13 years ago:
My name is L. Spiro and I’m a Starsiege: Tribes-aholic.
The term “addiction” has many variants and degrees, but mine fits them all to their deepest of meanings. In fact my addiction was such that there was no way to deny it no matter how hard one tried to strictly define it.
I stopped doing my homework. In 11th grade only 50% of my classes were F’s.
I had special privileges that allowed me to advance to 12th grade even despite this but things just got worse. In 12th grade I literally got completely straight F’s in every single class, including art. In fact I literally got a 0% in art ironically due to rules that I had set the previous year as a member of student council (a member of which my grades no longer allowed me to be in 12th grade). 2 years prior I had taken 1st place in an American national chess tournament and was captain of our school’s chess team, yet this year I was not even allowed to play thanks to my grades.
On a Thursday I became sick and decided I didn’t know how soon I would get well so I had better get in as much Starsiege: Tribes time as I could. I was sick Friday and continued playing, knowing that in any case I still had the whole weekend to play. I played Starsiege: Tribes for 52 hours straight, taking breaks only between map loads to answer nature’s call and to get drinks of water (but no food).
I dropped out at the middle of 12th grade.
…was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Starsiege: Tribes had a scripting language and full mod capabilities.
I had already been programming for 3 years prior to that game, but was nowhere near the level I needed to be in order to make 3D results and actually play my own game, let alone to have massive groups of others play them.
I started with just making maps, and when I later ended up playing my own maps with 30 other people it was extremely motivational. If you have ever had that happen you know how it feels. Compare that to doing English homework. I am sorry but there is an obvious difference not only in motivation but in developmental growth. My capacity for English did not need further development back then. My capacity for designing and programming games did.
That game is the single most influential aspect of my current life. It allowed me to explore all of the aspects of game creation that interested me, and at such a young age I learned that breaking away from the mold (ignoring homework in favor of pursuing my motivation, regardless of the consequences of my grades, status as student council, ability to play chess, etc.) actually works out more often than you think.
A perfect analogy is that trying to be a millionaire is difficult because most people are all going through the standard and safe system of self-development, but that is not what you do when you want to become a millionaire. If it was then we would almost all be millionaires. In fact, if you want to be a millionaire, you have to break the mold somewhere. The only hard part is knowing where and how.
So yes, I was addicted to games at some point. And that addiction opened my eyes to my future.
I simply would not be where I am today without having had it. I learned more about game creation from it than I would have at school. I learned practical skills that I employ today.
And I learned to take risks that would later cause me to take a huge risk in leaving America and traveling the world with just a few dimes to my name. That is because I learned, “It always works out.”