Truth be told, I am now an addict. I know what you are thinking and the subject of my addiction is not SHOES. Let us clear that up. Make no mistake, I have a rather extreme fondness for expensive footwear, but such a relationship can NOT be classified as an addiction for the pure reason, that one does need shoes to live.
No, my new found unhealthy relationship is to.... wait for it.... a video game. This may possibly be one of the signs of the Apocalypse and after seeing the movie 2012 this past weekend, I realize we don't have much time left. However, I honestly thought I would take a liking to prescription medication before a PlayStation 3 and so I was the first to be shocked and awed when a certain little video game called Ratchet and Clank became a part of my vocabulary and my personal belief system.
This relationship was in short, a whirlwind. We are not talking years of getting to know the game and then slowly making it a part of my life. No, I bought my husband a 52 inch television for his birthday based solely on the premise that:
1. He is a challenge to buy gifts for at the best of times and when I find something he wants.... I jump on it (from a retail perspective, of course)
2. Our new found and newly dear friend bullied me into a bigger television on the premise that my "pathetic" 36 inch television was an eyesore and an insult to the large wall it hung on. Apparently having a TV that is too big is like having too many shoes.... enough said.
And so the day the massive television appeared so did the PlayStation 3 and several video games. And in an event to not let this "black box" kill the fabulous relationship Jason and I had spent the last 15 years building, I decided it was high time for me to "break out" my inner "thumb-blaster" and grab the joy stickey thing and yes, play on
And so I slipped the game, Ratchet and Clank (let's be clear, I have been calling it Ratchet and Crank for the past two weeks and only yesterday did I learn its real name.... but like all drugs of choice, we often use euphemisms). The first thirty minutes seemed quite benign. I was a complete idiot at working the controls and felt (and still do) that lurching my body to either side of the couch would somehow will my character to jump higher, run faster or shoot farther. Let's be clear.... the last time I operated a "joystick" was during the Carter administration. It was a plastic stick on a black plastic box and if you wanted to go up, you pushed the stick up, left WAS left and right WAS right and so on. There was a little red button on the box that was considered your "fire power" and really that was it.
Operating the controller for the PS3 is more challenging than performing a colonoscopy. Trust me- I have learned to do both.... I would honestly say, (and no disrespect to my Gastroenterology colleagues) that maneuvering through an alternate PlayStation universe is more of a challenge than transversing the Sigmoid colon any day of the week. In fact.... I do think the guys at Sony may very well be on to something...
And so, ever a type A personality, I have spent the last two weeks of my life perfecting my joystick abilities. I do believe my right thumb will never quite be the same but thanks to Advil and perseverance my grip strength has improved considerably.
For those of you who like the "me of two weeks ago", have little experience in all things PlayStation, I will take you through the baby steps....
Firstly one needs a gamer name and mine of course was an obvious choice. I am ShoeGirl_Z and when I turn on the PS3 my screen is a lovely purple. I tell you this just in case you should be wandering in some alternate video game universe and come along my tag name.... please tell me to get off the damn game and get some real work done. I am slowly losing the self control to auto regulate....
The game in question, Ratchet and Clank (or Crank- call it what you want in the privacy of your own home) is about a pussycat and a robot who are friends. There is an evil villain and a labyrinth of space to traverse and various missions at every turn. I do believe I am doing the game little justice. The truth is, I leave the details of the story line of the game to my beloved, Jason, while I, just like shooting things.
Truth be told, I LOVE shooting things. I spent an entire day on the couch last weekend, pajamas unchanged, hair unwashed, shooting things. I have now had to set the oven timer on the stove to 60 minutes in order to restrict my shooting pleasure. I am officially allocating no more than one hour of cyber ass kicking per day in order that I may continue to function as a somewhat productive human being.
Make no mistake I am not begrudging my fellow blasters their healthy amount of thumb time, but after 3 hours my hands are killing me and I am up way past my bedtime....
I must admit, I thought that medicine would be very much against my video gamer alter ego. In fact, the evidence FOR game play is more abundant that against it. Video game play has been shown to increase hand- eye coordination and is now being used in the management of chronic pain, post stroke and the elderly. Make no mistake there is evidence to show that in children, video games may increase tendency to violence and contribute to a more sedentary lifestyle, but interestingly, video games provide children with more "activity" than just watching television. A wonderful editorial in the British Medical Journal by Dr. Mark Griffiths shows that,
"On balance, given that video game playing is highly prevalent among children and adolescents in industrialised countries, there is little evidence that moderate frequency of play has serious acute adverse effects from moderate play. Adverse effects, when they occur, tend to be relatively minor and temporary, resolving spontaneously with decreased frequency of play. More evidence is needed on excessive play and on defining what constitutes excess in the first place. There should also be long term studies of the course of video game addiction."
(BMJ 2005;331:122-123 (16 July), doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7509.12)
Until those studies come about, however, my own 60 minute rule applies. The oven timer now has a loftier purpose and order has once again been restored. Yes, My name is ShoeGal-Z and I am an addict. But like any healthy relationship, be it shoes, or wine, or chocolate, I have now established limits to keep me sane and for now... that will have to be enough.