28 January 2011

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.



Worth Dayley said...


Mike said...

Let me know when you get Left 4 Dead 2 (PC), and then we're ON!

This is hilarious, btw.

Griffin said...

LOL, FTW Han-skins, what games have you in their grip?

Hannah Hillam said...

Fable 3. I know. It's not even that great of a game. Also the Sims. Sean got me the one for the xbox for Christmas and I play it all the time.

Angie. said...

Annnnd this is precisely why I never intend on starting a computer/video game... ever.
Because I know impending doom will eventually be lurking behind me in the form of a pacman ghost, too.

Morgan said...

Very articulate appraisal of video game patterns.
Be sure to level up your "moderation in all things" bar and you should be ok.

Worth Dayley said...


erika danielle eddington said...

So this is where you were all of Christmas break. Loser!

Camilla said...

I wanna play imaginary life with you. Then it'd be like we were interacting with one another but totally not really.

corey said...

you should play wow with me :)

Gwennifer said...

Mario Kart Wii is starting to suck out my soul...again. Being a second semester senior while being surrounding by (literally) THOUSANDS of games I want to play is a baaaaad thing.

Like being immersed in LE slush forevaaaaar--only way less productive.

Hannah Hillam said...

Worth, thank you.
Erika, yes. Yes, that's where I was.
Corey, I believe if I started playing WOW I would die.

Tom said...

Great story, really enjoyed it. Nothing but real life this summer.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god I love fable oh my god. I literally played for over a day without stopping.

Cheers for being awesome

calvin said...

Hey, so, way late comment: I want a "unbeatable tornado of gaming" shirt. Tomorrow.

hey_bella said...

Yeah... I've been playing TES Oblivion for a week solid. I was walking through the grocery store looking at tomatoes thinking "Ok, I just need bread, oranges or rat meat, then I can make a Life detection potion...wait... Rat meat? Oh...uhm... Nevermind." O__O I need a life. Skyrim is coming in November... I'm doomed.

Anonymous said...

I can totally empathize with this. I feel this same exact way no matter how I waste my time though. I spent the majority of my summer playing room escape games and reading shitty fanfiction (and I'm 22!) And now college has returned I can't handle more than two assignments per week.

So I agree! Balance is key.

Anonymous said...

I do this with new tv shows, no matter how god-awful they are- I totally get where you're coming from

Lily said...

Omg, I totally did this last year. I finished the game ABOUT three to four times... Yeah... I'm still finishing the fourth time.. I've married Elliot once I learned that Nichalos Hoult voices Elliot... Um... Yeah, I still have to finish it, I've broken myself of Fable 3 by playing Assassins Creed, Borderlands, Halo... So forth.. Not that I didn't play them before, I just replayed Fable 3 and realized how FREAKING BADASS IT IS. FUN FACT! I always kissed Elliot in the beginning, because one; I love romance, and two; I thought it would add more to the story, me and Ellie being in a relationship and then being BROKEN APART LIKE A TWIG! D: Logan, you son of a bitch... :.( I always saved Logan, though. Did you know that Elliot is really a piece of scum that WILL IMMEDIATELY FIND ANOTHER GIRL AND ENGAGE HER IN THE SPAN OF FOUR WEEKS?! Well, it might be longer, it just seems like four weeks.. I broke them apart... I feel guilty... :( BWAHAAHHA! I so don't.

Anyways, great game, Fable 3, no wonder we got addicted. :)