Friday, November 19, 2004


Good night, best in a long time / A new friend turned me onto an old favourite /
Nothing better than a dealer who's high / Be high, convince them to buy

What's my drug of choice? / Well what have you got? /
I don't go broke / and I do it a lot."

-"Junkhead" by Alice in Chains, from the album Dirt (1992)

In a previous blog, I mentioned how this month is both video gamer heaven and productivity hell, due to the number of high-profile video games (read: the ones that I really want to play) that are hitting the shelves. Video games and I have a nasty history together, with Doom 2 (or more appropriately, my inability to stop playing it) being one of the reasons why I ended up not getting initial acceptance into UBC upon graduating high school, or that one time when I managed to piss away an entire day playing nothing but Diablo 2.

Video game addiction has become a bit of a hot button topic for educators, parents, psychologists, and more recently, advertisers as well. We joke about it all the time, but there is still a significant amount of controversy surrounding it. Sure, video games can promote problem solving skills, increased hand-eye-coordination, and faster reflexes. But then, they can also suck away hours that could be spent doing more productive or beneficial tasks.

Plus, they are a significant hinderance on a person's social life, even if a person the type isn't already the bookish unsociable type. Everquest, one particularly addictive on-line game, has spawned a whole bunch of "Everquest Widow" support groups, consisting of girlfriends and wives that are being neglected by their Everquest addicted significant others (the game has also been called "EverCrack" by its detractors).

It seems that video game companies are completely aware of the anti-social and addictive properties of their games, as their recent ad campaigns are starting to reflect. A recent ad for EA Sports depicts a young man and a young woman are on a date and like a true gentleman, he holds open a taxi door for her. As she enters, he closes the door and slaps the hood of the taxi, signalling for to leave. We see that he's looking at a bus shelter ad for the new NHL 2005 game.

Another recent ad shows a distraught teenage girl admitting she bought something for her boyfriend that's caused him to withdraw from friends and family. The commercial is shot to resemble an anti-drug commercial, but we soon realize that she's actually talking about the latest Metroid game for Nintendo.

Sure, I regret the all-day benders I've had on Diablo 2 and Doom, the endless hours I've spent on Need for Speed Underground when I clearly should've been studying, or the days whittled away on Tetris. You know you're in really deep trouble when you close your eyes and you can still see those damn blocks falling down.

I've slowly taken steps to curb this. Having recently purchased Half-Life 2, I made a point of doing up a to-do list of things that really need to be done first, and then taping it to the box that the discs come in. As it stands, the to-do list taunts me from the bookshelf.

On the list:
-Finish two major papers
-Study for grammar quiz
-Clean house before mom comes back from vacation
-Dust shelves
-Do dishes

I probably wouldn't have to do this if I purchased Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 2 (which comes out on the 20th, as far as I know). While the game is "addictive," most people can't actually play it for more than thirty minutes straight, because it's so physically intensive. Play a more passively physical game like Half-Life 2 and before you know it, the entire week will have passed.

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