I would be willing to bet a lot of money my story of video game addiction will be different than most. You see I was a responsible husband and father and the “addictions” I finally had to admit weren’t as a result of high-tech games. The games I fell in love with were popular at the beginning of the video game era.
I can still remember my father-in-law bringing home a “program” that would work on the television. The name of the program was Pong. This game was mass- marketed in 1975 after years of development and was little more than a two-player ping pong game. We didn’t care; we played the daylights out of it.
Again it was my father-in-law who bought the initial “game system” called Atari 2600. They came out with such memorable games as Pitfall Harry, Yars Revenge and Missile Command.
I would occasionally play these games with my younger brother-in laws when my wife and I would go over and visit. While I did enjoy playing, it seemed the newer the games got, the less I enjoyed them.
Then one day I was at our local video store and I found I could rent a Nintendo machine, (very basic of course), for just $5.00 and get two games for a dollar each. One of the games I picked was Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. This was a game unlike one I had ever played. It wasn’t just a screen where one “episode” was carried out but I had to figure things out to move forward screen to screen. Every Friday night I would rent the machine and the game and play until Sunday night.
I ultimately bought my own Nintendo machine but the major addiction was yet to come.
I was introduced at the beginning of 1991 to Mario, specifically Mario 2. My sons had asked for the game for Christmas and my wife and I (and Santa of course) complied. However, as I watched them play I became enthralled. I was a 42-year-old man, the Director of the Medical Underwriting Department for my company, thinking only of how to advance to the next screen of the game. I was addicted.
I was unaware of it until my wife pulled me aside and gave me a “talking to.” I was playing every waking weekend and weekday evening hour trying to break codes and advance. It was ridiculous, not to mention unfair to my sons who never got to play any longer.
I refused to quit. In fact I beat Castlevania ll: Simon’s Quest as well as Mario 2. When I did I had my sons take a picture of me in front of the television with the last screen of the game showing that acknowledged defeat.
Just as things were dying down Mario 3 was released. It was at this time I vowed I was going to defeat every video game ever made. It was on the third day that I called work claiming I was sick in order to play the game my wife took me to task. I realized that I was “addicted.”
I just recently wrote an article on Yahoo advising how I have obsessive-compulsive disorder which incorporates addictions. I believe this played a part in the disaster. Even after I realized I was addicted I played intensely until I defeated Mario 3. I got a couple more games for the boys but I had to face up to the fact I had a real problem and even saw a counselor a couple of times. After all, vowing to beat every video game ever made isn’t exactly solid thinking.
Thankfully what I finally defeated was my addiction.