3AM is possibly one of the most emotionally charged hours for the gamer. As soon as the clock ticks over to that fateful hour, you know you’re in trouble.
It’s one of the biggest decisions facing intrepid players today, and it’s summed up in one word: “Continue?”. It’s 3 in the morning, you’ve been playing for hours, you have to be up in five hours and ready to face the world. But you’re so damn engrossed, and maybe just one more attempt at that mission will yield results. It’s the 3AM death spiral.
On the one hand you’ve made it through hours of play, making significant progress in the game and enjoying it. You’ve ignored the hours coming and going in favour of the big screen, and have reached a point of almost total immersion when you suddenly realise you’ve entered the dark zone. Pulled out of your game world by a sudden, addiction-inspiring death, you need to make a decision.
Do you continue playing? You’ve gotten this far now and you’re really into the game. Who knows when the next time you’ll have this much time to simply play and relax will be? And besides you’ve already made it to 3AM, surely the damage is already done by now. Tempting your body with sleep will only make you drowsier the next day, you can’t not want to wake up if you never slept.
But could you still salvage tomorrow? If you click on that menu button and close down your system, could you manage to squeeze in some sleep before that work day begins and come out of the whole experience with both a refreshed morning, and hours of gameplay under your belt?
The longer you spend deliberating, the less salvageable the next day becomes. It’s a cruel hour. Find yourself snapped back to reality at 2AM, and you’ve spent some time on the game and can sleep happily, blissfully dreaming of automatic weapons and zombies. Around 4AM, the choice has already been made for you – you’re going to spend all night on this game like tomorrow doesn’t even exist. And besides it’s technically tomorrow now anyway so sleep is moot.