How to Avoid Addiction to Computer Games

The fascination and the appeal of a good strategy or world-building game like Civilization is obvious. How can one resist it? I have spent hours on Civilization – too many hours, I confess. It’s a beautiful game; not only a challenge but a creative thing, enabling one to build patterns around which one can imagine a rich crop of stories.

I once let sausages burn in the oven for 3 hours because I was playing Civilization. Good Waberthwaite sausages they were. I can’t pay the game a greater compliment than that. But the trouble is, it’s too good. So how can addiction be avoided?

One way is to get really good at it – to “crack it”. The idea is, once you’ve mastered it, you aren’t any longer thirsting for the challenge. Yes, but, that’s only a partial solution – because if you’re like me, it still leaves you thirsting for the beautiful pattern. The sight of a civilization rising (and perhaps falling) before your eyes. The epic stories, each one of which is unique.

Don’t say, “I must get cured of these games”. Say, instead, “I shall go even deeper into it.” Like a practitioner of a martial art that teaches you to use your opponent’s strength against himself – use the strength of the addiction against itself. Imagine you have an even greater game to play.

This greater game, called Life, has features that even Sid Meier’s Civilization cannot boast. For a start, you yourself are physically in it. You are moving around in it. You have certain constraints to overcome, and a world-ful of other beings to interact with. You have a civilization all around you, a world all around you, full of dangers, challenges and rewards.

Your goal is – happiness, success, fulfillment, anything you care to name. It’s a difficult game but the Programmer has given you certain advantages; notably, a mind and brain. Go to it! Once you get hooked on this one, mere flat-screen games look tame by comparison.

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