Casual hobbies can become addictive

Rush Limbaugh gave me the courage to write this column. The once fat, once deaf and once correct radio talk-show host has openly admitted an addiction to painkillers. No word yet on if Donovan McNabb has signed an endorsement deal with the maker of OxyContin.

I wish Mr. Limbaugh a speedy recovery so he can return to his radio show that I never listened to in the first place. His admission of guilt has led me to announce an addiction from which I have suffered for several years. I’m addicted to really fun computer games.

It’s not something I take pride in, but it’s a very real addiction. I can’t get enough of those delightful mind-numbing PC games.

However, it had escalated to the point where I wouldn’t even work on schoolwork anymore. I would just come home and play Snood all night.

I thought I had the strength to quit on my own last year. Instead, all the cool kids started playing Snood, and I wanted to fit in, so I casually played a game here and there, thinking I had my Snood fix under control. It wasn’t enough.

I began to play all of the skill levels, including Journey mode. Then, I played the puzzle levels that came with the game, and spent sleepless nights downloading new levels.

Snood seems harmless enough, but it is a gateway game. It led me to harder games, such as the new really fun game on Yahoo: Typer Shark. It’s a game that hones your typing skills. Sharks and piranhas come towards you with different words and letters on them. The more levels you play, the faster they swim. The first player to suffer carpal tunnel wins.

I admit to playing Typer Shark for extraordinary lengths of time. My words per minute started out around 60. That wasn’t good enough. I kept playing the harder levels until the red sharks with three words on them sped towards me faster than an intoxicated teenager on prom night. Once my wpm was over 100, I knew I had a problem, but I still didn’t have the courage to seek help. I kept playing. Then, I found an even more addictive game on Shizmoo Games called Sumo Volleyball.

It’s a fast paced game where two people square off as sumo wrestlers playing volleyball. I know the title is misleading.

However, I would hang out in Sumo Volleyball circles, munching on Sun Chips and getting high off scoring 11 points before my opponent. However, it wasn’t a natural high. It was extremely dangerous, and it wouldn’t last forever.

By this time, my skin was sickly white, I hadn’t bathed in days, I reeked of Doritos and my facial hair rivaled that of Gene Shalit’s. I looked worse than a hippie waiting for Phish tickets. However, the situation would only get worse.

I started to play a game I used to play a year ago: Turbo 21, an on-line card game on I was always adept at quickly forming piles of cards that totaled 21 and raking in prize tokens that I would redeem for chances to win cash prizes. After stockpiling over half a million prize tokens, I risked them all on a daily $50 drawing. When I found out that “Steven A.” had won the dough, I hit rock bottom.

I woke up one morning in my desk chair covered in Funyuns and Visine. It hit me. I had to stop wasting my life playing Alchemy, Super Collapse, Acrophobia, Poppit, Sweet Tooth and Kung Fu Chess —- all incredibly fun games. I also had to shower.

The room seems much brighter now that I am dealing with my addiction to really fun computer games. Maybe it’s due to me not staring at my computer monitor all day. Maybe it’s because I opened the shades. It could be several reasons. I guess I’m trying to show the world I will no longer controlled by matching colors, high scores or aquatic beasts with words on them. I’ve been rehabilitating with Gamecube games and crossword puzzles. I think I’m going to be OK.

If you suffer from a similar problem, you’re not alone —- unless you are addicted to a dumb game like Minesweeper or FreeCell. Then you’re simply pathetic.