Growing up in a family of 10 kids, it was important that our home have rules. If we followed the rules, we were rewarded. If we disobeyed, we were spanked. (Side note: It’s because of this structure that I turned out so well)  Rewards came in various shapes: allowance ($1 a day), camp in the summer, having friends over, and (the most favorite of everyone) the half-hour.  (If you’re a Chase kid and you just read that last one, I guarantee you just smiled in fond recollection) For those of you who don’t know what a half-hour is, allow me to enlighten you. This Chase-ism is not only used to describe a period of time (more specifically, a half-hour… or 30 minutes).  It is most-often used to describe our turn on the computer (one half-hour a day. thus the name. duh) which was only allowed after the completion of school and chore.  (It was in pursuit of getting the “first half-hour” after church that my head was forced into a saw in the garage by my younger brother. “First half-hour” was a high honor, back in the day.)

As with everything in the Chase house, it couldn’t be as simple as “only a half-hour a day”.  We love to make rules, so we added a few to this principle:

1) if Mom & Dad went out to dinner, each sibling was awarded an “extra half-hour” (or a “whole nother half hour” if we’re going to be culturally relevant). This was only given if they asked Mom & Dad before they left… or if the oldest sibling agreed to it.  (Carter learned very early that if he forgot to ask Mom & Dad, and Marta was the oldest, you may as well forget it. Marta wasn’t as quick to give away second half-hours as I was. I’m an ol’ softie)

2) Watching someone else play their half-hour counted as your half-hour.

3) Email, school research, listening to Adventures in Odyssey, and comic-reading do NOT count as a half-hour.  Chatting on AIM does count.

It was the third rule that begin my gradual shift in interest from video games (I admit it: I once used to play Age of Emperors and Roller Coaster Tycoon… and I was awesome. I led troops of peasants to raid castles and launched unsuspecting guests off of high-velocity coasters) to spending my precious computer time chatting with my friends online.  (This is also when my typing speed went from 25 words per minute to 90 words per minute.  Just another thing that makes me an outstanding receptionist).

Once I had moved away from home and was living on my own (and, thus, no longer was confined to the half-hour rule) I decided to give video games another try. (I admit: I didn’t have much spare time.  Once work was finished and my complex social life was attended to, I had precious little left … Who needs to sleep, anyway?)  I started with the old stand-by: AOE (Age of Emperors)  and found it (gasp) dull. Halo gave me a headache, I was HORRIBLE at World of Warcraft, and Rock Band (though I got pretty awesome at it) made my arm cramp up and did NOTHING for my ability to play the real guitar. Slowly I realized: I don’t really like video games that much.

Once I had made that realization, I suddenly felt no need to play video games. At all. Ever.

It’s amazing how much time that frees up in your life.

I could have continued going like that forever, but last year, I discovered something else about myself: I may not care much for classic video games, but mindless video games are a whole nother ball game. I’m talking about games that are mostly luck (so if you lose, it was CLEARLY not your falut), but have just enough strategy to keep things interesting (I.E. If I win, it’s obviously because I’m awesome at that game).  The game that opened my eyes was Bloon Tower Defense 3… and I may have played it while listening to sermons for most of this fall.

Sunday, I discovered another one.

Don’t be too shocked: I discovered the wonderful world of Angry Birds.  Bloon Tower Defense 3 can’t hold a candle to the random awesomeness of this game.  I know most of you have probably already waisted (literally) years of your lives with this iPhone app, but (as someone who has just been introduced), I feel like climbing on a magic carpet and singing about “a whole new world”.  How can popping balloons compare with launching crazed-poultry at green snarky-smirking pigs?

I think I’m in love.