But I think I must also have a gene for wanting to have fun, if that's possible. My husband thinks my family has some kind of addiction gene and that I have found a way to make that a positive thing by becoming obsessed with whatever it is I'm doing, whether it's planning a conference, teaching a class, doing research for a book or playing a video game. There may be some truth to that, but I think there's also something there about having fun. My parents loved to have parties--in their early years they danced and bowled and had people over for escargot and card games. No one else on our block did anything like that. I should mention, maybe, that we were Catholic, and it always seemed to me that Catholics had way more fun than Protestants.
At any rate, I also remember my grandmother liking to have fun, to dress up, to play games with us, joke with us. We all liked very much the partying that went on at Mardi Gras, the disguise, the fun of it. We were not a sober family, although my father worked very hard, at two jobs and sometimes more when he was alive. He played very hard, though, when he wasn't working.
When I was a little girl, one of my favorite past times was playing with paper dolls. I loved cutting them out oh so perfectly, then cutting out their clothes, putting them on and taking them off, making them have dinner, or go out on dates, or fight with each other. I loved doing the same, later, with Barbie dolls, dressing them up and imagining different situations for them. On rainy days I'd sit all my dolls and stuffed animals in chairs on our porch, set up a chalk board in front of them, and play "school."
It's clear to me that the playing I did as a child prepared me for some of the successes I had later in life: it engaged and honed my imagination, and allowed me to imagine scenarios where I was, in fact, the leader, faced with crucial decisions (what should I do about the fact that my Midge dolls didn't seem to want to learn how to spell? Or that Chatty Cathy didn't want to learn to read?).
Sometimes I think the electronic characters I have online are just a more advanced version of the paper dolls I had as a child. For what might all this killing and dying, over and over again in the game, be preparing me?