WARNING: This is a lot of ranting.
I dunno what happened, but come 9:00, a mood swing came upon me and I feel like absolute crap. I have an idea why, and I feel like rambling. It’s 11:45, and I would talk to a friend over IM if I could, but, none are available. Despite the fact that Christmas break finally arrived, I lie here incredibly anxious. About what? Absolutely nothing. For some reason, I started think about my past. 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade. My equivelant to the “Dark Ages”. Most of you don’t know that much about me, and I am to blame for that. I don’t tend to share much about my past. Most of you probably don’t know I was born in Mississippi. Or that I had white hair when I was 4. Or that I have 2 brothers, and 2 dogs. Little stuff like that. But this part of my past defined me in a way I really couldn’t expect at the time. How could one game do that to a person? You might be amazed.
The name of the game: SK, short for Shattered Kingdoms. That genre of games is defined as a MUD, a (M)ulti (U)ser (D)ungeon. These games are text only – no pictures, or sound, just words on the screen. But those words mean so much. The game is defined as an RPG, a Role-Playing Game. For those of you who don’t know, these games are the most addicting, they have the largest player base, and they just get better and more addictive with time. In them, you play a role, in a sense, you act out as another person. These games vary, from modern, to futuristic, to medieval, fantasy, star wars, you name it, it’s there. SK happened to be fantasy.
My dream come true, when my best friend Daniel introduced it to me in 5th grade. I don’t blame him at all for my getting addicted, because neither of us knew exactly what the game was. For the most part, at the time, we just played so we could gain levels and get our characters real strong and powerful. Very innocent. But somehow, it grew more and more fun. I’d get on after skool, on my old dial up modem, and hog the phone line for 6 hours. Then my parents would kick me off because they realized I had been using up the phone line all day, and the cycle repeated itself. Come 6th grade, I homeschooled, and we had moved into our new house. We remained on dial up, but they resolved the solution with two cell phones, which helped them, but not the people trying to call us. By then my life consisted mostly of my schoolwork, SK, and my 4 or 5 friends that also homeschooled.
Everything continued as normal, until the summer after 6th grade. I discovered the wonder of “females” in my reality world, and realized that being the addict I was, no such thing would ever be meant for me. But of course, you can get married in SK. Here lay my true downfall, as it were. Now, in the game, I played a rather respectable character known as Salaria. He was a priest, as well as the high priest of his “diety”. I took a lot of pride in him. But when this wonder of “females” came into my life, I realized, I need to get rid of this addiction. So, after two hard years of work, I just deleted him. No turning back. Cold turkey. I didn’t look back for another 6 months.
But, a month or two into my 7th grade of school, I became restless. Girls weren’t paying attention to me, despite the fact I’d given up SK. And, one bored weekend, I created another character. It stayed perfectly innocent, killing for levels, etc., until a month or three later. I decided I’d try and find my good old character a girlfriend. Now do understand, I had no intention of doing what RPG gamers called “MUD Sex”, which is, if you don’t understand that, is basically cyber sex. And I never did, I feared it like the plague, and thus I avoided it completely. But I got him married, and I was happy. But the problem is: by this point, I was back up to playing 4 hours a day. Once the summer came, approaching 8th grade, I created 2 more characters. And played them all. One particular character, I wanted to get him a girlfriend. Here I describe why this game is so disgusting.
I WAS that character. In every aspect, I made him like me, and made him what I wish I could be. Now when I made a character exactly like me and my desires, I was prone to be attached. So I became attached. But then when I actually treat that character’s feelings as my own, then it becomes much more problematic. He felt pain, I felt pain. He felt rejected, I felt rejected. So when I stumble upon a potential female I could mate him up with, and she isn’t really very accepting, well, I didn’t take it too well. I’ll just leave that I got sick for a few days with no illness in particular. So when, at this point, my very health, besides the fact I never ate, is in danger, would this not wake someone up? Apparantly not.
Now, with nothing to do except sleep, eat, and SK, I played 18 hours a day. Removing days I went to my friend’s houses, and days I had to work with stuff, that leaves me about 50 hours a week minimum, on average about 75 hours a week. Calculate 75 hours a week to an entire summer, using 4 weeks a month, and stratching out to the beginning of 8th grade, that’s WAY over 1000 hours, almost to 1200. 1200 hours, one game.
I never really planned on quitting. But Daniel, Jesse, Emma, and I went to Word of Life that summer, for a week. This is a Christian camp, that teaches Christian principles. And when they tell you, that you should be living your life for God, I kinda thought “Wait a second. I’m not doing that.” Spending And thus, I shrugged my shoulders, and went on. Daniel, however, realized what we were doing. All day and night for a game? A game? A week after camp, he quit. He strongly encouraged me to do so, as well, but I didn’t until a month after. But that month I continued playing was absolute horror. I was addicted to the game, but the addiction just wasn’t satisfied, but it’s not like you can play more than 18 hours a day. So I just went on. But then I realized “Wait a second. A: This isn’t pleasing God. B: This isn’t pleasing my best friend. C: It isn’t pleasing me. D: It isn’t helping me, God, or anyone else.” With a good bit of help from Daniel, I stopped.
I deleted all my characters with a one day notice to all my fellow players. I kept contact with two of the people I played with, however. One of them, Jaqcueline, whom one of my characters married, was never addicted in the first place, and only continues playing in her small amount of spare time, but she bothers less and less. The other, whom I’ll call Shabbu, just grows more into the game. I can’t talk to him anymore, because he is always busy RolePlaying with his fellow players. The affect of the game.
Before the end of 8th grade, I did go back, once. “Shabbu” convinced me to go back once. But I just wasn’t interested. This, I would consider, a miracle from God. A moment before I entered the name in, I couldn’t wait to start playing again. That same hunger was in me from before. But I played for 2 hours. I logged out. And I just forgot.
I hate thinking back to that time, ashamed of what I did, or, what I didn’t do. I wasted so much time, so much of other people’s time playing it. I still feel it’s effects reverberating in my life. The only good thing I retain from it is literary skill. My vocabulary was widened a HUGE amount, as well as my writing skill.
I still wonder, sometimes. Did those players know they died to a 12 year old? When I told my player friends my age, they told me: “I thought you were 21….”
Thank you for taking the time to listen to my rant.
Note: That 1200 hours was only one summer. I spent approximately 4000 hours of my life on this game. 4000 hours, or 167 days, or 24 weeks. In exact timing, I played 23 weeks, 5 days, and 16 hours.