Just as Michael Corleone said in Godfather III, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." I'm not talking about organized crime. I'm talking about XBox. Until about two years ago, I was a major Quake affectionato. I couldn't wait to get home from work to jump back into whatever level I was fighting for my life to get out of. My wife still tells our friends of the physical gyrations I use to make in front of the computer, dodging and ducking to look around corners and avoid being creamed by the demons. And before there was Quake, I was equally hooked on Doom. Back when Doom could fit on a couple of diskettes. The grainy images and cheesy "monsters" were as appealing to me as any spooky movie. For more nights than I count, I'd look at the clock one minute it would be 7pm and look again in what seemed to be 30 minutes later and it would be 1:30am. And that was when I had to leave for work at 5:30am.
Then about two years ago, I started having this gnawing feeling that I was missing something. It turned out to be a life. I found myself day-dreaming while in meetings on new strategies I could use to get out of this or that situation I'd gotten myself into on the latest level. I even felt guilty because I went to one of those Web sites of Quake tricks and tips.It was like the teenage boy caught by his mother with a girly magazine under his mattress. I kept trying to motivate myself to write my own levels and become a published gamester. Then, one night while laying in bed in the middle of the night trying to figure out a way to conserve ammunition, I came to the realization that I needed to get a hold on myself and find out why my wife stayed mad at me and my children thought I was acting like 10 year old friends.
So I went cold turkey. Just stopped. Retired my joystick. Put it out of my mind. Oh it was hard for the first few days but gradually, it became easier. It's a shame there wasn't a patch that you could put on your arm to help. I even regain the use in my hand because it wasn't wrapped around the joystick each night. I had used the same technique when I quit smoking in the late 70's although I had some help from my kids then. Whenever I got the urge to smoke, I'd take my kids out into the backyard, put them into their toy wagon, and run around the yard in circles until the urge went away. I put a lot of miles on that wagon. Not to mention making my kids dizzy.
Now fast forward a couple of years to Christmas 2005. I opened all of my presents, the usual shirts, candy, and "stuff." However, in the corner of the room near the tree was a large box. I had no idea what it could be. I'd had already told my wife to not spend any money on me for Christmas as we had already spent our "Christmas  " money on a trip out east to see my parents. So I opened the box and to my surprise (and horror) was, you guessed it, an XBox. Not the XBox 360 mind you. The old one but an XBox nonetheless. Seems that one of my son-in-laws had driven to New Mexico just after the release of XBox 360 because he couldn't find one where he lived in Denver. Somehow he lucked out and found one in Roswell, NM. Anyway, he and my daughter figured that I had too much time on my hands so I inherited his old box. And like the alcoholic that falls off the wagon, I've become a Halo addict. The old cramps in my hand have returned. I have to forcefully stop myself from strategizing throughout the day. Two Saturday's ago, I went into the guest room, where I've setup the machine (my wife had wisely forbid me from setting it up on our main TV) at 8:30am and didn't come up for air, except for bathroom and water breaks, until 1:30am the next morning. Needless to say, I was wound up like I'd had a bucket of caffenated coffee. Now I once again find myself thinking of strategy, strategy, strategy. This time quitting may not be an option. My kids are too old to ride in the wagon and I'm too old to run around the yard. My boss is even trying to get me to go multiple player online. In the end, the only alternative may be a 12-step program. I plan on looking for one as soon as I finish this level.