Two nights ago I stayed up until 11.30 playing SSX on Tour (snowboarding game) on my Playstation 2. This had two negative effects – apart from making me feel a little bit “sad”.
- I couldn’t sleep. My brain was still running over the tracks I’d heard on the slopes, working out the next board to buy and how to get the money to buy it with and glorying in my latest measly rise up the high score table. The effect of this was that yesterday was a nightmare. I was exhausted at work and had to be peppy and I had a bad pain in my neck from sleeping restlessly.
- As well as having a pain in my neck I became a pain in the neck to my poor, hard-working sister. When she came in at 11 I was still playing and instead of stopping to talk to her about her very stressful day I just grunted and continued consoling myself with the knowledge that I would talk to her once I had finished this slope….and the last Shred etc
The addictive thing about this kind of gaming is the amount of control and the completely immersive nature of the experience. You choose your game in the first place so you are choosing favoured environments, you can choose the soundtrack, the slopes you attempt, you can even set how easily your character recovers from a fall (ie cheat). But the important point is that real world interactions (like real world skiing) are more important and valuable than those established by this type of game scenario. Spiritually we need a perspective on this kind of gaming and we need to ensure that it doesn’t take second place to the more important play that is going on around us in our lives.