Alcohol and Gaming - a Good or a Bad Mix? - hist Blog -
Switch Lights

The lights are on

What's Happening

Alcohol and Gaming - a Good or a Bad Mix?

Being of a suitable and appropriate age, I do tend to sometimes enjoy an alcoholic libation or two while I'm at home. (Kids, don't try this at your home).

So I'm sitting here tonight having a quiet evening, having some wine coolers and enjoying a nice, relaxing evening with the wife. The TV's on but muted, I've got the laptop out while she plays a Big Fish game on the main PC. Was wanting to do a blog tonight, but had no idea what I wanted to write about. So, as the alcohol has flowed, the search for a topic went a bit wider afield.

And then it hit me.

There have been other times where I haven't been trying to blog, but instead actually playing a game while enjoying a beer or two. Occasionally online multiplayer (don't worry; if I have a mic on, I do mute it before taking a drink. I'm not rude), but more often whatever single-player game I'm playing at the moment. That can make for some interesting times, let me tell you.

Now, I've never played a game while totally drunk. In fact, I've only been drunk to the point of total intoxication a couple of times in the last 14 years. But I have been slightly tipsy a few times, and it does make precision action games, like a shooter, a lot harder to play. It's very difficult lining up a head shot in Call of Duty when your hand is shaking. Other action games, it isn't as bad. Something like God of War, for example, you have a lot more room for error. When you're just taking huge swipes with your sword of BFW (That's "Big F-ing Weapon"), you don't have the pinpoint accuracy issues that a shooter has.

I typically find myself playing something like pinball if my head is a little cloudy. It's funny, because while drinking does affect your reflexes (and thus, you should never drink and drive), sometimes when you're playing a game, you find yourself actually letting loose a little bit. So when you're dead sober, you find yourself over-thinking things and mis-timing flippers and stuff like that. When you've had a little to drink, you stop thinking and let your instincts rule. And sometimes that works wonders for your high scores. Obviously that doesn't happen all the time, and it does depend on your instincts, which is why it can be fun to do it with something safe like a pinball game and not something completely idiotic and dangerous like getting behind the wheel. If you have the instincts for it, though, you can get that flipper action going and get on a huge roll.

Or you can press the flipper button 5 seconds after the ball has gone down the drain.

Which reminds me of a story from my wild college days, when I downed a 12-pack of beer and then tried to play a game. (Long story, but basically I had bought it to share with a friend, but when she cancelled her trip up to see me, I decided to hell with it and drank it all myself in one night).

A friend who lived in my dorm had a Commodore Amiga, with this cool new game called Shufflepuck Cafe, and he would let me come down and use his computer sometimes when he was doing something else (this was the early 90s, so not everybody had a computer in their room). I tried playing it sometime after the 6th or 7th beer. This game was something like air hockey, but you played against robot  or otherwise alien AI opponents. My opponent would shoot the puck right past my paddle, and a couple of seconds later I'd move to block it. I was getting frustrated enough that I slammed the mouse down a couple of times. This was a fairly new optical mouse (when these were new and it was unusual to find a mouse without a trackball). Suddenly, from the TV area of his room, I heard my friend yell "please don't slam the optical mouse" at me. I was suitably embarrassed and realized that continuing to play this game would be counterproductive.

I've often wondered in the past what use there was having arcade game consoles in bars, but then you could say that these reasons would be two-fold: for those who aren't drinking, and to get extra money out of those who are because they lose their quarters very shortly after beginning the game. Their reflexes just aren't that good.

So for you adults out there, any drinking and gaming stories you'd like to share? And for you under-21 folks, how about any other kind of impairment? Hopped up on painkillers because of an injury or dental procedure, and then tried to play Battlefield

After finishing this one, I may go try some pinball and see if I can get a high score.

But first, to refill my drink.