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I just read a book on drug and alcohol addiction, a memoir, actually, and it got me thinking about my own addictions. I began to wonder about the times in junior high when I was failing my classes, spending all the time I could playing games, specifically Diablo, Diablo 2, and Anarchy Online. This lasted all the way through high school and the beginning of college (after I convinced and begged admissions to let me in, saying that high school was only a phase). I remembered the weeks my report card would come when I was younger and my mother, doing the best she could with an addict, took the power cord from my computer. It wasn't long before I had backups and snuck on late at night to rejoin my digital friends. Then, I was caught. She took the computer away, the entire tower, hiding in her office at work where I couldn't access it. At that point, I went through what felt like physical withdrawals, intense anger, and I didn't realize until later what that was. It was addiction, mostly psychological, but addiction nonetheless.
With this in mind, I start to wonder about my current state of mind, and the industry as a whole. There is so much talk of how "terrible" newly released games are, and how there seems to be no quenching for the hungry. We get our quick fix during the "content locust" phase, then we lose that momentum. We come down from the excitement of the new and start to want more. "There isn't enough endgame," we say; "There isn't enough content or innovation," we say. Are these not the sign of addicts? The alcoholic in the memoir had to continually drink more to feel that high again, then he moved onto other drugs such as speed and heroine. He started at nine years old.
Don't get me wrong, gaming addiction probably isn't on that exact level. Yes, we've heard the stories of broken families, deaths from malnutrition, and so on, but it doesn't seem to be as widespread. It rarely reaches that level. But the signs are there.
As a community, together, we have grown more and more addicted. We are just waiting for that next high and all of the irritation and cries on the forums is a symptom of that withdrawal. What happens when a company actually reaches the demand?
Will we find our weekly content updates to be satisfactory? Will the health and social issues become more frequent and scary?
At this point, I think it is important to mention why I'm even bothering to write this. I feel like we are, like all addicts, placing the blame in the wrong places. The industry has evolved tremendously since its beginnings. We have games to satisfy every type of player. The issue isn't with the games, it isn't with the developers, it's with the addiction that has overcome us.
I didn't realize this until I started looking at the games of the past and (as objectively as possible) compared how much they lack in comparison to the new generation of games.
These aren't bad games. Like one drink isn't bad. The problem is that we can't just have one, and the next needs to be more potent, cheaper, and last longer.
If this is true, where do we go from here?