When I Have a Few Minutes I…

ImageI love video games. Time sucking, responsibility dodging, life avoiding video games. 

It all began with Pacman.  I used to play it at a convenience store/gas station. I would stop for gas or for cigarettes (so basically I could be there every day). I would always vow to play ‘just one game’.  I played so much that I had a callus on my middle finger. Because I was pretty sure if I pushed harder on the joystick my little Pacman would go faster.  The guy behind the counter would refuse to give me more quarters. Not in an effort to curb my behavior but because he needed them to give as change for other customers. I started getting all my change from other places in quarters. I don’t need no stinkin’ man behind the counter.

After Pacman I went to Galaga. This game was in the bar where I waitressed. I went in early to play, I spent my breaks at the machine and I would stay late playing and drinking and challenging customers. I beat many opponents but the hiscore was so elusive. I kept telling myself I just needed to play more, hone my skills, take my time. I was addicted. I believed that I was so close THIS time to having my initials in the coveted spot that surely one more quarter will get me further. Before the flames were even extinguished from the explosion of my airship I was already dropping the next quarter in the slot.No time to mourn I was going to win this time.

My understanding of the brain is limited but when an alcoholic partakes in drinking there is a certain part of the brain that lights up. It has something to do with the dopamine. Lo and behold, when we are playing video games or engaging in any addictive behavior the same center of our brain that tingles when drug addicts are using begins tingling too. I read one article that compared women who obsessively check their cheating partners phone and computer are igniting these same pleasure centers that go off when an alcoholic drinks. Playing video games can be an addictive behavior for some. Like porn, shopping, exercising, cleaning…Cleaning? Okay, that was funny! I mean who is addicted to cleaning?  I WISH I was addicted to cleaning. 

I can’t really discuss my problems with video games without mentioning Runescape. Oh the hours I have wasted in the Runescape world battling monsters, perfecting my skills in cooking, firemaking, construction and farming…the difference in this game from others is that it’s an MMORPG (may miss out (on) real people goings-on). Actually, what it stands for is Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. It means that all the people in the game are controlled by real live humans.I can farm and cook and slay monsters while having a conversation with real people-friends. Never mind that I have never met them, don’t know what they look like, have no idea where they live I still can call them friends (not according to my daughter Ellen though…she’s a stickler) Runescape is basically played by fourteen year old boys. But i loved it. Bonus? I could have a pet kitten!

Lately my obsession has been Candy Crush. There are approximately 500 levels, I am at level 214. When I have a few minutes of  time I play it. It’s played through Facebook but I also have the app on my phone. Any spare time I have is spent there, or on Words With Friends, or Bubble Witch Saga, or Bejeweled or You Don’t Know Jack. I don’t even want to look at the cumulative hours I’ve wasted. It gets worse. Sometimes when I am playing I know I am wasting time and somewhere in me I want to stop, but don’t, I say to myself ‘this is the last game’ but I know it isn’t. I have even started justifying my addiction by playing Sudoku…this game is actually GOOD for my brain. Like the reasoning that adding tomato juice to your vodka counts as a vegetable serving.

I am in a bible study. The intention of this study is to spend time in the bible every day. The book we are using is trying to make the bible less intimidating. The hardest part for me has been finding the time to dedicate to the homework. Thirty minutes a day is all the book is asking for but I have a hard time sticking to that. 

I am not the only one that wrestles with this in our group. Last week the women in the group commented on how much they enjoy this study but they struggle with committing time to it every day. They  explained how hard it is to find an entire block of thirty minutes. The leader says she sometimes has difficulty sticking with one big chunk of time too and that she often uses her ‘waiting time’ to read a quick passage. You know, all those ten or twenty minute slots in your day that aren’t really big enough to get something done but are perfect for a quick dalliance in video games? Yes, she uses those for her bible time…she even has a bible app…what a novel idea.

But then I had a light bulb moment. It all came together. My calling was made clear. I am supposed to invent a video game that incorporates the stories in the bible! Death, destruction, choosing good over evil…I absolutely cannot believe this didn’t come to me sooner!

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