My name is Brian …

and I’m a videoholic.

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

When young, I flirted with disaster. I was pretty expert at Tron and PacMan and Mario Bros. In ’95 or so, when Myst came out, I bought it for my family, and we played it on an old 486, which I had overdriven to almost a Pentium 1. Maybe that’s why the excitement wasn’t there; it was just too slow. Every couple years, I bought the new Myst game “for the family.” Then in 2000, I bought Black & White, the computer game that endowed me with godlike powers. I guess that’s where I learned the rush. I should probably note that my family has never had an X-Box, Game Cube or Playstation, or anything along those lines.

Three weeks ago, I bought a new laptop (Dell Inspiron 6000 off the Dell refurb site for $607, a really good deal).

I decided to install one computer game, just to occupy my mind when boredom strikes, particularly this time of year when I’m between hobbies. I sent e-mails around to my computer-game-playing friends: What’s the best computer game ever? A couple suggested various versions of the Sims. My brother suggested Halo or Half-Life 2. I ended up downloading Half-Life last Saturday (only $9.95). And then, last Sunday, I played for about 10 hours. Then, a few hours every weeknight, and then six hours on Saturday. I didn’t mow the lawn. I didn’t go to a birthday party with Hunter. I didn’t take a shower on Saturday morning.

It’s great. In the Black Mesa Research Facility, nobody ever misunderstands me. It’s kill or be killed. In the BMRF, there are no irrecoverable mistakes. You simply start back at a spot before you died. In the BMRF, you are never distracted by food, bills or other people’s bullshit.

People complain a lot about gamers’ not participating in the default world. We all know people who spend half their day in passive-entertainment zone. Some people can’t understand why gamers prefer the cyber-world to this one. I do, and it’s simple: It’s nicer there.