Self-loathing is a fundamental part of the human experience. Without it, we wouldn’t have art, music and the Call of Duty franchise.
We all do things that we know we’ll regret, but, you know, maybe we’d feel worse if we DIDN’T eat that entire cheesecake, or do a backflip off the roof or feel the overwhelming buyer’s remorse that courses through our veins as we wonder what we could do with that R800 we spent on Watch Dogs.
In celebration of this, I’ve compiled a list of five things that I believe every gamer has done, and perhaps continues to do – in spite of all the regret that comes bundled with it.
Play games we don’t like
Much like finding myself at a Holiday-themed orgy after the post-climax glow wears off, sometimes after a truly miserable hour spent gaming I stop and think, “What the actual f**k am I doing?”
There are a certain class of games that do little else than hammer your dopamine buttons with Skinner box reward systems, that make you feel like you’re doing something when really you’re just doing what you do every Saturday night – jerking off at your computer.
I usually default to League of Legends for this, but I have to admit I do occasionally have fun playing that, in the same way people describe running a marathon or sticking sour worms up their pee-holes “fun”.
The most egregious example I could actually think of was Cookie Clicker. For those not in the know (and I don’t recommend Googling it and getting sucked into that particular vortex of shame and regret), this is a browser “game” where you build up a massive cookie economy by constantly ramping up your production capabilities.
So what’s the point? THERE ISN’T ONE. After a brief obsession, I closed the tab, ironically cleared my cookies and was done with it forever. I didn’t miss it at all, which is unsurprising since I was amassing a pile of digital cookies – the zero calorie snack guaranteed to make you question every decision in your life that led you to that point.
Succumb to peer pressure
Speaking of playing games we don’t like, how often do we pick up a game just because that’s what our friends are playing? If you answered “never”, it’s because you don’t have any friends – you may want to consider exposing yourself to sunlight or upping your weekly shower count to 2.
Most games just aren’t that fun if your friends aren’t playing them. What’s the point of being the first to reach level 70 if the race only included one person? If a Dark Souls boss falls in the forest, and nobody is around to hear you lie about how many tries it took to do it, did it even happen at all?
Unfortunately, this often means doing things we don’t want to do, like installing League of Legends again after making a binding blood bond at the altar of Stikeez that we’d never go back. I hate everything about Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare I’ve seen so far, but if my friends all started playing it I’d be forced to fund Bobby Kotick’s twenty-floor sex dungeon.
If they ever get addicted to a Ubisoft game I may just have to throw my PC off a cliff and join a monastery.
Argue with strangers
If you’ve ever met me in person you’d know that I’m what your mother would call a “swell guy”. Just kidding, your mother has a different name for me that I can’t repeat here – this is a family website.
However, the reason I’m able to be such a gosh-darn sweetheart in the real world is because I’m a massive flaming asshole in the digital world. It’s hard to admit because really, I’d like to say it’s not my fault.
But here’s the thing – when that teenager from that bombed-out village 40 minutes from St. Petersburg calls me a stupid noob and says he’d be rather thrilled if I were to manifest some kind of terminal cancer, I could take the high ground and simply hit the mute button. Instead, I make it my goal for the rest of the game to inflict some kind of permanent psychological damage.
It’s all pointless, of course – you can go back and forth all game long and the only things that are certain are a) you will lose, and b) you won’t win. An argument on the Internet is like an episode of Who’s Line is it Anyway – everything’s made up and your points don’t matter.
Invents a new system of time
Perhaps this only applies to those suffering from game addiction, so if you play one hour of Peggle a week then get the hell out of here the grown-ups are talking. For the rest of you, gather ’round, this week’s meeting is in session.
I knew that I had developed a problem with gaming when, sometime in Grade 11, I started to measure time in units of DotA. One hour? Well that’s one DotA. Ninety minutes? Two units of DotA, if I crush (which I obviously will, I’m the best).
If I had to be somewhere at 5pm but left school at 15:15, I would bolt home and skip lunch because getting to the PC by 15:30 was two units of DotA – 15:45 was just one. It became a problem for me when I started to get really annoyed when I could feel those units slipping away. I’d always be trying to get home as fast as possible and it impacted my work and relationships.
Like peeing at a urinal while drunk, everything felt a lot better when I just let go.
Overestimates their ability
This is part of the whole “telling strangers they have rare developmental disorders” thing, but in competitive games this is a pervasive issue.
I’m going to tell you exactly what I told David Hasselhoff – you’re not as good as you think you are. If you’re in the Bronze League, it’s not because you’re really good and really unlucky – you’re just kind of shit.
The overestimation creates problems because it makes you a salty bastard who thinks they should be higher than they are and it also makes you much, much worse at the game. If you don’t identify how and why you suck, you’re never going to stop sucking. At which point you may as well get into porn, Sucky McSucksalot.