My Go-To Game

Image credit: Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay on PS4

Some folks say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives me lemons, I choose to make moonshine. Okay, okay. I know you can’t actually make moonshine from lemons. I mean, not lemons exclusively. At least I don’t think so 🤔. I actually don’t know, but I don’t think they have enough sugar content to ferment… Dammit, Cindy. Focus!

What I’m talkin’ about is that go-to game. The game that’s like an old friend you never get tired of hanging out with, the one that makes you feel better when you’re blue, the one you play after you’ve finished a new game and have no clue what to play next. For me, it’s Red Dead Redemption 2 and of course it’s online incarnation (hence the moonshine reference that I thoroughly botched, but all good, let’s keep moving).

So today I woke up to discover my rebellious pup, who isn’t adjusting well to the changes in my household, had befouled the hardwood floor right outside my bedroom. Cleaned that up and interviewed for a freelance job I didn’t get. Part of me is kinda relieved about that. Writing copy for a large corporation’s pet project is not my idea of a good time. I didn’t really want the job because I need to care about what I’m writing. And let’s face it, I’m not exactly a corporate, stiff white collar kinda gal. I’m a Hulk t-shirt, leggings and puppy dog slipper socks kinda lady, thank you very much. Still the extra money would’ve been nice and rejection always sucks.

Then I got a phone call from one of my most favorite-est (it is too a word!) people. He sounded tired and stressed, which he has every right to be considering he’s been through the wringer himself the past few weeks. The fatigue and melancholy in his voice made me feel helpless because he’s literally a thousand miles away. All I could do was listen and cheer him on as he spent his day putting out fires. Still, I wished vehemently that I could pull a magic wand out of my a$$ and make it all better.

Oh and my son quit his job today because he’s got a cold and seemed quite offended that neither his supervisor nor the store manager gave a crap that he wasn’t feeling well and wanted to go home. To my mind, that’s akin to swatting a fly with a Buick and I told him as much. Unfortunately he’s at that age when foolish decisions are par for the course and I have to let him make his own mistakes. No one tells you how hard this is to do, but guess what? It’s really f@#king hard. And this is why Mommy drinks. Kidding, kidding. Okay, mostly kidding.

The last straw was discovering I’d forgotten to take out the trash out last night. Sigh. I even have a reminder set in my phone so there’s no excuse. I dropped the ball, it’s that simple. Oh, and the downstairs AC unit is still acting up, so there’s that.

On a day like today, I needed to spend a little quality time with my VOMA (virtual object of my affection), Mr. Arthur Morgan. Despite the constant threat of peril, there’s something soothing and simple about the time and space he inhabits. The vast open world gives you the illusion of control as you pick and choose from a generous array of quests that don’t feel repetitive, even though they are. Plus shooting bad guys in the face is a fantastic stress reliever, in my humble opinion. Not to mention, the story is so tragic, it makes me think, yeah, my life’s not that bad after all. Yep, RDR2 is my go-to game for all those reasons and perhaps a few I don’t fully realize.

Once my most favorite-est (still insisting it’s a word) person’s busy day wound down, and he said, “You ready to do this, babe?” I plopped my cattleman’s crease hat on my head, took up the controller and replied, “Yep, let’s ride.” And just like that (imagine me snapping fingers), all was right with the world.

Who Doesn’t Love a Pirate

Video credit: Assassin’s Creed Black Flag gameplay on PS4

Upon the recommendation of my cowboy and other gamer friends, I finally gave in and purchased Assassin’s Creed Black Flag. Whaaaaa? No, I’ve never played it. I know, I know, but let me explain why.

The other AC games that include naval battles, like Origins and Odyssey, the ship stuff was my least favorite part of the gameplay. It could be just me and my barely average gaming skills, but the aiming and the bracing and the firing, it all felt cumbersome. Definitely not as satisfying as the combat: timing that perfect block to stagger your elite opponent or Sparta kicking a mercenary off a cliff.

