SteelyKid is a fan of a web game called BumperStars, which my parents introduced her to. If I’m at the computer doing something, she’ll march over, demand to be picked up, then point at the screen and say “Buh-Pah” until I open it up.
Of course, she’s a toddler, and thus has an extremely short attention span (except when she doesn’t). About two minutes after I start a game for her, she’ll slide down off my lap, and go find something else to do. Which would be fine, except for one thing: I have competitive OCD.
I don’t mean that I try to one-up other people who have obsessive-compulsive disorders. I just mean that I am incapable of walking away from anything competitive until it’s complete, or there’s no possible way I can continue. If it has a score, I have to play it out to the end, no matter what else I ought to be doing. And I have to play to win– I can’t easily manage to put in a half-assed effort, just to end something quickly.
So, SteelyKid will march over, demand “Buh-Pah,” then walk away two minutes later, and I’m stuck there playing the game out, trying to get a new high score, or at least a respectable effort at one. Which is an enormous time sink, because we’ve been doing this for quite a while now, and a high-score game takes a good long while.
This is a big part of why I don’t own any video games. (That, plus the fact that I suck at most video games.) Whenever I get involved with a video game, it tends to eat my life. Tetris consumed a big chunk of my freshman year in college, and Super Tecmo Bowl ate a huge portion of my junior year. The real rock-bottom moments of the compulsion come when I find myself sitting around watching other people play games like Tetris or Tecmo Bowl, waiting for my turn.
Of course, this goes beyond video games. The most extreme demonstrations typically involve real sports, like the time I started getting tunnel vision playing basketball in a too-warm gym, and kept playing. After all, it was 11-all in a game to 15– you can’t expect me to just walk away for a piddling little problem like losing my peripheral vision…
(The blinding headache I had for the rest of that afternoon, while I drank enormous quantities of Gatorade trying to restore some kind of electrolyte balance was ample punishment for that one.)
I don’t know what’s more pathetic– the fact that I’m sucked in by a game as silly as Bumper Stars, or the fact that my weird competitive compulsion allows a toddler to outwit me. After all, once I start a game, I’m stuck there trying for a high score, which takes a good long time. And that’s a good long time when SteelyKid can roam around with minimal supervision, because I’m trying to make that one last bank shot… She’s a wily little thing already, exploiting her dad’s weaknesses like that.
I’d say more about this, but I opened the game in order to get the URL for the link above, and now I have to go play a game. Just one, mind…