The latest Aberrant Gamer column over at GameSetWatch is an interesting summation of a challenge Leigh Alexander extended to herself and her readers: abstaining from gaming for a week. Any kind of gaming. Some dutiful readers were successful, Leigh was not - but it does raise some interesting questions on why and how we game:
... it did feel like my world was a bit smaller; there were emotions, impulses and dreams that had nowhere to travel to, that languished amid the everyday. It's true that I learned perhaps gaming has cultivated in me a lack of long-term patience, a need for more regular stimulation, a poorer attention span. It's also very possible that I zone out with games to avoid dealing directly with things that cause me frustration or sadness. But I'm now certain there is a singular fashion in which games engage both mind and emotion - not only for the purpose of play, but for personal reasons both creative and therapeutic - that no other form of media approaches. It's a quality unique to gaming, it speaks to the power and responsibility game developers have assumed, and it makes sense out of the intense, often perplexing personalisation we feel toward the games they make.
I frequently go weeks without picking up a game - my PS2 has languished since August or September, I think I last turned on the 360 sometime before the new year, and the last time my poor DS got my undivided attention for more than half an hour or so was back in June, on a long haul trans-Pacific flight. Still, I know my games are always there for the taking (if only I had time!). I suspect if I locked them up or told myself I couldn't play, I'd be pretty anxious in no time flat.
Abstinence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder [GameSetWatch]