And I have gone through the entire AC backlog in the last eighteen months, but when it came time to play Black Flag, I just swooped around it and went for Rogue. Hey, it’s my gamer journey and I’ll skip titles if I want to. I don’t like AC ship battles…or at least I didn’t think I did. I’m woman enough to admit when I am…umm…less than correct. Yeah, let’s go with that.

Two days ago, I gave into peer pressure and bought the damn game. Of course, I love it. The climbing mechanics remind me of the Ezio titles (loves me some Ezio), but the naval battles, far superior to Odyssey. This leaves me scratching my head. Why change the mechanics for later titles? It’s the same question I had for Ubisoft when they scaled back the fighting mechanics from the super cool Odyssey style to the simplified Valhalla style. Why, Ubisoft…whyyyyyyy??? Sorry…I need a moment…

Okay, I’m back. Turns out, Black Flag is so much more than just a bunch of ships firing on each other. It’s a deep dive into pirate life. And c’mon, who doesn’t love pirates? Look at the success of The Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise (loves me some Captain Jack Sparrow). There’s The Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Vegas. And of course there’s the beloved literary classic from which the hotel takes its name. Hell, my most popular erotic romance series featured a cowboy pirate (hmmm…reminds me of someone else I love. Heyyy, Charles 😏).

So what is it about pirates that are so freaking intoxicating. Well, first of all, the wardrobe is *fabulous*. Scarves, earrings, beads, gold chains, over-the-knee boots, flowing lace up blouses. Pirate fashion is fierce. Then, of course, there’s the swashbuckling swordplay. Who doesn’t feel like a bada$$ duel-wielding Persian scimitars or British cutlasses? Yes, there’s something intoxicating about the trappings of a privateer, but I think it’s something more.

For me, it’s the freedom. Wind in your hair, salt spray from the open ocean, no rules but the ones you make and break for yourself. As I rediscover the liberty to be 100% Cindy, no apologies and no diluting my 80 proof personality, I get it. I spent too many years either denying her existence or shying away from adventure because there *might* be consequences.

Yes, we all have responsibilities and adult things we must do. Like doing the dishes and working an evil day job to pay the bills and making sacrifices for those who depend on us. But part of the human spirit yearns to be free. Rebellion is a natural reaction to bonds that hold us too tightly. It’s easy to dream about a life less ordinary and less restrictive and therefore idealize it. Nothing wrong with that as long as you keep in mind, it is indeed a just a dream.

Edward Kenway’s adventures throughout the game are full of daring, liberty, and bad ideas that turn into good stories. We’ve all had those nights 😉 And did I mention his fabulous wardrobe? I think I did. It’s easy to sink into your gamer chair and imagination for a few (or several) hours that you are not bound by the rules of society.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, games give us the opportunity to live out our fantasies in a safe and controlled way. As the historical founder of the Hashshashin, Hassan-i Sabbah, is credited with saying, “Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” What that means is, once in a while, it’s oh so healthy to embrace your inner Edward Kenway and find the spot on the map of your soul that reads: here, there be pirates.

#GamersUnite

Photo credit: Circle chirpty.com

When I started writing again after years of stress and loss, I knew I’d have to use social media to communicate my project to the wider world. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it. As I’ve stated before, I’m painfully shy. Some of that is natural introversion. Some of it’s learned through pain, heartbreak, and betrayal. Engaging with other people can be scary.

I started posting on Twitter again after years of never opening the app and I didn’t know what to expect. First, most of my followers from my former life are authors of romance and erotica. Would anyone give a $h!t about a middle-aged woman blogging about her passion for gaming? Well, I didn’t start this journey for readers. While truly grateful for everyone who takes the time to read my ramblings, this is my vision. It’s my story. So I put on my grown-up gamergirl pants (well, leggings) and decided to start engaging with other gamers on Twitter.

What I discovered surprised me. Most of the gamers I’ve engaged with on Twitter are the nicest, coolest people I’ve ever met. Yes, there’s the occasional person who just wants to hit on me. And there are others who just want to promote their projects and that’s it. But the vast majority are intelligent and funny and kind and genuinely interested in sharing the joy of gaming.

