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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Andrew EisenThere's also nothing wrong with publishing an opinion you know is going to be unpopular with some. So long as it's genuine, anyway.07/31/2015 - 3:08pm
Andrew EisenEh, could be laziness, lack of imagination, bandwagon hopping or maybe Alexander's article inspired them to publish their own takes. Nothing wrong with that.07/31/2015 - 3:06pm
Goth_SkunkIf laziness was indeed the reason other sites produced articles of a similar vein, the laziness must reach levels that would make a cat blush. How lazy does one have to be unable to stop and think "maybe this isn't a good idea...'07/31/2015 - 3:04pm
Andrew EisenThe Mary Sue article title I'm a bit more comfortable being called clickbait as it's a deliberate misdirection but it's done for humor's sake so I personally give such things a pass.07/31/2015 - 3:01pm
Andrew EisenI count six similar titles and two of the authors aren't even journalists, let alone game journalists. It doesn't reek of collusion, it reeks of laziness, if anything. A few others saw Alexander's piece and wrote their own.07/31/2015 - 3:00pm
Goth_Skunkfeed. Additionally, I'm baffled by the irony of someone named 'Infophile' taking a Mary Sue article seriously. Ignoring that I won't give that site a second of my time, that article headline is blatant clickbait and should be ignored on principle.07/31/2015 - 2:58pm
Goth_SkunkI agree with Benohawk: The title of the article meant that the article was worth ignoring. Alas, when 9 additional sites pop up with similarly titled articles of their own, it reeks of collusion and an attempt by the press at large to bite the hands that07/31/2015 - 2:56pm
Andrew EisenAh, okay.07/31/2015 - 2:46pm
benohawkI'm saying that the refrence in the article to the old title would need to be changed well the primary point of the article would be kept the same. Not something that should be an issue if the objective wasn't to be provocative.07/31/2015 - 2:41pm
Andrew EisenYou're saying the article should be altered to fit a different title. I want to know what title you find more appropriate for the copy as is.07/31/2015 - 2:34pm
benohawkIt would take a minor rewrite to the article, but I'd call it 'What is a Gamer' but go for the same point. you don't have to sell to jerks07/31/2015 - 2:33pm
Andrew EisenI still say "clickbait" is thrown around way too casually, to the point where it's completely meaningless. That aside, what alternate title would you suggest?07/31/2015 - 2:22pm
benohawkt was still delibrate clickait, something I would expect from a Gawker outlet, the article would of likely been much better recieved with a nicer title07/31/2015 - 2:18pm
Andrew EisenProvocative title to be sure but I didn't find it inaccurate or not reflective of its text.07/31/2015 - 2:12pm
benohawkGamasutra shouldn't of gotten clicks for the article until they had published under an accurate name instead of some pathetic clickbaiting07/31/2015 - 2:09pm
benohawkThe title of the article meant that the article was worth ignoring, not launching a massive campaign to try and end the site it was on.07/31/2015 - 2:08pm
Andrew EisenI will Ouija him my unceasing indignation!07/31/2015 - 1:59pm
Infophile@AE: The fact that he's dead does a good job of ensuring he won't hear it.07/31/2015 - 1:59pm
InfophileGood to hear. Just wish everyone offended felt that way07/31/2015 - 1:58pm
Andrew EisenRoger Ebert will never hear the end of my disdain for his I Spit On Your Grave review! http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/i-spit-on-your-grave-198007/31/2015 - 1:57pm
 

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