Like with all game playing, I've noticed a couple of different stages that build to the dark place of the totally consuming obsession.
First (once you get past the absurd initial declaration that you will never give in and play this silly game), there's the phase where you are just "trying the game." This is where the danger begins as you start having fun and maybe even some early successes. This is where you begin thinking "I'm so good at this! Finally my life has purpose and I am good at something." You literally begin to value this game as a good judge of your self worth and intelligence. You are a gladiator and this is your battle where you will take down a lion. Everyone is cheering you on.
Next, there is the phase where you are "hitting a wall." This is where all that success and fun comes to a screeching halt when you stop succeeding aka winning. All games are designed to rope you in with early success and then become more challenging. During this phase the distant memory of the rage filled frustration of solving algebra problems on a math test seem like happy memories of easier times. You begin to NEED to solve this level or score on this game. Nothing else in the world matters but this. You are sitting there playing and all of sudden look at a clock and realize it is three in the morning and you never even had dinner. And you now fully understand murderous rage.
Then comes the next phase-"exaltation." The utter bliss of finally having gotten past that road block and moving forward. You ARE awesome! And this game is proving it. You may not have your life together in the conventional sense-sure you pay rent and bills a bit late, you haven't been to a dentist in who knows how many years, and the most meaningful relationship you have is with a cat, but this game is showing that you really are a winner who can make things happen. So you keep playing.
The final phase that envelops you into this sordid life of addiction is a repeat of the "hitting a wall" phase, but now, knowing you got past that first obstacle so triumphantly, you are led by a false confidence that you will be the victor. It's like being in a relationship with a total asshole but sticking around just because his occasional compliment makes you think he'll change. So you continue to play, wasting hours of your life, your hands curled in arthritic claws with the tense excitement of anticipating your move. Time doesn't matter anymore. Nothing matters as much as this game and winning. Days, weeks, months, go by.
If any of this seems familiar, be afraid.
But I went through all of this so that in relaying a headline of the day, you find yourself relating to it, rather than scoffing about what a moron this guy is. I mean, what happened here is extreme and absolutely stupid and irresponsible, but if you have spent hours of your life obsessively playing any game (or maybe even stopped reading this blog because the mere mention of Candy Crush sent you into the shakes until you started playing it again immediately) you are not too much better than this dude.
Meet Henry Gribbohm of New Hampshire.
He spent his life savings of $2,600 this weekend at a local carnival playing a carnie game called "Tubs of Fun" while trying to win an XBox 360. (Retail value about $300.00) After spending the first $300 of his money-aka the retail value of the prize itself, he entered into total obsession and went home to get the rest of his life savings in cash which he blew on the game. Gribbohm told the press that he was convinced the game was rigged as he couldn't fathom why he just couldn't get those balls into the tubs. All he got to show for his time and effort was a giant Rasta Banana with dreads. I'm sure his kid will love that toy as much as he would have loved a college education.
Now before you judge this man and his ill-conceived plot to be a winner too harshly, think to yourself-how long did I spend playing Candy Crush saga today?