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Exchanging Addictions

You know, I noticed that roleplaying games seem to be dominating my waking thoughts much less than they used to. I think my last post related to RPGs was, what, mid-March? Strange, only a month, but it seems a long time ago.

As Vickie recently observed, I tended to filter everything social through an RPG filter. If I were organising a get-together, it would be oriented around the local gamers, and although I liked them, it was our common interest in the hobby that I was organising the meet-up around. I’ve been turning that around recently; David dropped over last night for a good chat with Vickie and I (and, I’ll confess, I showed the 360 off), and tonight we’re off to a mentoring scheme get-together and a dinner with some friends whom I met through work. There’re still quite a few folks we haven’t seen in a while and would like to get together with, and some of them are gamers, but the shared interest is only part of why we want to keep in touch (and no longer the dominant part for me, either). Given half a chance, I’d still love to run a Burning Empires campaign, but I don’t, you know, need to. "Successful Gamer" isn't really tied into my self image any more.

Still, I seem to have developed a minor obsession with Xbox games to compensate. I am noticing a few signs of addiction to the Console, and I’m pretty sure it’s got to do with the Gamerscore as much as anything else (graphics, gameplay, etc.) A couple of times this week, I’ve noticed myself getting grouchy if I don’t get a chance to play with the console for a bit (admittedly, I don’t do the obvious thing and actually ask politely for some console time). Also – well, today, I took a little side-trip to EB after getting some new printer cartridges for Vickie from Tandy. I was looking for a copy of the Xbox 360 version of Burnout: Revenge, the fourth game in the Burnout series. They had a couple of copies at $70 each.

Here was the purchasing situation in my head:

  • Against:
    • It’s $70 that I can technically afford thanks to the loan, but I want to practice discipline and I’ve already charged enough expensive fripperies to that account – more than enough, to be honest.
    • When I do get the money, I want to spend it on Mass Effect, Transformers and/or enough Microsoft Points to unlock Worms.
    • I still haven’t finished Burnout 3: Takedown, which plays just fine on the 360, thank you very much.
  • For:
    • Burnout 3: Takedown is an original Xbox game. Playing it earns me no achievements.
    • The 360 version of Burnout: Revenge will earn me achievements. Earning achievements increases my Gamerscore!
    • I’ve already lost all the progress that was stored on my old Xbox. If I’m going to spend time playing a Burnout game from scratch, why waste it on playing the same old game again when I could be playing one that delivers an improved, hi-def experience and increases my Gamerscore?!?!??!!!

So as you can see, the pros outweigh the cons. (twitch)

Thankfully, in that particular instance, sanity prevailed and I walked out of EB, satisfied at least that I now know how much Burnout: Revenge costs and can decide if and how it fits into my disposable income budget (somewhere below taking Brook to see TMNT, I hope). Nonetheless, I’m surprised how this little number, which only gives me bragging rights in some artificial, transitory ranking, has got its hooks into my brain so quickly. I mean, here’s Vickie having a tough time getting over cigarettes, and there’s me, developing an all-new addiction of my own!

Damn you, Microsoft. Damn you all to hell…

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The funny thing is that gaming is your hoby, so it is only natural that you would want to have gamer friends and do gamer things. Like many hobies things become more a less focused depending on interest and success. It is important to have fun and success in our hoby. For myself I use my hoby as a way to deal with the everyday stresses of life which compound due to my Aspergers.

Hi, Dan. Thanks for posting, mate.

From one perspective, I certainly see what you mean. Sure, if I’m interested in a hobby, I’m going to tend to be interested in fellow hobbyists. The problem I had was that I was fixated. There was no balance. Every single social event I’ve planned (outside of birthday parties) over the past six to eight months wasn’t planned around “everyone I liked”, it was planned around “gamers and maybe those who’d kind of expressed an interest in the hobby”. I wasn’t even thinking about anyone else.

You mention that things become more or less focused depending on interest and success, and that was where things were breaking down. I was getting more focused when things were dropping off. When I was going through the dry spell of the past few years, I’d still be reading RPG books and planning non-existent games.

Thankfully, that’s changed. Gaming has again dropped off generally; the last gamer’s get-together e-mail I sent got no responses, and both the last game I tried to organise and the last game I put my hand up to play in disintegrated. Instead of retreating back into the rulebooks again, though, I’m concentrating more on, “When can we get together with friend X next?” and “Gee, it’s been a last time since we saw friend Y. Let’s give them a call.” And the gaming-unrelated social life has suddenly picked up!

Plus when I do retreat into a book, I’m trying to make said book something outside my usual taste, like The Holy Thief and Clans of the Scottish Highlands. Even though I’m reading the last in the March series at the moment.

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