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Emily Booker Headshot

Confessions Of An iPhone Gamer

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I have a few minor addictions -- honestly, the biggest one is to candy (SweeTarts and Jolly Ranchers, mostly) -- and the other is iPhone/Game Boy games. I guess what I'm trying to intimate is that I'm a chubby 8-year-old boy.

Last summer, I considered myself quite the young professional studying at Georgetown and interning in D.C. The image was shattered, however -- when visiting the State Department for a speech, I had to present my Game Boy, which I kept for my frequently delayed commute, to security. The officer took it apart and gave me well-deserved bizarre look.

My shame was tempered because later that day I beat my timed score for a particularly difficult level of Mario Kart Racing. Koopa Beach 2, anyone?

I've found myself and my peers suffer from a constant need for stimulation, a product of the iGeneration. It's so easy for my mind to wander while sitting in class, so if I focus on a mindless game, it becomes easier to listen and absorb material. That may just be a ludicrous justification though -- competitive me also just likes to win games and "accomplish" goals (e.g. three stars on every level of Diner Dash).

Any activity can be coupled with a suitable game. In class? Play Angry Birds. There's no time limit, so you can easily put your phone down to take notes or look engaged when a professor gets too close to your side of the lecture hall. Waiting for the subway or for a friend? Temple Run. It's fast paced and requires attention, but if you're terrible at it like me, the runs never last very long. Any trivia yen can be satisfied with Sporcle Lite -- it produces a small educational vibe, at least.

Of course, there's always social games that come and go, and can sometimes be overwhelming. In its peak, I was balancing 12 games of Draw Something at one time, and had to let them fizzle out because it took 45 minutes to play all the rounds. I'm very fond of word games like Scramble or Words with Friends, which are essentially Boggle and Scrabble, respectively. The similarity to board games deadens the din of the nothingness in my brain.

In surveying a lecture hall, most people are on the computer and almost all of them are on anything other than class slides. I avoid the temptation by not bringing my laptop, but as soon as class begins my thumbs itch and I reach for Tetris.

A study found that 42 percent of a 1,000-person sample thought that by 2020, young people would be "wired differently" and lack "deep-thinking capabilities," which will require teachers and parents to alter communication strategies. I don't know if that's true, but I'm not sure how effective requiring iPads of secondary school students is for concentration.

I was fully prepared to abstain from games while studying here at Cambridge, firstly because my phone doesn't work here and because I should probably do more valuable things with my time, but the dinky pay-as-you-go phones everyone in my program bought actually come with a game called Super Jewel Quest. Not iPhone quality, but when I came downstairs for breakfast, everyone in the flat was spooning cereal with one hand and tapping away on the phone with the other. Now if only I could find sour Skittles in the U.K...