Bingeing reminds me of the time I tried to learn to speed-read. I tried to learn speed-reading because my life is one failed attempt at efficiency after another. I want to do everything, so sometimes I'll try to fast-forward all of it, and I'll convince myself it's better when I know goddamn well I'm too dumb to keep up. It never works, just as it didn't with speed-reading. I could never understand what the fuck was happening. Character names would flash by, and then plot-sounding buzzwords would float though my brain, and my brain would be too busy trying to catch all the previous shit to catch the plot, and then another name and ... wait -- the chapter's over? B-b-but, I didn't, I mean, goddamn it. Fuck it. NEXT CHAPTER.
And so it is with bingeing. All of Fallout 3 and most of New Vegas are faint memories in my mind, and I'm writing this only a handful of weeks removed from having played them. I moved through at such a hurried pace that my memories of them are like staring at trees on a road trip. I can't remember individual trees. Hundreds of miles of them have blended into one continuous blur of green.
Like this, but with more body chunks soaring through
the air, as if prechopped and launched from a cannon.
Entire plot lines vanished from my mind within an hour of completing them. Characters would shift from one game to another. In my head, the world maps would bleed into each other, creating the odd sense of traversing three separate fictional lands at once. When I put the controller down at the end of the day, I would soon have the world's smallest panic attack trying to remember what I had just done. I couldn't, sometimes. It had become the worst thing it could have turned into: an unmemorable routine. This was supposed to be the escape from the routine. Shit. I had done it. I had played too many hours too fast and ...
I Barely Got To Enjoy The Games
About halfway through Fallout 3 is when binge madness struck. Binge madness usually sets in once the fun of the very childish experience of soaking in a distraction for an unhealthy amount of time begins to fade. It happens around when I realize how much I've already done and how much more I have to go -- when a fun binge has become work.
It lingered for a while, but then kicked into overdrive about 60 hours into Fallout: New Vegas. The 60 hours had been spread over three weeks densely packed with playtime, and I didn't feel like I was anywhere near completing the game. I've already played the equivalent of about 12 other games, and, when I was done, I would have to do it all one more time. I was starting to ask myself a question I was afraid would creep up. Was I starting to hate all this? I was demoralized. I had been the gluttonous Roman emperor, laying back on my virgin pubic hair blanket as my slave boys fed me roasted hog legs until I died after the release of a fart so slappy that it rattled my heart to a stop. I had overdone it, and the fun had gone beyond feeling like work. It was feeling shameful. Like binge eating-shameful.
Every bite fills you with just a little bit more self-hate.
I took the buffet approach to an incredible game series. I loaded up my plate with whatever I could find then sat down to eat my disgusting food mound and was shocked -- SHOCKED! -- to discover that after a couple of forkfuls of macaroni and cheese, ice cream sundae, and popcorn shrimp, I was full and had 2 pounds of food to go.
Still, I think I have enough memory of the experience to say that my Fallout binge was immensely satisfying. It was also extremely stupid. But, through it, I learned a valuable lesson about bingeing, and I think I've identified its biggest problem: We've been given all the tools we need to binge ourselves into oblivion, but no one has found an easy and convenient way for us to purge.
Look, I'm not asking for much -- just a way to make my brain vomit.
Luis is micromanaging his fledgling settlements while fleeing Deathclaws. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.