In Conversation with… Sabian Wilde

Marketing Lecturer. Writer. Music Bod. Claims to have coined 'Perthonality'

Gamer’s Anonymous – The Parisite Response

with 14 comments

Geez, the internet is great… I’ve been outed as an addict.

A Gamer Addict… By my friend the Parisite.

He has this to say on Gamers Anonymous [to which I don’t belong – in fact, we merely speculate at its existence].

Are the twelve steps something like: ↑, ↑, →, ←, □, ○, x, L1, R2, ↑+□, R2+x, ↓ …?
— The Parisite

Ah… chuckles…

I hope he tells his gaming problem story on his blog soon.
— The Parisite

Well, probably not in detail – it’s kind of embarrassing. Not to mention that I get the ‘urge’ just thinking about it. I’m not fussy… in times of desperation, once I noticed that Windows Solitaire numbers each ‘random’ hand, I started to play them sequentially and got to 200+ before I stopped.

I first realised I was an addict while playing ‘The Sims’. I was congratulating myself on teaching my avatar to get up, go to work, pay the rent and maintain a relationship, when I realised I was late for work.

Two days late.

And I hadn’t paid the rent either.

So how did it begin?

I still remember playing one of the early arcade games ‘Maniak’ (?) in the downstairs room at Papa’s in Fremantle – where the illicit gambling is alleged to have taken place.

Yep, it was a den of vice, waiting for me to fall in. Figuratively, that is, I do remember being able to negotiate the stairs without incident. I was hooked.

My family never had much money, but somehow Mum scraped enough together for a second-hand Vic 20, but it wasn’t too long before I’d disappear to go to friend’s houses to play C64, then Amiga or even the Sinclair ZX Spectrum (ah…. Elite!).

Years later, Timezone opened across the road from Papa’s. I was a high-school drop-out by 16, at which point the manager offered me a job, on the basis that I was there all the time anyway.

Skill puts the cost/minute ratio in the gamer’s favour, and I had already started to get hooked on pinball games as they didn’t ever ‘end’, making it possible to play a single game for up to 45 minutes or so, all the time racking up free games…

I took the job, thus radically reducing the amount of time I had to spend playing games – a fourteen hour shift every two days meant that while I thought I was getting every second day off, it was more like working all day, sleeping for a day and going back to work…

This may have contributed to my surly disposition towards customers, but it was just as likely to be the frequent death-threats I’d get from bogans somewhat outraged by the fact that a geeky kid like me had the keys to all the games in the place.

I won’t tell you why I was fired, but I will say that the manager’s daughter had this tattooed on her ankle.

Classy place, classy company.

Next stop – servicing arcade games for an independent opeartor, and eventually building juke-boxes and other amusement machines… this is at about the time PCs started to become more common, but seeing as I was pseudo-homeless for the next year or so, I had neither the money nor anywhere to put one.

On the other hand, I did learn to play guitar. A real one.

I’m learning Rock Band now.

I ended up working with the independent operator, using the sideshow alley stalls he ran at the Royal Show (WA), the Ecka (Brisbane), Moomba (Victoria), Luna Park (Sydney and Melbourne) to travel the country a bit, but mostly based out of Melbourne, where I ended up running one of his juke-box hire companies, where I convinced him he really needed internet.

Next step – completely addicted to ‘Sanity’s Edge’ – a text based MUD (Multi User Dungeon) with a cyberpunk theme. People I met only as words on a screen, some of whom I am still acquainted with today. [Fuck me, it’s relaunched. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Just when I had learned to have a real job/life/wife. FUCK!]

Do they introduce themselves using their handle/avatar, “I’m Draganslya44 and I’m a game addict”?
— The Parisite

They’re not all that self-reflexive, but it’s kind of true.

During the height first extended period of my addiction, I had many friends whom I knew only by their ‘nicks’ (who says ‘handle’, anyway?). I was friendly for years with a guy I only knew as ‘Bug’, whom I had ‘killed’ because he was true to his name… he was bugging the buggin’ bejesus out of me when he joined up as a ‘noob’.

In Sanity’s Edge, ‘death’ meant being saved at the last minute by paramedics, who would then rob you and throw you out of a moving ambulance into the centre of town. Moments after I killed this annoying newcomer, a voice came over the (text-based) radio…

Now I am small and have no pants.
— ‘Bug’

In a world that pre-dated massively over-hyped pieces of video software that ask you stare at the shallow gryrations of a half-dressed elven women avatars being made to dance by their presumably less desirable overlords, a statement such as ‘Now I am small and have no pants’ simply meant that the guy had a good sense of humour and knew how to take a joke.

I don’t even know how to explain Bug’s friend ‘Hadley’ except to say that it looks like growing up in Canberra fucks you up… in a kind of amusing way. Put it this way, I just tried to track down Hadley and he’s left this up on a forum as his supposed website address… It’s like he doesn’t want me to find him. On the other hand, my signature file on that forum contains the following Fight Club parody, which is strangely appropriate to this discussion.

You are not your magic fireball,
You are not your fancy costume.

The crudely animated MUDs soon followed, which is about when women who had liked MIRC started to play games too. Shortly after this, cybersex started to become commonplace, although I didn’t realise this for some time… I’d be happily hacking some computer-generated foe to pieces, quipping for my life when I realised that the rest of the party was being suspiciously quiet. This is because gamers can use ‘scripts’ which tell their character what to do so they can gain experience while simply ‘chatting’ on ‘intimate modes’.