There are different factions. Some staunch retro gamers. Those that only play on the cutting edge. Some strictly Nintendo. Some XBox devotees and those of us married to the PlayStation. Not the mention the PC players.

There are vast differences in ages, anywhere from teens to those of us who are a *little* more seasoned. You got sweats and casuals. Ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, geographic region…the list of differences goes on and on. But here’s the really awesome part: none of the issues that divide the general pop seem to apply. A gamer is a gamer. All are welcome.

Now there are certain rules: no yucking someone else’s yum and never ever suggest From Software add difficulty levels…kidding, kidding. There really is only one rule: respect for your fellow gamer. The virtual world is large enough to for us all to find our own bliss. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the real world worked that way?

So, I’d like to thank my gamer tweeps for helping this grown-up gamergirl find a place where she feels she fits in. When I returned to Twitter I had somewhere around 1400 followers, a month and a half later I’ve got about 2000. That’s 100 new friends a week. No, it’s not about the numbers, never that. It’s about feeling welcome. It’s been far too long since I’ve felt at home. #GamersUnite. Y’all know how we do 😉

Not So Black and White: Ghost of Tsushima, Kurosawa Mode Replay

When I first played Ghost of Tsushima, I didn’t expect much from the game. The Infamous franchise is good, not great, but good. So when I first heard Daisuke Tsuji’s opening lines and took in the majesty of the first cut scene, my breath caught in my throat. It was then I knew, Ghost was a whole other level of awesome.

From the start, Jin’s internal conflict is set: he’s samurai and has vowed to live by a code of honor unparalleled throughout history. Integrity, respect for your enemy, facing challenges head on with only your skill with a sword to protect those who cannot fight for themselves. It’s a disciplined and stoic way to live one’s life, if not a bit impractical while facing Ghengis Khan’s grandson.

The Mongols in the game have no such code. It’s victory at all costs and they employ a level of brutality foreign to the samurai code. As Jin witnesses these atrocities, he quickly realizes he cannot beat his foes using his traditional training. This conflict spoke to me. How often in life are we all faced with a choice that falls neither in the confines of black or white. It’s many shades of gray as we travel along this journey called life (don’t you dare reference E.L. James, seriously, don’t f@#king do it).

The game takes a deep dive into Japanese culture which is reinforced on this playthrough with the grainy black and white film style graphics. The format pays homage to Kurosawa, a Japanese filmmaker famed for his epic and bloody tales of samurai life. I will say that while the black and white adds drama to an already drama packed story, it is a little difficult to navigate, especially in combat. But who cares, it’s so beautiful, I’d kill Jin a thousand times to experience the game in a whole new way.

As I travel along, in a world that feels foreign and like home all at once, I can’t help but take trips down memory lane. I empathize with Jin. Growing up, we’re all taught our own code of honor that we sometimes must violate for myriad reasons. I was brought up to believe one should be honest, kind, giving, and respectful, even at the cost of my own happiness. Unfortunately, real life hasn’t allowed me to follow that code as much as I’d like. Too often I’ve had to cross lines that leave me staring at a stranger in the mirror. And there isn’t enough soap and water to wash away the feeling that I’ve gotten my hands dirty.

As I take Jin deeper into his heart of darkness, I feel for the struggle that sullies his once clean sense of honor. It makes me feel less alone as I’m disabused of my own innocence and naivety. We all grow up, learn Santa isn’t real and that no one really gives a f@#k about us. The only person who can ever save you is you. Even if you have to become a ghost to do it.

Rockstar, Where’s My F@#king Fast Travel?

Image credit: Red Dead Online gameplay “If I stare hard enough, maybe I can fast travel”

Dear Rockstar,

Why do you continue to break my heart? Actually, it’s my fault because I continue to let you do it. -Sincerely, Cindy.

As soon as weird sh!t started happening in free roam on Red Dead Online, like wave after wave of wolves spawning in places they don’t usually spawn, I knew the update was imminent. it’s happened that way before and I was so excited. There’s been so much speculation about what the Summer update would include.

