Gaming: The Exhilaration and the Addiction

Karis is a 16-year-old living in Middle Earth most of the time. She wishes that she were born 10000 years in the future (or however long it takes to reach the pinnacle of human civilization). She can normally be found between the pages of a book or in the games collection by _ashka.

Bang! Ratatatatatatatatatatatata…The noise is ceaseless. The end of each round of gunfire is punctuated by an explosion and the dying scream of some monster. The vibration from the gun is making my hands numb. But I shift my grip, and continue on my quest to save the world. This is the world of Halo, and I am Master Chief.

Coincidentally, I am one just of man Master Chiefs in the world. I am a girl and I don his impenetrable armor nearly every weekend and go off on a mission to destroy the Flood, the alien enemies in the world of Halo. Nearly every teen that has ever played videogames, has played Halo. And most teens know of it. Video games have permeated society in such a way that game icons, such as Master Chief, have become the new role models for many kids—not just for the quintessential gamers, but also for the casual weekend gamers. These characters have many of the same qualities found in the protagonists of many books, bravery, courage, strength, and virtue. But games offer an interactive experience that words on a page cannot. In a game, especially first person games such as Halo, you are the one to save the world. You are the one who kills the monster. You are the hero. It’s such an exhilarating feeling to pass a level, defeat a boss, or rescue the damsel, because you know that it happened because of your skill—not some predetermined plot written by some impersonal author. And this feeling is addictive.

Personally, I’m just a casual gamer; I’m one of those vacationers or weekenders who live in the fantasy to get away from the high-stress reality of homework, quizzes, and tests. But when the time comes, I put down my controller and walk away. I know I have to keep up with my coursework because I have a future in this world, not in Halo. But, I know there are people, including my friends, who just can’t put the controller down. They bring their PSPs (Playstation Portable) or their Nintendo DSs with them to school. In class, instead of listening to the teacher or texting their friends like the rest of the student population, they game. If they don’t bring or have a portable console, than many gamers just talk about strategies and tactics. They talk and talk and talk; it’s an obsession. I have a friend who even goes as far as to bring her Mac laptop to school in order to play an online game, Counterstrike, during class. It’s sort of hard to hide a laptop in class, so the teachers do notice. But, they just don’t care. They don’t confiscate his laptop as per school regulation; they just continue to drone on in front of a listless group of students. It’s troubling to think that teachers might be ignoring these gaming students. But what can you do about it?

Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to pat down your student every time your child goes out the door in the morning, unless in the most extreme cases of video game addiction. Most of my friends aren’t addicted per se, rather they are bored. We sit in an AP class, have some of the highest grades in the class, and we aren’t challenged by the course material. I amuse myself with homework or a book; the others amuse themselves with a game.  Nonetheless, you should keep an eye out on your child and you shouldn’t encourage the habit of constant playing. It will eventually inhibit your child’s social interactions with the rest of the world. Parents shouldn’t buy games for their children and they should also restrict gaming time. But they should allow time during vacations and the weekends. I hate it when I can’t play my stress-relieving games during the weekend, and I often find the inability to play more distracting than if I played for an hour. So rather than totally deprive them, wean them off. It’ll take time and much yelling, finger-pointing, and crying, but it is possible.

But even for casual gamers like me, parental consent notwithstanding, I’m going to be standing outside in line outside of GameStop at 12:00 AM waiting for the release of Halo 4.

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