This Sunday I spent more than 10 hours playing a video game, and I’m not sure if I’m proud of it. I didn’t set out to use my day that way. I thought I’d spend just an hour as the stalwart hero of the land and then get to work on my novel. One hour became two. Which became four. Eight. You get the idea. I couldn’t stop.
I think most people these days know that feeling of enthrallment to a really good story. Whether it’s video games or Netflix binges or a good book. When the last Harry Potter book came out, I missed an entire night’s sleep finishing it.
I’ve mixed feelings about this phenomenon in stories. On the one hand, it’s clearly a testament to the quality of the piece. Part of the writer’s job is to capture the audience, make them want, need to know what happens next.
But there’s a line between engaging and addicting. That 10 hours wasn’t entirely pleasant. I felt anxious. Trapped. A prisoner of the game I was playing. I felt guilty I was wasting my whole day.
But whose fault is that, mine or the writers’? They crafted an experience without stopping points. An experience specifically designed to grab you and not let go. Yet, they can’t be responsible for my each individual’s willpower. Some blame must, necessarily fall on me.
The truth is, I don’t know if this addictive enthrallment is a positive or a negative. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.