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True Life: Addicted to Gaming

Tom Hilinski is a student like any other. Or, more appropriately, was a student like any other. The SAS first-year began the semester like most of his peers, working, socializing and getting used to his new school. And like many other students over the past week, he put his entire life on hold to play Rockstar's latest game, "Grand Theft Auto V."

Instead of New Brunswick, the fictional city of Los Santos, and its potential for havoc, beckoned.

Hillinski quickly picked up "GTA V" on Sept. 17, the day it was released. For the next 13 hours (5 p.m. to 6 a.m.), Tom left his chair only to purchase sugar-coated sustenance at the SAC and relieve his Mountain Dew filled bladder.

It would be an understatement to say that for the next week Tom was addicted to GTA. The game consumed his life; GTA became a god, and he, its loyal monk. Just as holy men give up worldly possessions, Tom gave up academic ambition, health, and social life.

Hillinski's schoolwork was the first casualty/. One of his Expository Writing papers was actually ignored until hours before it was due.. Procrastination soon became a common excuse for the young gamer, who continued to put off both classwork and even took a day off from his job. Tom also decided that painting Los Santos red (presumably with the blood of the innocent) was more important than attending the first meetings of the German Club and NJPIRG. He did, however, admit to some reservations about his habits.

“I’m not sure how my gaming habits would affect my residential presidency,” Hillinski said.

Though Hillinski was the picture of health before picking up "GTA V," he did reveal that the game caused him to resurrect some unhealthy habits. Rather than go to the dining hall for a proper meal, this past week he’s been running on candy and soda, along with anything else that allows him to eat and shoot at the same time.

“Things did I daily [like eating meals, going to the gym] became a chore for me,” he said.

Tom’s irritability has had the greatest impact on his social life. When disturbed during gameplay, he is known shout “shut the hell up!” Frightening outbursts like this are examples of the few times he acknowledged other human beings over the past week.

His irritability is not unique to "GTA V.". “I was so angry [once] that we were losing that I snapped my microphone in half and punched a hole in my wall,"he said, describing a session of "World of Warcraft."

For Hillinski, video games are an escape mechanism. And now, as technology advances, designers can make these games more realistic. Combining realistic gameplay and three-dimensional characters, each with their own history and personality, creates a much-needed escape. Despite the stress and sleep deprivation that follow his 4, 6, and 13 hours gaming sessions, Hillinski doesn’t regret playing. “It’s definitely worth the change I underwent. It’s the best game I ever played.”

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