Friday, November 19, 2010

Admit & Accept, Move On.

They say that it's possible to get addicted to anything. They say that some people find themselves becoming addicted more easily than others. "They" say a lot of things.

Hi. My name is Jamie, and I used to be an EVE addict.

It wasn't something I admitted to myself when I played. Yeah, sure I spent a lot of time playing it, but so did the guys in my corp. Over five, five-and-a-half years I moved house seven times, but I took EVE with me wherever I went.

It wasn't a problem when I was single. I've always been happier knowing that I have the option to go out and be social, but can instead stay in and be alone - something that stems from being physically disfigured until I had plastic surgery at the age of 12. I'm happiest in the company of people I know, but wary of new people. Social situations can still make me a tad queasy. You never know who's making fun of you in a crowd.

So I guess it was easy for me to fall into a game like EVE. A persistent world, still almost unique in its genre in that it's a sandbox full of space bastards doing their best to ruin each others day. It probably helps that I've always been fascinated by space and space travel, and the idea of this huge open universe, just waiting to be explored and exploited really appealed to me. There was also the continuity of contact with people - my corp, whose greatest achievements are chronicled here, grew from a games forum. I knew the names, eventually came to know the voices. Even met some of them. Got rat-arsed with a couple too.

It was a safe environment, and it's the type of game that needs time spent. Sure, you could just let your character train without actually playing it, but there was money to be made, missions to be run, experience to be gained, all with the danger of losing it all, permanently. I've truly never came across another video game that has made me feel as alive as EVE did in those days, when PvP was new. Even down the years, as I became more and more adept at gang- and then solo-PvP, then led small gangs, then large gangs, then fleets, I'd still get the shakes when it came to a fight. It's a tremendous experience.

Is that part of the reason why I was addicted? Sure. I guess. With the changes in my life at the time - moving cities, finally getting out of a destructive relationship - EVE became an anchor. The guys I played with became a surrogate family, and every night we gathered around the computer and fucked some shit up. Good times.

The problems started when things in my life took a turn for the better. I got promoted, got a ten grand payrise, met a gorgeous girl who loved me more than air, took over my own business, had a son... and I did all this despite still playing EVE anything between four and ten hours a day.

The job I lost through stupidity that had nothing to do with EVE. The girl, and my son, I lost because I couldn't take my eyes off the damn computer. Oh, there were other reasons, valid reasons. But the rot began with me sitting on my computer chair and her on the couch, night after night, while I talked on Vent and she watched TV. Maybe there are guys out there who have found women who don't mind this, but mines wasn't like that.

I was addicted to EVE, and, in part, it's cost me my future with my son.

It's hard to... no, that's bullshit. It's not hard to admit it now. It's easy to admit it now, because the damage has been done, and there's no going back. I've stopped playing the game, stopped sinking the time and spending the cash. I've grown the fuck up too late.

Is there a message in this? I dunno. This blog is like a falling tree in an empty wood - if there is a message there might not be anyone to read it (apart from the guy who keeps spamming about his shoe website). But if there is a message, it's this: grow the fuck up, early.

Games are growing more pervasive, more immersive, becoming more and more prevelant. The little ones are fine, they can be picked up and put down in one night, but it's the big ones that are going to kill us. Gamers have a bad enough rep as social retards as it is, so don't do what I did. Don't sit in front of a PC and let the best thing that ever happened to you wither and die.

I thought writing this would be more cathartic. I thought there might be tears. The truth is, that I'm not writing anything that I didn't know before. I knew I played EVE too much, I knew I was neglecting her... but I had posted on the forum that I'd lead an op on Thursday, and we had our regular Wednesday night thing, and I needed to rat, and if I didn't log on at this time on Saturday I'd miss my next skill change and jesus fuck it was a game.

Grow the fuck up. Early.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Grand Theft Complete

I've just picked up the Grand Theft Auto back catalogue for £4.99 on Steam. It's one of those deals you see and are almost obliged to take. Apart from GTA2, which I wasn't a big fan of, I've spent a horrendous amount of hours indulging myself in DMA/Rockstat's skewed vision of America - hours where I could probably have done something to make myself a more useful member of society, rather than the misanthrope I've slowly become.

Shame really. But at least I've had fun.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Having a toddler around means watching lots of kids TV. This isn't always as annoying as it sounds as there's some genuinely enjoyably shows around to balance out the incredibly saccharine and sometimes outright patronising tone of the others. What I've found though, is that my mind seems to be spending a great deal of subconscious time working out the hidden meanings in kids shows.

Take In The Night Garden, for instance. Ostensibly a show designed around sleep and dreaming, I can't stop thinking about whether or not it's really a statement about UK in the modern age.

Take Igglepiggle. It's his falling asleep that triggers the visit to the Night Garden, but watch how he always carries his blanket around with him. That's because Igglepiggle represents the modern British man, a directionless metrosexual carrying the accoutrements of life - mobile phones, credit cards, designer clothes and celebrity fragrances - with him like a comfort blanket.

Upsy-Daisy? She's the ancient nemesis of the Thatcher-era Tory party, the single mother, moved forward to 21st century with all the ladette attributes and girl powah hangovers of the nineties and noughties, but mainly now representing the 20-something youth of today who got pregnant in her teens. Watch as her bed chases her everywhere, a reminder that she's living a double life of parenthood and partying. She kisses everyone she sees, dances everywhere she goes, but never invites anyone else to share her bed with her, both because she can't trust men anymore, and also because she only wants to sleep.

Which means that the Tombliboos must be her itinerant children, left to fend for themselves for the most part. Their home is a maze of tree roots and branches, mirroring the home life of many children who sometimes don't know why their mum or dad is alone, or why different people stay the night sometimes. Even their song reflects the relationships they have with men who come to see their mother: "...knock on the door/...sit on the floor/ is my nose/...that's how it goes!". The come in, baby gets left to it's own devices, perhaps with a patronising tap on the beak to say hallo, and then that's it.

The last main character, Makka Pakka, is the older generation. He moves around using a wheeled frame, caring for his rocks, which are symbols of the values of the past that still weigh on him as he struggles to understand the strangely liberal world he is growing old in. Watch him blow his trumpet, as he tries to get his views over to the younger ones, see him wash their faces, trying to remove the veneer of superficiality that's painted onto all of us in a celebrity obsessed media culture. WAtch him be ignored, as Igglepiggle spends all his time with Upsy-Daisy, while the Tombliboos shit in the corner. There's an obvious disconnection between the generations.

Next week: why Timmy Time shows the breakdown of the education system, and a discussion of the sexual themes prevalent in Big Cook, Little Cook.