Nov 1, 2009

It's Not A Problem If Everyone Does It. Right?

I'm at this party a while ago. There are only a few of us left. It's very late and there is much wine in my system when it happens. That inevitable, incredibly awkward moment. A boy leans too close and whispers what his eyes have been saying all night. Do you want to play Rock Band?

I smile and lower my gaze demurely, shaking my head. But it's too late. The others have heard, and everyone thinks it's a fantastic idea. All of a sudden fake guitars are being whipped out and someone is attaching a bunch of wires to a drum set that looks like it was designed by Fisher Price. Come on, Sarah, play.

I grew up in a smallish town where typical teen rebellions like cigarettes and drinking and smoking oregano and going too far with guys in their dad's cars were fairly common occurrences. But I have never, ever, experienced the amount of peer pressure to participate in an activity I'm not comfortable with as I did that night. The night of the Rock Band. Come on, just play already. All the cool kids are doing it. What's your problem? Stop being such a drag and just do it already. I felt like I was in a parody of a poorly written after school special. But it was no joke. It was my life.

It's not that I don't like video games. I do like them. A little too much. I'm like the straight laced student that is dragged to the pub for one drink and ends up dancing on the bar with no top and lemon wedges stuck in her hair. I do just fine without it, but if I do indulge in a hit of an electronic game I'm immediately transformed into a full on addict. Just insert central line and feed the graphics, music and avatars directly into my heart.



I remember as a child in the late 80's going over to my aunt's house. I'd pace the living room, sending telepathic messages to my five year old cousin. Invite me to play with your Nintendo. Do it now! I couldn't ask, that would be rude. I was being torn between my mother's teachings of Always-Be-Polite-No-Matter-What, and my primal need to PLAY DUCK HUNT NOW!

And there was the PC version of Balder's Gate my boyfriend had when I was 20. I lost most of a winter to that game. Many evenings he would come home from work to find me in the late stages of rigor mortis, sitting right where he'd left me nine hours earlier - wrapped in a blanket with my hand cramped around the mouse, barely able to flutter my index finger to move my army of warriors from a battle against ogres to a battle against wild dogs to a battle against evil wizards to a - you get the picture. You don't even want to know what happened to my social life and my tendonitis when he brought home a PlayStation.

I couldn't close my eyes without seeing the games. I couldn't close my hand into a fist. My shoulders ached and I was probably close to permanent organ damage due to long term dehydration.

But I reformed. To the wild cries and gnashing of teeth (from both my boyfriend and myself), I deleted all of my games, ordered the PlayStation out of the house, and never looked back.

So when my sister sent me an invitation to play Farm Town on Facebook, I turned it down. I just don't play any type of electronic game anymore. Please, she said. I need you to join, so I can have an extra neighbour. No, I said. Come on, she said. You don't even have to play. 

Yeah, right. Angie, have you even met me?

This game. It's the stupidest game I've ever played. You get this square of land. And you click on little pieces of this land with the mouse. That's pretty much it. You click on the little pieces to plow them. Then you click to plant seeds. Then you wait for a few hours to a few days. Then you click to harvest them. Then you click to plow. And while you're waiting for your virtual crop to grow, you can go to strangers farms, and click on their little pieces of screen. You can then spend the fake money you made buying little cartoon decorations like hammocks and outhouses and bunny rabbits.

That's it. There's no story to get caught up in. No characters, no plot. No battles with ogres. The graphics suck. And I can't stop playing it. Must click repeatedly. Must make crop grow! I feel like the desperate addict that will stoop to disgusting levels to get her high. The drunk chugging mouth wash and vanilla extract. The coke head licking powder of the floor in a bathroom stall.

My name is Sarah Gignac, and I'm addicted to a Facebook application.

1 comment:

zac said...

You should just delete the app. I have a standing ban on all facebook applications that have any entertainment basis. On a completely unrelated note, you didn't hear about GemCraft from me.

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