How many endgame bosses must a man mow down, before he becomes a man? If you’re old enough to get the reference in that question, are you already too old to play video games? As several members of The Ultimate Gamer team edge our way towards a midlife Crysis, we’ve been wondering: how old is too old for games?
Videogames: A Fledgling Medium
First and foremost, let’s get some self-justification out of the way for the more mature gamers. It’s easy to forget that games are a youngling of a medium. They’ve only been around for a few decades, and are now bigger than Hollywood according to several sources. When they first came out, they were arguably more “childish” and yes, were probably for kids. Is that just a stigma that’s stuck around? Lingering like the bad smell in a retirement home that nobody wants to talk about?
These days, games are more developed. Titles such as Grand Theft Auto V cost several hundreds of millions of dollars to create and, as the mother’s desperately lobbying to have the game banned will tell rush to tell you; the content sure as hell is not for children. It’s difficult to see why playing videogames is somehow more “childish” than reading a book, watching TV or going to the movies.
Old School or Just Plain Ol’ Old?
Just because videogames started as a children’s pastime, and just because the average 35-year-old would get a good ass-whooping from any gamer half their age, does that mean games are for kids only? The Atari 2600 was manufactured between 1977 and 1984. Before this, there was the arcade scene, also for kids, so people in their 50s and above are likely to think games are for kids. Considering these guys represent a significant percentage of parents out there, could it be that many who don’t understand games adopted their viewpoints.
As we’ve come to realize, (and unlike eating crayons) gaming is not the kind of hobby you just grow out of. Except of course, for the people who grew out of it, though it’s unlikely they were ever really gamers in the first place. If the rest of us still want to play games, what’s the big deal?
Just Because You like These Things…
As you get older, things change, (except apparently our love for videogames). If you live in a colder country, you start to take an interest in wearing long-John style underwear. You start to gain a preference for Netflix movies accompanied by wine (not the kind that runs games on Linux) or perhaps a nice hot chocolate. You stop buying Red Bull. Sofa snuggling may also be on the agenda… The “BF” or “GF” may now be husband or wife.
Life gets harder. Free time becomes scarce Your favorite hobby that almost cost you your grades at high school goes on to almost cost you your degree at University. Now, you’re paying your bills and it’s close to costing you the job that makes sure they’re covered, possibly even your marriage.
As these developments take place you start asking yourself difficult questions. People start to ask why you weren’t on the raid or mission last night. You know you want to go out and pick up the new Battlefield title, you’re just trying to figure out how many big fat lies you’d have to tell to ever get any time to play it.
Losing Respect of Our Gaming Peers
As our bodies continue their inevitable march towards arthritic lumps of meat that generate bad smells, our reaction speeds slow down. Soon, games become opportunities for socially inept teenagers to scream at us from the other side of the world, sapping what little is left of our energy after work.
Sure, we can play multiplayer with a bunch of friends, but only if work holidays have been booked and the necessarily elaborate framework of babysitters has been organized. Whatever happened single player games with gripping storylines anyway?
So, How Old is too Old?
As we get older, we fall from the target audience of many game developers. While the industry continues changing towards bigger, better and faster, we invariably change towards slower, older and more Gomer-like. But that’s not to say gaming can’t still be enjoyed.
The Ultimate Gamer team believes there are two possible scenarios for being “too old”.
1) When our arthritis gets so bad we no longer have reasonable command over a controller or mouse and keyboard.
2) Is the day after we’re dead.
Sure, things get more difficult. We feel the pressure of society calling as childish as they sit down and watch the latest season of the X Factor on TV, but don’t let this get you down. Never give up on your favorite hobby and you might even enjoy the time you spend in a retirement home a few decades from now.