A tongue-in-cheek but also painfully earnest look at pop culture and anything else that deserves to be ridiculed while at the same time regarded with the utmost respect. It is written by Matt Marrone and emailed to Stu Horvath and David Shimomura, who add any typos or factual errors that might appear within.
An hour ago, I broke up with a videogame.
I won’t name the game or the platform. It knows what it is and I’m not here to rub any salt.
But I will share this: Over the course of the past several months – OK, much longer than that – I had become increasingly aware that I was in an abusive relationship. The game brought its share of joy, but it also too often took me away from my family, from the moment, from my work, from my sleep. I was playing for hours each day, both looking forward to it and stressing over it, careening between happiness and anxiety.
The final straw? Over Memorial Day weekend, I scored 100 billion points. Now, 100 billion points might sound like a lot, and it is, but it’s far from my best. A good weekend has me in the trillions. The slap in the face that woke me up was this: When I checked in the next morning, there was a message from my club leader, letting me know it’s been a pleasure, but he was cutting me at the end of the day – I just wasn’t putting up enough consistent points.
I don’t blame the guy. He’s trying to build a club in a game ravaged by Pay to Win players and degenerates using autotappers to lap the field without even having to be in the same room. I didn’t ask, but I am assuming I wasn’t the only cut – because I was far from the lowest scorer on the club. He’d be an idiot to single me out.
But I’m not bitter. Being cut from a club, though it hadn’t happened to me before, isn’t a big deal in and of itself. I’d been a club leader, too, and I had made many cuts. And there were tons of clubs out there that would have loved to have had me.
No, it’s not that I got cut. It’s not even that I got cut after scoring 100 billion points. It’s that I’d leveled up so much, grinded so hard, wasted so much time, that I’d landed on a club where scoring 100 billion points wasn’t enough to avoid being cut.
After the initial surprise, I went off and had a lovely day with my family. I hadn’t quit the game yet but since it was my last day with the club anyway, I didn’t feel any pressure – or desire – to steal away when the opportunity arose. At first, I planned to go out in a blaze of glory after I put the kids to bed. I’d use up all my resources, put up huge points and show my soon-to-be former teammates what they’d be missing. But when the kids were all tucked in and I started to play, I realized the spell had been broken.
Why was I still playing? What more was there left for me to do, now that I’d reached a point where 100 billion points was a slow weekend for me, where 100 billion points didn’t make me a teammate worth keeping? I already knew the answer was nothing. There was nothing left to do, no reason left to play other than to feed the addiction. But now I had an out – and who knows when the next one would come? I could put up a boatload of points, then find another team and keep doing what I had been doing, day in and day out, trapped by a game that would never give back to me what I put into it.
Instead, I left a message in our team chat that I had gotten a much-needed wakeup call. I wished everyone well. Then I deleted the game.
Like I said, that was an hour ago. I’m writing this column at the end of a wonderful day, and I’m happier than the game ever made me.
I’ll never make the same mistakes again.
Matt Marrone is a senior MLB editor at ESPN.com. He has been Unwinnable’s reigning Rookie of the Year since 2011. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm.