This post has not been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.
Slowly but surely. I know this is the accepted truth of the matter. I've been told since I was young that video games are bad news. They rot the brain, they will kill your eyes sitting so close. You'll get fat and lazy and stupid.
I sit before glowing screens. My attention torn in multiple directions at once because my mind can't stand still. I have just bought Halo:Reach a few day earlier and I am playing the multiplayer non stop for countless hours. I am also listening to a podcast where a failure cracks jokes about a crack whore to try to laugh off how horrible things can be.
I could be listening to my team mates and communicating with them about the people who are about to shoot them but they are ghouls. They kill their own team over the sniper rifle, why should I save them? As I murder savages in a game that imitates war I am stuffing fast food into my face. I'm not eating it because I like it. I just eat it because it's easier then doing the dishes. More time to save up useless credits to play a ridiculous game of dress up with my puppet.
My wrists feel sore from a coming rain due to what must be some kind of arthritis or carpal tunnel that I am far to young to have. Hair graying from the stress of being unable to cope with my natural life. Acid indigestion that could be an ulcer from the stress or my diet. Yellowing teeth showing as I smile while my character stabs another person's creation in the spine. I smile much less in real life.
Somehow the damage doesn't matter. What I've become doesn't matter. It's about what I want to be. I want to be skilled. I want to be violent. I want to be feared. I want to be understood. In the games I feel like I am something that people wound find real worth in. Years of practice have made me damn good at being a puppeteer with the hunk of plastic in my hands.
I don't command respect really. I just relish small victories. A higher score, a won firefight, or a bested game. I can't act like I shouldn't be spending more of my time elsewhere, I just can't find balance. Real life rewards me with humiliation and frustration. Games at least give me a pat on the back and some amusing numbers.
I've been unemployed for four months now and for a few glorious days I have stopped looking and I'll just let myself not care. My life feels out of my control and I am the closest to breaking I've ever been. If I stop having mindless fun I'll lose control and cry myself to death. I've never felt cut out for life as other people see it and now that I'm on the edge of being homeless it's like the world is waiting to finally tell me I told you so.
It will kill me.
My obsession with the unreal is a dangerous thing. I'm playing games as a medication for depression and anxiety. I'm only able to relate to movie characters and not to real people. I'm using avatar creation as a way to hate myself less. Music makes me feel more empathy then a human being telling a sad story to my face ever would.
It's a cliché to say that my fantasy life saved my real life. When I was at my worst in the dark days of living with my biological mother I needed them to be there. It was a time where nothing else was worth a damn and something had to provide the light at the end of the tunnel. Now they are a crutch I use to never move forward down that tunnel.
Is it because I'm insane? Is it because I'm addicted? Am I sitting here and making 'my six' a more calculating looking warrior, building her infamy in my mind with a kill death spread and a video library and a trail of mangled bodies because I am obsessed? Is the game too good at keeping my attention or is everything else just not good enough about making me care?
Is it because the rant of the lone idiot escapist is right? Real life is just too boring, too cruel, and too unfair. How do you defend that logic…but how do you argue with it? It's a dizzying concept to be able to actually try to philosophically defend being selfish, lazy, and pathetic. So maybe that's an excuse. I feel like I'm wrong for ever thinking it, but I can't ignore it.
Ever since I was a kid reality has been a punch in the gut. One night as a child I was laying awake at night for fear of sleep bringing me terrible nightmares. I got bored and moved my sheets and pillow so I was sleeping with my head facing the other way so I could sleep upside down. I felt proud just to be thinking of something different. I was being creative and having fun with what little that was given to me. Then my step father came into the room. He slurred his words as he spanked me and then yelled at me incoherently until I made my bed the 'right' way again.
It's no wonder I lost touch. All of my fantastical heroes had control of their lives and I was a puppet of circumstance. I lived where I was told to live or where I had to live, I did what I was told or what I had to do to have food and shelter.
Batman didn't do what he was told. Even when things didn't go his way I remember him stating 'I made my bed and now I'm going to have to sleep in it.' and I thought that at least he gets to make his bed and make it his own goddamn way. Even as an adult I feel completely meaningless and out of control of life.
When Batman sees something that needs to change he goes and he damn well changes it. When I see something that needs to change my only recourse is to complain and be lost in the crowd of millions of differing opinions that no one even cares about any more. I am white noise. A pathetic nerd in his mid twenties who is searching for a minimum wage job. The only thing I have left in the world that is worth anything is a few mangy electronics and a DVD collection. I am an afterthought to the world.
Suppose I can find a job to make ends meet…what then? Go back to trying to write for a living? Go back to telling people I'm following my dreams? Even if I mustered all my courage and strength and fought tooth and nail for what I believe in I could still fail. No matter how hard I fight for that once in a lifetime chance to make a difference it could always just amount to nothing. It could just be my last flare before I finally burn out and the rest of what makes me unique and all my stupid little fantasy lives will be lost in cinders and could-have-beens.
Somewhere in my mind a trigger is pulled and my decision is already made for me. After a while I'll return to trying again. The problem is I don't know why.
I drop my controller and blink back tears while staring at the post game carnage report. It says that I've failed at my life and have to start from square one. I have to find a new job but no job I want to do would have me. I have to rebuild the trust of my friends and family but I have nothing to offer them to prove I'm worthy but pie in the sky dreams. Life is leaving me behind in a ditch and when I run after it I will feel tired, weak, and afraid because I'm a 25 year old with the decaying body of a 50 year old and the emotional stability of a 13 year old.
Video games will kill you. Slowly but surely they will do the deed. If only because they numb you to how little your fantasy of what should be can change the cold reality of life. Soon your body and your mind are rotting from neglect because you have no wish to maintain your one connection to humanity.
The truth of the matter is even if I am lost in a fantasy or addicted to games I don't care. I have been given no reason to believe that life itself, completely devoid of distraction and fantasy, is worth living. I don't want to be a citizen. I don't want to live an honest life with a family and a steady career. I just want to have all the fun times. I want to experience the fun and beautiful creative things that we use to forget about life.
All of the dirty, humiliating, dull crap that we have to do in order to keep ourselves alive may be the only thing that's true or that means anything in the real and practical world, but I can't see how that makes it any less painful. It doesn't make avoiding it any less tempting.
It's going to hurt so much to keep trying after all of this, and coming up a failure again will kill me.
So I pick the controller back up and for the next few days I will steel myself for what I have to do by wasting time with this shiny new Halo game. I'll let myself stop caring and breath life into a puppet to avoid wasting it on hollow and beauty-less truths that provide no comfort. While I do I listen to a song that I love and the lyrics reinforce my sorrow at what may soon be a wasted life and wasted potential.
“If only I had an enemy bigger then my apathy, I could have won.”