Adulthood sucks. When you are a kid, you fantasize about it. Back then it was that magical time in the future when you would be allowed to do anything you wanted to and no one could tell you to stop. You’d be able to drink, drive, smoke, swear, touch boobies, and play video games all day long. All at the same time if you want! (Though the resulting car crash would probably leave the paramedics a little puzzled.) Once you get there, though, the reality sinks in. Society just gave you a giant heap of awesome things to do, and didn’t bother adding any hours to the day so that you can actually do them.
If you want to drink, drive, smoke, play video games, and ESPECIALLY if you want to touch boobies, you need a job. That’s a good 40 hours out of your week, minimum. And since boobies are attached to women, and women have needs, that’s another couple of hours of emotional maintenance just to keep a pair of boobies around for the occasional touching. All of that boobie touching eventually leads to other far more pleasurable activities, which in turn lead to children, who severely curtail future boobie touching. Before long you start to realize that chunks of time devoted to the things you want to do are getting further and further apart. Inevitably, when the next good time rolls around, you frantically try to make up lost ground. If you’re a drinker, you down a quart of Jack Daniels in a time honored tradition called binge drinking. Less known, but no less common, is binge gaming.
Binge gaming can take many forms, but there are a few common symptoms. For one thing, you stop playing games to have fun and start playing games to “get them out of the way.” Sidequests become a thing of the past as you sprint to the finish, eager to scratch this game off of your to do list, pull it out of the tray, and move on to the next one. If the game has a co-op campaign, you are pretty much relegated to finding other binge gamers to run through it with, since standard gamers are far to interested in “messing around” to fit your schedule. Straight muliplayer becomes a sequence of quick-matches. Sure, you are playing with a bunch of strangers, but taking the time to pull together a squad of friends would cut the level of raw gameage in half. As with all types of binging, this is more about the quantity than the quality now.
Your tastes and habits will quickly adapt to your new gaming philosophy. Deep plots and multiple endings fall well behind things like quick load times and skipable cinematics on your list of priorities. The fewer pieces of dialogue you have to flip through, the better. Your financial habits change to match your speedy playstyle, too. You stop owning games and start renting them. No sense dropping $60 on a new game or $30 on a used one when you know that there is no chance of replay. Frankly, the rise of binge gaming has made services like Gamefly possible. Now you don’t even have to head down to the rental place of your choosing. When the odd moment arises, there is an envelope on the end table with the next dose of gaming sitting in it, ready to be mainlined into your bloodstream. One can only hope drug dealers never match that level of convenience.
Is binge gaming a bad thing? Well, it won’t tear up your liver as bad as binge drinking, though your marriage might suffer just as much. Your thumbs, too. But just as an alcoholic doesn’t actually enjoy drinking, neither does a binge gamer enjoy games. Binge gaming is to video games what masturbation is to sex. It doesn’t really count as a replacement, it just releases the pressure until the next opportunity comes along to get the real thing. Binge if you must, but every now and then take the time to do it right. Remember that you liked video games for a reason. Skip over the good parts enough times and you’ll start to wonder why all of the games you play suck all of a sudden. Plus if you keep doing that you’ll go blind and have hairy palms. Sinner.