It arises partly from competitiveness. Partly from a desire to better myself. But mostly, it is a simple addiction.
My high school German teacher and I had a friendly (one-sided?) competition revolving around Minesweeper. Senior year, I enrolled in German IV as a companion elective to speech. While German IV is technically a class, it is by no means mandatory for graduation. Therefore, I was one of three people to sign up.
German IV had no technical class period. I was lumped into the German I class with one of the other German IV kids. For fifty minutes a day, I lounged behind my teacher’s desk, nose-deep into a German activity book, and half-listened to the microcosm of freshman students struggle through basic syntax. Of course, sitting behind the teacher’s desk was not without its temptations. The days blurred past, and my hand inched closer and closer to the computer mouse. Eventually, the day came when I clicked on Minesweeper.
I had played Minesweeper before, of course. Obsessively. Thousands of games later, the game no longer presented a challenge, and I was pretty much guaranteed a win so long as the puzzle didn’t involve random chance; at this point, my motions became robotic. Minesweeper was an addiction that caused me to spend hours clicking away at the family computer, while images of a mine field were burned into the edges of my waking vision.* I was nothing short of obsessed.
Of course, as with all my game-related obsessions, interest in Minesweeper faded in due course, and my normal life returned. Until that fated day in German class, when boredom won out against classroom propriety. I opened Minesweeper. Played a few games. Noticed my teacher’s high scores.
Self-imposed challenge accepted.
I shirked my homework that night. It could wait. Everything could wait. I didn’t beat his high scores that night, or the next, or the next. But it eventually happened. 6. 41. 116. I beat every one of his high scores. Blinking the mine fields from my eyes, I screencapped the feat and printed it out. The next day, my German teacher affixed it to his wall and gleefully scribbled, “Photoshop rules!!” (I know he was impressed, though. I visited him last year and the picture was still on his wall.)
Enter college. Enter Multitask (high score: 313). Flappy Bird (high score: 182), my dreams invaded by tiny birds flying through pipes. 2048 (although I now despise that game). MORE Minesweeper! Other little games. One by one, I secured my place as Gaming Queen (except for 2048. I really really hate that game and refuse to play it on principle now**).
My gaming addictions, they came in waves. They switch places, they fade for a time, but I always find a new obsession or return to an old one. The newest guilty party is Super Hexagon. I conquered Hard mode, but Harder and Hardest (and the Hypers) lie beyond my grasp…for now. It’s thrilling, exhilarating. I shriek at my computer screen every time something new and unexpected happens. I can feel it, the Tetris Effect taking over my life again
And I will not rest until I establish complete and utter dominion over this game. :)
*Known as the Tetris Effect, a condition that arises as a result of repetitively engaging in the same game or activity for a long period of time. I saw vivid images of half-finished Minesweeper puzzles every time I blinked, every time I closed my eyes to sleep. It was horribly distracting.
**Among other things, one of the reasons I hate 2048 so much is that it triggered the strongest Tetris Effect I have ever experienced. Seriously. I couldn’t see two like objects without wanting to merge them together. See: traffic, forks, humans.