Most of us have went to bed, or have gone to bed and are back awake again by the time 7:50 am rolls around; but Cade Coughlin is sometimes still awake due to the lure of a hamster. Coughlin, a senior at Lake Forest High School, has a love for the game Flight of the Hamsters, that he has spent so much time with, his scores rival any teenager in the country.
Flight of the Hamsters is an online game developed as a spinoff of the television show on the Cartoon Network. The objective of the game is to launch your five hamsters for the highest combined distance. There are lots of items that can make your hamsters go farther such as hitting a ramp, grabbing a hamster ball, flying up with fans, launching forward with rockets, and more.
In 2007, Coughlin started playing the game after watching the show Kids Next Door on the Cartoon Network. During commercial breaks, the network insisted viewers head to their website and try out the game. Coughlin insisted it was the only game they promoted that he liked.
His commitment to the game has led him to better life skills, so he claims: the skill of timing has built hand-eye coordination in the senior; he has also absorbed the notion that practice makes perfect, continuing to persevere even if you if go through a rough patch; and lastly, there is always room for improvement. All of this skill development through playing a video game? When asked about his development of skills Coughlin, 18, mentioned that he “had to play a lot before [he] was really competing to get to the number one spot.” The fact that he has developed some extraordinary life skills via playing this game disproves the belief that video games are unproductive and a waste of time.
Not only has this led to the development of life skills, but it has also proved to be a helpful coping method for Coughlin. Whenever Coughlin finds himself stressed, he will tell himself that he can play five games–and five games only–and then continue with whatever schoolwork he needs to focus on. Overall, it has proved to be an effective coping method and he would encourage others to give it a try.
From his extensive gameplay, he has had the chance to develop a solid strategy. Most would consider Coughlin a nighthawk because of the frequency of him pulling late nights in order to achieve his high score. Therefore, he competes at his peak performance alone and late at night. He even has his strategy down to the type of music that he listens to. He has attempted listening to rap, country, and rock while playing, and rock has consistently shown higher hamster flights. “Mississippi Queen” by Mountain, and “Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers are his go-to rock songs. In terms of finger placement, Coughlin is “definitely not ambidextrous.” His most effective finger placement is with his right pointer finger clicking and his right thumb tucked under the computer. Yet, if his right finger starts to cramp up mid-flight, he will switch to his left hand and shake his right hand around, all in a quick, fleeting motion so the hamster does not fall to the ground. Overall, according to Coughlin, in order to maximize your score you need to be up when most are asleep, listening to rock music, with your thumb tucked under your computer, and your dominant finger clicking while having absolutely no distractions.
When watching him play, he makes it seem like the game is quite easy. However, when most people try to play the game Coughlin mentioned that “they think that it is easy to go 1,000 plus feet with five hamsters.” Coughlin also said that “the first few times they don’t get more than 100 feet.” Right now, he does not know anyone that avidly plays the game like him except for some of his friend’s little siblings. Nevertheless, this game is a game for all ages according to Cartoon Network. Coughlin has considered starting a Flight of the Hamsters club to accomplish his goal of increasing the population of “Flight” players, especially considering he thinks that most of his peers would really enjoy the game if they looked past the childish graphics and obnoxious noises.
Right now, his high score for a five flight round is 2,563 feet, which places him at 11th in the world. He hopes that one day he could claim a spot in the top five. Ideally, of course, Coughlin would love to be first place. Although his ranking may suggest otherwise, he would not consider himself a gamer. Coughlin does not have a gaming console at home ever since his brother, Cal, lost the family XBOX on a baseball trip to Georgia. Needless to say, Flight of the Hamsters is the only game that he plays.
All in all, although the game may seem childish, Coughlin does not see himself quitting it anytime soon because it reminds him of his childhood: something that is slowly disappearing with each day and additional requirement. Coughlin even looked into pursuing it in his later career, but the game is not offered in the Gamer Olympics. Even though Coughlin averages about twenty hours per week of gameplay, he still enjoys every moment. If you ever need a break from life stresses, take Coughlin’s advice. Flight of the Hamsters is always online and Cade Coughlin is always willing to play with you, even if you are up late playing at 7:50 in the morning.