Archive for Friday, December 12, 2008

Net Worth: Internet games unearth author’s addictive behavior

December 12, 2008


I have met my match.

Since I was a teen, I have always prided myself on my nonaddictions.

No drugs. No cigarettes. No getting drunk. No more than one cup of coffee or can of pop a day.

Trust me, it’s a fairly lengthy list.

And recently, after witnessing the downfall of various acquaintances to the relationship-killer known as “World of Warcraft,” I considered time spent playing video games to be part of that roster.

But then I found the innocently named Helicopter Game. It has subsequently opened a Pandora’s box of time-wasting, addictive behavior.

Let me backtrack a bit to the day it all fell apart.

My 5-year-old daughter was getting bored with having mastered the various Nick Jr. games freely available on the Web. So we trolled around until we stumbled across the Helicopter Game.

The rules are simple: “Last as long as you can without hitting anything.”

The Spartan graphics merely feature a helicopter flying toward the right side of the screen — clicking the mouse moves it up; unclicking the mouse drops it down. Fly too high, too low or into an obstacle, and you crash in flames. There is virtually nothing to learn and almost no strategy to employ. (Lone hint: It’s faster to drop than fly upward.)

I dare you to stop playing after a few minutes.

For the record, my high score is 1491. My daughter’s is 1130. (I think the wife might have eclipsed 300 once.)

This diversion was discovered on the aptly titled site

The free service provides dozens of tantalizing games, divided into categories such as sports, action, strategy, shooting, adventure, arcade, puzzles, etc. You won’t find obvious stuff like “Asteroids” or “Pac-Man.” The games are all unique to the site, and most are kid-friendly. Notable exceptions are “Karoshi Suicide Salaryman,” in which your Japanese businessman earns points by offing himself, and “Joe’s Last Stand,” in which a farmer defends his crops by blasting mutant sheep.

No matter if I become sick of a game (and at this point, I’m starting to get over helicoptering), there is always a new one to drag me back.

I go from “World Wars” (a sort of Risk knockoff) to “Jailbreak” (rob a place while avoiding night patrolman) to “Supreme Extreme Snowboarding” (self-explanatory).

They’re all so conceptually easy to grasp that there really is no need to even read the instructions. You click and play ... and three hours later you’re still clicking and playing.

The only thing that interrupts the amusement are ads that pop up on the screen the first time you enter a game. This may explain why, which began in 2001 as Atom Entertainment, was bought out two years ago by MTV for $200 million.

Addiction equals profitability. Just ask any street dealer or plastic surgeon.

— Entertainment editor Jon Niccum explores facets of pop culture that have established a unique niche on the Internet in Net Worth. He can be reached at 832-7178.


Angel Gillaspie 9 years, 1 month ago

so, I went to the site (the links don't work, BTW) but I couldn't find the game you're talking about. what is the name of the game, please? it sounds like one we used to play on our old mac that was a stuntman hanging from a moving helicopter and you had to drop him onto a moving wagon. you had to adjust your speed accordingly in order to have him land right on the wagon. as the game progressed, the wagon moved faster. a very simple game, but also highly addictive...

Trobs 9 years, 1 month ago

My wife gets on me about this same thing. I'll start playing some simple little internet game....Then wake up in a stupor a week later still trying to get the high score.

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