No, I don’t cyber. I have counselled lonely would-be cybers but that’s a whole other post, which will probably be called, ‘It sure is dark in this dungeon… wanna cyber?’. Nope. My character would be out the front, killing and joking, with an entire party set to automatically ‘follow’ and ‘assist’.

The internet is a waste of time, and that’s exactly what’s right about it
— William Gibson

I should also point out that these games were fun and more importantly, absolutely FREE.

Anyway… as some of you may know, I ended up being a pop culture reviewer for X-Press Magazine, where I suggested I write a computer game review section, which was transitioned into an X-Press offshoot magazine, ZebraPerth.

And that was pretty much the beginning of the end…

I had achieved Gamer Addict nirvana… Years before Tripod wrote Gonna Make You Happy Tonight, I actually said something like:

I’ll be in later baby, I have to finish this level…
No I won’t come now.  IT’S MY JOB!!!!
I don’t tell YOU how to do YOUR job!

Under the guise of ‘reviewing’ I had free games coming in from developers which I argued I was morally obliged to finish before I reviewed them. Unlike some music reviewers, I liked to watch the whole gig before making comments. Same with my movie reviews… And if the game says it offered 60 hours of continuous gameplay, I owed it to my readers to make sure that was true.

That’s what I told my girlfriends and that’s what I told myself. Even after the girlfriends left.

My wife was the most significant of these girlfriends, and she will quite happily tell you that at various stages of the last ten years, my addiction to computer gaming has threatened to kill our relationship.

In November 2007, I killed my computer by chainsmoking for two weeks playing World of Warcraft next to a PC without its sides on while my wife worked on an extended campaign. The motherboard is apparently coated in tobacco resin and cannot be fixed.

Which brings me to one of the Parisite’s other observations:

Do they need to stay away from pretty much any electronic device because that would be an enabler?
— The Parisite

I no longer own a PC.

I no longer own a PS2, and I never bought a PS3 or an X-Box.

I’m glad I never bought a Dreamcast, and I’m sorry for those who did.

My phone only has one game on it. I have finished it probably 100 times.

I still play free online games when my wife isn’t around.

I’m not proud.

But I’m happily married, I pay my rent and I get to work on time.

Except for when I’m trying to blog in the morning.

It’s for the readers…

Believe me?

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14 Responses

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  1. You really don’t own a gaming device?

    Tim

    Friday, March 20, 2009 at 7:46 am

  2. […] about this on Watchmen night – I hope he tells his gaming problem story on his blog soon [EDIT: he has – in an alarmingly rapid response… and it’s brilliant] – I’ve never needed Gamers […]

    Gamers Anonymous « the-paris-site

    Friday, March 20, 2009 at 7:47 am

  3. Well, he does like to think he owns me – I am Sabian’s personal gaming device. And I have two PCs and a PS3 –

    I totally Rock Band his world.

    the-paris-site

    Friday, March 20, 2009 at 9:08 am

  4. I really don’t.

    Xab

    Friday, March 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm

  5. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

    matt

    Saturday, March 21, 2009 at 9:12 am

  6. These are things I did not know about you.

    Good thing I’m not addicted. I can stop playing any time I want.

    … at the next save point.

    … unless it’s at a really good point.

    Brett

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 9:44 am

    • I’m a man of varied history.

      Xab

      Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 9:49 am

  7. or there’s trophies…

    lewie

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at 10:14 am

  8. […] first discovered Jonathan while I was in the midst of my World of Warcraft addiction – through a fantastic video featuring his zombie song Re: Your Brains created by a Photoshop […]

  9. […] now I’m dead; what became of all my dreams? My bright burning ambitions; Did I buy Playstation 3? I can’t bite your head off So now’s the time to tell me… I’m assuming I […]

  10. Glad I found this… I recently destroyed my install/run discs to all my favorite games after realizing that I had just re-installed the day after I promised myself I was done for a few months (atleast). This wasn’t the first time I uninstalled and re-installed and uninstalled and re-installed. I gave away my x-box on craigslist as extra insurance against gaming.

    When I told my girlfriend I had uninstalled the games and was just keeping the discs around in case I want to have fun. She says “if you were a crackhead trying to quit – would you keep a bag of crack around just in case?”

    I am a web-developer and have one of the best computers on the market for gaming/entertainment/designing/etc… how do i break the compulsion – besides not picking up the first game? ARGH!!!!!!!!

    Thank you for the great read!

    cjjeans

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 2:55 am

    • Hi Chris, glad you enjoyed the read…. I guess there’s a lot MORE of us out there than I had thought.

      Girlfriends and significant others of the world, rest assured, we can change… for YOU.

      Now give us back our controllers…

      Xab

      Friday, May 1, 2009 at 1:13 pm

  11. Hey Xab, I’m not quite sure how I stumbled in here, but here I am.

    This is Bug. It seems we have a mutual friend in Gretchen, who just sent this to Hadley to see if it’s the same dude. I am currently trying to understand the meaning of all this.

    Creepily small world.

    Good to see your online self… I suddenly have a strong compulsion to try and play Sanity’s Edge again.

    Shit.

    Joel Barcham

    Monday, January 14, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    • BUG!

      Good to hear from you! I think I sent you an FB request after Gretchen managed to recognise the two of you in this piece.

      How do you like your immortalisation in this piece?

      Xab

      Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm


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