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How Black Ops 2 Kept Me Sane

For the first month and a half (or so) of 2013, I've been stuck in a major rut, both personally and as a gamer. The personal I'm not really going to get into, other than to just say that I think the gaming one is a symptom of the personal one.

It's showcased itself in many ways. For one, I've disappeared from this site yet again (sorry about that, those who know me). I haven't blogged since December 2 except for my return yesterday and I haven't even been reading blogs.

The gaming rut I've been stuck in may be obvious to those of you who follow me on Twitter. Every day, Raptr tweets what I've been up to in the last 24 hours. For that entire time period, it's been the same thing: played Black Ops 2 and Pinball FX2 in the last 24 hours.

It was becoming annoying, I'm sure. Even to me! But I couldn't bring myself out of it.

Part of it was because I was enjoying it, of course. Black Ops 2 is the funnest CoD multiplayer I've played in a while. It helped that I was actually fairly decent at it. I liked some of the improvements, like the gun attachments staying unlocked once you've unlocked them, even after you Prestige (you still have to unlock the gun, but once you do, they're all there). I think I'm on Prestige 2 or maybe even 3.

It was all multiplayer too. I stopped the single player experience after the first strike mission. I hated them, and when I realized that the best ending required completion of them successfully, I decided not to bother. The story hadn't gripped me enough to continue, and I was having fun in the multiplayer anyway. I may go back to it someday.

Yes, it was fun, but it was also just familiar. A comfortable feeling, ten-minutes (or sometimes less) of time before going on to the next game. Running around shooting people, getting shot. It all became routine, some would say rote.

There were times when it got frustrating, and that's when I stopped and just clicked on Pinball FX2 for some mindless pinball action. The latest four tables are awesome, and now they have three Star Wars tables coming out! Can't wait for those.

But it was the same every night. We'd eat dinner, watch some sports, and then I'd turn on the Xbox. I could have got up, taken the Black Ops 2 disk out, and plugged Assassin's Creed 3 back in. But I didn't. Every time I thought about it, I just sat back and went with the familiar.

It was definitely a rut, and reflective of what I was going through personally.

And that's why I think it kept me sane (ok, that may be overstating it, but it definitely did help).

Yes, it was a symptom of the funk I was in. But it was also what kept me going as a gamer when nothing else seemed that interesting to me. It would have been very easy to just not turn the thing on to begin with, but I had gotten into a habit. A bad habit, some of you would say. But a habit nonetheless.

A typical night for me usually includes what I said above, but then just the latest game I'm playing. When I finish one, I move on to another. They would all be fun, satisfying, and different. I have never left games unplayed unless they were just so mind-numbingly boring that I decided it wasn't worth it (Prototype, I'm looking at you).

So leaving Assassin's Creed 3 and Borderlands 2 unfinished was totally different for me.

Black Ops 2 was becoming a habit, but it was something I knew I would eventually break out of. Mainly when I figured out what the hell else was happening in my life that was making me feel that way. Or at least until I realized that I needed a change in routine, even if it was just the game I was playing.

Until then, it fit me like a comfy glove, a security blanket that yes, I would have to get rid of eventually. But not right this minute. I need to hold on to it a little bit longer.

Last week, I finally broke out of my funk, at least somewhat. Things are going a bit better personally and I realized that it was time to stop. I popped Black Ops 2 out of my Xbox and put another game in. I've started earning achievements again. I've gone back to Geometry Wars 2 for my "arcade game" fix (though that will change again when the new Star Wars tables come out). I'm feeling better about my gaming again. I'm looking forward to having something new, but I feel a duty to myself and the games themselves to finish what I have. I'm enjoying them again.

But I will always be grateful to Black Ops 2 for giving me that sense of fun and accomplishment when I was stuck, unable to get out. You kept me going, and you let me have fun while doing it. It will always be heads above the other Call of Duty games in my heart for that reason alone.

Addendum: two of the funniest things happened while I was immersed in the game. I saved them on Theater mode and finally figured out how to export them to Youtube.

I give you two videos: first, stupidest teammate ever, and then one bit of my own carelessnes

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