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I’m no doctor, but…like all people who begin a statement with “I’m no doctor” I’m plenty qualified to project an unearned sense of expertise about medical conditions. I’ve read a lot of WebMD and each night before bed I read a chapter from The Color Atlas and Synopsis of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

I can prove I know a lot about medicine. Last week I fell into a pit full of rusty nails and the resulting wound now smells like almonds. Which, based on my expertise, means I probably actually just fell into a pit of almonds, which explains the smell. It’s honest confusion. I’m no carpenter. I don’t know what rusty nails look like….I smell toast. What does that mean?

And like normal people, gamers need a doctor to help define our problems. This is where I come in, to use my non-doctor degree status to educate you on 7 gamer syndromes, compulsions, and other medical things that we gamers share.

7. Compulsive Obligatory Credits Acknowledgement

So, you just beat the game (or “won” the game, if you’re a weirdo who phrases things in weird ways), and as the final cinematic fades out, the credits fade in. And you watch. You read a few names, hoping you might recognize a few, and perhaps even see your own name in the “Special Thanks” section as a Kickstarter contributor or maybe that guy you pestered at the bar those years ago was actually a game dev and it turns out your drunken political ramblings somehow inspired the entire Dr. Olivia Pierce narrative in DOOM. But halfway through the credits you realize neither of these hopes are realistic, but you continue watching. Why?

Personally, I watch because I feel like the creators deserve that small offering of acknowledgement. When you consider that the history of video game development is one that actively snuffed out any developer recognition (which by the way lead to the entire concept of an Easter Egg…watch my video on the topic, link in the description), when you consider this systematic lack of recognition, spending 10 minutes to take in a few important names is the least we can do. Not to mention, if the game’s denouement is brief enough you may still be sweating that last boss fight. A few minutes to calm down is probably what you need anyway.

Oh, and I know I mentioned DOOM above, but I should have picked literally any other game. The DOOM credits are actually fun to watch.

6. Side Mission Hoarder Syndrome

So what happens before you hit full on Compulsive Obligatory Credits Acknowledgement? If you suffer from Side Mission Hoarder Syndrome, then the answer is a lot happens. In fact, some might say too much happens. SMHS sufferers will, sensing the impending climax to a great video game, deviate from the logical narrative finale and instead address those many, many pesky side-missions they’d been putting off.

You don’t want the good time to end. I get it. We all get it. Even this guy, who has a very compromised sense of bureaucratic priority amid a zombie-infested apocalypse gets it.

5. Incongruous Exploration Syndrome

Super Mario Bros. was our gateway drug, and our first hit was that secret 1-up in World 1-1. Every video game experience after Super Mario Bros. had to share story developing time with an incessant need to explore every last crevice of every level.

Often, our compulsion for exploration isn’t even rational. It’s somewhat reasonable to be a completionist. I understand that. The idea of collecting every gem in a game of Giana Sisters, for example, is rewarding and attainable. But Incongruous Exploration Syndrome takes from the fuck-you school of Incongruity Theory by way of exploring not everything, but specifically the places the game is telling you not to go.

If at the beginning of Limbo, your first response is to turn left, you may suffer from IES. If during a game of Giana Sisters you go left when the signs literally say go right, you may suffer from IES. And if that first secret 1-up in Super Mario Bros. encourages you to try jumping at every few pixels hoping for another secret, you may suffer from IES (or you may just suffer from Walkthrough Aversion Syndrome, also known as I-Can-Do-It-Myself-Itus).

Side effects may include cyclical depression, inevitable reward let-down, and hatred for linear platformers.

4. Autosave Distrust Syndrome

It’s standard fare now, the warning at the beginning of every game that a specific symbol indicates your game state is auto-saving. For those of us before consoles with harddrives but after cartridges with batteries, saving was manual. You’d reach a checkpoint, bring up the main menu, then save. But along came auto-saving and the world was a glorious, changed place.

But us Autosave Distrust Syndrome suffers hide a shameful secret. We don’t trust the flashing symbol. We manually save even with an auto save feature. Perhaps we’ve been subject too many times to the harsh reality of autosave failure. I know, you’re saying “the autosave didn’t fail, you just shut off the game before the save could complete.” To that I say…you’re probably right. But the anger my impatience breeds is still anger and I reserve the right to place that blame wherever I want.

Side effects may include wasted time, accidental game state overwriting, and technology-based bigotry.

3. I’m a better cartographer syndrome

Games didn’t always have maps. Metroid for the Nintendo Entertainment System is a perfect example of a game that would drive modern players to the edge of insanity, with its circuitous paths and repetitive (though not for its time) visual design. It’s hard to navigate without a map, let alone without unique landmarks to guide you.

