Tech Addict

June 18, 2012

I feel like I should be in a program for my severe addiction to technology. It is controlling my entire life. No longer when I leave my house, work or any kind of building, do I look around and see a bird flying in the air, smell the roses, smile at the sight of children playing in the park. NO, I’m head down starting at a small lcd screen playing a game, texting, checking my email, updating my Facebook status, web serving or reading a freaking book. Many times, I’m trying to figure out “who can I contact now” since everyone is so readily available. I remember when beepers were the latest craze and cell phones were the size of small bricks. If you wanted to call someone, you had to wait until you got home and use your rotary phone. YES, I said, it…old school rotary phone. If you don’t know what that is, just Google it and see a bit of tech history.

There was no such thing as instant access to anyone. When you left a voicemail, you knew that it could take a few hours or even longer before they got back to you and that was acceptable. Now, if I’m texting someone and they don’t respond a millisecond later, then I get all freaked out  and send another text asking “Hey, did you get my text????”. What happened to patience and enjoying life? Now we are controlled by the immediacy of connecting to anyone in the world and have fallen away from the respect of privacy and for people right’s to be “busy” or “in the middle of something”.  When did we become so self absorbed that we feel that it is acceptable for us to intrude on someone’s day by telegraphing our inane thoughts or diatribes to friends/families/acquaintances and get upset when they don’t drop what they are doing to “LOL” back.  On the flipside of that, when did I become so co-dependant to my cell phone and the burning visceral need to respond to that text, email or Facebook post that pings at me??!! When I try to let the text sit and wait, say when I’m talking to a friend or at the grocery store, I find myself distracted and unable to concentrate on the task at hand until I see who texted me and what did they want even if it was just to say, “I hate cheese”.  I have had to make a conscious effort to remember that the phone DOES NOT OWN ME, I OWN THE PHONE! I do not have to answer every phone call or text.  Seriously, I need some professional help!

I also, find it interesting how short our attention spans have gotten. In this age of technology ruling our lives and our children becoming indoctrinated with texting and gaming from within the fetus, it seems crazy to look away from the impact that technology has had on humanity. No one wants to live in reality anymore. We just want to jump onto the nearest LAN party or grind at home in whatever the latest MMORP is popular so we can run around in a fantasy land as bad asses and kill things, run raids and live vicariously through our Avatars instead of becoming bad asses in real life.

Please don’t misread me. I am not an elitist who feels that all of this is beneath me and I’m sitting in absolute judgment of the aforementioned, as I am guilty of ALL OF IT.  I just find it so interesting how fast things have changed and how far we have come. As a game designer, I know that it is becoming increasingly more difficult to keep up with the growing needs of the Short Attention Spanned consumers out, most of them being under the age of 14.  As soon as you’ve put something out there, it becomes obsolete and the latest and greatest just came out 2 seconds later. Not only do we have to figure out how to create compelling games for the consoles or personal computers, but now, there is web games, iOS, Android, eReaders like Kindle and Nook, tablets, iPods, everything plays games now and usually people are wanting to play for 3-5 minutes here and there when they have a break. I know that if find that I will be in the bathroom for a time, I’ll grab my phone or iPod Touch to keep me company so I can continue to build up my virtual city or bakery. (OMG, did I really just admit to that??!!).

PLUS, for social and mobile gaming, they are sometimes open ended, meaning that you can continue to play level after level or continue the simulation of building your city or bakery. Which is awesome but as a game designer, you have to keep evolving that one game so that it is consistently compelling and has strong replay ability.  It’s like working on a mini-mobile MMO game.  I actually enjoy mobile gaming and the paradox of how simple the games can be but yet very intricate in how they continue to challenge me and pull me in for future gameplay. Again, feeding into my addiction.

All I am saying is, let us not forget that from time to time, we should put down our smart phones, our iPads and whatever other gadget you’re melded with and just actually TALK TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY. No interruptions. No saying “Sorry, I just need to check this text” and we say, “Oh, it’s okay”. Give our undivided attention to your children as they so desperately are looking for us to be their playmates and to not have us use technology to become their babysitters or to interrupt playtime, making them feel less important.

Trust me, I need some serious help. I think we all do. If we can find a happy balance and enjoy technology for all the joys that it can bring us and still find some time to have real life interaction, I think all will be good with the world.

Thank you for listening, but I must run. I just got a new game, Virtual City 2 for my iPod Touch and I have to finish this quest before I can move on to the next city!!!!!

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