xbox 365.

I haven’t had a gaming system in my home for years.

This has been intentional. I know myself enough to know that as soon as there’s a controller on my coffee table, all of my time will just disappear.

But now there’s an Xbox in the house. XBOX? xBox? I don’t care. I don’t have time to look it up because I can’t stop playing it.

At first I was able to pretend it was no big deal. It’s another little box near the television. Like the Apple TV or the DVR. Just something over there to entertain, but it’s not like it has Rock Band or something, so I’m cool just ignoring it.

You know, ignore it and focus on things in the real world that are important. Like a job. Or trying to get a job. The spec screenplay I keep promising people. Something that shows, at the end of the day, you actually existed that day. You accomplished something.

But the sneaky, smart XBOX saw through that one, and says right there on the screen: “Look! Your friend Scott is online and playing right now. In fact, he’s been online playing Rock Band for two hours. And your other friend here? He’s watching a movie through Netflix. That hardly counts as playing video games, now does it? Hey, if you start playing a video game, we will log what you’ve done, and give you ‘accomplishments’ and everybody will know that you existed. So worry about that five-mile run later. You know when you can run? Any day at all. You know when you can play 1 vs 100? Only a few hours a day for a few months. That’s hardly any time at all.”

1 vs 100. In the end, that’s the game that should receive all of the blame for my slam back into my videogame addiction. You guys, it’s a live trivia game but on your couch. Back in Austin, I used to spend roughly six hours a day playing NTN trivia, sometimes for money, wishing there was a way to play it with the same amount of beer but on my couch.

People, the future is now.

It has taken over all of my other time-wasters. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr. Who cares anymore? I’ve got fifteen seconds to log in my answer for “How far is a furlong?”*

1 vs 100. And then I got Rock Band. AS A GIFT. I have an enabler, and I don’t think I adequately expressed to him how easily I could go over the gamer edge because it’s been less than a week since I got back from the holidays and I am now looking at Beatles Rock Band just inches from my hand and I really want to figure out a way to play guitar while I sing “Oh! Darling.” I think I’m going to have to buy a microphone stand. You guys, my Rock Band guitar is resting in an actual guitar stand. My actual guitar is in the closet, because I never was any good at teaching myself the real guitar, but on the fake guitar I can unlock ACHIEVEMENTS!

Then… I went to Game Stop last night. No. In my defense, I was taken to Game Stop by my enabler.

“See if they have Rock Band 2,” he says. “Then you can play online with your friends,” he says.

Ten minutes later I’m holding five games, trying to determine which Tony Hawk is the latest because I’ve been out of the game for so long I had no idea that there’s a game where you get to skate Los Angeles. And Silent Hill! There’s a new Silent Hill! And the xbox has a Roller Coaster Tycoon equivalent!

I can’t stop playing Brain Challenge, which truly has some of the most annoying sound effects I’ve ever heard, because while I almost always get a perfect score in “Memory,” I seem to be unable to pass the “Logic” level higher than a C, and this is unacceptable.

And now, if I can put down the guitar (I have to; sometimes after a while the scrolling notes give me vertigo), I have a new obsession. Axel and Pixel. You solve one puzzle and another pops up and then you do that again and then the next thing you know it’s dark outside. In real life. And you’re still in your pajamas and your coffee cup is filled with freezing coffee and Taylor has learned how to administer his own insulin because the animal kingdom really does have an impressive survival instinct.

The gaming system. It has beaten me down. I suppose it was stupid to think I could make it all the way through the holidays, what with the time off and the few days of rain we had here. But now… it’s all I want to do. Because I can do it. I can do it without even noticing how long I’ve been doing it. It’s so easy to just stay still and play video games. Doesn’t everybody know that?

[scripty]
PAMIE
And then the other day we got first place in an online video game called “1 vs 100.” We beat like, thirty thousand people.


MOM
Of course you did. Because you’re smart.

PAMIE
And then we took a picture of the screen. Because we are nerds.

MOM
Well, you are a nerd. You always were a nerd. But you’re a good kind of nerd. A nerd with personality. I mean, I don’t know much about nerds. I don’t know many, but I’ve seen them on television, and that’s what it seems nerds are, right? No personality? But you’ve always been smart, and you used to get upset when people thought you were a nerd, back when you were little. There was that time I found out you’d stopped answering the teacher’s questions in class, because people were teasing you for always knowing the answer. So you tried to stop answering the questions, but I guess it was frustrating for you, not being able to say the right answer, or pretending you didn’t know it. I can’t remember which one you were upset about. Anyway, I talked you out of pretending you were dumb. I told you that even if you knew all the answers, someone out there was always going to be better than you, so you shouldn’t worry about being the best. But I guess they were calling you a nerd. You just tell them you’re a nerd with a good personality. Honey, are you still there?
[/scripty]

It’s funny how this webpage looks like all I do is play roller derby. I haven’t been in weeks — more due to travel, rather than video games. Okay, maybe once was because of video games. (But the 1 vs 100 live show is on Tuesday nights! This game is only for another few months!) I have roller derby today, as a matter of fact, but when I woke up this morning the first thing I thought was, “Okay, if I play today, I have to stop playing by like, two, or there’s no way I’ll make it to derby practice. Maybe I should go for a run right now, just in case I decide to play video games at some point today. That way I’ll have at least exercised at some point. Or I could make some coffee and just limit myself to like, one hour of Axel and Pixel. No, it’s a brand new day. I should see how long I could go without even turning on that thing. I’ll just get on my computer instead.”

Which is why I’m over here. I figure the more things I give myself to do on my computer, the closer I will get to opening Final Draft. I’m almost there. I’d much rather play Axel & Pixel until about 3:30 and then I can go straight into 1 vs 100 for six straight hours. I could do it. But I don’t know that I could handle the guilt after.

Hi, my name is Pamie and I’m a binge gamer.

[* — (gasp!) My fellow nerd! You totally scrolled to this footnote to see if you were right about furlongs! I love you for this, I truly do.]