Hi. I'm Mike and I'm an addict.
By mike.m 03-15-2011 10:46 PM
Hi. I'm Mike and I'm an addict.
I don't make it a habit to share my personal life in great detail online, more specifically gaming blog sites where I've taken to writing as an outlet for my gaming or entertainment thoughts and as a tool to keep myself writing on a regular basis. I've been missing my goal of posting at least once a week because of issues in my personal life.
A year ago this month, I was arrested on an alcohol charge (not a DUI) and have been dealing with the legal ramifications for the past year. It is a bullshit charge that was stuck on me because the arresting officer couldn't score a DUI, but because of circumstances being what they are, I'm forced to take a deal that means me starting a two year treatment program, even though I've been told by two professionals in the last year that I don't have a problem (but the treatment program can't be recommended if I don't have a problem). At the end of the day, I was irresponsible enough to put myself in the position to go through this, so I have no one to blame but myself. I'm not looking for pity; I do have a point to all of this.
Alcohol has played a part in the decisions I've made and the responsibilities I've ignored or taken in my life, but so has gaming. There has definitely been a time where I would've classified myself as a gaming addict, and not necessarily in a humorous or good way.
I'm 34 years old. As a kid, I couldn't get enough of gaming on the Commodore 64 and our first Atari 2600. I used to take my weekly allowance of $5.00 and hit the arcade at the local PX (my dad was in the Army) and play for hours (because games only cost a quarter back then). I probably spent more time pumping quarters into games like Star Wars Arcade, Spy Hunter, and one of my all time favorite arcade games, the original Mario Bros. than I saw my own family on a Saturday. I'm also ashamed to say that I even stole money from my parents just to hit the arcades. I knew they knew but it came to a head when I got the only spanking I ever needed in my life from my dad. Eventually my parents got us the NES and like many people my age, some of the greatest gaming experiences of our lives took place with that Nintendo Entertainment System; blowing on cartridges to get them to work, finally rescuing the princess in the last castle, knocking out Mike Tyson (ok, I admit, I've never done that, sad face), beating Zelda only to find out there's a second quest (don't forget the Zelda rap commercial) and experiencing my first true (J)RPG among many, many other things. Ghost N' Goblins used to make me so mad that I would scream and throw the controller. To this day I hate the Red Devils.
Street Fighter 2 was probably the biggest gaming point of my life as I got older. I was hooked. Capcom changed the landscape of arcade and video gaming forever. There is always love for Capcom and Street Fighter in my heart. One of my greatest gaming memories is being at a friend’s house playing Street Fighter 2 at about 5 in the morning and beating the game with Guile on 8 stars with no continues. I think I woke up the entire house when I screamed for joy.
So as not to bore you with the rest of my gaming history, I'll say that I have owned almost everything under the sun going back over the years. I was an assistant manager at an arcade when I was around 18. My friends and I had a regular crew that we would travel anywhere up to about 50 miles out of the Tacoma, WA area to hit up arcades for fighting game competition. To this day, I still try to keep up with my two brothers, Vinnie and Greg. We were something else when it came to the fighting games; Street Fighter Alpha 1 and 2, X-Men vs. Street Fighter, Tekken 2 and 3. We sought competition everywhere and while I felt I could hold my own on the SF games, Vinnie and Greg were such a cut above me. But, when it came to Tekken, I was dominating. I used to make people mad and storm out of arcades after the beat downs I'd give them on Tekken. In the arcade I worked at, of the 23 possible best times for each character in Tekken 3, I had my name up for 17 of them and almost all were under one minute. I was also experiencing issues in my personal life that I think made me angry and a gaping asshole. To this day, there is no doubt that there are people who would remember and maybe even still not like me.
After that I started working at, and after a time, managed a video game store. It is around this time in my 20's that I get involved in computer gaming. This is when I got hooked up with my brother Tom (if you're keeping score, these are guys I've known for most of my life and have experienced so much with them that they are like family to me) on Everquest. You want to talk gaming addiction? It consumed me. Tom stopped playing after about a year or so. I continued on with unrivaled fervor when it comes to gaming in my life. I played with other real life friends too, and of course, made friends in game that I will never forget after all of these years. I played for almost 8 years off and on. I drank a lot in that time too. It was a game I took so seriously that it probably played a part in damaging a relationship with the love of my life, Nina (we broke up eventually, but 12 years later I stole her back from someone and though we have our tough moments, we are happier than ever). I raided. I two-boxed (hell, I four-boxed when they came up with a way to play EQ in windowed mode). I played on Rallos Zek only. I was part of the greatest PVP guild ever, The Begotten. I will always love that guild and my friends from that time who I don't have any contact with now, but wish I did. After a few years, I played less, but at times I would get the urge and when the store closed down and I lost my job, I picked it up again. Playing consistently for almost a year every day with people I had warred against years ago when the game first came out. We had a common bond though because the four PVP servers had been merged so Rallos Zek refugees tended to stick with each other. Hell, even now EQ still rolls on and it looks like Ascending Dawn is now the king of THAT server (they ruled Rallos Zek for years) after being the low guild on the totem pole for a while. Ultimately, I gave up EQ for good, but I had my regrets. How much time had I lost with friends and my own family because I chose to sit on my ass in front of the computer screen and hoard XP and phat lewts? In between darker times of my life, how much time had I spent drinking away my life and then diving back into EQ? At my own job I didn't even play ANY other video games. How can you work at a video game store and literally play NOTHING on the Playstation 2 and Xbox because you are so involved in Everquest?
