As you well know, the holiday season is looming, teasing us with its glowing goodness and promise of days off of work and school alike. However, there’s one other thing that the holidays bring to us every year, lumbering towards us like great Godzilla-monsters ready to trample our social lives to ruin: video games.
Sometimes, in these awesome and terrible times with nothing but free time and a pile of gaming to get through, we do things we are not altogether proud of: We binge. It’s like that inner beast takes over, a beast that isn’t satiated until we finish those games. You know what I’m talking about.
I bring you several instances where this happened in my life. Here are my top 5 video game binges:
5. Suikoden III (RPG, PS2)
The summer before my Junior year at Florida State University, I stumbled across a wonderful RPG called Suikoden III. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, they typically sport huge, sweeping, grandiose plots that suck you into their respctive fantasy worlds. In addition, they have casts of characters that number in the hundreds.
The kicker? You can collect all of these guys and form your own army. You also get a house, and each additional character brings his or her own touch to it. Also, the story is incredibly long and complex. All told, this game ruined my life that summer, as I dumped 65 hours into it in a week and a half’s time. My excuse? I had nothing better to do. Which was only partially true, seeing as how I DID have a job. You can do the math on sleep/work/play ratios. It ain’t pretty.
4. Guild Wars (MMORPG, PC)
I’ve always known that if I ever allowed myself to even flirt with the seductress known as the MMO, then I would immediately be pulled into its grasp, never to be released. The Guild Wars free Beta weekend back in 2004 taught me that I was right to expect this psychotic behavior from myself as I proved it in each and every way.
From Friday night to Sunday night, I spent over 40 hours playing the Guild Wars Beta, literally taking breaks to eat, sleep, and spend a small amount of time with my fiancé (now my wife). My excuse was that it was a good chance to spend time with my brother, who was also in the Beta. This was only partially true, as both of us ended up hunting with different parties all weekend. We ended up meeting in a PvP match and we kicked his team’s ass.
3. Final Fantasy VII (RPG, PS1)
This game destroyed my soul. Many of you are familiar with FF7, but I have to be honest- it was the very first RPG I ever played in my life. It was the first time that I realized that a game could tell you a meaningful story with fun characters. I couldn’t believe it as I played. It was like participating in a living, breathing novel.
Over a couple of weeks, I threw 40 hours into this game, and then immediately turned around and played it again, finding all the secrets, moving through each sidequest, to ultimately play another 95 hours. I beat it again in 65 hours a month later. 200 hours of gameplay in about a month and a half’s time.
2. Halo 2 (FPS, XBox)
In college, I was that guy who always swore off the console FPS. Until I started playing Halo with my roommates every night before we went to bed (Rockets on Prisoner, bitch!). The night Halo 2 came out, we waited in line for an hour in front of GameStop, and I couldn’t believe that I was doing that for a video game release.
At the time, the big draw for the game was that XBox Live was going to make a major splash with it. For the first time, my roomies and I could play online against other people to test our might. The twitch gunplay as well as the addictive matchmaking system (which was so innovative for a console FPS at this time) spawned my week long Halo 2 binge, where I played the game over 40 hours in just three or four days, stopping only to sleep and go to class. I didn’t even spend time with my fiancé for this one, it was that good.
My excuse at the time? “I wont’ get to do this kind of thing when I’m married”, which was only partially true. It’s sad that I played this game so much, given how much I grew to hate it the weeks following.
1. Knights of the Old Republic (RPG, XBox)
Never has a game dominated me this thoroughly, and I think that’s partly because I played it over the Christmas break that year. Having borrowed my friend’s XBox, I was ready to see what all the fuss was about with this new KOTOR game. Well, as it turns out, the fuss is that it very effectively combined two of my favorite things, RPGs and Star Wars.
I was a dark side maniac and I couldn’t get enough of the game. My schedule was as follows from Sunday night to Thursday morning. Wake up at around 8 or 9 am. Play KOTOR until about 1 or 2 PM, then break for short lunch. Play KOTOR until about 7 PM. Eat dinner and call the fiancé. Play KOTOR until about 3 or 4 in the AM. Repeat.
I finished this game in 55 hours in 3 1/2 days. And then I wanted to play it again, light side.
So, with the holiday season upon us yet again, I look forward to more video game binges of this kind as we all struggle to get as much gaming into as short of a time span as possible. Between Resistance 2, Tales of Symphonia 2, LittleBigPlanet, Gears of War 2, Fable II and Fallout 3… A repeat binge will be hard to avoid before going back to work.
What about you guys? What are your all-time crazy gaming binges? Feel free to share your story.