March 17, 2004

Video Games are Addicting!

My video gaming history is quite scattered, occurring in a newspaper store, numerous friends’ houses, elementary through high school, and more than not arcades. My earliest recollection of gaming was the Number and Word Muncher games and Oregon Trail, all three played in my elementary school. They were often used as an incentive for good behavior and I thought they were incredibly fun. At home I would often got hooked on games like Tetris on Game Boy and Mario on NES. It’s kind of funny that even though my family didn’t own a TV, I always seemed to be over at friend’s houses playing their Nintendos.

My dad and older brother, two of the men my prepubescent self idolized, were absolutely addicted to pinball. Almost every night, my family would make the trek across town to the newspaper store where we’d play pinball for hours, often on just the few quarters we’d arrived with. We’d simply rack up replays until we got bored then leave. I still remember running down to the store the next day just to see if there was still a free game on one of the machines. Often there was. As I grew older, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, fighter games on arcade and later on Sega, took up a lot of my friend’s TV’s time, and the majority of my meager paper route paycheck.

My absolute favorite game was a first person shooter played on Nintendo 64 called Goldeneye 007. It was the original and it was my life. During summer break one year, a group of friends and myself would have contests playing hard levels or challenging each other (up to four people at a time) and battle all day, often into the night. Looking back, it was a great time but also kind of a waste of time. I sometimes wonder whether I should have devoted my summer break to something other than mere recreation. I am still mechanically and construction-wise gimp, always having to rely on a friend to get me out of a jam. Hours, and days, even weeks at a time were wasted away in my youth as Link battled though mazes or Final Fantasy I, II, III, IV… you get the point, took my waking hours and flushed them down the proverbial commode. Homework went undone as my character, Rames, gained experience and cool weapons/armor on Raven’s MUD (an online Role Playing Game much like Zork but played with hundreds of other players). I actually went back and played it again just for kicks while I was writing this blog. I died after the first five minutes, lol. I guess some things do change.

Even good buddies of mine started getting mad and felt like I was only using them for their fun toys when I would go to “sleep over” but instead just took over their computer or television. I remember one bittersweet memory where both sleep and food went by the wayside as I “slept-over” at a friend’s house just to play a continuous eighteen hour, broken up only for bathroom breaks, game of Warcraft II! My addition was only broken when I started getting serious about my commitment to let Jesus take over my life and use me completely to spread His message of love and salvation, got involved with a couple of clubs at school like Youth Education Association, Chess Club, and Reading Club, and started to take my grades more seriously. My usual habits of playing lengthy games of online chess before any homework got done, playing my MUD way into the night, and going over to friends’ houses to visit with their televisions stopped and my video game addiction was put on hold for a while. Today, I’m a college student with too many pokers in too many fires to play game much and it seems that all my spare time is taken up with homework or volunteering at my church. I like my life, as it now feels like I have meaning, but video games still call me back to beat high scores and advance to high levels whenever a free moment and a spare quarter combine near an arcade.

Posted by JohnHaddad at March 17, 2004 01:47 PM

Your entry brought back memories of pinball I thought I'd lost. Good writing!

Posted by: Mike Arnzen at March 17, 2004 06:05 PM

Since I feel that part of my job as an educator is to freak my students out from time, here is what I found after a quick Google search on "Christian Video Games."

Do I smell a paper topic? :)

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at March 17, 2004 11:12 PM

Thanks so much Dr. Jerz, for the Google search. I actually never looked for Christian video games on the Web before, and was pleasantly surprised after I followed your links and saw what was out there. As a kid, I kind of fantasized about creating a really awesome, patterned on the Bible video game that taught virtues and Bible stories but at the same time was exciting and challenging enough to gain the interest of experienced gamers.

Posted by: John Haddad at March 18, 2004 12:26 PM
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