Repetitive Game Injury

illidan
Gaming Evil Incarnate… apparently!

It recently occurred to me that when it comes to games, like most things in life, there is always the possibility of having too much of a good thing. Okay, so you probably think that this is a fairly obvious statement to make, but it’s not until it really happens that you can appreciate just how far it’s possible to take your love of something, and turn it into a fire breathing monster!

Assassin’s Creed II – the latest on a very long list of games that actually has me craving for my console when I should be doing more proactive things like sorting out my latest photography project, or continuing the epic battle that is refurbing the family home. It wasn’t until I was on my way home from seeing New Moon at the cinema last week (mock you may but vampires are cool!) that I realised my sudden desire to speak in an Italian accent when comically ranting and raving with friends. At first I put it down to the compelling bloodsuckers from the film, but after finding myself ripping off my jacket once I got home with my Xbox 360 controller already in hand that I thought maybe it was the game that had taken me over more than the alluring undead.

If i could rearrange my life as well as those little blocks I'd tripple my productivity!
If I could rearrange my life as well as those little blocks I'd triple my productivity!

After yet another 2 hour stint of running across rooftops I wondered just how far people can go with their passion for the games they play. As a child I remember playing Tetris on my Game Boy to the point of being able to close my eyes and still see the dropping blocks slotting into space and clearing lines. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found themselves waking up in the middle of the night trying to justify a twisted dream full of mutant aliens or zombies after too long playing Doom or Dead Space.

There seems to be a fairly fine line between mixing games and real life, especially with the ever increasing popularity of online games and gaming communities; even my mum dabbled at Farmville on Facebook after reading status updates about chickens and cows. My sister is currently enjoying trips to Holland to meet up with friends made on World of Warcraft, but how can you tell where enjoyment ends and obsession begins? Is it an impending doom sitting like a ticking time bomb in us all, waiting to take us over when we least expect it?

A few weeks ago there was a video spreading around the gamers included on my Facebook friends list of a young man who, after a supposed 17 hours epic play of the annoyingly popular Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, was literally breaking down in front of his camera. Screaming, punching the wall and for some random reason dribbling milk; in some places it was actually quite disturbing. Videos on YouTube are often staged but this guy’s rage seemed genuine and took me by surprise. This was a perfect example of what I shall now deem Repetitive Game Injury; COD:MW2 had consumed this guy’s life to the point of madness, a shocking and horrifying condition that threatens to take us all!

Although I’m inclined to agree that there are certain types of people who are more prone to become overly obsessed, exaggerated or passionate about any aspects of their life (not just games), when you can spend anything from 10 to 80 hours interacting with any given game, are we not all just opening ourselves up to potential emotional torment as well?

One of my strongest memories of playing Final Fantasy X was completing the last boss with my cousin, both of us with tears streaming down our faces at the so sad ending, and more so from spending weeks building up our characters and thriving on what it had to offer. Being a lover of story as well as gameplay, RPGs as a genre have always appealed to me because of the emotional bond they can build up between player and game. You can often feel completely submersed in the world they create, and when it cuts you off, as Final Fantasy did to me, you sometimes feel a need to mourn.

Don't jump Auron! Final Fantasy X-2 wasn't THAT bad!
Don't jump Auron! Final Fantasy X-2 wasn't THAT bad!

As with anything, there are levels of potential repetitive game injury, whether it’s a punch at the wall, a controller across the room or an evening of bawling your eyes out like a baby. I’m not quite at the stage of constructing a knife that flips out of my wrist when I make a move like Spiderman, but the chances of getting a repetitive game injury may be bubbling softly under the surface of us all.


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