Resisting the Urge

Diablo 3 was released early this morning,. and I’m strongly resisting the urge to go and buy it so that I can play it NOWNOWNOW. I really worry that this game would eat my life if I started playing it, and so for now I’m not, but that may change eventually.

There are a few games I can say really ate up huge chunks of my life. Skyrim kept me playing recently, but it wasn’t anywhere near being an obsession. Days would pass where I wouldn’t play, sometimes a week, then I’d get hooked for a day or two and put it aside in favor of more writing time. Morrowind (a predecessor to Skyrim in the Elder Scrolls franchise) had me playing for many hundreds of hours. Different types of characters, different sequences, different outcomes. A game with that many different ways to play it can really keep you busy for a while.

The very first game that ate my face, however, was Diablo. I spent a lot of cash upgrading a computer at one point in the mid 90s, and all my friends at the time who had better computers than the one I was replacing were raving about this game which had just come out a short while earlier. I got a copy, loaded it up, and was hooked in seconds.

The graphics were pretty great for the time, and the game was long, compared to the old DOS games I’d been used to pre-Windows 95. Plus you could play through it with different types of characters which really changed the game play. But the kicker was the online play. In the dark days of Internet via 28.8kbps modems (which were at the time pretty astounding compared to BBS via 2400baud modem), logging onto a remote server where three of your friends had also logged on so you could play the same game together and fight monsters together was unprecedented. I mean, we’d had Trade Wars, but nothing that let you do what Diablo did. I would head home from work and boot up the computer immediately so that everything could load while I ate supper, then disappear back into the basement and play from about 7:30pm until about two in the morning. Being a single antisocial 18 year old living in my mother’s basement, I did this many nights a week, and kept playing the game for the better part of two years (with my game time winding down eventually). If I spent 500-750 hours playing Morrowind, I easily spent 2,000 hours playing Diablo.

This is the single greatest reason why I never signed up for World of Warcraft. Not even the free trial. I know that I’ll enjoy it, and I know that I won’t be able to put it away, so I ignore it and scoff at all the people who are having fun while I kvetch. I barely have time for the stuff I want to do now, I definitely don’t want to add a time-sink like that into the mix.

So, I resist. I will, for the time being, live vicariously through others who are playing, and tell myself that there are words that need to be written. Words which will absolutely not get written if I’m slaughtering demons by the dozen.

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2 responses to “Resisting the Urge

  • Sigurberg

    Well written, friend.
    There is a lot to be changed to the better in this world, and hives of minds to influence, and inspire. For the few who seek to better the world through art; games like the ones you speak of can be treacherous indeed, like a whirlwind with devious intent; it sucks you in if you wander to close.
    Like you, I also went through Morrowind and Skyrim, but no game has yet devoured my time like Heroes of Newerth–an exceptionally addictive and repetetive game (after about 2-3000 hours played I decided that enough is enough).

    As far as Diablo 3 goes, and me not being single, I think the only chance of myself immersing into it’s mind suffusing ecstasy–is that if my girlfriend joins me. For it will not do, being mentally separated for hours upon hours, night after night.
    But with that said, do I really want to suggest that to someone I love–very well knowing the amount of time that will evaporate into oblivion, never to return. Time that could have gone into art, writing, studying–fulfilling our true desires.

    I believe that none, or very few of us gamers truly think that games like Diablo 3 give us any real happiness or fulfillment. But rather they serve as an escape. Life is hard and cruel, and the majority of humans living on this planet seem to be working around the clock to make this reality as ugly and insane as possible.

    Playing immersive games like Morrowind, oblivion, skyrim, hon, lol, and diablo are, in my experience, exceptionally efficient ways to dull your mind from those things.

    I think that with each major release–like Diablo 3 in this instance, we gamers will always hear the voice in our head that pleads: “But it’s just sooo fucking fun, please just one hour a day! I swear I’ll contain myself this time! I’ll keep it at a minimum!”

    But will we succumb to it? I sure hope I won’t…

    …but there is that voice again.

  • mlorenson

    Yeah, I know a few friends who play games as a couple (I know my wife and I used to play Morrowind side by side on different computers), but generally that time replaced other downtime, We would do it instead of watching TV, or going to the movies. Now that I like to spend most of my nights writing, I’m adverse to replacing writing time with gaming time. It’s basically like having a second job, so it’s easy to replace work with fun but the consequence is that you don’t get any work done. The exception being the nights when I just simply don’t feel like writing. There are nights when I’m just to tired or run down to think straight, and playing a game is a good way to turn off the brain, considering I don’t really watch television.

    I think the happiness and fulfilment you get out of a game can be pretty extensive. Even beyond the thrill of success and character progression, there’s something to be said for being part of a thing. You can enjoy an episode of The Big Bang Theory, but then you can also enjoy talking with other people about the show. In the same way, half the enjoyment I got from playing Skyrim or watching The Avengers was in talking with my friends about Skyrim and The Avengers. It’s all entertainment in the end, and everybody gets something different out of it.

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