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Thursday, January 06, 2005
Life after video games...

...Oh yes, I've finally succumbed to the lure of a PS2. Actually, it was DH that really started the game system search about 6 months ago or so. If the bug was with him longer than that, I don't know about it. But first, you need a little background material to understand the addiction....

Long ago, and far away, I had an Atari 2600 (I was also a Commodore 64 junkie, but that's a whole nother story). I played that thing to death, I swear, and it was all because my parents didn't let me do anything else. I couldn't play in the park (the backyard was where I could play, but there was nothing good there to play with except plants), and I couldn't go to friend's houses (because Mom didn't want to reciprocate invitations), so there was reading, the television, and the Atari.

I loved that Atari. I would lean into the movements that I made with the joystick, and I'd pull the joystick in close when I had lots of button firing to do. I was even happier when Nintendo, in their infinite wisdom, created the GameBoy. Oh sheesh, that was it for the Atari - Tetris here I come. I played Tetris until my thumbs ached. Thankfully, that was at the end of my senior year of high school, and I really didn't have much else to do except show up and take tests. I brought it to college with me, and continued playing. And all was good in the world.

Fast forward a few years - A found my GameBoy about a year or so ago and started playing. She got hooked on Tetris, among other games. Eventually I realized that I really don't play it, so I gave it to her. She was thrilled. B was miffed but she wasn't as interested in playing it as A was. After a while, DH started looking at the new generation of GameBoys - the cute little foldover ones. Then DH bought one. I kept drooling, so then I went and got one for me, and a neat little game about a purple dragon named Spyro. I was hooked, yet again.

But while we were looking at my GameBoy, DH started looking at systems. And we waffled, and we talked, and we spent about 2 1/2 hours in Fry's Electronics discussing and comparing. Then we shelved the discussion, much to the dismay of the kids, until Christmas. I, however, completely forgot about it and kept on with playing short flash games on the computer with the occasional foray back into the world of the Sims. In terms of computer games that suck precious stitching time away, I was doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Then as Christmas closed in, DH got very serious about getting a PS2. VERY serious. All discussions about other game systems just vanished. So we went searching and searching. I think there was a couple of days worth of searching going on as well, since it was the new design of the PS2 that we were looking for (the slim, very portable PS2). Eventually one was found - and DH called me to tell me that he had the last one in the store in his hands. After much waffling and lots of discussion, I told him to buy it.

And so he did.

On Christmas it was the first thing opened, not from Santa, but from us to the whole family. Squeals and happiness from A & B and lots of "Oh cooool", but slight disappointment when they realized that they didn't have any games for it (those were wrapped separately). After other presents and stockings were raided, DH quietly snuck upstairs to set up the PS2. When I realized he wasn't downstairs, I looked around to see that none of the games that had also been slid under the tree had made their way upstairs, so I grabbed them and quietly went up too - while both A & B were otherwise occupied.

Unfortunately for DH (sorry dear), I took over the PS2 almost immediately. Shortly after that the kids realized that I was playing and they came upstairs too. I surrendered the system to them, making sure they took breaks with their hands every 30 minutes or so, and went on my way. The next day I started playing a game that A was in love with, something called 'Ratchet and Clank'.

That was it. It was over.

Addicted once again. Only this time it's worse because it's not one of those games that's got a timer on screen and is inevitably going to end in 20 minutes because I've run the game out. This is something that could go on forever. When I played a day or two later and got used to the controller and the numerous buttons that I had to push, I played in earned. When I finally surfaced and saved the game module to the cute little red memory card I realized that I'd spent 5 hours playing.

5 hours? Hours that I could have spent stitching? Cleaning? Doing anything but letting a bunch of pixels suck away my day?

I then realized that PS2's are very dangerous things to have - especially when you have games for them. I thought about hours of lost sleep, lost stitching time.... something needed to be done. So I grabbed a kitchen timer and put it upstairs.

The kids now have a timer set on them for the amount they can play (this way they can do other things and rest their hands), and I don't spend an entire day playing away when I could be doing other things (including being social with my family). Chores must be done first before playing; same goes for homework. Of course, it's easy to ignore the timer when you're in the middle of something considerably challenging. Then there's also the time I forgot to turn the timer on and when I went downstairs I realized another 5 hours had gone by.

But that all lends itself to the thrill of the kill - accomplishing those strange tasks that seem so easy, but you have to get your fingers coordinated perfectly with your brain (as a stitcher, I figured this wouldn't be hard, I was wrong). I bought DH the Final Fantasy games he wanted (that would be X and X-2) and he has spent many the hour sitting and playing. He was playing when I got home from work last night and picked right back up again when he got home after a meeting he went to. I went to bed around 11:15pm and he was still playing...

When I finally beat the Alien Queen in Ratchet and Clank, I bounced around on the floor chanting "I killed her! I killed her!" DH said he hoped the neighbors called the police on me. And then there was that awful waterway that I had to make Ratchet run and swim through before he ran out of breath and died. I think I ran through that course over a dozen times while my thumbs ached and I kept drowning. Oh, and I can't forget how happy I was the other night when I won the hoverboard races. Yay me!

Sad, isn't it? But that's life after a PS2. Now you're going to have to excuse me because I spent too much time writing this, and I need to grab a few more golden bolts, a pair of Magneboots and a Visibomb Gun...

... because blasting robots is good for the psyche. Really. I'm serious.