Monday, June 05, 2006

360 Degrees of Woe

[Note: I originally wrote the entry below as a lengthy e-mail post-script to Nathan, and realized that I should just clean it up and put it here. I'm also going to post Nathan's comment and my subsequent reply as if they had taken place here-- he doesn't discuss his plans for assassinating prominent political figures in his comment, so I hope that he won't mind.]

I almost made a one-sentence post here on Saturday night. The title would have been "Fuck you, Microsoft (pt. 2)", and the sentence would have been "I am now the proud owner of a $500 paperweight." You see, I couldn't get my 360 to work on Saturday, after several wasted hours of trying. When I attempted to start it up, three red lights surrounding the power button would pulse, which is the official 360 signal for "your hardware is fucked up." This has picked up the label of "red circle of doom" in online circles (I think-- it was something equally colourful, at any rate), and its appearance is generally followed by shipping away the offending paperweight to Microsoft for repairs or replacement. I wasn't about to do that without a fight, however, because spending that much time away from Oblivion might give me some serious withdrawal problems.

The first thing that I tried was un- and re- attaching several cables and components (power supply, hard drive, etc.), as recommended by the XBox website. This procedure worked for me fairly quickly a week ago when I experienced similar problems, and after an hour or so of trying this time, I had limited success-- the 360 would boot up without complaint, but there was no picture (although the sound was working fine). This was actually worse, since the console was still not working correctly, only now it thought that it was. After fighting with it for a couple more hours by moving cables and components around, and verifying that nothing was wrong with the television's A/V ports by switching in other consoles, I'd had enough, so I just gave up for the night and played my DS instead.

The next morning, I tried to power it on a couple of more times with no success, and then, with nothing else left to try, and with the suspicion that XBox support would ask me to do this anyway, I carted it all downstairs and hooked it up to a different TV. And, wouldn't you know it, it worked fine. Better than fine, really, since this was the shiny new expensive TV that I bought my parents for Christmas, and my first opportunity to see how the 360 looks with a component video connection (it looks snazzy). So, with a mixture of pleasure and disappointment, I carted everything back upstairs to try it there again. It now all worked perfectly, with no sign that anything had been wrong, save the quiet mocking laughter emanating from the circular power/warning button on its front, conjured by my fevered imagination.

Given that this is not the first time I've encountered the red circle of doom, I'm forced to conclude that something is wrong internally with my 360. The specifics of the problems detailed above lead me to think that something is loose inside, since the problem only disappeared after I'd moved it. This could easily have happened during shipping, since it came from Amazon instead of a local retailer. However, I don't want to get it replaced just yet, as I've got next week off, and my plans for that week involve heavy doses of Oblivion, as well as some multiplayer Gauntlet (both online and locally with Aiden). I've got one month left on my factory warranty, so I'm going to walk on eggshells for the next couple of weeks and hope that it lasts, at which point I'll call XBox support and try to get it replaced, which I'm sure will be a hassle. Although, if the next two weeks go by uneventfully, I may be tempted to just keep it and buy an extended service package, since I'm not sure that I can handle a month or two without my Oblivion fix. *twitches* Oblivion...


Anonymous Nathan (kind of) said...

I believe the first run of the original XBoxes had an issue with DVD drives
that wasn't resolved until the second generation, but they would fix it or

Could your problem be related to the much balleyhooed (at the time of the
360 release) overheating problem? Does your system have proper elevation
and ventilation?

Monday, June 05, 2006 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

This had occurred to me, but I can't fathom that overheating is the problem. If you'll recall, the console sits on top of my big screen, where it is about as open to air as it can be short of being suspended from the ceiling by ropes. Note also that I keep the room rather cold, and that my problems have thus far always occurred when trying to power on the system after inactivity, rather than after extended play sessions. I certainly hope that overheating is not the problem, since I plan on renovating my entertainment centre shortly, which will result in a board being placed a few inches above the console's top, which I thought would be sufficient clearance.

[Also: to anyone who happened by this page while things were... in flux, I apologize. Either my internet connection is being flaky, Blogger is being flaky, or both.]

Monday, June 05, 2006 1:03:00 PM  
Anonymous NOS said...

My only embarassment is the terrible misspelling of ballyhoo.

Monday, June 05, 2006 1:09:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Indeed. For shame.

Monday, June 05, 2006 6:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ok, in this case, I suggest you not dick around with Warrantee gambles just in order to play the faulty Xbox. Get it sorted out. It takes time to ship things to Vancouver and/or Washington, and I don't know how Microsoft feels about fixing something that's arrived after the Warrantee has expired.

