Computer and video gaming is probably the only pastime on the planet where sheer wretchedness is one of the main drawing cards. Whenever we play something thatís terrible, we immediately want to go back for more, to get it right. No other form of recreation engenders this sort of feeling, which is closer to religion than loyalty. Moviegoers donít wash down Gigli with Swimming Pool; they stay the hell out of the cineplex for a couple of weeks while their gorge subsides. Fantasy fiction fans donít throw Robert Jordanís latest doorstop across the room and immediately pick up Ursula K. LeGuin; they pick up TV Guide. Fine diners donít react to finding somebodyís well-masticated chewing tobacco in their linguini by ordering the clam chowder.
Even drug addicts donít have it this bad, as least a good number of them want to stop at some point. Two decades go by on black tar heroin, and youíre generally at the point where stopping seems like a pretty good idea. Or mercifully dead. Two decades go by on gaming, and youíre posting on message boards about your never-ending love affair with Dig Dug and the cool lesbian subplot in Knights of the Old Republic. Youíre certainly not dead, unless your arteries have clogged from too many late nights where you made do with chocolate milk and quickie bologna sandwiches because you needed to hang out with your tenth-level elven friend from Sheboygan in EverQuest.
Bad experiences define this hobby. As much as we all enjoy sharing love stories about great moments in gaming, we tend to play up the bad stuff even more. Even though Iíll always have fond memories about racking up 400,000 points in Donkey Kong (actually, it was Crazy Kong, a thinly disguised bootleg of the Nintendo original by Jeutel) while a crowd cheered me on (actually, the crowd consisted of the fat guy in the wifebeater who gave out quarters and an old buddy of mine who could mimic the voices on Gorf to perfection), the time that Daikatana taught me the true meaning of sorrow will somehow always be more powerful.