Confessions of a computer game addict

Confessions of a computer game addict
David Bartal comes out of the closet to acknowledge his fondness for knights, witches, elves, and other mythological creatures.

It’s been a tough week. At one point, I was so encumbered with heavy weapons, body protection and sundry loot robbed from houses that I literally couldn’t move. That’s when a skeleton suddenly jumped out from a cave and viciously attacked me with a lightning bolt-charged sword.

Luckily, it was my role-playing character Gordo who got slaughtered, not my flesh-and-blood self.

It’s true. I confess.

Console or computer games of the ‘hack and slash’ genre are my cup of tea.

I have a weakness for role-playing entertainments like Diablo which are set in the Middle Ages involving knights, witches, elves, orcs and other mythological creatures. One goes on quests to help a damsel in distress or the son of a king locked in a castle dungeon. Along the way, you seek to find, steal, or purchase better gear and weapons.

Most people think that teenagers are the only ones playing console or PC-games, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“There was a time when most of our customers were guys aged 22 or younger, but now we get people of all ages. Some of my customers are senior citizens,” says Magnus Pettersson, who works behind the counter at the “Game” store in Västermalmsgalleriet, a shopping centre at the Fridhemsplan underground station in Stockholm.

Older Swedish gents tend to prefer strategy games, like Age of Empires, which basically involve building and developing a society, defending it, and trying to destroy or dominate all your neighbours. Geography is flexible, so that Romans can compete and battle the Chinese, Indian and Zulu kingdoms, all at the same time.

The other night, I visited a friend’s apartment and learned three new things: I learned about a potent Italian blood-red drink called Sanbitter, which tastes just like Campari but is non-alcoholic – perfect for slow sipping. I learned about an electro re-mix of old Doors tunes which is almost better than the original; and I learned that World of Warcraft – the most popular multi-player online game on the planet, isn’t as violent as the name implies

World of Warcraft is one of the few computer games popular with females, perhaps because co-operating with other players helps one advance to a higher level. Social skills and teamwork give one an advantage. Of course, it is useful to have a flying dragon to transport yourself between continents and a formidable magical scimitar.

My friend, a graphic designer in his mid-thirties, is perverse. He kept amusing himself by undressing his World of Warcraft dwarf character until it was wearing only a diaper, and having it dance in a comical, provocative manner in front of muscle-bound warriors. Some sort of Europride manifestation? I have no idea what he was thinking.

In any event, I didn’t expect to laugh at a game with such a bellicose name. But now that I’ve come out of the closet and admitted to my game-playing passion, maybe I too will succumb to the World of Warcraft temptation some day.

Perhaps after my retirement.