I went a long time putting up with issues with my Xbox and my suggestion to you is to nip them in the bud.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 9:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Aiden said...

i fixed my problems with my xbox, i gave it to my brother, and am now thinking about getting a 360.

Thursday, June 08, 2006 4:06:00 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

i fixed my problems with my xbox, i gave it to my brother, and am now thinking about getting a 360.

Recent posts aside, it's a pretty nifty console...

Thursday, June 08, 2006 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Detox clinic set for video game addicts
By FIA CURLEY, Associated Press Writer

Text From:

Tim, 21, a game addict who only wanted his first name used, poses after therapy at Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Thursday, June 1, 2006. In July, Keith Bakker, director of Smith & Jones will open Europe's first detox clinic for video game addicts, offering in-house treatment for people who can't stop gaming.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands - An addiction center is opening Europe's first detox clinic for video game addicts, offering in-house treatment for people who can't leave their joysticks alone.

Video games may look innocent, but they can be as addictive as gambling or drugs -- and just as hard to kick, says Keith Bakker, director of Amsterdam-based Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants.

Bakker already has treated 20 video game addicts, aged 13 to 30, since January. Some show withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking and sweating, when they look at a computer console.

His detox program begins in July. It will run four to eight weeks, and will include therapy sessions, wilderness excursions, healthy lifestyle workshops and possibly medication.

Research into video gaming is still in its infancy, and researchers haven't agreed on how to define addiction. But many experts say it's clear many of the young people who show dependency on video games are in trouble.

"We have kids who don't know how to communicate with people face-to-face because they've spent the last three years talking to somebody in Korea through a computer," Bakker said. "Their social network has completely disappeared."

It can start with a Game Boy, perhaps given by parents hoping to keep their children occupied but away from the television. From there, it can progress to multilevel games that aren't made to be won.

Bakker said he has seen signs of addiction in children as young as 8.

About a dozen clinics already exist in the United States and Canada, and even one in China, as excessive gaming increasingly is being recognized worldwide as an ailment requiring treatment.

Elizabeth Woolley, who founded the Safe Haven halfway house for addicted gamers in Harrisburg, Pa., welcomed the idea that treating addicts is spreading to the Netherlands. "Thank God that somebody has finally recognized this is an issue," she said.

Jeroen Jansz, associate professor of communications research at the University of Amsterdam, estimates about 80 percent of boys aged 8 to 18 play some type of video game. Forty percent play at least 2 1/2 hours a day.

In a 2005 study, Jansz said gamers are overwhelmingly males, especially in violent games where adolescents find "a safe private laboratory where they can experience different emotions."

Hyke van der Heijden, 28, a graduate of the Amsterdam program, started playing video games 20 years ago. By the time he was in college he was gaming about 14 hours a day and using drugs to play longer.

"For me, one joint would never be enough, or five minutes of gaming would never be enough," he said. "I would just keep going until I crashed out."

Van der Heijden first went to Smith & Jones for drug addiction in October 2005, but realized the gaming was the real problem. Since undergoing treatment, he has distanced himself from his smoking and gaming friends. He says he has been drug- and game-free for eight months.

Like other addicts, Bakker said, gamers are often trying to escape personal problems. When they play, their brains produce endorphins, giving them a high similar to that experienced by gamblers or drug addicts. Gamers' responses to questions even mirror those of alcoholics and gamblers when asked about use.

"Many of these kids believe that when they sit down, they're going to play two games and then do their homework," he said.

However, unlike other addicts, most gamers received their first game from their parents. "Because it's so new, parents don't see that this is something that can be dangerous," Bakker said.

Tim, a gamer who is under treatment, agreed to discuss his addiction on condition that his last name not be used. He said he began playing video games three years ago at age 18. Soon, he would not leave his room for dinner. Later, he began taking drugs to stay awake and play longer. Finally, he sought help and picked up other hobbies to occupy his time.

Richard Wood, a professor of International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, is skeptical about viewing heavy gamers as addicts. Wood says that gaming may be a symptom of a problem, but should be seen as a problem itself "just because a person does the activity a lot."

Bakker, however, says symptoms of addiction are easy to spot. Parents should take notice if a child neglects usual activities, spends several hours at a time with the computer and has no social life.

Bakker said parents of game addicts frequently echo the words of partners of cocaine addicts: "'I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what it was.'"

Friday, June 09, 2006 4:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

*nods* I'd read about that earlier this week. I may jest about withdrawal, and I do have some pretty unhealthy gaming habits, but I assure you that I'm not an "addict". I don't have the time to be an addict these days. *sighs wistfully*

Friday, June 09, 2006 7:32:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home