Even modern games don’t always get it right. The DOOM 2016 map system takes some getting used to, and nobody, not one person, has ever used the Fallout 4 interior maps. So it comes as little surprise that I’m a Better Cartographer Syndrome suffers exist, even in this modern world of gaming. We’ve simply learned that an in-game map cannot be trusted. Hell, we’d often prefer old-school feelies to the neon vomit screen Fallout 4 expects us to use. At least with physical maps, you’ll never get distracted by a runny nose.

But let’s say you do reduce yourself to an in-game map. Are you going to trust the provided legends? Nope, you’re setting your own waypoint marker because you’re a man of the wilderness and you don’t need your hand held.

Side effects may include map clutter, upset collectors, and spontaneous Incongruous Exploration Syndrome…you know, because you don’t follow the map.

2. Distrust of people who are actually qualified to name syndromes syndrome

Since when has a video game doctor ever been good? Doctor Light from Megaman? Sure. Okay. Maybe Doctor Mario, but I’m not sure that using pills to destroy other pills counts as good doctoring. Dr. Tenenbaum from Bioshock, maybe. Okay, there are a lot of doctors. But be honest, when first introduced to a video game character in a lab coat you immediately assuming the worst.

This is especially the case when the lab-coated smarty appears a bit too conveniently, as is the case with Doctor Camden from Dying Light. Just listen to how perfectly this guy speaks. He’s way too articulate and his voice is much too soothing for me to trust his continued survival in this world full of rampant virility. He’s too much of an asset for the bad guys to not be compromised. He should be much more freaked out. I completed the story mission, and canonically he’s on the up-and-up, but I don’t trust him.

Doctors are supposed to be ethically good, which makes them perfect fodder for subverting expectations. This despite that most video game doctors who start openly bad stay bad and who start good stay good. Dr. Wily. Dr. Robotnik/Eggman. Doctor Neo Cortex. But still, I distrust melodrama. Good can’t be good.

Side effects include…all of them, because you won’t let a doctor anywhere near you.

1. Auditory Hallucinations

You’ve been playing for hours and hours. You’re tired. So you turn off your game of metal gear solid and go to bed. But then you hear it, the panicked siren of a soldier spotting you. Is someone breaking into your house? No. Though you’d love to believe that you’ve acquired the enemy soldier’s exclamation point alertness ability, you’re actually just suffering from Auditory Hallucinations, a form of Game Transfer Phenomena. This one is real.

In 2014, psychology researchers took to online game forums to survey more than 1,200 gamers who said they had experienced hallucination-like perceptions, thoughts and behaviors after gaming. Of this group, 12 percent reported hearing imaginary sounds after playing video games, this according to a study published in the International Journal of Cyber Behaviour, Psychology and Learning.

Researcher Professor Mark Griffiths–a smart guy whose research I used in my Ratchet & Clank video–observed that “Game Transfer Phenomena appears to be commonplace among excessive gamers and most of these phenomena are short-lasting, temporary, and resolve of their own accord.”

He went on to say “For some gamers, the phenomena are conditioned responses, therefore the best way for the tiny minority that may have longer lasting phenomena is to simply cut down the amount they play.”

But why do that, I ask. Then you wouldn’t be able to feel like a mildly able security guard with a, now that I think about it, skill that’s actually quite debilitating considering his line of work. I guess it would be a lot better if an intruder weren’t alerted to the security guard’s presence?

* * *

There you have it, 7 syndromes that gamers suffer, but hopefully not for much longer. The first step is awareness, and that’s what I’m doing with this video. If we work together we can find a cure…other than ceasing to play video games entirely. I’d rather hear video game voices in my head than suffer the level of insanity attainable due to a life without video games.

And if you like this video, please give it a thumbs up. And by that I mean clicking the thumbs-up icon below the video. Simply extending your thumb in from of your screen, while enjoyable for onlookers, isn’t actually helpful for me.

You’ll find a link in the description to a Google Doc with my script, notes, and sources so you can dig in more if you’d like.

Until next time, I’m Caleb (exclamation) you’re just hearing things, and we are burning books.

My own videos that I mentioned

Research/Sources/Credits/Inspirations (this is not a comprehensive list, as that would be impossible, especially the “inspirations” items)

The following are YouTube videos licensed under CC BY 3.0

Music & Sound Credits

  • Rhinoceros Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • Overworld Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • Dr. Wily Stage 1 (Mega Man 2) [accordion cover] by Jackson Parodi, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GprEBfGlP9o, Attribution 3.0 License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
  • https://www.freesound.org/people/Timbre/sounds/151711/

Google Docs link with the script and sources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GZVg8LteA0wRKZ3Xo5fSHgSVu3eZSS1oc4PF4diBqUU/edit#

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