Monday, April 23, 2012

A Date with the Couch

Much like the tale of poor Gregor Samsa, as of late I've discovered I've undergone some sort of twisted transformation. Fortunately, I'm not an insect. (If you have NO idea what I'm talking about, go read The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka.) No, instead, these past few weeks have seen me transform into the stereotype of a reclusive teenager obsessed with video games.


Video games.

And not just a few, and not just mildly obsessed—I mean, I'm not going to lie. I really love video games. And I've got my 'defense of gaming' argument all set up; you'll read about it (if you stick with me!) later in this very post. But seriously guys, it's been ridiculous lately. My productivity has absolutely plummeted. I spend most of my time firmly planted on the couch, Playstation controller clutched tight in my hands, concentration devoted entirely to the game.

It all started when I graduated—maybe even a little before then. I was rebelling against responsibility, I think, and maybe trying to make the most of the days I have left in which I can afford to shirk all my duties and sit on my backside for hours on end. Either way, it happened.

The first game that really sucked me back in was Fallout. Followed quickly by Fallout: New Vegas—I mean, come on! Post world-as-we-know-it open world game space in which my actions and decisions actually impact the outcome of the game? Excellent.

Then there was Deus Ex, which was just cool in this super high tech futuristic way. But what really got the ball rolling on my too-much-time-spent-gaming kick was Dead Island. A zombie game. An open world zombie game. Yes, I was super excited for this game even before it actually came out! Because, in case you didn't know, horror movies of all kinds are a guilty pleasure of mine. I love zombies. So a zombie game set on a tropical island that you can explore completely? I'm there.

Me at midnight, pleased as punch.
And I was. At midnight. To pick up my reserved copy.

And let me just say, I was one of maybe...four girls there for the midnight release? In which the store was practically full? And I'm pretty sure all the other girls were there because their boyfriends were.

So yeah.

Then, to top it all off, I got back to my apartment, popped in the game, and couldn't get past the first five minutes of gameplay without dying. Seriously. I died about seventeen times before I gave up and went to bed angry.

The next morning, I actually Googled the game to figure out what I was doing wrong. Here I was, thinking, "Game glitch!" But no. Literally I was just running down the wrong hallway.

I was off to a great start.

In the end, I ended up spending just about seventy hours of my life on that game. Just that one game.

Also, I wrecked a staggering number of vehicles. See evidence below—
Exhibit A—by the pool.
Exhibit B—into some bushes.
Exhibit C—down the stairs.

It gets worse.

The next game that completely engulfed my time and my life was Skyrim. Another open-world game with side-quests galore! To date, I have spent 100+ hours on it, and guess what? I'm not even finished with it yet!

Most recently, it was Silent Hill: Downpour—but in my defense, I've been obsessed with this game series since I played the first one back on the original Playstation. And it only took me thirty hours. Yeah.

But it's not even just serious or involved games like Dead Island, Skyrim, or Silent Hill.

I've also started spending a lot of time on games like Mario Kart, Donkey Kong, and Mario Party. I've become obsessed with getting gold stars on each level, or unlocking all the extra characters.

I keep telling myself that it's fine—and honestly, at this point, it's not too bad. I'm still working, so I'm not a lost cause. But remember my last post, where I was talking about how I haven't been writing?

Yeah. This is one of the reasons why. And it's not a good reason. It's just a convenient one.

In some cases, video games actually do inspire my writing. Especially if I'm in the mood to write something scary, which is often. At least, I usually start writing with the intent to end up with something scary. So games like Dead Island and Silent Hill aren't completely a waste of time.

But the truth is, it's more convenient and much less work to just let these games take over my time.

However, remember how I said I have a defense of video gaming? I'm getting to that now!

There's this really cool thing that happens when you play a video game—it's somewhere in between reading a book and watching a movie. Especially when you're dealing with a game with a solid, interesting story (like the Uncharted series!). It's more interactive than reading a book because you control movement and actions. It's more involved than watching a movie because not only do you see and hear cutscenes and dialogue, you're immersed in the story as you play through it. So playing video games can be a really involved experience in which for a few hours (or, if you're me lately, more than a few hours) you get to ditch reality, step out of yourself, and let your imagination run wild.

In that sense, as a creative person, I really appreciate what gaming brings to the table. It's never a bad thing to get your creative juices flowing, and if playing a video game makes that happen, I say that can't be a bad thing!

That being said, definitely I need to work on cutting back how much time I spend playing games. Because in that sense, it is a lot like reading—I can sit down thinking I'm just going to play for a little while (I'm just going to read a couple of chapters...) and before I know it, half the day is gone.

So, is it just me? Or are any of you guys game obsessed, too? :)

Friday, April 6, 2012


What I'm staring at when I stop typing.
I keep opening my blog, staring at the screen, and thinking to myself, "I really really need to update."

I think something has happened to me since I graduated college—I mean, besides the inexplicable laziness. It's like every since I graduated, I have this strange feeling that nothing interesting happens to me now. Which, frankly, isn't true. I mean, I did just take a almost-two-week-long trip to Atlanta, I'm working, and I still paint the town red when I get a chance.

But my writing life? So stagnant. It's shameful.

I think part of me is being 'rebellious'. I'm out of school; I have no assignments, papers, homework. I don't have to write, and you can't make me!

I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed in myself. I'm supposed to love writing, right? I mean, love it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've had this exact same pep talk with myself before—if I love writing, why am I resisting? Why don't I sit down and write every day?

The answer, I think, is a lack of discipline. Because, really, I should be doing just that. Don't get me wrong, I haven't completely stopped. I journal a lot, and I've blogged some. But the fiction? Not happening lately.

I've got to change that. I fall back on excuses; "I'm uninspired!" "Writer's block!" "I don't have any good ideas!" These are poor excuses. If I always waited for inspiration, I'd hardly ever write. The best way I've found to beat writer's block is to blow through it by force. I have plenty of ideas—I think a more accurate excuse in that vein would be, "I'm afraid of not being able to adequately express my ideas in writing."

Even now, I'm babbling along desperately, hoping to wind up with a fair blog post. But really it's just babble. I guess I should get to my point.

If there's something you love doing, do it. Even if you're afraid of failure. It's worse to not try, or to stop because you don't want to disappoint yourself and others. Keep doing what you love, even if it's just for your own personal enjoyment. Half of the things I write, no one ever sees. Or only close friends and family ever read. But to love something is to do it anyway, tune out everything else and get lost in it.

This post is meant for me as much as anyone else—Motivation. Encouragement.

Because, for me, there is nothing quite as satisfying as the act of creating something. Words on a page, art on canvas, anything.

When in doubt, create.