Not to be confused with Cyber Crack addiction (social media like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FourSquare, etc) Pixel Addiction is what I call my dependency upon computer games, especially those that invaded my existence via my Facebook and Myspace.
It all started out innocently enough when I saw something in my feed about YoVille and decided to check it out. A little virtual world where I could design my character to look like me. Once I had created myself I was placed in a three room apartment with windows. No curtains mind you, but I had windows. The apartment had a living room, kitchen and bedroom. Not a bathroom in sight so I wrongly assumed that in YoVille no one needs to shower or use the facilities. But then upon reaching their version of a hardware store while out strolling the town, I discovered bathtubs, showers, toilets and sinks. Seems you have to play and level up to earn a bathroom. But that was okay, I was already working in the factory there saving up coins, and doing all kinds of things to level up and soon I had 2 bathrooms, a guest bedroom and a balcony over looking the virtual ocean. Next I discovered I could buy houses! That became my quest, to earn all the coins possible by working in the factory, getting friends to join so my ‘salary’ was higher, doing various things in YoVille and get a house. Every so often a themed house was introduced into the game, really cool ones like haunted houses, mafia mansions, sea side bungalows, all neat ones everyone wants but those all required paying up with real money. And so, in a moment of greedy weakness, I actually purchased Yo Cash…yes with real dollars I purchased virtual money to buy virtual homes and merchandise. Sad I know, but I was trying to keep up with the Yo-Jones. My life was now scheduled around when my bakery goods at the sweets factory would be finished so that I did not return to smoking ovens and charred cookies. Ah but it got worse….
While feeding that addiction I got sucked into Farmville. A friend needed me to join so they could expand their farm, I could just be a warm body they said, no need to actually play the game. Yeah right. Next thing I know I’m planting crops, harvesting fruits and flowers, and working toward building barns, horse stables, houses, ponds, milking cows, collecting eggs from chickens and so on. My life began to revolve around planting and harvesting times so that I was awake, or home, so as not to log in and discover my crops had withered in the fields. I had to coordinate those times against the bakery over in YoVille as even in virtual realities I could not be in 2 places at one time. I thought it was just me, but then I was receiving texts from friends and my offspring while I was still unemployed, they provided log in detail so I could harvest their crops for them! I became a field-sitter over their farming empires.
Next came Vampire Wars and Mafia Wars. Vampire wars just never held my interest, though I tried. I had been all too hooked on a novel series by Christine Feehan about vampires that was so full of HOT, steamy scenes and romance, full of intense action, this made the game more than lame. Mafia Wars I got into for the purpose of helping my sister start taking out some of the others in the game that messed with her. I had more time while unemployed to build my mafia up and get strong, and take care of her account as well. I began to live for wiping out poor, lower leveled players hotels and casinos, leaving them penniless and unable to rebuild, waa haa haaa!!!!
And then I really crossed into the hardcore pixel addictions, the heroin of computer games, World Of Warcraft. My brother is a huge fanatic, as are my niece, Diva Jeanne, and my sister, Diva Boo. So I jumped in and gave it a shot. I admit, the graphics are outstanding, the game is fantastic and I did enjoy the time playing with the Divas because we could all play together in this fascinating virtual land. But I just could not get into it, not like they do, and not enough for me to spend $15 a month to play. I really wanted to be into it. I enjoy games, I even named my kitten, Pixel, because she was just a little black dot in the world like a pixel on the computer screen. But I could not stick with it. Maybe that was the beginning of the end? I have watched my sister and niece spend hours playing the game together on their computers, it sucks you in completely and takes over your life. My brother told me there is WOW group – widows of warcraft, for the wives of those guys that play the game non-stop, but I don’t think they take cats into their support group, so I had to stop before Pixel starved to death. I couldn’t do it.
I went back to feeding my cattle, chickens and sheep, back to harvesting vegetables and flowers. I returned to my apartment in the virtual city and dusted off the furniture and went back to the virtual employment where I made widgets in the factory. I started hunting treasure on islands in a new virtual game, Treasure Isle, and again I was letting my life revolve around a few million pixels on a screen.
Between my cyber crack fixations to social media, the pixel dependency, my blogs and then a JOB, something had to give. I can feed the social media while on the go, it all comes across my BlackBerry, and if it is good enough for the President of the United States to be a CrackBerry addict, then it is good enough for me. I can even blog with the WordPress application for my phone. The games cannot be played on the go, so they got the axe. I went cold turkey completely. For weeks now I’ve not logged on to any of them. I never said so much as ‘see ya around’ to my hundreds of livestock, didn’t toss sheets over the furnishings in the city, didn’t even lock the doors. I never checked to see if the parrots had enough to eat on the island, or shake the sand out of my cute little virtual sneakers…I just never went back. By now the dog on the farm has ran away, and it costs real money to buy him back so wherever he landed in that virtual dog pound, guess that is his problem.
I am finally free of those little virtual worlds…