Life can be a boring routine for some of us. The job, the kids, the school system, the mundane realities of everyday existence can force the individual to look for excitement in other places. For some, this excitement is found in a relationship with a man or woman. For some, the rush comes from drugs or booze. Others shoplift from the mall or spray-paint their names on the walls; while others get a buzz from working out at the gym or on the basketball court. Those who still retain a recognizable dose of human competitive instinct but don’t want to exert too much energy become addicted to one or more of the following games.
Should you laugh when someone tells you that they are the President of the Chess Club? Probably not to their face. The truth is that the obsession with chess, as with many other games, is not always a bad thing. Chess has been linked in several studies to improve mental health and sharpness in individuals who play it and learn it on a healthy and active level.
Contrary to stereotypes, tons of attractive and successful people play chess. Check out egotvonline.com‘s list of sexy female chess players to see what you are missing out on by not following that high-school interest in the fabled black-and-white board.
It was Easter in the early 90s and the White House was, as usual, hosting their annual Easter Egg Roll. The theme that year (the idea that the nation’s marketing experts assumed could turn the largest profit) was Pogs. Pogs are small, cardboard discs, which probably cost nothing to make. Children across the nation have become enamored by the game, which involves stacking the discs an inch high and smashing the stack with a larger Pog (made of plastic, more expensive) which will then cause the stack of cardboard Pogs to flip. Depending on how the Pogs flip, one person will win and the other will lose. The winner will take the Pogs on, say, heads, and the loser will take the Pogs on tails.
I personally wasted probably $50 of my parents’ hard-earned money on this game at that aforementioned Easter event. Fortunately for me, the obsession did not take hold. I was out of the game before the noose tightened up and cut me off from all that I was worth. Others, mainly a long-lost childhood friend, were not so lucky.
8. Beer Pong
We have seen the tables in the hallways of frat houses nationwide. We have seen the beer-stained floors and the smashed Dixie cups. We have heard the urban legends about oral herpes and AIDS being spread from cracked lips or cut fingers pulling ping pong balls out of cups of beer. The game of beer pong is a somewhat underground symbol of the lifestyle of college students, the freedom to enjoy their selves in a garage or behind closed doors; beer pong is a monument to the young person’s ability to maintain athletic prowess even amidst the heavy consumption of alcohol.
The obsession with beer pong, for some, is quite literally a debilitating condition. Speaking from experience, I knew one young man who set a household record for playing 9 hours straight with only two breaks to eat and frequent trips to the bathroom. He estimates that in his 9 hours at the table he consumed somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 beers, although this number cannot be verified in any way and I suspect it was lower but he has insisted for many years that it is not.
Beer pong tables are the center of a party. Lines form around them and people cheer and sometimes decide their fates based on a game. Relationships are formed and broken with a dirty ping-pong ball. It is a monotonous waste of resources. It is… time to stop.
7. Texas Hold ‘Em
If you’re between the ages of 11 and 110, odds are you’ve heard of, or participated in, a game of poker. Odds are that the game was 5-Card Draw or 7-Card Stud. However, if you’ve played at a contemporary poker table in the US within the past 15 years, the chances that you’ve participated in a game of Texas hold ‘em are also extremely high.
Texas hold ‘em was first played in Robstown, Texas at some point in the early 1900s, although no one is sure who invented it, how, why, or on what exact date. The game involves many rounds of betting, lending to its popularity among avid card players who enjoy high-risk, high-variable, “bluff-able” games.
Childhood interest in the game can often lead to a late-teens online Texas hold ‘em addiction which, for the majority of players, ends in the loss of $50 or $1,000 and the perpetually recounted excuses: “I got a bad beat” or “I lost a hand cause the other guy didn’t know what he was doing and bet on something stupid.”
For some young people, however, the Texas hold ‘em addiction has resulted in high-profile fame, fortune, and unimaginable success. These stories only stoke the flames beneath those inept players who, despite their love for the game, do not have the skill necessary to compete at a professional level but have (or don’t have) the money to lose to players who do know.
Curling did not become widely popular until recent decades. While it is not typical of the games on this list, it has made the countdown on the basis of its absurdly arranged rule system and abnormal appearance. Players in half-slick-half-sticky shoes converge on an ice rink to push giant metallic discs toward a two-dimensional bulls eye painted at the far end of the ice.
Curlers are like golfers in the respect that much of their game time involves standing around staring at a motionless arrangement of variables and discussing what should be done. This discussion time, and the limitless number of variables, is the reason for the widespread curling addiction, which has swept the globe in recent years. Few other Olympic sports offer the home viewer such frequent opportunities to voice his expert opinion on how a shot should be made. Hockey is too fast-paced. Figure-skating is impossible to critique unless you have done it for a decade. No one can say anything about professional skiers. And distance ski jumping is over too quickly. Curling gives the sports fan time to formulate complex sentences like, “Yeah, oh yeah, I think he ought to push that thing right there” while standing up with a beer in one hand and making an arcing motion with his free arm.
The curling obsession is still in its early phase. We must wait to see the aftermath of this sport’s introduction into our world.
5. Magic, The Gathering
It’s Friday night and just down the street at the local gamer store a crew of men and women (mostly men) between the ages of 12 and 65 are assembled at ping pong tables which have been covered by animated playing cards depicting fantastic fictional characters and beasts. The men slap the cards on the table, talk, jeer, laugh, and occasionally raise their voices at one another.
