Or, Have You Recently Lost Your HOTAS?
I’m not sure when it happened, but it happened.
I began feeling morose, disconnected, as though something was missing. Physically, I felt alright, but mentally I was not alright. I noticed that I had begun sleeping more but enjoying it less. I would wake up in the morning not feeling refreshed, but exhausted.
I had dreams that I was flying a P-51 Mustang in a dogfight against an Me-109 and just as I got lined up for the kill I would wake up. I felt unfilled. In other dreams, I would lose my HOTAS or racing kit and have to play with a keyboard.
I was regressing. It was like the dreams I’ve had where I’m back in high school and can’t remember where my locker is or what the lock combination was.
I was a mess.
This lost HOTAS issue was the key, not the keyboard. I began to realize the problem was that I indeed was missing something. I woke up one night and the realization hit me so hard I said out loud, “I’m not simming enough!” Strangely, I slept the rest of the night in relative peace.
The next morning, I called my doctor and scheduled an appointment. When the receptionist asked me what the problem was I told her I’d lost the will to sim. She said “You’ve lost the will to live? Call 911!”. I tried to calm her down, explained what a sim was. She didn’t understand, but I got an appointment for nine the next morning.
At the Doctor’s Office
The next morning I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair filling out a questionnaire…
I was stunned at this last one.
How would they know what a HOTAS was if they didn’t know what a sim was? The written questionnaire was over so I scribbled my name as Mickey Mouse, made up a date and gave it back to the receptionist. She said the doctor would be with me right away. I knew better than that, so I sat back down and got out my copy of War and Peace.
Later on that day, I did get to see the doctor. He insisted I have a physical exam, to which I replied there was nothing physically wrong with me. He said, “I will be the judge of that.” After much poking and prodding and probing, the physical exam was done. I then sat down with the doctor and we had a little conversation.
The Doctor Discussion
The doctor looked over the physical exam results and said “Well, there’s nothing physically wrong with you.” I replied, “Told you so.”
He looked sternly at me over the top of his glasses.
“Mickey”, he said, “There’s nothing wrong with you physically, but I see here you said you dreamed you lost your hot ass.”
“HO TAS sir,” I corrected him, “It’s pronounced HO TAS. Hands On Throttle And Stick”.
“Ah, I’ve always wondered about that. Sounds funny either way. Well, here’s my diagnosis. I think you’re suffering from sim depravation. In short, you’re not simming enough. We’ve had several cases of SD lately.”
“Oh no!” I exclaimed. “I’ve tried to sim, I really have tried. It just doesn’t work out for me lately. Is there a pill I can take? Just something to ease the pain.”
“No”, he said, “No pill. Nothing over the counter anyway, and the prescription drugs are still in their trial stage. Normally I would refer you to Dr. Quackmire, the psychiatrist down the hall, but if you’re willing, we have something experimental to try. It’s based on some ideas from Maddox, Wagner and other developers. Do you want to try it?”
“Yes, well, I think yes. It doesn’t hurt does it?”
“No, no, it’s some questions, some discussion, some brainstorming we’ll have.”
“OK, easy though, my brain’s a little fragile right now.”
“Fine. Let’s begin.”
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