The Top 7... games that affect real life

You know that phrase people use when something "stays with you long after it's over?" Nothing fits that statement better than video games, and here we've collected the seven best examples of games that leap out of the screen and infect, impede or enhance your daily existence. In other words, you're still playing these reality-altering games even when the power's off.

How it affects real life: Literally changes the way you view the world.

Just try grinding through Hawkman's immensely skate-able world without constantly comparing it to real-world locations. After a few hours, let alone several days of intense 'boarding, it's almost impossible to walk down the street and not view every awning, rooftop, fence and power line as a gravity-defying combo string.

Above: If only

The Hawk games are also known for secret locations opened via complicated maneuvers and linked combos. Pro Skater 2, for example, has a drained pool that's only accessible after grinding a specific rail. Spend a month scouring virtual cityscapes like this and eventually you'll find yourself looking at buildings in your own neighborhood as an in-game level, complete with combos like "grind across the grocery store roof and do a handstand on the church steeple to unlock the skating rink."

After years of playing, it's hard for us to look at the world without a Tony Hawk veil draped over every block.

"After playing a gerbil’s lifetime of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, I can’t walk around any city without eyeing roof ledges wondering which would grind me into the best line. Everyday objects all blurred together as one unbreakable chain of ollies, kickflips and reverts, the point where it actually became distracting. On the plus side,  at least this was my addiction and not Burnout..."


How it affects real life: You'll never look at interior design the same again.

Tony Hawk tricks you into mentally converting the mundane into the fantastic. Conversely, The Sims forces you to apply cold gaming logic to your jam-packed, far-too-busy life. This can manifest itself in a couple ways, the most obvious of which is the hallucinated grid you place on your own home. God help you if you move into new digs and have to arrange furniture - you'll be positioning and repositioning couches, desks, beds, mirrors, anything that isn't nailed down until sun comes up. It has to perfectly comply with arbitrary feng shui that dictated your Sim's virtual home.

A paradoxical benefit from overplaying The Sims boosts your time-management skills. Should you spend the next hour of your evening watching TV or studying? The average person would probably choose the first option, but some GR staffers admit to tackling the problem from a Sim's point of view and reading a book, raising some mental "stats" instead of vegging out.

It's a bit ironic though - if people spent less time playing The Sims, they'd have more time to get all their shit done and wouldn't have to reduce their life decisions to binary "this or that" equations.

"After playing The Sims for so many years, those green status bars have become real. When I feel a little down, I'll wonder which of my 'needs' requires a boost. I've randomly phoned a friend to increase my Social. I've cleaned my apartment only because I worried my Environment bar was approaching red. Sounds crazy, but it worked."

How it affects real life: The daily goings-on of your animal town will trump real-world plans.

From a strict gameplay perspective, Animal Crossing and The Sims are quite similar. Both transmit the same time-consuming addicto-beams directly into your brain, but only Animal Crossing forces you to play on its own terms. Each version runs off a real-world clock, so 12:34am to you is 12:34am to Animal Crossing, and certain events, awards and visitors can only be met at specific times. An annual, literally once a year event like Christmas will come and go if you don't hop in and sift through town searching for the entire Holiday Furniture collection.

Stuff like this happens all year round, usually resulting in broken plans with angry friends just so you can meet KK Slider at the railroad tracks Saturday at 10pm - but hey, as long as your animal friends aren't pissed, it's all good.

Oh sure, you can mess with the clock, constantly setting it back or advancing to June 2054, but cheaters never win, and winners don't use drugs. If you're one of "those people" that effs with the clock, consider yourself banned from the village. You have to cancel plans and alter habits just like everybody else.

"I was in a high-level math class in my third year of college when I realized a spring tournament was happening right then in my Animal Crossing town. It only lasted 10am-2pm, so I stood up, walked out of class and rushed home to participate. I won a shitty trophy instead of taking notes for a fairly important test. The End."




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  • Gkicker2 - October 13, 2010 2:39 p.m.

    GTA.. i had to stop playing because I wanted to swerve and hit motorcycles on the actual road so I could steal them. Kinda scary.
  • onewingedantista - November 18, 2009 10:47 p.m.

    My game was Star Wars Battlefront. I would be in school and try to find the best places to put command posts.
  • ryno - November 21, 2008 10:30 p.m.

    you guys are right about the Tony Hawk thing
  • ryno - November 21, 2008 8:49 p.m.

    after i play Timeshift sometimes i try to stop time when playing another game say Half-life and i remember im not playing Timeshift
  • CrabbyLady - November 2, 2008 2:49 a.m.

