When I was young, I always had a somewhat limited interest in video games. I would play console games from time to time, starting with Atari, then on to Nintendo, Playstation, and so on. But it would not take long before I would get bored of the limitations, repetitive and predictable nature of the games that were available to me. I was never really much of a game buff, and preferred to spend my time on more productive endeavors. However, I had always fantasized about the perfect video game. I imagined a virtual world that was limitless in its boundaries were I would be free to roam, explore, and experience adventures without the constraints of predetermined outcomes and story lines. I had searched for a game for many years that would satisfy my longing, but eventually determined that my quest was fruitless, and that what I was looking for was unrealistic, if not impossible… or was it?
One day a friend of mine had invited me to hang out and have a few drinks after work. I eagerly accepted and met him at the local hacienda were we met up with a couple guys that he knew. We ordered a round of beers and immediately the conversation went to video games. These guys were obvious video game addicts which I of course could not really relate to. I was far too mature, and responsible to waste so much of my time on something as unproductive as video games. After all, I had a family and a career to think about, I would never be so obsessed with something so trivial. For the sake of conversation I had mentioned a few of my favorite games, Final Fantasy, Warcraft and Civilization, which they were familiar with, but by their response (or general lack of…), it became obvious to me that these games were old news to them. I realized that I didn’t relate very well to these game geeks, so I refrained from the conversation as not to further reveal my ignorance on the topic. They went on to begin talking about some new online game that I had never heard of, Everquest.
The odd thing that I noticed as they swapped stories of their adventures was that it didn’t seem that they were talking about a video game at all, but rather they spoke as if they were real life explorers of an unknown world. I listened attentively, and with growing interest as they discussed their interactions, relationships, crafting and all sorts of elements which I knew to be foreign to video games as I had known them. Could this be the game that I had always dreamed of playing?
It wasn’t long before I had purchased the game and began learning how to play. I created my first character; a High Elf wizard named Mindmaster, and immediately began to explore this strange, beautiful, and seemingly endless world. I traversed across continents, explored dungeons and made friends with countless other pioneers of this new frontier. Before I knew it, I was absorbed into this new game which had begun to consume my thoughts, and my time. When at work, all I could think about was Everquest, and the moment I would get home, I would immediately log on and play until I was too tired, then I would go to bed and dream of my alternate reality through the night, then wake to do it all again the following day. Over the coming months and years I began upgrading my computer and internet connection for the sole purpose of enhancing my game play. At some point I began to realize that it had happened… I had become a video game addict!
For several years I had become hopelessly lost in a surreal world of fantasy and adventure. It wasn’t until the demands of my professional life had left me with little time for anything else that I was forced to break my addiction. It is many years later, and I still feel the twitch to play from time to time, and occasionally I even allow myself to relapse when my schedule allows for it.