I’m an addict.
I don’t drink or do drugs. I don’t smoke or touch caffeine. My addiction is satisfaction and I will mainline anything that can produce it. That chemical feeling of being satisfied. Those little hits of dopamine in my brain.
This week it’s been games. Boring, pointless, meaningless internet games literally in a category called “idle” to indicate that they’re purely engineered for running in the background and wasting your time.
(Think Sim City when you used to leave it running overnight to gather mucho dollars and hopefully avoid an earthquake, only instead of sleeping you are watching raptly as the numbers tick ever higher.)
The urge came on Saturday night. Weekends after bedtime are usually my big opportunity to knock out huge chunks of writing on CK – and, especially for finishing new comic guides! This past Saturday I couldn’t get in the mood. Words were coming in fits and starts. Nothing satisfying.
And so, for reasons I can’t entirely explain, I loaded up Kongregate for the first time in years and started poking around for simple games to play. My drug of choice is usually tower defense, but I stumbled into idlers and my night was gone.
The games were at once awful and great for satisfaction. The numbers tick up constantly! You get to click things! If there is enough ticking and clicking, sometimes new things light up! It’s the adult equivalent of an infant playmat that lights up and makes sounds. The best of the bunch was surely Swarm Simulator, a plain text game all about exponential growth and ratios, with dozens of different numbers ticking up constantly. At least it’s math, I told myself.
Even as I was playing the games I hated myself for it. I’ve had them running all week and I keep hating it. I know they’re a crutch for getting my satisfaction elsewhere by doing things like working out or hitting the “Publish” button.
I just needed those little hits. [Read more…] about little hits (of dopamine)