I’m a social recluse. I started when I got intrigued by Mafia Wars, a multi-player social network game on Facebook, and I played it till I realised I was getting addicted. It’s not the fault of the game if you aren’t strong enough to fight addictions. When you get addicted, it is no longer entertaining.
I am called a cheat sometimes because I use a ‘cheat code’. That is something programmed into a game to help developers skip levels in order to look for errors. I do this only if I am playing a single player game. In community games like Second Life, it is unethical.
A competitive game is like a rat race of gamers. In gameland, you have various levels of people, like real life. At the bottom are people who want to compete. They flock to games like Mortal Kombat and Streetfighter, which is about beating the other guy. Youngsters flock to such games. In gaming tournaments, I have seen kids barking at each other, having physical fights. I have seen keyboards thrown on people’s heads.
Games are no longer about Mario killing mushrooms. Instead you have cars running over humans, all so graphically well rendered that it looks real. Games do come with age guidelines. But most kids in India don’t follow them.
When you’re very young, it is difficult to separate games from reality. Once when I played a game for more than eight hours, I got up feeling disoriented, like you’re high or something. I’ve read about a crazy Chinese gamer who died while playing, he hadn’t eaten or drunk for hours. The game was called World of Warcraft.
Now I catch my relatives playing games online like Mahjong and Plants vs Zombies. A 55-year-old aunt learnt her mouse skills by playing the game for a few hours each day. My aunts, in fact, queue up for the family computer to play these games.
(This tech writer and game reviewer has been playing for more than 15 years now)
As told to Shubhangi Swarup