Select symptoms of Behavioral Addiction as summarized from the DSM-5 (2013).
1. Thinking obsessively about the activity when doing other things.
2. Lying about the amount of time spent on the activity.
3. Spending increasingly more time to get the same feeling from the activity.
4. Abandonment of responsibilities, obligations or hobbies due to compulsive indulgence
5. Has repeated unsuccessful efforts to cut or control activity.
According to the clinical criteria above, I must concede that I was once an addict. No, I wasn’t puffing the magic dragon…but I did slay one in a Fire Temple. For a short spell back in high school, I was hooked on video games – and my drug of choice was The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Let’s see how my digital descent of days past aligns with the warning signs above:
1. Like you needed to pay attention in religion class to get an A.
2. Of course I was doing chores the entire time you were gone.
3. Sometimes you can’t turn the game off until you beat the dungeon or reach a worthy save point, am I right?
4. I specifically remember ditching cross country and debate a few times after school to pick up where I left off the night before.
5. I definitely skipped meals and missed meeting up with friends because I was in the zone.
OK, I kid…the only condition I had was being a 16-year-old male. (Though over-achievement decathlete James Franco claims to have been strung out on Ocarina of Time too in his self-adoring Vice column.)
However, it wasn’t an itch to revisit my ill-invested youth that inspired me to check out The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddeses at the Saengar this past Friday, December 16. What pulled me in was a simple question: how does a 80-person musical ensemble translate a bunch of bleeps-and-bloops into a soaring orchestral recital. Yes, I realize that the series’ sonic landscapes have expanded alongside console evolution since the days of 8- and 16-bit cartridges, however it is the retro-entries of the ‘80s and ‘90s I grew up with that interested me. Though Nintendo’s early midi-melodies were simple, they were like the video-game equivalent of John Williams soundtracks of that time.
So how did Symphony of the Goddesses stand up? Breathtaking. The kaleidoscope of chords and chorus deepened the fantasy realms of my youth with dramatic intensity. With the notable exception of 2006’s Twilight Princess, I have not endeavored on any of Link’s 21st Century adventures, yet was still able to enjoy the pastiche of play-throughs from his latest outings. Even my wife – who has not picked up a game controller in her life, though does have an appreciation for classic-classical music not based on pixelated princesses – reveled in the production.
Watching the play-by-play of early Zelda games projected throughout the set, I realized that though I haven’t journeyed any of these whimsical worlds in almost 20 years or longer I still remember each inside-and-out. The same can’t be said for the other “knowledge” my parents paid tens-of-thousands of dollars for me to absorb during my teens: I can no longer name all 50 states and their accompanying capitals much less identify them on a map like I could in the 8th grade, and I’m clueless as to what a cumulus cloud is without tapping Siri as my lifeline. I may not be as smart as a fifth-grader, but there’s a good chance I could kick their ass in Nintendo.
While I didn’t get all trainspotty to go pick up a controller again, the performance did link me to a past when leisure time was not a limited resource, and mashing buttons all day with my friends was the only effort I had to put forth on weekends.