So, the Blood Money update. Where to f@king start? Let’s start with the positive. The contracts and emerald heist were a great deal of fun. The general missions to earn the newest currency, capitale, weren’t all that different from usual stranger missions, but you know, RDO is like pizza. When it’s good, it’s great, and when it’s bad, it’s still pretty damn good. They also seem to have fixed the legendary animal spawns in free roam. I came across five just getting from place to place.

Which brings me to my biggest gripe. As I’ve written about before, I’m a spoiled little outlaw. I’ve got the best of the best gear and cosmetics. I love the damn game even when it doesn’t seem to love me. Like right now. I’m loading in and I’m stuck at 90%. For like fifteen minutes. Sigh.

I’ve done every update to completion and beyond. The biggest reward, for me, from the Naturalist DLC was the wilderness camp from which you could fast travel. I abused the hell out of that perk. So last night, as I worked my way through the Blood Money missions, I figured it didn’t matter that Lemoyne is hell and gone from my camp and moonshine shack because I could just drop my wilderness camp and fast travel. Ummm…nope.

To my surprise and dismay, that feature is GONE. I’m hoping it wasn’t intentional and a later patch will fix it (and of course break something else). And don’t get me wrong. I’m not dogging on the devs. I’m sure coding a video game is the same type of sweat shop work situation we all seem to deal with these days. Longer hours, higher metrics goals, less pay and less benefits.

There was some other wonky stuff, such as every flavor of moonshine listing as selling for $75 even if it’s the correct buyer. You do however get the appropriate amount of pay at the end of the mission so it’s more of a typo than a bug.

Also, the surroundings were slow to load in at times. And my horse seemed oddly fragile. Never used so much horse reviver in my entire RDO experience. But all these things I can deal with. Why…oh why, did my fast travel have to disappear? Yes, you can still ride to a FT post, but sometimes those are quite far away. My right thumb is killing me today, lol.

Did I love the update, no. Did I hate it? Nope, wouldn’t say that. I just wonder when Rockstar is going to stop treating Red Dead Online like the red-headed stepchild and let it blossom into its own. Yes, GTAO is their main money maker, but RDO has a solid fanbase. Just once, it’d be nice to be treated like we’re important to the company.

The ESO Connection

Image credit: Elder Scrolls Online gameplay

Okay, how the f@#k have I not played this game until now? Actually, I do know why. MMORPGs aren’t my jam. Or at least I thought they weren’t.

When I started gaming as a kid, it was a solo endeavor unless P2 sat in the same room with you and you had another controller. Positively primitive, I know. That being said, I do love Elder Scrolls Online. Why, you ask? Let me tell ya.

About a year ago, I discovered Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. It was one of those games that sort of takes over your life but you don’t mind because the amount of content and solid writing and adrenaline rush makes it worth neglecting your hygiene and loved ones for a couple weeks.

Knowing this, my gamer guy suggested ESO a couple months ago, but like I said I don’t f@#ks with MMORPGs (and no, RDO is not an MMORPG, don’t get me started). But I’m on this journey to explore all the gaming I missed while being a responsible adult so finally, I downloaded it. Bam! It was love at first button click.

I’m like a kid in a freaking candy store. There’s so much content, it’s almost overwhelming. All the loot. All the ways to customize your character’s build. Not to mention the map is massive and let’s face it, size does matter. The costume options are a little hit or miss, but all in all, I think I might have a new gaming love of my life. I can imagine losing months, possibly years, of my life to ESO. But hey, I have no life, so there’s that.

Currently, I’m playing as a nightblade class dark elf, but I can’t wait to explore all the other races and classes. I’m also looking forward to exploring the PVP options. Again, not my wheelhouse because I usually play story games or PVE online. But I will improvise, adapt, overcome. Of this I have no doubt.

What I find most fascinating is the sense of community. The way I grew up playing and how I first approached gaming once I got back into it was like that George Thorogood song, “I Drink Alone,” except I game alone. Well, sometimes I drink alone, but that’s a whole other story.

