STUDENT EXPERIMENTS: A WEEK WITHOUT… video games…

John Mauro

Sunday

11:09 p.m. After tirelessly searching for a willing victim for the “no video games for a week” challenge without success, I decide to submit myself to the mercies of The Record and become the StuPub’s newest guinea pig. I begrudgingly text our high queen Julia Goldberg (12) that I’d do it, and she’s ecstatic that she’s found someone naive enough for this article. Until Thursday at Press Night, I will be unable to play or watch video games. The challenge begins now. 

I should probably preface this by confessing the amount of time I spend playing video games and what types of games I play. Good things come in threes, and my Holy Trinity of choice content is League of Legends and chess on the chess.com website. (I really only play two games.) Now that I’m a second-semester senior, it’s not uncommon for me to get home at 7 p.m. and play League or Chess with my friends for 2-3 hours (of course, this is ONLY because I’m a second-semester senior… I would never dream of wasting my time like this before…) Surrendering video games means I, obviously, won’t be able to play with my friends after school, but it also means I won’t be able to watch them play either. Tough. I also won’t be able to watch any video games, so live streams or YouTube videos about games are out of the question. 

Monday

I’m no longer allowed to play on chess.com, but my 27 win streak against Hunter Kim (12) will still continue. Enter Henry Matthew Bloom (12), who was so gracious as to let me borrow his miniature chess set. Yes, laugh all you want — I did in fact play chess with these pint-sized pieces for the week. I knew playing only chess during free periods would be boring, so I came doubly prepared with my edition of Bill Wurtz’s Sudoku Puzzles book. Armed and ready, I was prepared to start my day. 

10:15 a.m. During break I stop by Mr. Berenson’s C-period class. I pulled out my sudoku book and my chess set to show him my fervent commitment, but by the time I was done I looked up and he was nowhere to be found. It seems for some reason, he left me in the middle of our chat. 

11:35 a.m. Out of the corner of my eye I notice someone’s screen is slightly too flashy for calculating normal distribution of a curve. Someone’s playing Minecraft in my class, and I’m not allowed to watch. Disappointing. 

1:40 p.m. Nothing was abnormal. Luckily, I was still allowed to use slader.com, so I completed my math homework due H period. 

Tuesday

4:30 p.m. After-school activities were cancelled, so I didn’t have swim practice. I got home and many of my friends were online playing League, but I couldn’t play with them, so I just joined the voice call and chatted. It didn’t feel that awkward, just unusual. Eventually, I got bored and left to finish some work alone. 

5:30 p.m. I logged onto the East Wind West Wind (EWWW) Zoom. We were practicing dances for Asia Night; Samantha was teaching us “I CAN’T STOP ME” by Twice. I convinced Nic Moreira (12) and Hunter to join me, and we’re going to record on Thursday during break. 

7:30 p.m. I watched the last five episodes of the Queen’s Gambit. I recommend it highly — the music, acting, and story are great.

Wednesday

8:25 a.m. It’s getting harder to restrain myself. The first major chess tournament of the year, the Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2021, is happening right now, and right before my fast began Magnus Carlson lost to Andrey Espinko. I’m looking forward to watching those games and catching up on the tournament. 

4:00 p.m. I get home and I’m very tired. I’m going to take a quick nap. 

9:00 p.m. This was a mistake. I just slept for five hours. I have work in every subject to make up, plus I slept through the speaker series… at least I wouldn’t have time to play games even if I wanted to. After watching the recording of it online and finishing up my other work, I went to sleep.

Thursday

4:25 p.m. My challenge is nigh complete. Once this journal log is complete, I’ll be free to use my time in more fitting ways for a second-semester senior. I have to say, it was more annoying than challenging. Videogames encompass a wide range of entertainment that I couldn’t access, so I had to find new ways to entertain myself. I also felt more isolated from my friends, as I couldn’t completely engage with them after school. I think overall, it was a strong test of self-control and I enjoyed using my time in other novel ways.