A medium of avoiding reality

Salas in solace

I have an addictive personality. It’s nothing too serious. Never drugs, not alcohol. It’s mostly media. Or, more accurately, all media.

Television, movies, music and my current vice of choice, video games. I’ll admit it, I’ve almost completely engrossed myself in the modern world of gaming. I’ve played everything from Skyrim to Angry Birds, Call of Duty to Super Mario Bros. And, as a college student, this is clearly the time to buckle down, lock away my games and focus on the future that matters.

Except when the offer of a 99-life sudden death match in Super Smash Bros. appears. Then, somehow going to sleep at 4 a.m. on a school night seems like a perfectly reasonable idea.

It sounds ridiculously immature of me, I know, but again, addictive personality. And even though my time is best spent playing the role of an adult rather than of adult Link in Zelda, I can’t help but cling to those remnants of my childhood that are tucked away in the form of memory cards and cartridges.

At least that’s the excuse I try to pawn off. Just the right mixture of sentimentality and nostalgia. Enough to convince myself and others that continuing to play video games into my college years, and for more than just a few hours mind you, is a serious, emotional necessity.

Like most other things I do, it’s nothing but an excuse to avoid pretty much everything. I have a lot of really difficult problem sets? I have way more reading than my tired mind is willing to handle? Clearly, the right answer is killing zombies until it’s time for bed, or until I am practically a zombie myself.

And that’s exactly what I do — I shut off my brain, click on the console, my computer and my phone, and I forget all of the real world achievements waiting for me. So, while I have a glaring media problem, I seem to also have a problem facing life.

I would just like to say that it’s not entirely my fault. Not only because I would like to also avoid the blame, but because I am only one of many, and therefore I call foul play on life. There’s always so much going on, too many variables, that the world of gaming, with its tight-knit programming, suddenly seems much more manageable.

Even though not everyone resorts to my method of playing video games to avoid work, most people have their “jam” — reading, napping (another one of my personal favorites), talking. It always starts somewhere, and then somehow snowballs into an entire evening wasted.

I will do pretty much anything to avoid reality, and video games are an obvious example of that. But even someone watching hours of Gossip Girl on Netflix or reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower is living another, less responsibility-driven life.

I will never be alone in my early morning forays into realms of magic, cartoons and awesome combo moves. It may not be playing games, but considering how life tends to play out, long nights will prevail and half-completed assignments will continue to nag at the back of minds. Because sometimes pretending to save the world really helps to put your own problems into perspective.

Nothing makes math seem inconsequential quite like a reconnaissance mission does. And to be the sole survivor of a catastrophe or the only hope of peace holds a lot more weight than does being one of hundreds of students procrastinating on an essay.

So I still find it more rewarding to avoid my problems, as does most of the student population. To spend a few hours trying to get through a dungeon, to at least forget for a while that there is quite literally a pile of work waiting for me. I don’t always waste my time so liberally, but I must say that creaming a bunch of tiny pixels is not only satisfying but strangely therapeutic. I claim that I’m clinging to my childhood when I’m really just clinging to my sanity. As are those watching comedies on Netflix, or reading the latest science fiction novel.

Maybe it’s because after saving the world a few times, reading about others overcoming their own demons, or watching the many failings of the Bluth family, there is so much room to be inspired. Even if it’s just getting off of the couch and pulling out a book, the world feels manageable after all of the imaginary strife. Then somehow those hundred pages of reading are no problem at all.

Were there pages, quest markers or levels to life, maybe it could all seem more organized, more reasonable — and I wouldn’t even need to take breaks from life. As it is, I like my method of coping with reality. There is nothing to win from it except maybe some peace of mind. Yet I still appreciate it.

So maybe I’ll grow up someday, but I would prefer not quite yet. Too many opportunities for epic Pokemon battles and round-robin tournaments. And as long as professors continue to assign work, it seems like I shall be needing it.