Addiction

I’m back to playing Minecraft, and, much to my chagrin, I just died in a completely dumb and foreseeable and truly n00bish way: I didn’t look where i was going, fell into a chasm and thus encountered my inevitable demise. ARGH. I will never find that place again, either, and I had EIGHT diamonds on me. Eight. And I was fixing up a village and now it will never be done and the villagers will probably be eaten by zombies.

For those of you who have absolutely no idea what the hell I was just talking about, Minecraft is a wildly successful indie computer game, the brainchild of a Scandinavian programmer named Notch who built it on nights and weekends at home. That was, um, 2010? 2009, I think, but I started my journey in alpha in the summer of 2010. Nowadays, it’s a gazillion dollar Scandinavian company, Mojang, in which Notch is only, to the best of my knowledge, tangentially involved. It’s a sandbox game, which is to say that there is no plot, storyline, quest or any of that garbage: you can do whatever you want in an infinite world. It’s also kind of a lot like Legos – you can gather resources and build things from other things. There are also monsters, because without monsters, as we all know, just what would be the point of anything? Anyway, I played obsessive levels of Minecraft for about three, three and a half years and finally I got kind of bored and more or less quit. I started up a new world the other day, though, and it’s good so far. Well, except for the nagging intense pain in my right shoulder.

If you have an addictive brain, the theory goes that every time you encounter your addictive substance of choice, a pathway to pleasure gets grooved into that brain. I imagine that this is a literal pathway, like a map inscribed on the surface of your cerebellum so you could, maybe, look at it. Ah! Here is beer and here, deeply worn and lined with skulls, is tobacco. Subsequent voyages into the substance deepen those pathways, until at last your brain really doesn’t want to leave them. Or so I have heard, somewhere. Remember that I majored in art, not science.

Anyway, Minecraft hits those pathways for me in a way that very few other substances ever have. Granted, I drink too goddamn much (although it lessens every year as my body becomes more intolerant and my mind becomes more solitary) and I smoked like the proverbial chimney from the time I was 15 years old right up until 15 months ago, but I’ve never been addicted to anything the way I was or, I guess, am addicted to Minecraft.

I replaced it for a while with Candy Crush but Minecraft is heroin and Candy Crush is methadone and fuck Candy Crush, anyway. I got eventually to the upper levels where they introduce these changing candies that morph from one shape and color to another, accompanied by a noisome little rainbow, and the shifting screen gives me a headache. Besides, Candy Crush is totally a game of chance. There is no skill involved – you win when they send you a good board; you lose when they don’t. That’s just a little too close to actual real life for me.

My game playing coworker gave me a list of other games I might like but of course I lost it. I hear that there are artists out there now, making games, strange games with no real point to them, and this sounds good to me. I’m limited to simplicity, because my computer is seriously antique and cannot handle anything new. I want to try the new games, though, and when I do, I will report back. Meanwhile, I guess I had better respawn and see if there is any way on the planet I can find that village again. ARGH.

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