“Second Skin”

These computers on our desks are turning into portals to other realms of existence…realms that will one day be preferred to earth.  –Edward Castronova

I just watched a documentary on Netflix called Second Skin.  I would recommend it, especially if you are a gamer or have been one in the past.  It’s about how MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games) affect the lifestyles of different gamers.  World of Warcraft and Everquest are the 2 huge games this documentary covers.  I haven’t played either one, but I found the film very interesting.   It’s crazy how deeply these people get affected.  *Spoiler (If you’re going to watch it, don’t read the rest of this paragraph).  One guy said he played 179 actual days out of the year.  That means he was averaging 11 hours of gameplay a day.  He would pee in a bottle so he wouldn’t have to actually go to the bathroom.  After hitting rock bottom, he eventually gave up the game and moved in with a relative or friend or something.  After he had given up the game, his roommate got hooked.  Wow.  That’s just a part of the documentary.

A little background on myself – I’m 25, single, live with my parents, and am currently looking for a steady job.  I’ve been playing video games since the original Nintendo, so 17 or 18 years.  To add to these factors, I have a PS3 now, so you could say I’m “susceptible” to being addicted to gaming.  Presently, I’m trying to commit myself to playing only one RPG per year.  I just beat Dragon Age so that’s done.  Ultimately though, after I get a job and hopefully a girlfriend, I know it would be better to give them up cold turkey.  I realize how dangerous they are, and honestly I think it’s a matter of maturity in order to let go of them.

I haven’t always thought this though.  I have considered myself “addicted” to some games in the past.  I’d literally choose playing a video game in my room alone over just about anything, going out with friends, going to college classes…anything.  My low point was when I was living alone and I was playing a game called Oblivion.  I played for a week straight, skipped all my classes, was staying up until 5 or 6 a.m. and waking up at 1 or 2 p.m., literally left my house 2 or 3 times to go to the coke machine and that was it.  I maximized my playing time by eating my meals (ramen noodles, sandwhich) in 2 or 3 minutes, and taking the quickest showers I could.  I would play for 10 to 12 hours each day.  Luckily, in my next living situation I had 2 roommates, which forced me to lessen my gaming hours.  When one of them would walk in with some friends, I’d feel ashamed that I was choosing to be alone so I could play a video game.

Those moments in my binges where I was forced to be outside, I chose to take a break, or I chose to hang out with some other people, I realized just how much better reality is.  So just a little advice for somebody that’s stuck in gaming:  stop and think.  There are better things in life.  Take a breath of fresh air.  If there’s an emptiness you have, gaming is not going to fill that.  Work on making yourself better rather than making your “character” better.  It is harder, but much more satisfying.

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