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Experimenting with video games as drugs

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As the good little boy that I was (and still am), I never experimented with drugs. I respect my health –not to mention the law — far too much to ever allow myself to attempt them. Yet the stories of wild hallucinations, unimaginable nightmares, and indescribable feelings still manage to pique my interest. Now, I’m in no rush to end my life, but sometimes that morbid curiosity just can’t be ignored. “What does it feel like? What would I see? Where would I be?”

These questions arise whenever illegal substances are mentioned, and I have to wonder: What would cause a person to risk his life for a high? Is it the escape? The danger? I suppose I’ll never be able to answer that conundrum, but this past week I realized I might be able to answer the first mystery. Enough bizarre development studios are out there … surely at least a few of them have made something comparable to a drug trip.

 

It took a few days, but I did manage to find what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a hold of my first choice, LSD. Wait, what did you think I … never mind. My next choice came in the form of GZ Storm’s first-person horror-puzzler, The 4th Wall. Spoiler warning: It was a bad trip.

Oh, the title was fine, but the experience? Unnerving, disturbing, disorienting, confusing … take your pick. It was so brief, barely 10 minutes, yet such an overpowering force in my mind. The sights, the feelings … all remembered so vividly. I didn’t have fun, and I didn’t enjoy playing through, yet I couldn’t help but continue thinking about it hours later.

The confusion of not knowing where I was, constantly being shifted to different places unexpectedly, and yet never being able to identify any of them — and I so desperately wanted to describe the feeling to others, but I felt such a loss for words. How could I describe something so indescribable? I could just tell them about the puzzles (all five of them), but then they would just think of it as a puzzle game, and it’s not. But if I tried to explain the horror-ish elements, it would just be labeled as poor attempt at psychological terror, which would also be a disservice.

It’s not just the puzzles that make The 4th Wall so interesting, and it’s certainly not the cheesy horror elements. The only possible way to describe it accurately is as a nightmare — only one worth having.

I could always just recommend they play The 4th Wall, but I doubt that would go over well, either. Convincing someone to play a game that you found while looking for drugs in video game form tends to lead to more glares than enthusiastic responses — I should know. So, I continued looking for something more relatable, something describable. I found it eventually, but I’m not sure I should be glad I did.    

This game is crack. Metaphorical, literal — it doesn’t matter; this doesn’t emulate a drug trip, this is a drug trip. Lights, colors, and things I’d never seen before (and hopefully never will again) darted past the screen while I flew my cat through the levels, constantly trying to better my score. It was a fantastic experience; although, I’m fairly certain I lost most of my IQ. I also kept on hearing eggs frying for some reason … .

Yet it was just so … addictive. I highly doubt it was a constructive use of my time — not to mention my mind — but I just couldn’t stop; it felt too amazing to stop.

Whatever the developers were doing when they came up with the idea for this game, it had to involve some sort of mind-altering substance, and I thank them for doing it so that I didn’t have to. Because despite some of their appealing qualities, I think this delve into gaming narcotics has shown me just how much I don’t want to do drugs. As interesting as it was, and despite how unique the experiences were, I don’t think my mind can handle anymore. Perhaps it’s time I went to gaming rehab.


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