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Editorial: I can never play Diablo 3


This is an editorial based on Dave Hinkle's personal experiences with 2000's Diablo 2. Joystiq's review of Diablo 3 is still forthcoming.

It's not because I lack the requisite memory blocks and quantum computers to run Blizzard's latest, Diablo 3 – it's personal. You see, I'm genetically predisposed to Diablo. It's something I think about each and every day.

Diablo is a proper addiction to me. Diablo 2 is something I associate with the darkest moments of my life, when I skipped showers and seriously lived on Pop Tarts. My only comfort back then was the dim glow of the monitor and the random piece of treasure the game would occasionally drop for me as I toiled away hours doing nightmare-level Meph runs.

I have an addictive personality, as many of those who have met me in real life can attest. I eat horribly, can't seem to quit smoking cigarettes and have drunk to excess on occasion. The Diablo experience is like some kind of magical talisman created by the wizards of southern California that is meant to poke and prod that dark place inside me I actively ignore and deny every day of my life. Diablo brings out my greed and disdain for everything other than myself in the worst way.

But again, these are just words. They don't mean anything without examples, so I'm going to take you back to when I was in college and Diablo 2 ruined my life.

At that time, things weren't too hot with my parents, so I was living with a friend (Chuck) and his family. Back then, I was still a pretty miserable human being, without much consideration for the lovely family who put me up. At first, I had a part-time job at Pep Boys as I tried to get enough scratch together to go to school at Delaware County Community College. I made my first quarterly payment and set up my classes. I was excited to get on with my life.

I was on a path. I had plans. But Diablo 2's Lord of Destruction expansion would ultimately be a siren's song too strong to ignore. LoD launched the summer right after I graduated high school. During the summer months, it wasn't a big deal to go to my job for a few hours every other day, but when I got home and when everyone else slept, I played. Me and my MF-build sorceress would do Meph runs until the sun came up. And then I'd get looks as everyone else in the house got up in the morning to go off to their jobs and whatnot – at least, I felt like I got those kinds of looks. I was too busy playing Diablo 2 to care at the time.

Believe it or not, that wasn't the first time I played Diablo 2. It started when I was in high school, when my buddy Joe picked up the game one day because another mutual friend, Ben – also, know that Ben still texts me and IMs me daily telling me to play because he knows my weakness and is a stupid jerk – had picked it up. But back then, the Hinkle family didn't have a reliable computer and I'd have to go to Joe's house to play. There was a barrier keeping me from going overboard.

That wasn't the case at Chuck's house. As the summer went on and class kicked off in late August, I made an honest effort, but all I could think about was Diablo 2. I don't even think I made it through September, to be honest. By that point, I had just stopped showing up for class and for work.

In retrospect, the low point was probably the morning of 9/11. I never admitted this to anybody because it was only Chuck and myself in the room, but the morning it happened, I played Diablo 2. As Chuck was horrified of what was being shown on the TV, I was in the Bloody Foothills trying to gain a few levels for an assassin build I was working on. Chuck called DCCC to see if we had class and, after hearing we did not, I played Diablo 2 all day until his parents came home from work. I ate dinner with them and then I went back to Diablo 2.

Ultimately I was only able to kick the habit when I was kicked out of Chuck's home by his parents, having failed to contribute and even care about anything other than that game. I was selfish – a child – and looking back on it, that point in time is one of my lowest. They were good people who had given me a home when my childish drama and fear of the adult life that loomed in the horizon was too much. They gave me refuge when I ran from every problem in my life. They were good people and I abused that.

I never really went into this in so much detail because, honestly, it's embarrassing. I've tried to cultivate a different image since then; to live a better life and be a better person. But like every other addict out there, I still have that itch. The launch of Diablo 3 has been one of the biggest tests of my life, and I know that, with my current situation living alone in San Francisco, there wouldn't be a safety net to keep me from being more than a blurb in the newspaper obituaries if I partook.

So I can never play Diablo 3. The first step is admitting you have a problem. The next step is taking it one day at a time.

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