In a previous post I wrote about Jane McGonigal’s theory on gamer super powers, one of which was weaving a social fabric. MMOs foster a sense of camaraderie (is that really how that word is spelled? Sorry, I’ll focus). I don’t think I’m brave enough to jump into a guild with random people. But I can say gaming in a small group sponsored by gamer guy has opened my eyes to a whole new world.

If I’m honest, I’m a lot less lonely, even though we don’t game in the same room. I’ve been a bit isolated since, you know, my life started imploding about three years ago. Add my severe introversion to the loss of everything I once knew, I’m in need of a little connection. Humans are social creatures after all. Maybe I’ve found a good place to start, The ESO Connection.

White-Knighting…Let’s Talk about It

Image credit: eskipaper.com

There’s nothing more irritating for a gamer girl than a male player who assumes she cannot take care of herself in-game simply because she’s female. But is that really what white-knighting is? I’m not so sure.


Don’t get me wrong. Of course sexism exists in the world of gaming, just as it exists in every facet of daily life. You see it on YouTube all the time. Spawntaneous has made a career out of showcasing how condescending some gamer boys can be. This does not mean every guy who plays video games is a sexist pig, nor does it mean that every time a male player rushes to help a female player that it comes from a place of feeling superior simply due to outward facing genitalia.


Okay, first, let’s talk about what “white-knighting” means. The phrase applies when a male player will jump in to aid or verbally defend a female player, particularly one he doesn’t know (though not always), as though he has shown up to save her like a white knight on his noble steed, regardless of whether she asked for help. Hence the term: “white-knighting”.


So, is it wrong for a man to stand up for a women in a case where she’s in no physical danger? Yes and no. Yes, because it assumes that she needs help which could be perceived as he thinks she’s helpless. But no, because trying to lend a hand is generally a kind thing to do.


Okay, so now that we know what it is and why it may or may not offend someone, let’s look at why it happens. Does it mean the guy’s a condescending jerk? I’m sure in some instances that’s true, but I doubt that’s the only explanation. Not to mention that to assume a man helping out a woman in-game is always white-knighting is sexist in the other direction. Could be it’s just one gamer jumping in to play with another gamer, no gender politics involved.


But when something that looks like white-knighting does occur, I think there are a few non-offensive reasons it happens. It could be that due to the overwhelming majority of gamers still being male, Mr. White Knight would like to play with a female. He’s tired of the sausage fest that is his Saturday Night gaming group and he just wants to hang out with a member of the opposite sex for a little while.


In the case of a man defending a female player from some a$$hat who is saying nasty stuff like, “Why don’t you get off the game and make me a sandwich, b!tch” or “Girls can’t game” maybe this so-called white knight doesn’t want to hear that ignorant crap either. I mean, really, is it so wrong to tell a hateful person to shut the f@#k up?


As for men who game with women they know, such as friends, family members, or their SO, they might be trying to impress her or that they feel genuinely protective. Not because she’s weak, but because they care. My gamer guy BFF does this all the time and I let him because he’s earned the right to rush to my defense by being a true, caring, awesome friend.


In a world where we are ever more aware of how our actions and words affect other people, I think it’s also important to assume that the person stepping on your feelings didn’t necessarily mean to do it. At least until they prove otherwise. Perhaps it’s best to ask a player of any gender (non-binary included of course) if you can jump in or if they need help. That being said, if you ever do come across my characters on RDO or ESO, please assume I got this, because I so freaking do. Just ask my gamer guy BFF.

Keeping it 200: Red Dead Online

The goal is a waste of time. I know this. After level 100 on Red Dead Online you gain no more advantage from leveling up further. That’s it, all weapons, horses, clothing items, and abilities are unlocked by then. Okay, yes, every five levels you get a treasure map. Whooptie freaking doo. I’ve got more gold and RDO$ than I know what to do with.

So why can’t I stop playing this f@#king game?

