Impending Doom

I've never been very into gaming. I would play the occasional Smash Bros with my brother or my friends and I used to play a LOT of Super Mario 64,  but I was never very into any other games, except Pokemon. Until this Christmas.

When finals ended about a month ago, I turned my brain off completely. I just stayed at home and didn't think about school or the pressures of life at all. Christmas came, and it was lovely. My brother received a game that he put into the X-box and immediately began playing. I watched him for a bit, not particularly interested. As he continued to play, he asked me if I wanted to try it. I agreed and he helped me start a new game.

Then I realized I was starving, and from the dark of the downstairs I emerged to find nourishment.

But the moment I entered into the light, there was an entirely new feeling.

It was dread.

Thoughts like "I've been playing this game for 6 hours....I need to earn real money at my real job...I don't actually have magical powers nor am I a warrior princess..." began to fill my head. The impending doom of reality was lurking all over.

I ate and returned to the video game lair downstairs which I had usurped from my brother earlier that day. He had taken back what was rightfully his, and I was left with nothing but my real, non-heroic life.

"Unless..." I thought. I made sure nobody was using the computer and sat down, feeling new excitement building. The disc went in and the familiar music and start-up screen of The Sims began.

(This game was made for escapists with God complexes. For real. "You want food? Well, you can't have any. I'm going to make you go swimming and then delete the pool ladder so you'll swim until you die." I guess that was only really in the original one. I was never able to do that easily though. I would always feel so terrible when their hunger and energy got into the red, and I knew the cold hand of death was growing closer to snatching my virtual people away from mortality. One of my roommates used to always threaten me by saying "If you don't come home and hang out with me I'm going to make you on The Sims and then kill you.")

After playing for a while I started to feel like interacting with real people was as simple as pressing a button that said "Chat" or "Invite Over" or "Ask About Day." Suddenly I was measuring my moods by color. Such abstract things like the visual measurement of the state of your bladder and energy are "in the red" and always seem to have little status bars attached to them. "Man I'm tired. I must be almost all the way in the red!"

Throughout the game-play my little person gained promotions at work, had kids, became a four-star celebrity and had an awesome house. Soon, she reached the top of the career ladder and became a full on ROCK STAR. Her guitar skills were at level 10 (whereas in real life mine would be at about a 4, going off of the Sim's scale) and she was playing gigs all around the town. Her lifetime wishes were fulfilled and her life was totally awesome.

But the feeling of impending doom and dread never quite left me. It lurked in the corners of my mind, occasionally prodding me with worries and reminders at how much time I was wasting.

After becoming a gamer for two solid weeks I learned some things.

1. Where do the hours go?! The earth goes around the sun a bunch of times and winter turns to spring and California is swallowed by the sea and you don't even notice. You are sucked into an  unbeatable tornado of gaming.

2. You cannot live in a virtual world. Happily. When you go back to your real life things seem volatile. Maybe it was just me, but I kept coming close to a sort of existential breakdown.

3. Normal human interactions become foreign and strange.

Moral of the story is: Don't avoid your real life. But don't let your real life get you down.