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Inside the Tragic, Obsessive World of Video Game Addicts

by Cecilia D’Anastasio

The withdrawal made Brett want to die. The 12 year-old had only been cut off for a few hours and his mind was already wandering to a dark and dangerous place. Looking out the window of his family’s three-story home in Waasenaar, a suburb in the Netherlands, the American transplant imagined swan-diving out of his room and falling to the ground below, with his skull cracking open against the pavement. A grim death, sure, but at the time he felt anything had to better than not being allowed to play Counter-Strike.

Brett’s father had retrofit a metal lock on his Celeron computer to prevent his son from gaming. When it was locked, the Celeron’s data cable was disconnected from its hard drive so it couldn’t turn on, preventing Brett from gunning down digital assailants. A half-hour after Brett was mulling suicide, however, a friend called him on the phone and invited him to come over and game. Brett, nearly at his psychological brink, was relieved.

"I remember thinking, It’s probably very unnatural for someone to go from thinking about killing themselves to enjoying themselves in the span of 30 minutes," the now 23-year-old told me ten years later.

However strange, that incident was a mere prelude to the depths that Brett would sink with his burgeoning video game addiction—an affliction that has plagued his health and his familial relationships and stunted his adult life.

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I was just informed

That the Tetris Theme, which seems to be based on a Russian folk song may very well have been used as a Chassidishé niggun before it was appropriated as a videogame theme (and perhaps even before it was set to be the Russian folk song melody). I’m not sure how I feel about that.