“Just one more song.” “One more level.” “One more and I’ll go to bed/go to the bathroom/eat.”
These are just some of the thoughts that have gone through my head as I played many types of video games from the original Super Mario Bros., to the now defunct Guitar Hero series, and, more recently, “The Michael Jackson Experience” and “The Black Eyed Peas Experience” on the Kinect for XBox 360.
Don’t get me wrong, I had tons of fun playing all of my video games. And, up until I went to boarding school for high school, I regularly played my original Nintendo and Sega Genesis (ah, the simpler days). But something changed when I got back to playing video games a few years ago. Maybe it started with the High School Musical sing along game for the PS2 (PlayStation 2), but it more likely started with Guitar Hero for the Nintendo Wii.
I had my own guitar to play because I wanted the Aly & AJ special edition guitar. Yup, I was cool. And as my little sister joined in the game, it became a competition about who would score the highest points. A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, right?
Well, after she went to bed — after everyone in the house went to bed — you could still find me playing Guitar Hero. I had to do just one more song. It didn’t matter that my legs hurt from standing and my right shoulder was stiff and in pain. I wanted to play one more song.
1 am passes. Then 2 am. Then 3 am. In about an hour and a half the first person in the house is bound to wake up and I can’t let them know I’ve been playing games all night! After all, this wasn’t even my game or game system!
When the Wii died, our household turned to our PS3 and XBox 360 with the Kinect. One of the first games my little brother and I played on the PS3 was “Batman: Arkum Asylum.” I only picked up the controller because my brother, probably 8 at the time, was having trouble navigating the game and figuring out what to do. Reluctantly, I took the control and began to play the game. It’s a pretty simple game but I found that I was tensing up and getting frustrated with the game. With my eyes fixed on the screen, I pressed every combination of buttons to make it through. I made it past a few levels but had to give the controller back because I wanted my brother to play.
The dancing games were even worse for me because I love to dance. My sister, Maria, had thoroughly beat everyone when we played the Michael Jackson game on the Wii (advantage: controller). But now I had the advantage with the Kinect. She scored and then I tried to top her score. She tries to top my score and fails. I’m the video game master in this house! But, just as with Guitar Hero, I continue to play when everyone goes to bed. From dancing and singing, I would start to lose my voice, but then I could just switch to dance only mode!
It’s 3 am again!
Okay, this is getting a little crazy. You would think that after all of the late nights, lack of food and bathroom breaks that I would have learned my lesson.
Apparently not because I started to play “Angry Birds” on my Android phone. In my mind, playing it on my phone doesn’t technically make it a video game, but, the tension and anxiety returned. Sometimes I missed my bus stop because I was so into the game I was blind to everything else around me.
It came down to this: after too many missed bus stops and late nights, I had to put the controller down and I have never again even played “Angry Birds” on my iPhone. A switch flipped in my head and I realized that this was not productive at all. I mean, really, if I’m going to stay up all night, I should be productive — like writing this article.
These days I watch my brother and his friends try to out play each other in sports-related games and I see the single-minded on his face when he plays games on his iPhone or his PSP. He’s in another world. He asks if I want to play, but I always have to say no. I tell him that once I start, I can’t stop and he’ll probably never get his game back!
There were signs: up late at night, ignoring simple needs such as food and bathroom use, and the tension buildup. I just ignored them. I ignored them to play the game. Why? I don’t really know. I hope someone else can learn from my stubborn attitude. There is hope, gamers! All it takes is one step away from the controller and put down the headset!