January 24, 2013 by khrisgolder
Contributed by Special Guest Craig Bickford of 30PlusGamer
So, back in October, I turned 39. Wow! Here it is 3 months later and it’s just hitting me that I have been on this earth for almost four decades, and almost that entire time I have been playing video games. Four kids and a big bunch of grey hairs later, I find myself waxing nostalgic, as all older people often do, for the good ol’ days of the gaming of my youth. I am sitting here writing this article wondering what exactly it means to be an older gamer and how has my age affected my gaming. I’m also wondering the same about the rest of you older gamers out there.
I look at all the industry marketing material I come across online and in print magazines. I can hear the youngin’s saying, ”What’s a magazine?” It’s clear it’s aimed at a much younger, teenage crowd even though studies show that the average buyer of video games is 35. Perhaps that’s a 35 year old parent of a 10 year old gamer? Not sure. All griping aside — griping being that OTHER thing that older people often do — I’m not going to give up my controller or gaming mouse just yet. After giving it some thought, the following is a list of reasons why video gaming changes as we get older. I offer myself up for each as an example.
We have zero time! Unlike when I was a teenager with nothing better to occupy my time, I have responsibilities now. Rearing the next generation of twitchy, young video game addicts, writing articles like this, mowing the lawn, etc… I used to like epic games that would take a zillion hours to play, but now games like that would take me three lifetimes to finish when all I can spare is twenty minutes every couple of days. I guess my days packed with marathon sessions of Sid Meier’s Civilizations or AD&D “Gold Box” RPG’s are over. I’m dating myself there aren’t I?
They don’t make games like they used to. A younger crowd would probably say, “GOOD!” My kids are constantly bombarded by their old man with games “from when I was your age” and they always respond with things like “ewwww! It looks so OLD!” or “where’s the 3D?”
I came up as a gamer in the 80’s and 90’s and so my favorite games are Sierra-type adventure games, side scrolling platform games a la Super Mario Brothers, anything ever made for the Commodore 64,and just about ANY fantasy RPG from that time period. If you look around at the gaming landscape today, those types of games are just about as popular as a bad staph infection. Today, it’s all FPS, RTS, action-RPG, and MMO’s. Sometimes the acronyms frighten me. I realize there’s a huge emulation community out there so I can always play most of the titles I once loved but that’s not really the same thing. Except for a few choice titles coming out of the indie community, the mainstream game publishing houses aren’t interested in making the latest point-and-click adventure if they want to STAY a mainstream publishing house.
We keep dying because our reflexes suck. As we get older our reflexes go down the toilet. It’s a fact. Where I once was a twitchy, video game demi-god on my NES or 1st Gen Playstation able to fend off anybody regardless of age with lightning fast reflexes: I am now just an aging relic of a time gone by. My 13 year old son spanks my ass in head-to-head every time we play any FPS he has for the Xbox 360. More often than naught, I didn’t see him coming nor did I see him going. I find myself asking, “What the f$%& just happened?!?”
He just replies with a chuckle and a quiet, “You’re SO old Dad”. <sigh>
We get offended by things in games that used to excite us. I guess if your thing is F-bombs and T&A, then gaming is better now than it ever was. I am way more tolerant of dirty language and whatnot in movies, but games not so much. Games back in my heyday were sanitary and cleansed nearly so that any small swear or boob hidden away in the game was like a glorious Easter egg found with a great eagerness and sense of accomplishment. Today, these kinds of occurrences are commonplace. Regardless, I get shocked every time I hear or see bad language or nudity openly flaunted in a game. Even if that game is clearly marked M for Mature by the ESRB. Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive now since I have kids of my own, but I don’t think that’s it…
We’re broke. Along with little to no responsibility when I was a teenager, any money I accumulated was mine to keep and free to blow on the latest version of SimCity. Most young people figure teenagers are broke and once you have a little life experience under your belt and a good job, you have way extra money to indulge your video game habit. Wrong! Now, any money I get belongs to my kids, the electric company, the dog’s vet, my car, the tax man, and the couch takes the leftover change I have before I get to spend any of it on a game.
Also gone is the sense of accomplishment you got just from taking a game home. Back in the day, game releases were few and far between with very few independent studios releasing anything, and there was no such thing as crowd sourcing. You saved up your bucks, read some previews in magazines (optional), made your pick, plunked down your $50 and hoped for the best. More often, I picked a winner that I would play to death. Sometimes I was wrong. I was REALLY wrong about Sierra’s Outpost, but so was the rest of the world. We were all duped.
I guess you’re never too old for video games. As I close up this article (or perhaps old fart rant), I have come to the realization that you’re never too old for video games. Whether I’m playing the latest FPS or relegated to a lifetime of playing Zuma, Farmville, or the countless other games designed for people with no reflexes, no money, and short attention spans: I fully plan on playing video games right up until the time they plant me in the ground. Maybe then they can plant me using a giant claw game? That would be SO cool! I guess I’d be too old for that game though.