There’s so much about RDO that irritates me. The forever load time. The way my saved outfits magically disappear from time to time. Cripps and his sudden need to pack my camp up while I’m en route. How my character gets stuck walking like John Wayne after certain missions. I picked the flamboyant walk because she’s a cute little ladylike outlaw, dammit. I don’t want her walking around like she’s saddle sore. You get my meaning 😉 Sorry, sorry. That bug really bothers me.

There are countless other bugs and glitches, not to mention the always half-baked updates. So I ask again: why can’t I stop playing this f@#king game? Not just continue to play it, but grind on it so often that I’m almost level 200?

To put this in perspective, once you hit level 100, it takes about 10,000 XP to rank up. And that increases little by little so that at this point it’s around 11,000 XP to level up.

For the sake of simple math let’s stick with 10,000. That means I’ve earned almost 1,000,000 XP. And to put that into perspective, the average bounty yields around 300, naturalist and moonshiner missions, maybe 500. The motherlode is the trader goods delivery which takes forever to build up to, but it rewards players with 2000 XP. Yes, there are other ways to get a little extra XP here and there, but when you consider chalking up 1,000,000 in a few months time, that’s a lot of wasted days and wasted nights. It’s okay, I’m woman enough to admit it.

So, if the game irks me and it’s grindy as all hell once you get to a certain level, what attracts me to it over and over again? It’s kinda like that lover that’s no good for you but who’s too much fun not to answer the phone when he calls.

But what’s so fun about it? I don’t know. Really I don’t! There’s just something about shooting a bandit in the face after you’ve tackled him. There’s a thrill to the ever increasing difficulty of the Legendary Bounties. And yes, I’m that player who’ll start Harriet’s naturalist missions but instead of sedating the Legendary animal, I kill it, skin it, and give the pelt to Cripps. But c’mon it makes the trader role so much easier. And then there’s the almost slots like discovery of collectibles throughout the world. Most of the time it’s just going to be a measly playing card, but once in a while you hit the jackpot and get jewelry or a rare flower.

Okay, so I do love unleashing my inner bada$$ in RDO. And it could be said that IRL, I’m a bit repressed. I follow rules. I’m nice even perhaps when I shouldn’t be. So maybe RDO gives me an outlet for all that inappropriate behavior I’ve got locked inside me. Better to release it in virtual reality than real reality.

I also think my affection for RDO comes from my love of the story mode. Red Dead Redemption 2 moved me in a way I can’t quite explain. I wanted so much to save Arthur, but we all know how that turns out. Perhaps continuing to inhabit his world is a way to stay connected to a character I grew to love.

What ever it is, I’m level 196 and I know I won’t stop until I reach 200. And then, really, who am I kidding, I’ll keep playing because I love the game. Maybe it’s just that simple.

The Tao of Biomutant

Hands down, Biomutant has the best writing of any game released in 2021. Yes, there’s silly stuff such as “Riding a googlide helps keep you goo free.” Or “Your ears just pooped.” Which is also part of the game’s charm.

But some of the narrator’s lines are so profound, I just sat and pondered them for a bit before I went on playing. It might have been the perfect game at the perfect time in my life. I’ve been struggling with so much trauma. I’m starting to heal, but it’s a daily struggle, one this beautiful, quirky little game has made easier.

My favorite wisdom-y-est lines from Biomutant:


All gameplay captured on PlayStation 4, Biomutant

Stories keep moving whether you drive them or not

Tracks are like the paths our lives take and you must deal with the outcome, even if you didn’t lay them yourself.

Control your destiny, or someone else will

What you do here matters–to you and the world.

Heroes are only heroes for others, but they do the work or they’re heroes to no one.

Whatever happens to the world, you shone as bright as you could. That matters more than you know.

History is like the trail you’ve been on, you can walk back down it anytime you like, until it’s worn smooth. But you get to blaze your own trail from here.

Fate is for those too weak to determine their own destiny and now is the time to face yours.

Don’t flinch away from this. It’s your moment. You need to focus.

If a story is about you, care for it.

We all share the same destiny: destruction or survival.

Life is a difficult game no matter how you play it.

We’re all heroes of our own stories. Or so we hope.

We all have things in our last we wish hadn’t happened and can come to remember seeing and doing things that never happened.

