For most of us, gaming is a beloved hobby, downtime between the necessity of work and the banality of life. For others, it's a profession, be it as a programmer, artist or - like us - journalist. But all of us, no matter our involvement, can deny we've been chewed up and spat out by all manner of addictive, life-destroying games; the type of experiences that we just cannot tear ourselves away from, sitting up into the early hours of the morning blinking at the screen with bloodshot eyes, surrounded by cups of stale coffee and microwavable snacks.
And so, in honor of these titles, we thought we'd collect a cautionary list of the ten you should steer clear of the most!
Gotta' catch 'em all, right? So true. Pokemon created a hundreds strong roster of elemental critters bred to fight for their life and safety, and then told us to catch them all in an egg-sized prison. Awful ethics, but an addictive formula. I spent hours, days, weeks, months and eventually years of my life wandering Pokemon's top-down world for all 150. Little did I know the number would balloon to upwards of four hundred!
When I first saw Peggle, I was a little underwhelmed. It's just a puzzle game, I thought. Slowly but surely, however, I began to learn the rules, and began yelping instructions and screaming in terror intermittently. Then it dipped into slow-motion, sparks and glittering motes of glorious light flew in every direction, and I knew I had a new addiction to contend with.
Tetris, I hear you cry, isn't that like a hundred years old? You still plays a hundred year-old games? Well for one, it's only 26, and despite it's old age - for a videogame - Tetris continues to delight and astound us with its puzzling quest for geometrical perfection. It was one of the first games I had on my chunky Gameboy, and I remember squinting at the dusty, grey-green screen as I sussed out appropriate slots for my shapes. I still whip it out, now and again. Tetris I mean.
7. Guitar Hero
I'm not much of a 'rock' guy, myself, but I loved Guitar Hero. I played it so much in the first year of university I had curled, wizened Guitar Hero Hand Syndrome. I didn't even enjoy the songs much or the 'rocking out', I just liked hitting multiple notes in succession and being told I was good at something. What can I say?
6. The Sims
We all loved The Sims? Come on, admit it. We've all got together, created our family or social group or whatever, thrown a few crazy hair styles around and then plunked them in a ridiculous house that looks like the twisted offspring abode of Ikea and the Playboy Mansion. Then we've grown bored, wandered off only to come back and find someone's started a fire and an alien abducted Mike.
5. Call of Duty
I hate Call of Duty. I hate how it's every facet is tailored towards catering for the majority. I hate how it's so intent on rewarding you for every little thing you do. I hate how, despite being around for five, six years, it's still crawling with prepubescent racists and homophobes with insecurity issues. And yet, if you check out my stats online, you'll see I play it a lot. A really lot.
4. Windows Games
Pinball, Hearts, Minesweeper and, oh yes, Solitaire. The bane of the working man's existence. If you have a PC. The amount of times I've glimpsed workers in offices building up their decks rather than finishing that spreadsheet on their desktop. And I must admit, before I moved onto greener pastures - yes I'm a pretentious Mac user - I'd play Solitaire for hours on end. Still can't for the life of me understand Minesweeper, though.
3. Bethesda Games
Between the Elder Scrolls games and Fallout titles, I think Bethesda owe me about two years of my life back! I've wandered Tamriel for hours on end, despite the poor combat and horribly disfigured populace. I've trekked across the barren wastes of DC and the Mojave, drinking irradiated water and putting up with endless crashes and glitches. And why? Well because they make good games. And I obviously have a major problem.
2. World of Warcraft
South Park might have satirized World of Warcraft's degenerative appeal, but make no mistake it's a game that can truly ruin your life. But bring you lots of loot in the process! Blizzard have crafted an experience that some simply can't resist, who'll sacrifice their hard-earned money, time and well-being to conquer Azeroth. I sincerely hope they don't deal with intestinal trouble like Cartman does.
1. Football Manager
Eight hours into an all-night session of Football Manager, my all-conquering Arsenal team trailing at half time to a freak goal courtesy of newly promoted Crystal Palace, I began to give my players a team-talk. I didn't press a button or pull down a tab. I spoke, with my own vocal chords, to a static screen of icons, names and orders. I had gone mad. And I blame Football Manager; because it's easily the most addictive game I've ever played.
Lost your life to one particular videogame? Don't be shy, we won't judge. Just leave it in the comments section and we'll counsel you on ways to break free. Believe us. We're professionals.