CHRISTMAS BREAK: Uncivilized
Ho ho schmo! Welcome to part two of GamersSchmamers.com’s CHRISTMAS BREAK series, where Schmamers roast a chestnut or two and share Yuletide tales of gaming during that ever-so special time: Christmas Break. Check out part one here!
For many and most “Christmas Break” conjures up images of getting thoroughly lost in the latest and greatest video game gem that Santa thought you were nice enough to unwrap. Or of Mario Kart tournaments lasting til sunrise. Or waking up on a Monday morning knowing you had nothing to do that day that week that break but hit the power button.
That is not my image.
Now, now, believe it or not, I’m keeping my deck in my pants and NOT playing the Jew card. I used and abused Christmas breaks to binge on bites of 16-bits, devour plenty of Donkey Kongery, I even once remade my entire house, dimensions and everything in the Sims. Oh, yeah. I had plenty of yuletide cheer tied to time away from schools and rules.
But then it all changed.
And I suppose the only way to come clean is just be out with it. After all, I’m aiming for a 3DS, not coal this year.
Hello. My name is Adam Esquenazi Douglas.
And I am a Civilization addict.
For you sober Schmamers, Civilization is a turn-based strategy game series developed by Sid Meier. In it, you choose from a number of real-world civilizations…and rule. Turn by turn you develop infrastructure, wage war, raise taxes, trade, train, and terrorize if you so choose. The world (if you choose that map) was your oyster (so long as you had researched boat-building and navigation), and many gamers found themselves yelling “FUCK YOU, GANDHI!” at many a computer screen.
At the time of this writing, multiple Civilization titles are on sale on Steam. I’d recommend you buy one (they’re all pretty goddamn great), but in good conscience…I simply can’t.
You see it was years ago when a friend loaned me a copy of Civilization 3 during Christmas Break. He knew I was a simulation/RTS fan (me and Mr. Wright? It’s like this), and he had thoroughly enjoyed the game. He had “played enough” he said, and so I installed the title and gave it a whirl.
knock knock knock
“We haven’t see you in three days.”
Ha ha, funny, Mom.
“We haven’t seen you in three days.”
With great effort, I minimized the game and checked my desktop calendar.
It had been three days.
Three days since my friend brought over the disc. Since I had…God, what hadn’t I done? Built the Sistine Chapel in Dallas. Beat Joan of Arc in a tank battle. I had reached outer space. OUTER FUCKING SPACE. WHAT DID YOU DO, MOM?
But the truth was as undeniable as knowing that a cultural victory was for sissies: it really had been three days. I guess my friend had left, and I suppose my body had kicked into some sort of autopilot that made sure I went to the kitchen to gobble down something to keep me alive. I must’ve slept at some point. Right?
I really don’t know.
Alcoholics have black-outs where they’ll wake up in a different time zone. I had had a Civ-out. I had OD’d on Civ3. The time…where did that time go? I was at an age where I didn’t have a job and thankfully my parents were negligent—er, nice enough to let me be. I had no obligations.
Only a new addiction.
I shut the computer down,walked out and saw my parents chit-chatting. They ribbed me over my disappearance, but otherwise, all was well. They had no idea of the time well I had fallen into. Of the crevasse of trading routes and incense supplies and upgrading musketmen I was plunging headfirst into more and more rapidly. If my Mom hadn’t decided to knock, hadn’t decided that she wanted to see her progeny’s face, hadn’t decided to cook at all…when would I have emerged?
I remember bits and piece of those three days. Tracing the lines of the shadows across my room as the sun set, readjusting my seating more and more frequently to avoid getting sore, and the click click clicking. It all seemed so brief. A moment’s moment. And yet…
Nowadays, I know better than to trust myself with new Civ games. While I’ve certainly tempered my dependence, I definitely drank in each subsequent sequel well past last call. In fact, the first game I played on my current laptop was Civilization 5, since my old computer couldn’t run it.
I had to uninstall it to get myself to finally quit.
There is a certain power to Christmas Break that we as kids or students never quite respected. Freedom is just that: freedom. A concept all about being completely pure and open. And while that’s…well…freeing, it leaves us completely exposed to whatever the wind may blow. Living an existence of bacchanals and free-for-alls is tempting, but when you never have to say when…when do you?
The advertising of Civilization 5 was a parody of substance abuse recovery meetings, with people sitting around in circles admitting they were Civ addicts. The phrase “No more turns” was tossed around as the group’s power motto. It was all very charming. Very clever. And everyone laughed.
Everyone except me….except those like me….those who know the truth…
Merry Christmas Break, Schmamers.
And be careful.