I don’t remember when I became an addict, but I remember how it started. I was at a friend’s house hanging out like normal… I think we had just finished exploding apples with M5000s. And one of my friends there, Isaac, said, “Hey guys, do you wanna try out some Mario Kart?” I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, but I had played some of his other video games. It was always a good time, especially since video games weren’t allowed in my house.
For the first six years, my interactions with Mario Kart were purely recreational. However, during my freshmen year of high school, my parents decided that I was capable of handling my own video game system – a Nintendo GameCube. I remember the shock and excitement on my face as I unwrapped that beautifully square-shaped box with the red, green and gold glittery wrapping paper on Christmas Eve. Those were good times. The games I played were fairly tame – not good for me, but they didn’t have the nicotine-esque quality of Mario Kart. Madden ’04, Luigi’s Mansion, Mario Party and Lord of the Rings were a few of the highlights. At this point I was still very much in control. It all changed on July 27, 2007.
That day, I decided that Mario Kart was an item worth having in my personal video game collection. An Ebay account and a free shipping promotion was all the excuse I needed to fulfill this lifelong dream of mine. It had been fun playing it at my friend’s house, but I was leaving for college soon and needed to keep my fix alive. It wasn’t healthy. A month into college, I knew I had a problem, but I was doing a good job of hiding it… the bags under my eyes were easily remedied by a touch of under-eye concealer and a pair of $5 shades from Casey’s gas station. But one night, I just couldn’t stop playing – I played until I got blisters, I played until those blisters started bleeding, and then I played until I passed out. My roommate found me in the morning on the ground with bloody thumbs, covered in cheese puffs – it was messy. There was an intervention, counseling, and lots of meetings. I still have relapses sometimes, but they’re getting fewer and further between. I feel much better now. I no longer refer to Yoshi and Diddy as if they’re friends. I no longer eat my meals between Bowser Castle and Rainbow Road. I no longer scream “use a banana!” when someone is tailgating the car I’m in. Life’s been good.
Video games are addicting. If you see someone struggling, help them out. But do it in a respectful way. Video gamers often lash out when confronted with their problems. Know that it isn’t your friend inside, just the crazy person inside your friend. Unless your friend is actually crazy, then it’s a crazy person being themselves. And that’s not fun.
This message was sponsored by Mothers Against Video Game Addiction and Violence (not actually true, but they probably should have).