The PCG Q&A
Find all previous editions of the PCG Q&A here. Check out some highlights:
Many games are designed to be extremely moreish. Civ invites you to click that end-turn button and keep building your empire. Online games like Runescape let you team up with like-minded people from around the globe to go on adventures. Surely you can fit another round of Dota 2 in before bed, and maybe another. But there comes a time when it all has to stop, right? Right??
This week's question: When did you know you were playing a game way too much? Let the confessions begin.
Jarred Walton: Civilization 2 killed my scholarship
My parents got on my case all throughout my growing up phase. "It's a nice day outside, why don't you stop sitting in front of the computer and go outside to play?" Thanks mom, but look where it got my now: I literally get to play (well, benchmark) games and test the latest computer hardware for a living! But of course, mom was right. I had and continue to have difficulty not getting sucked into the latest virtual attraction. Things have progressed from C-64 to PC and now I even have to be careful with my smartphone. I shamefully admit that I have uninstalled Candy Crush Saga from my smartphone. More than once. Don't even ask what level I'm on.
Probably the worst things got was with Civilization 2, my freshman year in college. The old "one more turn" slippery slope well and truly nuked my GPA that year. I went from being an honors student with a full ride 4-year tuition scholarship, to being on academic probation. Far too many nights turned into 6am epiphanies that yes, I really did need to go to bed. I stayed up until well past 3am playing Civ2 at least twice a week for several months. And the worst part is, I wasn't even very good at the game—I'd get handily beat by the computer AI at anything beyond the Regent level.
I did eventually right the ship and graduate, sans honors, but the scholarship was long gone. Instead, I ended up with a healthy chunk of student loan debts. Thanks, Sid.
Jody Macgregor: Mass Effect 3 multiplayer melted my laptop
I got way into Mass Effect 3's multiplayer after I finished the story. It was team co-op, with an expanding roster of alien species to unlock. You could even play as a volus adept, a little Wombley guy with god-like psychic powers. It was rad. But I was playing on a laptop with a clapped-out fan and Mass Effect 3 was pushing it to its limit. One day, after a particularly long session of running around as a quarian infiltrator invisibly sniping Cerberus dudes, that laptop got so hot something essential melted and it died. Good thing it was sitting on a desk and not my lap at the time. I took it as a sign to lay off ME3, even though I never did unlock a drell, and I missed my little Wombling buddy.
Joe Donnelly: Not this again
When did I know I was playing way too much of a game? When writing this bloody column, the last time it asked such an intrusive question!
Give me a second and I'll dig it out.
Aye, there it is. "Joe Donnelly: £99.94, just this year", I answered when asked 'what's the most you've ever spent on a game?' back in March. That was on GTA Online, after I'd splashed out for its Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack and a string of supplementary Shark Cards thereafter. I realised at that point, with the numbers laid out in front of me, that my spending was getting a wee bit out of hand and that I was hanging around in Los Santos too often. I've since pulled back considerably, and, honestly, had put my recklessness in San An out of my head till now. Cheers for the reminder, PCG Q&A.
Andy Chalk: What's all the fuss about?
I have never had this feeling. I've grown tired of games (*coughDestiny2cough*), I've occasionally been relieved to see the end of a game, but I've never felt like, wow, I need to dial this back or I'm going to end up playing Bejeweled on the floor of the bus station bathroom.
On reflection, I suppose that might go some way toward explaining my outcomes.
Austin Wood: I tried to teleport IRL after playing too much Runescape
I can't not talk about the high school years I recklessly poured into Runescape. Sure, I went from a straight-A student to an 'As, Bs and maybe a C' student in my freshman and sophomore years, but—counterpoint—I also achieved max combat (minus Prayer, because screw Prayer). Made out like a bandit, and it only cost me my soul.
In all seriousness, it was stupid, but I got over it and went back to straight-As in my junior and senior year. Honestly, I just got bored of the game after 5,000 hours, but there was a moment when I realized I might be playing too much Runescape. Rather than when my grades were obviously slipping, it was one night when I emerged from my grotto and went to hang out with some friends. We were about to head home, and as I turned to walk to my car, for one second, and with total seriousness, I thought to myself: just home tele. That's how you get home, right? With the free teleport in the basic spellbook?
Have you ever been reading a physical book and tried to Ctrl+F search it out of habit after reading so many PDFs and ebooks? It was kind of like that.