Monday, October 10, 2005

Doing It to Death

For no reason in particular, I recently recalled an event from nearly 15 years ago when I thought I might be losing my mind. The culprit was, as we once so cutely called it in the days when "cyber" was the prefix-du-jour, cybersickness. Those of you from the right generation might also understand me when I refer to the Tetris Effect.

I'm sure most gamers have a story about physiological or psychological effects they've felt after a long gaming binge. When I've been doing too much of the same activity--not just garden variety too much, but a lotta lotta too much--my brain will just keep on processing the activity even after I've stopped.

Back in that fateful week in College, I'd been playing a lot of Tetris, just like everybody else (everywhere). I wasn't the only one who reported that when I closed my eyes I would see after-images of the rotating blocks on the inside of my eyelids. This little problem could be a little annoying when laying down to sleep. I should have taken it as a warning, but when we're young, we don't know our limitations.

That's when things went haywire. While talking to a friend, Tetris blocks started their persistent descent, right through my waking field of vision. For a few minutes it was weird and curious. Then it got annoying when I wanted it to stop. But it didn't stop. For about 24 hours, I "saw" Tetris blocks floating in front of my face. And after a few hours, it was terrifying and maddening. I can remember crumpling in the bed, holding a pillow over my head, just wishing like crazy for it to stop.

I never again played or even watched somebody playing Tetris. Now, on the rare occasions that I get absorbed into any kind of computer game, I stick to low-motion, turn-oriented strategy games. I have a strong philosophical belief that games should be fun, and not cause you enormous emotional distress. But that's just me.

The experience has also made me question why anybody could recreationally induce hallucinations.


Blogger Namaste Mama said...

I went through the same thing with Tetris. And, a game called Crystal Quest. Horrible.

5:53 AM  
Blogger EB said...

Crystal Quest (shudder)

9:30 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Crystal Quest! That was my favorite game. I'm not sure I want to know if it's still around.

9:24 AM  

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