Seeking joy and meaning in a joyless mind and meaningless existence

Friday, August 10, 2012

Saving the Galaxy...What've You Been Up To?

I really, really enjoy computer role-playing video games (CRPG's), especially ones with vibrant characters and a great plot.  I think I've distilled my obsession with gaming into a few critical areas.  In video games (as opposed to my real life):
  1. I can eventually overcome every obstacle put in front of me;
  2. I have some measure of control over my life and surroundings;
  3. I can develop my relationships and my interpersonal needs exactly to plan;
  4. I have an impact on the world around me, usually in a monumentally positive way; and
  5. I actually matter.
As much as I like the games I like, I'm unusually particular about the ones I'm interested in, so I can go weeks or months without finding one that captures my imagination.  I've never got into any of the massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG's) because I play games to escape real life and my problems, so I don't really want to be surrounded by a bunch of socially maladjusted, emotionally stunted nerds like myself when I'm gaming.

Anyway, lately I've been wasting my time with two Star Wars video games that came out several years ago.  Last weekend I finished Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.  And now I am working on the sequel, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords.  Both games take place about 4,000 years before the events in the movies so they don't have a lot of bearing on the film canon.  In both games you can develop your character as a noble Jedi or a dark Sith.  I take the Jedi path because, since video games are a surrogate for the deficiencies in my real life, I want to help people in ways I wish I could help others around me. 

Make no mistake, video games can definitely be addictive.  Every so often you find a story about a gamer collapsing (or even dying!) after marathon gaming binges, and Amsterdam has opened the first video game addiction clinic.  I'm not quite that bad, but as an addict/addictive personality type, I will obsess about anything that stimulates the pleasure centers in my brain.  Maturity for me has always been an uphill battle, kicking and screaming.  But even in my more responsible middle age I will stay up way too late on a work night or ignore practical matters like laundry when I get caught up in video game fever.