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I had grown accustomed to the way my room looked. Like the ultimate entertainment or video game center of the world. And I had it all. All the major video game systems from the XBOX to the XBOX 360, a PS2, Nintendo Gamecube, the Wii and as far as the portable video gaming devices went, I had the Nintendo DS and the PSP.
And even though I was momentarily busy fighting some villain from a Nintendo Wii game, I tried to catch bits and pieces of what Sally, my best friend of five years was trying to convey to me.She was the same age as I was, fifteen. When her long and thick head of dark brown hair was loose, she looked more mature than her current age, and that was pretty much the way she looked now.
“Do you think you can put that down for a second and listen to me,” I thought I heard her say in that soft voice of hers.
“Wait, I’ll beat this monster in a second,” I replied amid video game sound effects and the quick movements of my fingers on the Wii controller.
She must have sighed. Even though I had both eyes firmly planted on the television screen before me, I saw her from my side vision. Then out of disgust, she must have left because the next non video game sound I heard was the slam of my bedroom door.
At that point I yelled out: “Sally, Sal, what were you saying,”
“She’s gone,” my mother yelled back from another part of the house.
I sighed, told myself I would call her in a while and resumed my video gaming. But after beating the video game villain and I kept on advancing the game, the minutes rapidly turned into hours and I thought I recalled getting up to turn on the reading lamp beside my bed when the place got dark. And for the most part, Ijust kept on playing the game.
When I did go for a bathroom break, I glanced at the clock and noting that it was two AM, I told myself I would play for another thirty minutes or so, but that soon turned into another hour, by which time I had grown sleepy. So I reluctantly saved my progress from the game, turned off the Wii and flopped myself on the bed without changing into my pajamas.
Seeing that I had at least five minutes or so before Math class, I whipped out my Nintendo DS, turned it on and pretty soon realized that my video gaming had attracted a small group of onlookers.
This was a sort of RPG puzzle game called Puzzle Quest.
“There’s a match right there, Kim, get it,” a guy yelled from behind me.
“And there’s another one on the right,” said another guy. So following their tips, I cleared the matches and was close to defeating the villain when someone abruptly came and closed my Nintendo DS shut.
I slowly looked at the person’s face before me quite expecting it to be that of the teacher, but instead it was Sally. The small crowd that gathered soon dispersed and I heard them whispering remarks like: “Whoa, here comes the boss,” and “ Sally doesn’t like her playing all those video games,”
“ Teach is coming, you’d better put that away,” she said with her hazel eyes looking into my brown ones. And I did put it away, but I was furious with Sally.
When we were in the cafeteria at lunch, I with my Nintendo DS in one hand and a fork in the other, I unleashed some of that anger onto her.
“Why’d you shut my DS this morning in class,” I began.
“Because the teacher was coming and I thought I’d save you from another day of detention,” she fired back.
“ Stop trying to save me, I can handle myself,” I retorted.
“Yeah, well I’d like to see one of those game characters jump out and try and do something for you for a change,” and with that Sally got up, picked up her tray and went elsewhere in the school cafeteria while I unaffectedly placed my fork on the table and resumed playing the video game.
And thinking back to what happened that day while I undressed to take a shower, something fell out of my jeans pocket. It was a business card. On closer scrutinization of it, I soon realized what it was all about.
For on it was the address, telephone number website address and email of a Video Gamers Anonymous organization. And thinking that Sally was the one who slipped it to me I uttered:
“ Oh, Sally,”
I thought about calling her to apologize for my behavior that day, but when I got out of the shower and changed into clean clothes, I began to play a video game and forgot all about calling her.
And the next few days at school did not make things any easier. Everytime I ran into her or saw her in the hall, I froze when it came time to say something to her. But she was never alone now. She found a new group of friends to hang out with and I was still there stuck on my video gaming ways.
But all that changed the day I happened to over hear her making a date with the high school quarterback.
After the hunk of a young man left the gym that afternoon, Sally and I were pretty much alone. I did not think she noticed me as she was busy gathering her books and things for yet another day.
“Did I just hear you two right, you’re going out with him?” I said stepping up behind her. She swung around, eyed my shoulder length blonde hair, not my face or eyes and said:
“What do you care, I thought you’d be busy with your video games,” and the way she said the phrase video games, it was almost as though those games were totally meaningless.
“ He’ll just use you, Sal, is that what you want, just to be the next girl he does it with,” I found myself saying.
“ It’s my life, the same way you don’t want me telling you anything about your gaming addiction, maybe I don’t want you telling me who to date,” this time she did look into my eyes.
And suddenly realizing that I was on the verge of losing the only person outside my family who ever meant anything to me, I said:
“I’m sorry about that day in the cafeteria,”
“ Oh, and what does that mean, Kim, are you gonna stop spending all your free time on those video games now,” she returned firmly holding on to her backpack.
I lowered my head in embarrassment.
“ I just don’t want that quarterback to hurt you, that’s all,” I said.
“ Well, I’ll tell you what, if you can hang up your video game controller for five minutes maybe I’ll reconsider my date with Mike, so how about it, wanna see a movie later?” she said.
I thought about the video games anonymous group.
“I’m sorry, but I have something I gotta do later,” I answered.
“ See, I didn’t think you’d give up your precious video game for me, see you around, Kim, and have a nice life,” with those icy words falling from her lips, Sally walked out of the gym and left me standing there all alone.
What I did next was no easy task. I went home, disconnected my video game systems from the television they were connected to, placed those systems in the closet along with the games and asked my mother to drive me to the address on the VG anonymous card.
When I arrived at the place, I was surprised to see other people who were just like me, addicted to playing video games. And heard people telling stories about who and what they lost because they could not part themselves from their video games long enough to spend time with them.
For a second or two, I felt like walking out, but when it came my turn to speak and I stepped up to the podium, I do not know how she knew I was there, but Sally entered the room and smiled at me.
I found my voice after that and heard myself speaking into the microphone:
“ Hi everyone, my name is Kim and I’m addicted to playing video games…”
“ So what did ole’ Mikey say when you turned down his date?” I said to Sally next evening when we were in my room watching some movie she rented.
She chuckled at first.
“ Oh he was devastated, you should have seen the look on his face when I told him I had other plans for that evening,” said Sally.
“It’s good to see you laughing,” she said.
“You too, Sal, it’s good to see you laughing too,” I replied.
Peace and unity begin with all of us- Judy Ramsook