The Brain Keeps Rolling


Do gamers dream of electric sheep?

Videogames – a form of relaxation and escapism. Well, that's what I always thought. You come home from work, kick off your shoes, slump down on the sofa. Nothing on TV. Stretch towards the console and press the button to kick-start it into life. Arrange the wire around, over or under the coffee table and assume reclined position for the next few hours.

That's relaxing.

And before you know it the evening has passed by very pleasantly. The game was paused for a spot of dinner, unless it was a very engaging game, in which case, maybe a couple of biscuits and a banana during cut scenes.

Aaaah! Ooh, is that the time already? Time for bed I guess. Teeth all brushed. Fatigue washing over you. The body is certainly ready for a good nights sleep. Crawl into bed, plump pillow – aaah. That feels good. Fumble for bedside light"click.

All of a sudden your mind flicks into high-gear. Images flashing, brain whizzing, mind whirring. Sleep seems an impossibility with all this mental commotion. "But I'm tired!" I wail.

This is the affliction of gamers the world over – gaming insomnia. It doesn't happen with all games and there's no telling which game will leave you in a state of sleep deprivation.

Tetris is possibly the best known catalyst. But I have also spent many a night teetering on the edge of precipices in combat shorts, swinging on ropes and swimming away from crocodiles (swimming in the loosest possible sense of the word). This was in my Tomb Raiding days.

Then my dreams were inhabited by Pikmin. They chirruped and whooped, which was all very endearing, except that it was on a loop and it was on ALL NIGHT LONG!!

The cause of my most recent sleepless nights has of course been City of Heroes. The reasons are two-fold. First there are more people around at night. Second, at night you're more likely to get invited to join a team and go on a mission. Then you spend the next three hours getting killed, getting revived and slowly completing the mission.

The trouble with teams is you feel bad just baling out of a mission half-way through because you're sleepy. I mean do you think Spider-man went, "You know what, I'm just going to ignore my spidey senses because I'm cream crackered."

Or do you think Batman thought to himself, "Oooh, I'm gonna hit the hay. I'll let the Joker get away with it just this once – boys will be boys after all, the little tyke. How much harm can he do in one night!?"

No they didn't is the short answer. What would we do if super heroes went to bed willy-nilly, whenever it suited them? It's a duty being a hero and unfortunately it leads to sleepless nights. But it's a cross I'm willing to bear frankly.

The dreams aren't vivid, just general zapping, zinging and blasting of mutant powers – over and over and over and over"bleep, bleep. Oh great, morning already.

The nights are great fun, but the days become a grim test of endurance as I shuffle through work like a mindless zombie. It's like a scene out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Then night falls and the mind is once more galvanised into life, like Frankenstein's monster (only more heroic in this case).

In fact, I feel sleep overwhelming me now. Note to self: must get an early night.

Most played: City of Heroes

Most wanted: Killer 7

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