Why aren’t these guys out chasing women? Why aren’t they at home with their wives? Why aren’t they writing their Congressman? What brings them back to this same place night after night, month after month, and year after year? The answer: Magic.
Online articles like Jason Alam’s I Won’t Lose My Second Wife: Quitting Magic quickly illuminate this game’s addictive and utterly destructive impact on the human mind. I would suggest reading it to fully understand the scope of this game’s addiction. And trust me, the list only gets worse from here.
4. World of Warcraft
The World of Warcraft series, aptly named because of its capability to totally immerse gamers into an alternative reality, has shot down countless young men who would have otherwise been experiencing the thrilling heights of their late-teens and early-20s sexual prime.
A strategic war game based in a fantasy landscape equipped with all sorts of outlandish weapons, monsters, heroic characters, and animals is just the beginning. The game eventually takes over the life of the individual- so much so that it becomes a part of the brain. Warcraft players will be cutting the lawn and thinking to themselves, what would I do if an army invaded over that sidewalk? Or, how many soldiers could I fit—if they were real, life-sized entities—into a kingdom the size of Lincoln, Nebraska (where I am pointlessly living out my pale and shattered existence in my brother’s spare bedroom while “getting my degree” from the local computer technology institute).
Starcraft is the bane of the online strategy gaming world. It is strikingly similar to Warcraft. The setting of the Starcraft strategy game is composed of an unrealistic intergalactic array of atmospheres and space stations set up specifically for unique battle strategy implementation. Players war against one another online by building armies in real time, massing attacking, and choosing a “race” of species that best fits their fighting style and personality.
There are two generations of Starcraft player: The Original Disc Junkies and The Brood War Edition Psychopaths. These two divisions are based on different releases of the game, neither of which has pulled away from the other in terms of popularity amongst online gamers.
Starcraft is a smashing success. When it comes to how many people actively play the game, which was originally released 12 years ago by Blizzard Entertainment, the numbers are astronomical. (Yes, 12 years ago means 1998… and yes, the original version is still being gobbled up with mind-numbing frequency.)
A group for Starcraft addicts exists on Facebook, and if you look around online there are plenty of stories (bogus or real, who knows) of Starcraft addicts committing various insane or illogical acts in the real world “as a result of playing too much.” Obsession with the Starcraft videogame is likened to alcoholism, drug abuse, or power addiction. It is impossible to overcome without a true life altering experience or change in mental perspective.
2. Call of Duty
Call of Duty, is a first-person “shooter” (a game in which the gun and the hands are the only visible parts of your character) Xbox game depicting the lives (and deaths) of American and British special forces soldiers as they combat a worldwide network of terrorist regimes who threaten to overthrow the United States of America and its allies.
The game itself lasts a mere 10 hours of playing time (give or take, depending on skill), but the real addiction begins when players register the game online. According to some less experienced players it is “impossible to stay alive against some of these [Call of Duty] internet gamers. They play for five or ten hours a day—and I’m not kidding.”
Rumors of addiction to Call of Duty include the story of a young man who, after winning the lottery for somewhere in the neighborhood of $100k, holed up in a beach house near San Diego with a crew of his friends and pissed winnings away on candy, soda, the occasional stripper, customized Xbox consoles, and an unbelievable flat-screen TV network which would allow the team of the gamers to play in unison. It is because of this story, told to me by a firsthand witness, that the Call of Duty gaming addiction ranks so highly on this list.
Obsession with this galactic first-person shooter is a serious condition amongst the young people of the United States. While at first the game brought people together in groups to play against one another, it has ultimately forged a society of predominately young males (along with games like Medal of Honor or Call of Duty) who live behind a flat screen television and communicate to other gamers via a headset.
While this communication is a positive thing for some people (those with disabilities who cannot leave the home, etc.) it is a dangerous addition to the already broad array of technological inventions which have severed person-to-person societal bonds by connecting human beings through virtual interaction instead of face-to-face communication.
And the addiction does not stop with playing the game. Check out geekswithblogs.net, where individuals spend extra “non-gaming” hours recounting the highlights (most of the time quite dry) of their daily adventures in cyberspace. This link also doubles as an “I’m addicted to Halo” blog. It’s like sitting through an AA meeting with a bunch of 14-year-old kids that you can laugh at or feel sorry for… your choice.
Let’s take a look at what one of them has to share:
“We were playing “1 Flag CTF” where there is one flag and each team takes turns as defenders and attackers. The map was Zanzibar. Zanzibar is an incredible map. Very fun and very fast passed. It particularly takes pretty good team work if you want to pull of a smooth win. The game was four-on-four and we finally came together and played like a team. My job was to open the gate in the energy plant…”
Disturbing and frantically scrawled lines like “My job was to open the gate in the energy plant” are beyond sad. This young man has truly stepped into a dangerous alternative universe that has the potential to dramatically shift his perceptions of himself and the world around him. As we peer further into the mind of this particular blogger we find this shocking confession:
“I’m entirely hooked on it now [Halo]. When a game goes that well, it’s eerily like a potent line of crack cocaine (not that I would actually know if this is a valid comparison mind you).”
Fortunately, crack cocaine is typically smoked in a pipe and not snorted in a line, meaning that this young man is probably not experimenting with hard drugs (or he’s a cover-up genius). Regardless, many of these Halo fiends are headed down a sad path straight to hell. If anyone can argue this thing out of slot #1, be my guest.
by Jesse Stretch
Please visit JesseStretch.com to find out more about this talented author and his publications.