I have decided that gaming is like a glass of red wine. Coincidentally, I used to have a drinking problem.
The vaguest summary of my experience: I learned some very harsh lessons in some very unfun ways about my personal inclinations concerning vice and indulgence.
The conclusion of my experience? Reminding myself of a child’s classic: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. If you don’t know the story of Goldilocks, well. I can’t really help you, but I’ll say a prayer over your childhood and whatever trauma ended it.
See, alcohol - and gaming - is a lot like lil’ Goldilocks. If your porridge is too hot, it can be destructive to your health. If the bed is too small, you’re still sleeping - just not as well as you could be.
Not enough? Meh.
Indulging in a middle-ground of moderation? Oooo, GURL!
There’s an old adage about red wine and how a nightly glass of it has health benefits. You’ve probably heard it before, maybe on the internet, maybe at home - I learned it from my grandma in her defending her nightly routines.
Unfortunately, when I was young I possessed a philosophy summed up in a Mick Jagger quote: “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” Until, that is, I realized that drinking a couple glasses of water is way more fun than drowning, that doing extra credit homework was lame, and that my grandma’s glass of red wine might be just dandy, but alcohol poisoning sucks.
And, hey, some research done by some smart people somewhere vindicated her and, like, everyone else’s parents, so. That’s neat.
I would never tell someone, “Addiction isn’t real.” Because it is. I’ve seen how the chemical dependencies that build in people will derail their lives to an unbelievable degree. In dealing with my own addictions, my answer was to burn it out. Go cold turkey. Go beyond just saying no: removing the temptation to say yes. I stopped hanging out with friends that drank, made up excuses to not go out, took all the booze out of my house.
With my on-and-off love affair/battle of addiction with gaming, I had a similar solution. Don’t just stop playing - throw it out. Sell everything. Delete your account. Make it so that you couldn’t go back if you wanted to.
It kind of sucked. I’m not talking about the aches of withdrawal or the rehab process - that all worked itself out eventually. I’m not talking about the constant urge to game, to drink - because that went away, too (kind of: it flares up every now and then, but the general feeling is growing disinterest).
What sucked was putting up walls between my friends and I; was burning so much invested time; was cutting everything out because I didn’t have the self-restraint to moderate my habits.
So color me shocked when I actually found out that resveratrol, the natural compound in red wine that makes it “good for you,” is actually really good for you. It’s an exercise training and performance enhancer! Wowee! I can be an alcoholic again! Oh, it’s only good in moderation? Darn.
That’s why I’m thinking about Goldilocks. That’s why I’ve been comparing my experiences with gaming and my experiences with alcohol. That’s why I’ve decided that gaming is red wine.
Not just because - look, it sucks to just cut out things that you like doing. Going cold turkey doesn’t always help you with your addictions or your habits or however you want to define excessive indulgence. It just removes temptation, and without temptation you aren’t exercising moderation; aren’t learning moderation.
Shit, I think that whole Garden of Eden debacle in Genesis just made sense to me.
I blame going cold turkey for why my relapses were so difficult to deal with, for why when - in the past - I’ve stopped playing games I always return with a vengeance that disrupts my life. Without any alcohol, without any gaming, life is still life - you aren’t really missing out on anything groundbreaking, just things that are, well, fun. Activities that can be additive to your life. But they’re also things that can be destructive to your life. Too much alcohol and Ahh!; too much gaming, also Ahh! It’s also important that it’s the right game. A shot of vodka is not the same as a glass of red wine. When you do play, make sure it’s a stimulating experience - socially, creatively, mentally, whatever. But remember:
Moderation of indulgence;
not too hot, not too cold;
not too long, not too short;
not too much, not too little.