Whatever you do, do it right, or don’t do it at all.

What you do for yourself dies with you, what you do for your kin remains and makes you immortal in their memory.

We are lonesome animals who spend our whole lives trying to be less lonesome

Your destiny waits on the path you’ll take to avoid it.

Avid Gamer vs. Gaming Addict

Image credit: Screenshot mind-diagnostics.org

As I’m almost two years into my journey to embrace my long lost gamer girl self, I wonder is this behavior healthy? I stumbled across a blog post regarding gaming addiction and if I’m honest with myself, I fit *some* of the criteria. Not all of it. Does make me wonder though…are jokes I make about games being like heroin for me a little more true than I thought?

I do spend an inordinate amount of time gaming. Some of it’s for pleasure and some of it’s so I have something to write about here. I don’t, however, allow games to disrupt my interpersonal relationships. I spend time with my son. I make time for friends. And when I had a SO, gaming was part of our relationship so I might’ve gotten off easy on that account.

So wherein does the boundary lie between an avid gamer vs. a gaming addict? Pardon me, a person with Gaming Disorder. Heaven forbid we use direct language these days. If it’s too harshly named no one will cop to having it, right? Sound logic…poor overall societal outcome. Focus, Cindy.

When has someone careened over the cliff of enthusiast into the chasm of WTF-dude-you-spent-how-much-on-your-MMO-gear? Apparently, when the gaming starts to alter your behavior and your sense of morality. Basically, if you regularly steal, cheat, lie, or shirk responsibility to game, then you’ve got GD.

Image credit: Screenshot mind-diagnostics.org

Just to be sure this was the case, I took a pop-psych quiz. I mean, internet quizzes are law, aren’t they? I scored a measley 3 out of 11, mostly because I use games to escape reality but I’m not gonna make a withdrawal from my kid’s savings account to buy one. Makes me feel as though I’m not enough of a sweat. And in what world is 3 out of 11 moderate risk? Oh, the world trying to make us all feel as though there’s something wrong with us.

I do feel as addictions go it’s not as bad as it could be. I doubt a gamer under the influence ever got behind the wheel of a car and killed a family on a Sunday drive, at least not IRL. You don’t see gamer girls holding signs that read: Will f@*k for RDO$. I promise, I’m not making light of Gaming Disorder. I’m just saying that given the choice between crack and the resulting behavior and video games, I’ll take the games every day and twice on Sunday. I mean let’s not be so dismissive of someone going through actual physical withdrawal from heroin or cocaine or nicotine.

Can gaming have an adverse affect on your relationships? Sure, if you allow it to. Okay, I gotta say this because I’ve been holding it in for two days now and I didn’t address it on Twitter because I’m not that live-out-loud kinda person. But I saw a tweet from a young woman that said (and I’m paraphrasing) that a woman was right to break up with her gamer BF because he engaged in gamer behavior. Let me see if I remember the gist: She went to her job and you were on that game, she came home and you were on that game. She ate alone and slept alone and woke up alone.

Okay, two things to say about that. One, did you ever think of joining him on that game? I bet he’d be thrilled to play with you. If I’m wrong, I’ll eat my left shoe. And two, if his gaming is that prolific, it had to be a pre-existing condition. You didn’t notice it before you moved in, sweetheart? Just sayin’.

It’s not so terribly different than being in a relationship with an artist or a writer. An artist will ignore you while they paint or sculpt. A writer won’t welcome you when you interrupt their flow, they’ll most likely bite your head off. But there is no Art Disorder or Creative Writing Disorder. Those are seen as art forms so no questions asked. I’m here to tell you gaming can be an art form. I’ve experienced it and I’ve witnessed it.

Can you overdo anything? Yes, yes, you can. Is the fantasy world more appealing than the real one. Well, duh. Is GD real? Probably, but then again maybe not, as we rush to WebMD to self-diagnose. As much as you think there’s something wrong with you, the fact is: Life. Is. Hard…and it’s a pass or fail test. Do what you gotta do to get through the day 😉