Category Archives: Final Project

I’m in a glass case of emotion! … and wrapping up DS106…

Before I get into the details, make sure you read the actual story first! Check it out here.

Despite all of the late nights wrapping up work for this course, this final project made it all worth it. To be completely honest, this story isn’t really about Eric. It’s about me. Although I definitely embellished and exaggerated many aspects of the story, I was unquestionably addicted to video games when I was in college. Specifically, I was addicted to Halo. This addiction almost cost me everything. I was indeed staying up until all hours of the night playing Halo, and I definitely skipped the majority of my classes. It was so bad that I withdrew from two classes just so I didn’t get an F. Despite this “strategy,” my freshman year GPA was a dismal .96 (Animal House comes to mind…).

This didn’t change anything, though, as I was academically dismissed from school after the fall semester of my sophomore year. At the time, I honestly didn’t even think about the fact that my love for Halo could have possibly been the cause for my dismissal. I naively believed that I was just having a really hard time adjusting from high school to college. Although I didn’t eschew all of my relationships like Eric did in the story, I definitely went out less (as an adult, this doesn’t sound too bad, but this was college!) and prioritized Halo over my social life. My wakeup call, though, was indeed a text from a good friend. It happened just as I was about to purchase a plane ticket to a Major League Gaming tournament in Orlando. I took a real hard look at myself that night, and this assignment has brought many of those emotions. I’m grateful to be able to tell my story and hope that this in some way helps build some credibility for video game addiction as a recognized and treatable addiction.

Ok, so that was the background—now on to the story itself. I tried really hard to follow Pixar’s 4th rule of storytelling (Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.), but also tried really hard to let the story flow naturally. While the story structure is evident, I tried to find other ways of introducing each section and ways to veer a little off script at times. This was important to me because although a good story follows a structure, it doesn’t necessarily follow it to a tee each and every time. In a good story, there are always twists and turns—that’s what makes it interesting. Although my story may not have had many overt twists or turns, the concept of video game addiction itself is one that is only now starting to gain some credibility in the psychology field. The story itself is the twist.

In terms of media, I wanted to tie the story together by adding a handful of media objects. I first created an image in Photoshop showing the game cover for Halo on Xbox, and overlaid separate images of a game controller and a headset. To make each of the overlaid images stand out a bit more, I added outer glow and drop shadow effects to each of them. I chose yellow and red as my outer glow colors to symbolize the warning signs of video game addiction (think of a traffic light…). Next, I created an audio file using Audacity to simulate the Halo ringtone that Eric made for his cell phone. To do this, I downloaded the Halo theme song and a clip of a dial-up modem. The Halo theme song obviously represented the game, and the modem sound represented the online gaming experience. I cut the clips in Audacity and staggered the time that the modem sound came in to make it come in right when the pace of the theme song started to pick up. Then, I faded out the clips to clean up the endings, and uploaded the final product to SoundCloud.

The next piece of media was a video I created, but I will skip over that for now—I’ll discuss this later. Finally, I created one last image. This was a piece of clipart I found online of the weight of the world being lifted from a character’s shoulders, similar to how Eric felt at the end of the story. I also found a Halo logo on Google Images and used the Magnetic Lasso tool in Photoshop to extract the logo from its black background. I then added an outer glow and drop shadow effect to the logo and laid it all over the globe. I chose a blue outer glow since blue is a very calming color and this was symbolizing a feeling of inner peace and clarity.

Ok, so let’s go back to the video I created. I thought it was important to add some media to the story that truly showed the dark side of video game addiction. While this is NOT me in the video, I am a little ashamed and embarrassed to admit that while in the throes of my video game addiction, I occasionally cursed at the TV. The cursing itself in the video is humorous, but the raw emotion is actually kind of terrifying. In order to create this video, I was actually able to find clip of a kid screaming at his TV while playing Halo. However, I also found a video of people repeatedly dying in Halo (people have way too much time on their hands!), and was able to splice in some of the dying clips to sync up with the kid screaming at the TV. I think overall it paints a pretty powerful picture of video game addiction, and I hope people realize how serious it can actually be.

