner!!! This is satire. Calm down.**