Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Binge Gaming: An Addict's Guide

In a world of modern games which can boast 100+ hours of play time, it isn't surprising to find that binge gaming exists, especially to the army of us that are guilty of it. To the uninitiated, if your friend/employee/spouse ever completely disappears off the map for a day or two it would be wise to check the latest release dates on high profile games. The economic downturns of the world have less to do with consumer confidence as they do with people simply not spending money because they're playing Skyrim.

...amongst other titles.

However, like anything that we binge on, gaming is likely to have its hangovers, addictions and drawbacks when we overindulge too often. But since I for one refuse to go cold turkey on gaming, here's my definitive guide to living with a crippling addiction to fun.

Binge Effectively: There is absolutely no point in binging on games for a long stretch of time if you could have played the game in question for the equivalent amount of time in very short bursts. So there's never a need to binge on Bejeweled or Tetris. You can have many mini-sessions on those kinds of games easily. A more modern example is Sonic Generations because although it is a longer game with many unique levels and challenges, they are nicely divided into nice 'n' small bitesize chunks that can be digested over many 'healthily short' sessions.

Sonic is fast and quick. So too must your sessions with him be. Ooer.

The kind of games that you should binge on, in the event of a binge, are the kind that require a good amount of investment to enjoy initially. Say you have Mass Effect or Red Dead Redemption lying unplayed on your games shelf and that you've been itching to start playing it for a while then those are the games you binge on first and foremost. Get ankle deep in a new gaming world, which will give you the investment in the game that you want for future plays.

Reduce Guilt via Chore Integration: The worst part about binging on games is that those dishes won't wash themselves and the laundry won't do itself. In my case as a PhD student, that course marking won't mark itself. We all have unavoidable mindless chores to do in our lives and when we binge on a Sunday, we neglect these tasks. Discipline yourself to tend to a fixed portion of hard labour (after every quest, level etc, it's your choice) and after a day's hard binging you'll also find that a lot of those niggly little tasks have been taken care of and a lot of the gamer's guilt will just vanish in a puff of smoke.

The washing machine arcade game illustrates that last point nicely I think.

Binge with Mates: Another way to binge effectively is to do so with company. You could take on an entire co-op campaign in one go or you could take turns trying to progress through a single player campaign. Equally you could just play Super Smash Brothers until your fingers fall off but at least with the first two there is a sense of mutual achievement. It's also a good way to avoid 'not seeing or speaking to anyone for a day' depression.

Don't Binge on Anything Else except Exercise: Don't over eat, don't binge drink and don't binge on watching television! Although your mind and fingers may be working overtime, your body almost certainly isn't doing anything else but rotting and getting more dead. Eat well, avoid the junk food and don't touch the alcohols. If you want to get addicted to anything, get addicted to this! Your mind body and general sense of wellbeing will all thank you for it.

Well that takes care of that article, now I'm going to play Puzzle Quest for 18 days. See you when I'm done!

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