A young man with a promising future as a writer seemingly gave it all up to in order to give in to the unhealthy combination of Grand Theft Auto IV and cocaine.
The Observer has an article up written by Tom Bissell, the former essayist himself. Bissell begins by outlining the period from 2001-2006, which saw him author two books and a series of magazine articles. During this time he says he “rarely felt disciplined,” and his productivity seemed to happen in spite of itself.
The author's dive into gaming kicked off with GTA: Vice City, which he called, “the first video game I can recall having to force myself to stop playing,” before he moved on to GTA: San Andreas and eventually GTA IV. When the latter game came out, a friend introduced Bissell to cocaine and the pair played the game for 30 hours straight.
Bissell attempted to put a finger on the attractiveness of the game:
Adult taste can be demanding work – so hard, in fact, that some of us, when we become adults, selectively take up a few childish things, as though in defeated acknowledgment that adult taste, with its many bewilderments, is frequently more trouble than it is worth. Few games have more to tell us about this adult retreat into childishness than the Grand Theft Auto series.
Bissell’s article offers additional insights throughout, comparing cocaine with games and rifting further on how the videogame experience differs from that offered by films. While he doesn’t mention if he’s still on drugs, Bissell has not kicked his gaming habit, noting that, “I woke up this morning at 8am fully intending to write this article. Instead, I played Left 4 Dead until 5pm.”
However, Bissell doesn’t appear contrite in the least:
What have games given me? Experiences. Not surrogate experiences, but actual experiences, many of which are as important to me as any real memories. Once I wanted games to show me things I could not see in any other medium. Then I wanted games to tell me a story in a way no other medium can. Then I wanted games to redeem something absent in myself. Then I wanted a game experience that pointed not toward but at something.