Whew! That about wraps it up. Since I hate ending on a serious note, here’s a picture that sums up how I feel about having to finish up this course:

nooooooo

Video games ruined my life. Good thing I have two extra lives.

One hot summer day, Eric, a student at the local state college, decided he needed some new excitement in his life. He had heard a lot of good things from his friends about a new video game for Xbox called Halo, so he decided to go buy it. Eric had been playing video games for years, but he had heard this one was different. This one was a first-person shooter and apparently had some really amazing graphics, but this particular game allowed players to play against each other online. Eric was excited about being able to play against people from around the world, so he drove down to the mall to purchase a copy.

Eric started small, only playing the game a few times a week after he returned from class. His copy of Halo came with a special edition headset and controller that allowed him to communicate and interact with the people he was playing with in ways that in other games was not possible (click the image below to see what they looked like!).

halo poster with controller and headset

But the more Eric continued to play the game, the more he wanted to continue to get better and better. He was a pretty self-motivated person to begin with, and this motivation drove him to try to be the best in anything he did. He began playing with the same people every night; sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. He loved playing Halo so much that he even decided to change his ringtone on his cellphone:

Once Eric started playing Halo into the wee hours of the morning, he started sleeping through his classes. He was too tired to go to class, and even when he woke up, all he wanted to do was play more Halo. Although Eric had historically been a pretty diligent student, Halo started to become more important to him than school. Skipping classes meant he started missing assignments, and as a result, his grades began to suffer. However, Eric didn’t care. He only wanted to get better and better at Halo.

This continued desire to improve at Halo began to wear on Eric’s relationships. He had always been a pretty sociable guy with a large group of friends and a busy social calendar. However, the countless hours of Halo began replacing the parties and get-togethers Eric was accustomed to attending. After a while, Eric’s friends stopped calling because they knew he would rather stay in and play Halo than come and hang out with them. Eric had seemingly made new friends online in Halo, but he didn’t realize how this was affecting his real friendships.

The more Eric played, the more the game wore on his emotions. While he was oblivious to his deteriorating friendships, the lack of sleep combined with his overwhelming desire to improve began to make him very agitated. He started losing his patience easily, and his roommates were often awaken in the middle of the night by him screaming and cursing at the TV. In fact, one roommate even videotaped one such encounter (unbeknownst to Eric):

Please note, this video contains language that may not be appropriate for all viewers……

There was seemingly no hope for Eric to break this detrimental pattern. Eric was playing Halo 15-20 hours a day, failing all of his classes, and was completely estranged from all of his friends. His only friends were people he never met in person, only online. In one of his many online sessions, one of his ‘new friends’ mentioned a big Halo tournament that was happening down in Orlando, FL. They all decided that they would buy plane tickets and pay the registration fee that evening. That night, Eric got on his computer and started searching for plane tickets. He found the perfect ticket and entered his credit card information. As he was about to submit and pay to confirm his reservation, Eric received a text message from an old friend asking him to come to a party that night. He hadn’t talked to this friend in months, but the result of the text was an emotional tidal wave. Eric became self-aware for the first time since that warm summer day when he first bought Halo. He realized that he was addicted to the game, and all of the other things he cared about had suffered dramatically as a result.

Fighting back tears, Eric responded to his friend’s text message. Determined to beat his addiction, Eric asked his friend for help. Within minutes, Eric’s friend knocked on the door and came in to console him. The wakeup call did not cure Eric’s addiction, but it was a step in the right direction. Although it was easy enough to stop playing Halo, the uphill battle that Eric faced as a result of his addiction was far from over. He was still failing his classes, and many of his friends were hurt by how he seemingly stopped caring about them for months on end. However, that same drive and personal motivation that brought Eric down the path to video game addiction helped him get back on his feet. Determined to mend all the bridges he burned, Eric resolved to turn his life around. He went out with his friend for one of the most fun nights of his life, and smiled as he went to bed that night feeling like the weight of the world had finally been lifted off his shoulders.

weight-off-my-shoulders