No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

March 23, 2010 -

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.


Comments

Re: No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

I'd just like to applaud GamePolitics even handedness in reporting this story.

In the past I've been very vocal about the bias GP has, but this presents the most important bits of the original peice in a fair and accurate manner without resorting to the sensationalism that's gone before.

Well done!

Re: No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

The game is not what addicted him it sounds like, but the cocaine at the time when they played for 30 hours.

 

 

"It's better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." - Montgomery Gentry

"It's better to be hated for who you are, then be loved for who you are not." - Montgomery Gentry

Re: No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

Maybe the question shouldn't be where he is running to, but what he is running from?

Re: No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

Responsibility.

Re: No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

great article! maybe I just related to what he says about video games more than the other commenters here? I personally have never done cocain and never will, but I don't hate him or count his cocain addiction against him in any way.

I was impressed with how insightful and lucid his thoughts about what gaming means - to him and in general. I love how unapologetic and down-to-earth his assessment of himself is. he sort of reminds me of some of the beat writers (Alan Watts, William Burroughs, etc) who took drugs in order to write about their experiences. they took some damage from doing it but they (and by extension, we) came out stronger and wiser for their sacrifice. gamers should applaud this guy - he's a champion of our heady hobby but not a spokesperson - keep him out of the headlines, 'k? ;).

The part about video games providing him with experiences and not just surrogate experiences stuck a chord with me. I also love the point about how a gaming experience doesn't come to you, you have to go to it. this is what anti-game critics miss - they believe the experience comes to you and that's why they think violence or other bad behavior comes afterward. guess what, those troublemakers went and found trouble on their own.

Re: No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

 So if i decide to start doing cocaine and watching football, are we going to lash out against football?

I know, i know, nobody is lashing out against video games over this, but the story is not unique.

Re: No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

People with addictive personalities like that will get addicted to something.  Be it illegal drugs, legal drugs, coffee, alcohol, games, or pretty much anything.  Games are one of the safer things for them to be addicted to.  

Pwnage of Empires

Re: No Apologies: A Writer’s Cocaine-Fueled Game Addiction

"In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women." -Scarface
 

But then you blow the money on GTA and cocaine. Then when you lose the money,  you lose the power.The when you lose the power, then you lose women.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

 
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Goth_SkunkAs such, the first playthrough is always going to be the most evocative.01/30/2015 - 3:47pm
Goth_SkunkSo while branching storyline is hallmarked as a feature of the game, the storyline never stays branched for too long. There is a linear story that may branch at points, but each branch always comes right back to the main line further down the road.01/30/2015 - 3:46pm
Goth_SkunkMy biggest gripe about it though would have to be that its replay value sucks. I quickly learned that apart from a few key decisions you make, most choices end up not being relevant because something terrible happens anyway.01/30/2015 - 3:45pm
Goth_SkunkI *love* The Walking Dead. Like I said, I played Season 1 through in one go, and subsequently pre-purchased Season 2 in its entirety sight-unseen.01/30/2015 - 3:43pm
Andrew EisenBy the by, I take it you're a fan of Telltale's Walking Dead? I'm one of the very few who really doesn't like it. Bums me out.01/30/2015 - 3:39pm
Andrew EisenI think we're safe with stuff like Life is Strange, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, and TellTale's games. I was thinking more along the lines of D4. It's genuinely up in the air whether we'll get a conclusion to that story or not.01/30/2015 - 3:33pm
Goth_SkunkUltimately, from this potentially ignorant perspective, it's the gamer who assumes the risk, not the developer. I don't approve. Fortunately, I'm only paying $5 (CDN, no less), so that's money I can easily write off if I'm disappointed.01/30/2015 - 3:32pm
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Andrew EisenCatch 22 sometimes. Some gamers don't want to buy it if there's no guarantee the whole thing will come out and the whole thing can't come out unless enough people buy the early installments.01/30/2015 - 3:17pm
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Goth_SkunkThat being said, I want to try Life is Strange to get my feet wet.01/30/2015 - 3:13pm
Andrew EisenI'm that way too. I'll wait until the whole thing is out. Same goes for DVDs of TV shows. I'll wait for the season set.01/30/2015 - 3:13pm
Goth_SkunkIf an episodic game is really good, and the time between episodes is more than a week, I'm more inclined to wait for the rest of the episodes to all come out than to try playing it episode by episode at launch date.01/30/2015 - 3:12pm
Goth_SkunkAs someone who played through TWD Season 1 entirely in one day, and then played Season 2 episode by episode when they each came out, I strongly agree with this sentiment.01/30/2015 - 3:11pm
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Andrew EisenNot sure what GamerGate could do to dissuade people from buying a game they'd otherwise be interested in or why it would even want to but I agree, I think the premise is interesting and look forward to learning more about how it actually plays.01/30/2015 - 2:58pm
Goth_SkunkAnd for what it's worth, I saw Life is Strange advertised today on XBL, and the premise looks very, very intriguing. I'm going to buy it today and give it a shot.01/30/2015 - 2:42pm
Goth_SkunkI'm hearing rumours that the recently released game Life is Strange is not selling very well on Steam, and that GamerGate is being blamed as a result. It's just a rumour though.01/30/2015 - 2:42pm
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