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Video games and Netflix are my saving grace. But they’re also my kryptonite.

Sometimes I have days where if I read and/or work on my writing I’ll kill myself with a brick. Days like these are the kind that drive me to video games and Netflix, but mostly gaming. It’s a good release. I get to take my boredom, apathy, and frustration, and beat a Void-touched Arabian man to death with it (because screw you, Malzahar).

Other times it gets out of hand.

With every video game, especially newer ones, I can get drawn in for hours fairly easily. In most cases, though, I plan on spending that time gaming. With certain games though it just sort of . . . happens.

I know, I know. Bad Nathan! You’ll never be a writer unless you write for three hours every day and read at least two-to-three books a week! (I read an article claiming that the other day . . . my thoughts on it are mixed.) But certain games tend to drag me under if I let them. The two major malcontents in this drama are any game published by under the Total War franchise, alongside the MOBA everyone loves to hate: League of Legends.

So here’s what happens:

With Total War, most often Medieval II and Rome (soon to have Rome II hopefully thrown into the mixture), I tend to lose track of time while attempting to accomplish major goals (especially because I use the Stainless Steel and Total Realism mods respectively . . . all the extra content . . .). Campaigns last a long time, especially if you micro-manage everything and play out all of the battles like I like to. This doesn’t really click in your head until you realized that it was bright out when you crossed the border into the Holy Roman Empire, and it’s been dark for four hours now that pesky Nuremberg no longer stands alone as the last German stronghold. Time flies by because you’re too focused on the game to notice anything else. Managing an empire that stretches from Iberia to Illyria is serious business, you know!

There’s also no in-game clock in Total War. There’s an in-game turn counter (in a sense) and a display showing what year you’re on in the game, but these are largely negligible for time-telling. I could spend four turns in five minutes, and then my next could take half an hour because I need to fend off invaders on three different borders. Strangely enough, I get a lot of writing ideas from this sort of game, so I guess it’s not all bad.

And then there’s League of Legends, which will be lovingly referred to as LoL from here on out in this little post.

LoL is what’s called a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, or MOBA. You take control of one of a selection of pre-made characters with set abilities that you buy items for to make certain aspects of them stronger (I think we’re up to just over 110 now, but I could be wrong). Now, I immediately have no excuse for how long I spend on this game, as there’s an in-game clock telling you how long the match has gone on for, and you actively need to seek out a game by entering into a queue.

So where does the problem come from, you might ask?

I’ll tell you.

It comes from the in-game financial system. Winning and losing gets you IP, which you use to buy crap in game. There’s also RP for real money, but that’s a dark corner I only selectively venture into (still can’t bring myself to dump the money for Blackthorn Morgana . . .). You also get something called a First Win of the Day Bonus, which pops up every twenty-two hours, so it’s not really “of the Day” in a literal sense, but you get my meaning. This is normally where the problem hits.

I’ll need a break from something and I’ll think “oh, I’ll hop on and get my bonus IP from a first win”. And then I start losing. A lot.

I’m actually a pretty good LoL player. I never really do truly “badly” except in extreme cases. I just seem to have a tendency of deciding to have a “I’ll only play one” mindset right before I lost four games in a row. By the time I get my First Win bonus thingumabob I’ve played for three hours instead of half an hour. At that point I’ve figured “why not continue?” and there goes the rest of my day. Sometimes I get lucky and just win and move on with my day, but it doesn’t normally work out that well.

Minecraft is also a harsh mistress with my time (ie my Parthenon project that’s gotten out of hand pretty quickly), but I never play that for “a little while”. That’s normally a day I devote to Minecraft-ing pretty hardcore. The same goes for Guild War 2.

The whole Netflix issue I think is pretty self-explanatory. Let’s be real here. I can’t just watch on episode of Fringe at a time! John Noble is too good not to watch over the course of five hours at a short stretch. Or the movies. Give me a Netflix suggestions screen with two or more okay to great horror movies and I’m done for the day. Or if they release a new Marvel/DC animated movie on there. Those knock me out for the day (oh Dr. Strange you wonderful man, you).

Let’s put it this way: I rewatched all of both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis last summer in two weeks. I take my nerdiness seriously.

And people, don’t even get me started on Dungeons and Dragons (I’ll do that myself later). That shit’s my heroin.

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