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Karma Plays it Smart: Addictions, Gaming, and Knowing When to Say When

I've never been good with moderation. Whether it be food or caffeine or books, my "Know When to Say When" program has always been a bit glitchy. You would think they'd have come up with a patch for my addictive personality problems, but no, they haven't, so I'm forced to be careful by limiting my exposure to those things. And yes, there is such a thing as reading too much, especially when you stay up all night doing it.

Because fuck sleep.
With this in mind, I've decided to buy Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines for PC. After watching Cryaotic's hilarious play-through on his YouTube channel Cry Plays the World, I couldn't resist. For those of you who aren't really into this sort of thing, this might not seem like such a big deal, but you have to realize this is the first game I've bought in ten years. I'm not saying I haven't played anything between then and now, but I've always been careful keep one eye on the clock and to check in on my husband every so often to make sure he's still alive and not plotting the demise of my lover (AKA, my computer). Or packing his bags, ready to leave me forever. That last one wasn't an exaggeration. He's threatened in the past to leave me over a computer game. What's sad is he would have had every right to do so.

The game in question was City of Heroes. I had heard of it through an RPG buddy by the name of Spin Kick-not his real name-who said the game was awesome and I should definitely try it out. So I bought it, tried it out, and loved it so much I was glued to my computer screen 24/7. I would get up to go to work and use the bathroom, but that was pretty much it, and if I could have quit my job or figured out how to install a toilet next to my computer desk, I would have done so without a thought for how the bills would be paid or sanitation issues.

Because fuck hygiene.

At the time, I was living at home with my mother on the Westbank, working as a blackjack dealer at Boomtown Casino at night. My husband-then, my long suffering boyfriend-lived in an apartment complex in Metairie. I would work the swing shift which ran from eight o'clock in the afternoon to four o'clock in the morning, head on over to Metairie after work, and spend the rest of the night with him. Or I did, until I started playing that damn game. I spent more time playing the game than I did with him, but I didn't realize how bad it was getting until he called me on one of my days off and asked if I was coming over. I was playing Heroes, of course.

"I'll swing by as soon as I finish this level," I promised.

He sighed, but didn't make an issue out of it. He called me an hour later when I didn't show up.

"Are you still coming?"

"Sure, sure. Almost done with this level."

"If you're not coming just say so."

"I said I was coming over. I'll be done in just a sec."

"Okay," he said, not believing a word I said. "But if you're not coming over just let me know."

Another hour passes. He calls again.

"Where are you?"

"I'm just about to leave," I lied.

More sighing. "Fine." Click.

Another hour later and I'm still playing. My phone rings. I look at the clock and realize I've been playing for hours. I know he's going to be pissed and debate picking up the phone, but that would only piss him off more, so I answer.

"I'm turning off the game right now, I swear."

Dead silence followed by, "It's the game or me."

They say the first step to solving a problem is admitting you have a problem...or having your boyfriend threaten to dump you, apparently. I stopped playing City of Heroes after that. I couldn't trust myself to play it without going crazy. My boyfriend and I patched things up when he realized I wouldn't be leaving him for an online game, and I was careful to stay away from other games. When he bought World of Warcraft, I made him swear he wouldn't give me the sign-in code fearing a set back in my recovery. He kept saying that he didn't mind giving it to me just as long as I didn't go crazy, but I knew I wasn't ready for such a bold step. Later, when he bought Diablo III, he made the same offer, and I relented. I was careful that time, setting my alarm for a specified amount of play time and made sure once the thing went off I would spend some much needed boyfriend/girlfriend time doing boyfriend/girlfriend things you do with your We did sex, is what I'm saying.

So it is with this story in mind that I'm buying another computer game of my own volition. I'm going to be good this time. I'm going to play it smart. With a little forethought, a little planning, and a shit load of willpower, I know I can play VtM:B without risking divorce proceedings.

Or this. Because fuck this.


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