I made a mistake

skyrimA long time ago, I bought Skyrim. That wasn’t the mistake. Probably. I bought Skyrim when it first came out. I did not open it. Until Friday night. That was (probably) the mistake.
At the time I bought Skyrim, there were a lot of things going on in my life. Among them, I was trying to finish a book I was writing. Knowing myself quite well (all my life, as a matter of fact), I knew that opening Skyrim at that time would be a bad thing. Very bad. Horrible, in fact. See, I have a bit of an addictive personality. I can’t drink one glass of tea; if left alone, I will drink the entire pitcher. Same with food; one cookie? Maybe two? Okay, I’ll have six. If I like a tv show, I’ll get the DVD’s and blow through them in a matter of days, watching episodes back to back without pause.

This (and some other things) is why I don’t drink.

Probably the best example of my addictive personality taking hold can be illustrated through the words ‘World of Warcraft’. I purchased and installed WoW within a month of its release, and quickly became obsessed with the game. I played it every free moment I had. Great if you’re trying to level your Pally, horrible if you want to… you know… do anything else at all in the world…

My evolution with gaming began with the same system a lot of people had – the Atari 2600. I played the hell outta that thing. Still have it in the closet. And the games. Haven’t tried to hook it up in…a really long time. Hrm. Anyway, from there, I had a Tandy Color Computer II. Sort of a computer/game console hybrid, the Color Computer II had cartridge games you could buy and play, which I did. I remember the baseball game. Dots on the screen. But in color! Unless you had a black and white television. Which I did. In which case, not in color! But still – games! Lots of games, apparently:

And then it happened. The Nintendo Entertainment System. Mine had Duck Hunt. Yours probably did too. That would’ve seen me through except there were a few games I wanted to play that weren’t available for the NES – only for the Sega Entertainment System. So, yes, I bought a Sega. Sonic! My friends and I played those two systems to death. One friend spent the entire weekend at my house so we could beat Metroid (we didn’t). Don’t even get me started on Tetris.

When the Super NES came out, bought that, too. And a Playstation. And the N64, which possibly had the strangest controller every developed. Ever. It was part controller, part gun, and possibly part vibrator, all in one. Very strange.

Then I started getting away from console gaming. I had my second PC (the first one kinda sucked. Come to think of it, the second one wasn’t much better…), and there were some cool Star Wars games out there. I bought them. And I played them. A lot. Over and over. As I upgraded machines over time, I got more and more into PC gaming. Another favorite was Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon. You were in control of a five man team doing various missions. I always took personal control over the sniper, set the rest of the team to hide in some trees or something, and then went and did the whole mission alone… Yeah…

padraigEventually I switched to Mac, bought WoW, and spent all my time in Azeroth.

That’s the theme here – I spent a lot of time playing these games. Obsessing over these games. Now I have an XBOX 360. I bought it, what, six years ago? Five? Something like that. And there have been games I’ve been obsessed over, like the recent Batmab/Arkham games.  But nothing had grabbed my attention the way WoW did.

Until now.

I remember reading Twitter and Facebook feeds about Skyrim when it first came out. Jokes went something like this: Genre fiction editors are showing an uptick in genre fiction writers missing deadlines due to Skyrim.

I believe it.

I finally cracked the plastic seal on my copy of Skyrim Friday night. I hadn’t played any games in a while, and felt a little itch to do so. I used to play these kinds of games all the time. Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, Faxanadu, Zelda – the more deep and complex the story, the more I was into it. And then something happened about ten years ago. Like a switch going off in my head, I became really bored with those kinds of games. With the exception of the Clancy game mentioned above, (and Duck Hunt, of course), I was never a fan of first person shooters. Then came Halo, which has a mix of OMG BLOW SHIT UP and story. And games like the BioShock franchise, which combines the first person shooter with story and puzzles.

Skyrim has such a nice balance that it kept me entirely engaged and suddenly, it was Sunday.  I’d played the whole weekend away.  Yikes!

So, I think I made a mistake opening up Skyrim.


  • Paul (@princejvstin) Posted July 16, 2013 11:18 am

    It sucks you in, that’s for damn sure.

  • Fatma Alici Posted July 16, 2013 12:04 pm

    Oh yes, Skyrim. I used to get so into games in the same way. I never play a game when I had to get something done. Not sure why I stopped being so obsessive. But, you have my pity and understanding. Thankfully, you didn’t open it earlier, that would have beeen a real disaster.

  • ganymeder Posted July 16, 2013 7:50 pm

    My son, Monsterbat, keeps trying to suck me into video games. I keep resisting, because I tend to binge also. Right now it’s all I can do to keep from watching the next Dead Zone episode (I’ve blown through 4 seasons this week). Soooo… I feel your pain. The good news is you knew enough to WAIT, so that worked out better. 🙂

  • Jen Donohue Posted July 16, 2013 8:27 pm

    Skyrim is pretty amazing! The Dawnguard expansion is a nice one. I forget what the other is called, but I didn’t really feel it did what I wanted it to (which was open up Morrowind for play, but I guess that was an unrealistic yearning as Morrowind was freaking HUGE).

    I had a period of time in which WoW was a huge focus for me. Before that, it was Final Fantasy XI (the only Final Fantasy game I’ve played). Not a whole lot of writing gets done when I’m embroiled in a video game, I really agree with you on that. Which makes me a bit nervous about Final Fantasy XIV. It looks really good, a lot like XI in fact, and I’d like to maintain some level of productivity not involved with being in a party killing monsters (granted, there’s D&D to be had as well…..)

    • Patrick Hester Posted July 16, 2013 8:29 pm

      Dear Jen – I played the FIRST Final Fantasy… Gawd… I’m old…


  • Tim Ward Posted July 16, 2013 9:20 pm

    Does this mean you’re doing pretty good on the writing projects? I’m glad you took some time off to play a game. Sounds like that last job took a lot out of you.

    I was like that too. My favorite game was FF III on Super NES. Now I’ve got too much to do, you know? People say I’ve got to write four or five great novels before I start to earn a living and I’m just trying to get that first.

    Enjoy your game.

    • Patrick Hester Posted July 17, 2013 10:59 pm

      Dear Tim,

      On Writing: no. Projects are stagnating in my own self-loathing and doubt.



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