The moment my iPad or iPad Touch's screen illuminates, my finger hones in on the blue icon with the pencil, ruler and paintbrush formed into a stylised 'A', no matter what my previous plans for the device might have been. I know the shop lurking behind the icon is only updated at certain times, but I have to look anyway.
It's the refrigerator I compulsively open each time I enter the kitchen, just in case new food has magically appeared in the minutes following my last inspection.
I think I have a problem.
There was a time, not so long ago, when every Tuesday evening I would make my weekly pilgrimage to my local video game store. As most of you are aware, Tuesday is new game day in North America, the day that — if you get to the shop early enough — you can get the latest titles handed to you right out of the shipping box. It was like getting to the Krispy Kreme as the doughnuts are coming out of the oven, only these doughnuts were flat and silver and wouldn't make you vomit if you ate more than four of them (you'd just die of internal bleeding).
It didn't matter that I wrote for one of the world's biggest gaming websites and was fully aware of every game that was coming out at any particular time. I also know that Krispy Kreme currently has dark chocolate strawberry doughnuts, but that doesn't stop me from calling my wife and having her stop by Krispy Kreme on the way home this morning.
Where was I? Oh yes — I'd go to the game store even if there wasn't a game I wanted to buy that week, just to wander around looking at cover art or peek in the bargain bin for hidden gems or amusing trash. Now my game store is virtual, and it's always just a fingertip away.
The iTunes game store has supplanted the traditional brick-and-mortar video game retailer in the obsession-centre of my brain. I could say it's a direct result of my position as Kotaku's mobile editor, but this started way before that position had been conceived. The idea of fresh new games appearing as if by magic; the anxiety that maybe something amazing popped up while I wasn't looking; the fear that the game I want might be sold out. Yes, it's completely irrational, but my fears are too tenacious to be killed by technological advances.
They can, however, be distracted by food.
If anything, my new position has made the addiction even more ridiculous. Once more I am in a position to know most of what's arriving late tonight / early tomorrow ahead of time. I've got nearly a dozen emails in my inbox detailing tomorrow's new releases, as well as next week's and the week after's. I am well-informed, but there's always a slim chance something slipped between the cracks.
It's not even about buying apps anymore. It's about seeing those fresh colourful icons, all in a row. It's about seeing what crazy lists the iTunes staff can come up with. It's about going to New and Noteworthy, sorting by release date and scanning the lines. I am truly an iTunes game store addict.
Here's hoping Google Play never gets its shit together and adds a new release section. My USB power adapters can only charge so fast.