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You Remind Me of a Toy that I Got Bored With

Submitted by LeahG on March 3, 2010 – 11:09 pmComments

By: Leah Goldstein

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photo: wwarby via flickr

In 1988, my family bought an “entertainment system” that came with 2 games, and only the big kids were allowed to play. When I worked up my nerve, I tried secretly all by myself, and found that it was surprisingly easy to figure out how to make the little man jump just by pushing a button. “Ooooh,” I probably said to myself. I became obsessed. This game was fun and challenging (I had fewer motor skills then), and it always had some weird new thing to beat! Once in a while (or all of the time, really), I’d get stuck on a level, and I’d have to keep repeating and repeating the sequence until I figured out the right pattern of movement needed to get past. Sometimes, for weeks at a time, I couldn’t even get past the very first level, and I’d sulk thinking “I’m so stupid! What is wrong with me?!”

My family would get new games that were prettier, easier to get along with, funnier, and smarter, but I still couldn’t forget that I hadn’t beaten that game. I beat plenty of other games, but I couldn’t get to the ending of THIS game, which I KNEW was going to be pretty awesome after all of that hard work. And finally one day, without even trying really, I beat the final level. And the ending was not what I had expected. I didn’t feel gratified because this ending was not at all what I wanted. I thought there would be like, a
secret door or something that was much much cooler and more engaging than this stupid game that I’d been playing for entirely too long.

I thought that once I’d reached a certain level, that things would be different. I pushed aside these terrible thoughts that I’d been wasting my time, and I tried to play again and again. However, I only realized that I’d learned all of the tricks, the hidden levels and secret power-ups. The little noises and music that it made that I once thought were “so cute” were now so repetitive and predictable that they sounded like an alarm.

And, let’s not forget, it didn’t even ask me to play in the first place. It sat there quiet and happy until I made it play. It couldn’t give me the satisfaction that I wanted because it was just a game. And games don’t change. You can reveal all of their secrets, and try codes to get to slightly altered levels, but they can only give you exactly what they started with, and nothing more.

Bored out of my mind, I stopped playing. Well, that’s not true. I would still turn it on if there was nothing else to do, but it was frustrating to see that game that I knew was easy think it was so challenging and interesting. And it hurt a little every time, because I’d be reminded of that initial disappointment: That it could never offer me anything new, or even remotely engaging. That it would leave me unsatisfied, but completely contented to leave things as they were.

So I’m sorry, but I can’t play anymore.

Image via wwarby

Leah Goldstein is a writer/musician/social scientist who lives in Brooklyn, and kind of loves having ADHD. You can find her on twitter @thetarhythm

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