Yes, it really was Evercrack and it took me a long time to realize that it wasn't the most important thing in my life, or even in gaming. Once I came to grips with that, I could simply play it for fun, which would've been about the last two years or so that I played.
Time marched on and I did play some games here and there, but I probably spent more time drinking than anything. I stuck mostly with PC gaming and eventually got into World of Warcraft. I played it for a while but didn't get into it nearly as much as Everquest and found that raiding just wasn't what I wanted to do at great lengths.
When Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare came out, my buddy at the college bookstore I worked at raved about it. I'd finally decided to break down and get back into console gaming. I bought an Xbox 360 around Christmas of 2007. I even had Call of Duty 4 before the Xbox 360 actually showed up. I played with friends a lot, but I was obsessed with getting 10th prestige, gold weapons, and just racking up kills. I played longer than anyone on my friends list. I have well over 80,000 kills and am roughly 30,000 kills ahead of anyone on my friends list. I loved the game. I think it’s the overall best FPS ever when taking into consideration single and multiplayer. I would play the game until the joints in my hands were sore. I haven't played the Call of Duty games nearly as much since, only enough to get the full Gamerscore on them and some multiplayer that usually led to boredom or not logging on as much because other friends don't.
That's when I became a bit obsessive/compulsive about my Gamerscore, mostly in a good way. I'm proud of my Gamerscore and I love working on games that have an attainable 1000 (or more). Yes, I've played more than my fair share of games I hated or felt more like a chore than fun to earn achievements, but there's a sense of accomplishment. After all, I don't currently have games like Avatar or Cars on my list. I really became interested in my Gamerscore when I found TrueAchievements.com. Now I could actually compare my score with other people based on a system that accounts for the amount of people that have the achievement and its difficulty in obtaining. As it stands, my actual Gamerscore is close to 82,000 but my adjusted TA Gamerscore is 120,000 and I have 30 completed retail games and 4 completed Xbox Live Arcade games. So, it's definitely a healthier obsession. I love completing games, and have since taken to writing about them and my experiences more on the gaming blogs.
What I realized throughout these years though is how badly my life and my family life might've affected me and my son. You see, he's a huge gamer too, but I could see the anger at games and even how it affected his personal life to the point where I had to make the decision with his mom (we obviously aren't together) to ban him from games like World of Warcraft completely. He is his father's son and I've tried in more recent times to be more patient, open, and loving with him. I think for the most part we have our gaming "anger" worked out. When it comes to me though, I realize now that I need to claim some responsibility in my life and accomplish things I've always said I would, part of that means completing a treatment program for alcoholism even though I'm not necessarily an alcoholic. I've just made some bad choices and allowed myself to ignore responsibilities.
I'm working on writing more, especially fiction and comic script ideas. Going to the recent Emerald City Comic Con was good to get those creative juices flowing. And I will continue to blog on a more regular basis as I've wanted to try my hand at writing professionally for gaming sites lately.
I've had a chance to repay Tom for some help I needed at a dire time last year when I was arrested this week. That's what family does for each other, helps each other out. Now, we make plans for our futures and do the work we've wanted to do for a long time. We're going to create apps, games, and stories that we can translate to the various entertainment mediums, and for a change, I'm all in and have the desire to move forward on it.
I'm taking control of my life and I'm not letting the bad things suck me down into that bottomless pit that is so easy to get trapped in.
I'm working on being a better person for me, my family, my kids and my girlfriend, Nina.
I'm Mike and I'm an addict, of gaming, in a better way now.
|Comments (Total Comments: 5)|
|antlp89 - 03-16-2011, 12:49 AM|
|twiceborn - 03-16-2011, 12:40 PM|
|sublime90 - 03-16-2011, 06:41 PM|
|Poor2More - 03-16-2011, 08:01 PM|
|mike.m - 03-16-2011, 08:17 PM|
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