When computers became a part of my everyday life, it didn’t take me long to learn that they came with games. At first, it was just plain old solitaire and Tetras that drew my attention. Then, learning how to play freecell sealed my game addiction.
I played mostly in the evenings and on weekends. Occasionally, when I needed to chill out from the stress of work, I played during my lunch break.
Once I retired, I looked around on web sites like Wild Tangent or Pogo and tried my skill at a few
of the brain teaser or puzzle games. For a month or two, I couldn’t stop playing Poppit. Soon after that, I graduated to Super Collapse Puzzles, World Mosaics, and Bejeweled. Most recently,
spider solitaire is my focus.
The laptop sits on my coffee table and, when I sit down on the couch, it isn’t long before it is in my lap with a game on the screen.
At the end of each game, the statistics (number lost, number won, and so on) appear in the same
pop-up where the computer asks me if I want to play a new game or restart the one I just finished. I never paid much attention to the statistics. That is, I never paid much attention to them until yesterday.
After I lost at spider solitaire, the pop-up was there, as usual, and my eyes wandered over to
the numbers and percentages.
Out of the 2429 games played, I won 24% or 585 of them. My longest winning streak is 8 games and my longest losing streak is 42. These statistics accumulated since I started playing spider solitaire last fall.
I wasn’t shocked by my percentage of losses. What surprised me was how many games I played. And I started wondering just how much time I spent playing spider solitaire and I timed myself.
A losing game took, on average, eight minutes while a winning one took fifteen minutes. Since learning spider solitaire, I spent 384 hours (HOURS!!!) playing with 138 of those hours winning and 246 hours losing for a total of 16 days.
How did this make me feel? Embarrassed. I felt embarrassed that I wasted sixteen days playing this mindless game over and over. Surely I could find a better way to pass the time.
I sat on the couch, with the computer screen staring back at me. This was ridiculous. I looked around me. The house was clean. The dogs were asleep. My husband was away visiting his children in Ohio. My knitting was put away since I considered it a wintertime activity. There was nothing on television to interest me.
My thoughts raced. How did I fill my free time BEFORE the computer? What had I left behind when my obsession with this mindless activity began?
Books. I had left books behind.
Joette Morris Gates
April 2, 2013