    In my member profile I'd mentioned how video games had helped me through a rough period in my life (my marriage was dying a slow and painful death). ACWW wasn't out back then, but Donkey Kong was, and my daughter and I must've spent hours, days, and weeks lost in the virtual Monkey Jungles. When I finally crawled out of our three-month Monkey Marathon, I'd realised how great it was to just lose myself in an activity which really did let me forget all the turmoil roiling around my life for a while. My frustrations were duly taken out on the Big Boss guys at level's end... poor Bosses didn't stand a chance! And being able to vent somewhat in a game let me be a little more mellow when I had to turn the game off and go fix dinner or deal with an attorney. When Nintendo brought out the DS, I got one of the first ones out. Now I have 2 DS systems, one for me and one for whomever but sometimes I hook 'em together so all the creatures in ACWW can visit and I get to advance to Nookington's instead of Tom's Terrible Treacle shop! And I finally caved and got the Xbox360, which is one of the best things ever. Then I got a phone call from one of my dearest friends... she had just been diagnosed with a very vicious form of cancer. Knowing the road that lay before her with long hours of chemotherapy and all the other horrors of cancer treatment, I decided to introduce her to my little "magic machine", my DS. I started her out on ACWW, which she found as enchanting as I had. She also quickly realised that a really good game which let her beat the tar out of the bad guys gave her an emotional release and helped her cope with the day-to-day realities of her ongoing chemotherapy treatment. Today, my friend has recovered, no remissions, and she is now into the Xbox as well as her Playstation and she's built up a pretty awesome game library. The point of this little tale is this: Most of us play games, and video games in particular, just for the sheer fun of it. But sometimes (especially with the "go anywhere" convenience of the DS) being able to escape from whatever your reality may be at the moment, can be very therapeutic. Age doesn't matter, I was 48 when my life fell apart and my kid got me into gaming. My cancer-surviving friend was in her mid- fifties when I gave her her first DS. So maybe the next time you see someone who is experiencing trauma in his or her life, consider giving them a video game and watch what happens, you may be surprised and they just may be thankful for a little escapism. It helps. ps: if anyone reading this has had similar experiences, please share them with me? Thanks!
  • terty - October 30, 2008 8:19 p.m.

    something wierd happened to me like that too. i bought ocarina of time and spent like a whole day playing it. Then i went to school the next day and i kept hearing navi saying "HEY!" "LISTEN!" and i got really anyoyed really quickly
  • Black_X_1111 - October 30, 2008 1:13 p.m.

    For awhile after I finished portal I kept thinking of the best places to put portals. It even crept into my daydreams.
  • pyroman7048 - October 12, 2008 1:14 a.m.

    there were times after i played the first fable where i felt REALLY evil.. i felt bad when i killed Thereasa and the Guildmaster lol..
  • Eoinbyrne1IRl - October 10, 2008 5:34 p.m.

    i played cod4 4 like 3 hours straight and i went to get a glass of water and when i looked through the glass it wus like lookin through a scope creepy.....
  • KingGeorge - September 26, 2008 11:37 p.m.

    I don't know if it's just me, but there's a whole heap of games (and movies/shows/music/events) that have left me impacted, after playing super mario sunshine i didn't stop imagining jump combinations onto nearby rooftops. I've related numerous real world events to gaming phenomena, to the point i can see the characters clearly in front of me. me and my friends often find ourselves attempting a falcon punch or PK fire. anyway, the article was missing a whole heap of games that alter perception.
  • cricket0 - September 26, 2008 9:37 p.m.

    The Guitar Hero thing is right. It makes me look down automaticly. It can get real akward and a strain on my eye's.
  • Dark Helmet - September 26, 2008 11:28 a.m.

    I have an anecdote of my own about Tetris. I load airplanes at Fedex's World Hub. One of the smallest airplanes we use is a Boeing 727. The lower level of the plane, the bellies, is resticted to individual packages. Most nights, the weight shack sends out a shit load of boxes to put into the bellies. Doing so requires skill in what is known as T-stacking, the same stacking process that brick-layers use to cover houses. Anyway, whenever I become unfortunate enough to have to stack boxes, I start playing Tetris in my head and start humming the tune. It helps me get everything in and under the red line, which is a requirement by the FAA that states that no boxes can be placed above the red line that marks the top two inches of the compartment. In order to allow room for fire suppressants to reach the entire compartment. Which doesn't really make any sense since anything that is a fire hazard is considered Hazardous Materials and placed in a Haz-Can in the Upper Compartment. But then again, boxes are sometimes miss-labeled by the sender. I think that happened once. Some idiot sent a package that caught on fire, ruining all of the other packages in that particular container. They had to land the plane prematurely and everything was late. That cost us a lot of money.
  • wills919 - December 7, 2008 5:45 p.m.

    i had the same experience after playing Racedriver:GRID for hours on end, i couldnt help myself but to look at the streets and find the best racing line, and work out awesome drift spots :)
  • AllenSelby - November 25, 2008 7:23 a.m.

    After marathon sessions on COD WAW or even playing COD 2, I will go outside for a while and start to picture things that will mess me up. Like, thats a good sniper spot or man I could really get some good kills their. It doesnt seem healthy haha.
  • AOH94 - October 20, 2008 6:59 p.m.

    That tetris thing used to happen me all the time its by far the most annoying thing i have ever experienced
  • Vidilefe - October 12, 2008 6:46 p.m.

    soo right
  • Coolbeans69 - October 3, 2008 2:39 a.m.

    All of these fit in this article.
  • blu2580 - September 28, 2008 5:46 p.m.

    KingGeorge you are right! that happens to me too. When i bought my wii, i bought ocarina of time and majoras mask on the shop channel or whatever. When i started playing nothing happened but as time passed im started to think that navi (tha fairy) was moving around me and also sometimes i see myself in 3 person view and a see my life and all that stuff. i know its weird, but its true... anyway i just hope im not a mindfreak... am i navi?
  • iiscody - September 26, 2008 1:31 a.m.

    duuude.... i see this kinda thing all the time...
  • AA95mp - December 21, 2008 3:16 p.m.

    i am glad your friend had recovered crabbylady