I have gone over the edge. I have gone to far. My addiction has taken over my life, affected my relationships and is scaring the dogs. My digital fears have manifested into reality but there is no methadone that I can take.
Late at night, the moon was half full and blood red. My TV was giving the room a shadow that crept slowly to the corners of the bedroom. My face was silhouetted in craziness that was punctuated by dark circles under my eyes.
I have been playing my Xbox for several hours, refusing to quit even though my wife had asked me to several times. The first sign of an addict is the confrontations from the family and here I was, having the same conversation over and over with my wife. Come to bed honey, it’s late. Dear god, are you still playing? Turn it down. I know I need help but I don’t want help.
That night I was playing a WWII game as a German, clearly gone over the edge. I was so far gone that I was free falling as the edge disappeared. But dear god, just one more level, one more game, one more fix!
I heard a car alarm go off in the distance and my first thought was that is probably where the sniper is hiding. That’s when I realized that I may need to cutback on my gaming. I heard a dog barking because of the alarm and thought that the alien horde might be landing in their backyard, I better get my chainsaw shotgun and check it out. I went to bed and then dreamed about gaming. This is getting out of control.
On my drive to work I pass several wooded areas and open fields. I wonder if there are mines in those fields. I see a bird dart behind a tree and my trigger finger gets itchy like I am trying to squeeze off a desperate shot at the digital opponent that I know must be hiding there.
I pull up to a building and think to myself how many people I would need to make a successful infiltration if the alien horde was cordoned off on the top floor. I think that a smoke grenade would be a good way to start to mask my entrance so that I can visit virtual reality justice upon those that wish unleash a mind control device.
My physical presence is also suffering. I know the best treatment for a sprained thumb. I know that this is sad but I am also guessing that I would be the master in thumb wrestling, I’m taking all comers.
I also on occasion have a sore wrist when I’m playing a particularly long session. I’m thinking about getting a wrist splint to stabilize it but when I go to the pharmacy I know I’ll just wander if the guy behind the counter is a patriot or a disfigured alien hiding amongst us.
When I play, I typically lean up against my wife’s legs. I explain to her that we are “cuddling” and therefore she should be very happy as most husbands don’t do this. In fact, I’m one hell of a catch to agree to go to bed with her every night at 8. I am hoping that she doesn’t bring up the fact that I will play for 3 hours and not actually go to sleep until 11.
And I know that this is affecting her subconscious as well. She will mutter in her sleep “good job baby” when I beat a level even though she is snoring. She is always supportive, no matter what my endeavor, but how much more can I put her through?
Not to long ago I was walking in the house and stubbed my toe, as is my nature. I screamed and cussed. Her first response: “MEDIC!” She is an addict strictly by association as now I don’t think she can actually fall asleep without the sounds of a neutron bomb being dropped on the evil doers.
And my daughter? Yes, she too has been infected. It’s always the innocent that our hearts go out to.
When I play, and my daughter is still up, I put my headset on her so she can do my talking for me. Of course her vocabulary contains only 4 words: Dad, Mom, Hi and Go. Add some chitter chatter in there and that is the Hossman smack talk. I will be going to a bunker and I can hear my daughter screaming “Go! Go! Go! Go!”. Yes baby, daddy is going. Daddy is going for justice and the American way.
At 15 months old, Little Hoss can’t play herself. But I know that in my heart of hearts, I can’t wait until she can play a little game with me. But right now she is intrigued with the images that fly past the screen when I’m playing. She will stand infront of the TV with her Little Hoss headset on and dance to the background music. My daughter is my biggest online fan and loves to see her digital father as much as her real one.
When she get’s old enough I will introduce her to the online gamine world so that our duo will give smackdowns like it is a school lesson. Their homework will be a bitchslap. I also know that the first person that destroys my digital daughters character will have hell to pay as I am a protective father. I will make it my mission to rein down hellfire on the first one that destroys her starfighter. Because I am superdad, no matter which realm I am in.
But none of these things made me question if I had a problem. Nope, that asserted itself when I went online to the Xbox Live website. This is the website that supports the online gaming community. I had found my Valhalla.
It’s worse than Trekkies that wear their uniforms to jury duty. These people are fanatical and obsessed. I had found my tribe.
There are forums where people discuss the latest strategies and games. There are forums where people discuss who is bad to play with. And there are forums for people who are looking to start a “Clan”.
A clan is a group of gamers that specialize in one game and make an agreement to play together against other people. They join tournaments and actually have practice sessions.
The serious clan leaders actually take it a step farther and hold tryouts. Let me repeat that; tryouts to see if I am good enough to play with you.
I want to join a clan so bad.
So this weekend I will check the blogs and see who is holding clan tryouts. I’m looking for a new fix, a new pipeline for my addiction. I will let other people that I have never met judge my gaming skills. But the clan I want to join is the over 30 crowd so at least I’ll be the young guy again. The smart rookie that is confident in his skills but must learn to control his emotions. I will be Kowalski. I will be the guy that they will say “no wait!” and I will say “Waiting is for sissies! I am a rebel”. But slowly I will learn the team and will come to love them.
My wife will not like who I’m hanging out with and will point out that it’s time to get some sleep.
Very slowly, I will give her the headset. The first one is free.