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Time flies when you’re having fun.
I realize I could have started this column with any number of over-used addages for the passage of time. In relation to gaming, I felt the particular cliche of time flying to stand out the most. After all, I do find myself asking where the years have went — in between games of Mario, Sonic, Crash Bandicoot, Metal Gear and Grand Theft Auto.
Nobody likes to see the one old guy at the party trying to hang around with those that would consider him their peers. In many ways I feel like I am this old man in terms of the gaming world. I don’t completely ‘get’ why the games that have gained the most popularity have done so. I am stuck in my ways with comfortability to spare.
Maybe the entire situation gets better. But, maybe one day when my arthritis has flared up from years of Street Fighter play and platform jumping I will consider my days of gaming to be silly.
Really, it’s a toss-up.
Until the day comes that I have to choose between those two, here are…
Being an ageing gamer
10) “GET OFF MY LAWN!”
I don’t think any of us are aware of the age-gap in the gaming demographic until we’ve experienced both sides. As a child and early teenager I was completely oblivious to such an idea. Games were made for me, and me alone.
This concept changed in my teenager years. Suddenly, I was wondering why all of these people that were older than me were trying to play the same games. I found it creepy, like if Brett Favre hung out at a pee-wee football field trying to explain what a play-action pass was.
Please, don’t ask Brett to show you how to throw the “frozen rope”.
Of course, now that I am on the opposite end of that spectrum I can’t help but feel like the proverbial old man on his porch shouting at the neighborhood shitheads.
Anyone who plays World of Warcraft or any of the most popular online-shooters knows what I am talking about: suddenly, everyone with a microphone or a keyboard that is younger than you sounds like a ten-year old who has discovered a megaphone for the first time. Capslock is akin to as if the keyboard were a full-automatic weapon.
Words are the bullets, and the walls of the building that are my screen are rittled with myriad of bullet holes.
All the while, I am strolling along quietly, killing space pigs for a quest and muttering to like-minded individuals about how I wish it was time for the kids to go to sleep.
Speaking of sleep…
9) “Old Man Billy’ Decision #1: How important is sleep?”
In the last year I have moved to a new city, lived in my first post-college residence of my own and taken a job that is now your standard full time, 9-5 occupation. I have found that this puts a serious cramp in my Dark Souls progress.
This is not okay.
What choice do I have? I have reached the point in my life where sleep is not only the oh-so-neccessary process that keeps me from shouting angrily at my co-workers in the morning and walking into things, but I also now happen to like sleeping. A lot. I would spend all day in my bed and rolling around in my own filth, if possible.
You can see my conundrum.
Some nights I decide to tell my sleep cycle to sod off in order for an extra hour or gaming. However, my newfound mistress of the mattress more often than not wins out, causing me to fall asleep at what most people would consider normal (a stark contrast from my 4 a.m. nights of just a year ago).
This has hurt my pile of gaming shame greatly. How?
8) “I need an extra day in the week just for gaming.”
If I stumbled across a genie or wish-granting apparition of some variety, I think this would be on the list. As of late, I find myself with very little time to finish the games I buy, let alone starting anything new. This problem becomes even more drastic due to the fact that I recently renewed my World of Warcraft expansion.
I am at the point of my gaming pile being so large that I feel nothing but absolute shame if I think about buying a new title. Of course, this shame is immediately broken down by my urge to buy the shiny new game like a ten year old with A.D.D.
I break my own pact to beat a game before buying a new one. The cycle grows stronger.
Can’t. Stop. Buying.
As you can imagine, my shelf of games becomes more impressive by the month, but no less shameful. My younger self would be thrilled. Current Billy, however, is not.
7) “A lacking of luster”
I rarely get excited about releases anymore. Maybe this is because I find myself immune to the hype machine that is gaming journalism. Unless it’s a title that I specifically have followed I don’t generate any excitement for new releases.
This makes me sad, in a way.
In my teens I could find myself gaining excitement for titles that may not have been on my radar at all. To be fair, this could be as easily blamed on the 24 hour news cycle and not just my newfound oldness, but I’m not willing to pick a winner on that just yet.
Another facet of this problem, however, may just be that I don’t feel challenged by new releases any longer. After all, who would?
6) “These games aren’t made for me.”
I have to roll my eyes at myself when even thinking about starting a sentence with “back in my day…“. Once gamers reach a certain point in maturity or age, however, this phrase is bound to slip out of their mouth at SOME point.
My complaint? Games do far too much hand-holding today. With the rare (and wonderful) exception of the Dark Souls series, I can’t help but feel that game developers are holding my hand through games…with handcuffs firmly attached.
Maybe this handy-dandy chart will help.
Exaggeration? Probably. I still think it to be true.
5) “YEAH! …. AND UH….. ANOTHER THING!”
STOP LIKING THINGS THAT I DON’T LIKE!
4) “Old Man Billy’ Decision #2: TV or games?”
Sorry, I must have fallen asleep for a second. Where was I?
Right. Being old. Gaming. Gaming while being old.
Sometimes, I am faced with a grave choice. A fork in the road. Sophie’s choice. Dexter or Dark Souls?
Truely, sinister forces are at work if I must choose between the two.
With my newfound work schedule (and wake-up time) I find my time in the evening where I am left to my own devices to be shorter than they used to be. No longer do I have the time and energy to watch a few episodes of television as well as a few hours of gaming.
This might be why that as of late i have enjoyed games with more of a story narrative like Catherine. It’s the best of both worlds (but not in that creepy Hannah Montanna way).
Sorry. I seem to have forgotten what I was going to complain about.
However, I do still have time to make the 5:30 PM dinner special at The Longhouse. Excuse me.
2) DO YOU EVER STOP PLAYING?
I used to pride myself on the amount of time I could plug into a game. My crowning achievements include 110 hours of Final Fantasy IX, 250 hours of Grand Theft Auto III and most recently over 400 hours of Super Street Fighter IV.
Lately, I just can’t seem to catch up to how much others play.
While people I talk to are beating the newest titles days into their release I am still trying to plug my way through Fallout: New Vegas and Final Fantasy XIII. What happened to those carefree days when I too could hide away in a windowless, dimly-lit room and play to my heart’s content, sans showering?
Where is my rainbow?
Things could always be worse, but I think I now know what the worst thing I hate about being an ageing gamer is.
1) “Being an ageing gamer”
Truth be told, I wish that this list’s contents were not haunting me like an albatross that cannot be lifted. This harsh dichotomy, much like the progression of life itself, seems to be an envitability. I am sure that many people can relate to the feeling that this hobby that became our safe haven and social lubricants is slipping away.
Don’t fall for this trick, though. These things aren’t set in stone. Humanity is not a multimedia island.
I can say from my limited experiences thus far that the feeling of losing a hold on gaming is only going to happen if I let it. My enjoyment of the medium does not have to be affected by outside sources. The opinions of others or even the very act of ageing will not deter my enjoyment. I may not always have the time to play as much as I want (and that is a shame), but this does not mean I cannot enjoy the time I have.
Feel free to take solice in this as you go through your own journey of getting older and still enjoying gaming.
Until next time, stay angry.