As mid-terms approach, the collective campus consciousness turns once more to thoughts of overheated naps in Lamont, day-long "study breaks" and the endless procrastinatory joys of "Solitaire."
But before switching screens to finish that chem lab report, term paper or English thesis, pause with me for a moment to contemplate the inherent weirdness of the video-game universe.
When you think about it, computer games have a pretty twisted tradition. From "Donkey Kong" to "Pac-Man," computer games are based in a state of pseudo-reality that in many ways accounts for the escapist approach students take in adopting them as procrastinatory tools.
"My roommate played for twelve hours straight," says Jack Chen '97. "He was up until 4:30 a.m.!"
Although some students insist that e-mail will never be supplanted by video games as Harvard's number one procrastination technique, many of the same students are addicted to seemingly simplistic games like "Tetris" and "Jewelbox."
"We have a problem," confesses Veronica D. Mathews '99, a pre-med student admittedly addicted to "Jewelbox."
"Jewelbox" is a cross between "Tetris" and "Dr. Mario," in which players attempt to match rows and columns of precious stones that fall within a treasure chest.
Mathews explains that the game not only fulfills a major procrastinatory function, it also has the potential to deliver a huge ego boost.
"I was having a really bad day, then I hit a high score and I just had to go announce my triumph in the dining hall," Mathews says.
Inter-dorm competition heated up after someone discovered that getting three black boxes on the bottom row yielded big bonus points.
"As soon as we realized that, it opened up a whole new world," Mathews says, "But I think it's pure procrastination on my part."
Mathews says "Jewelbox" has transformed her room into a veritable den of procrastination.
"People come in to play and they won't leave!" she complains, "I even put up a sign that says, 'No Jewelbox!' but they play it anyway."
Is it shameful to get caught sneaking a game?
"Definitely," says Phoebe E. Taubman '99, one of Mathews' roommates, "You can hear those same three keys going, and you know somebody's playing it."