Recently as I turn the magical age of thirty I have looked at a few of my habits and began to question myself. Seeing as I never actually thought about turning 30 I have been doing a little naval gazing and questioning of late. For instance am I in the right job? Do I want to stop coming up with excuses and learn how to drive? But the one I have been pondering the most is, am I too old to play computer games?
To fully answer that I have racking my brains and recall an incident which occurred at the young and sprightly age of 25 which made me think about this even harder…
I remember sitting on my couch, it was a Saturday way back in the summer of 2010 and I, along with a few of my friends of a similar age were in a party on our X-Box 360’s playing Domination on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. A few games in and we decide to go into gamer chat to see what people were saying and we came across an American, who sounded young and identified himself as thirteen years old. My friend made it his mission to kill him in the game using the justification that he had the most annoying voice in the history of voices ever and proceeded to do so with a disturbing amount of glee, which caused the tyke to start off on a rant. My friend pointed out that as a 13 year old he shouldn’t be playing the game (he had a point, the game is rated M for Mature, for ages 17 and over but that’s a debate for another time) to which the lad asked how old my friend was, answering truthfully that he was 25. Then came the good part, the kid was outraged, launching into a diatribe how if he was that age he will have finished school, graduated from college, had a good job, a house and will have not touched a controller in years. 25 was too old to game he said, he will have finished gaming by the time he turned 18 and never looked back and we were losers for even touching an X-Box at such an advanced age.
At the time with a shake of my head I cast it off but here I am, five years later and my idea of fun over the weekend will be to play Borderlands: The Handsome Jack Collection on the X-Box One and having just spent my three days off completing Assassins Creed: Unity and getting about half way through The Crew.
Aside from that I have done little of what society construes as constructive behaviour – I have not done any DIY, nor have I visited family, I have not washed a car, invested money, sponsored an animal or really left my house for any extended periods of time.
So I ask myself is that right for a 30 year old to do? Should I put down the controller like the kid said a ‘normal’ person would have by now and live a bit more or am I not as abnormal as I think the world views me?
The only right minded thing I could think of was to weigh it all up, putting both sides of the argument out of my mind and onto paper – well digital paper but you get the point.
Yes, you are abnormal, go have kids you old man
Where I work, not including the managers, I am the fifth oldest person in the office. The people who are older than me vary in age from a fifty something man to a lad about a year old then me. Do you know how many of them game on a console, even now and again as far as I know?
That’s right, none of them. The gazillion other people in the office who are younger than me, aged from 18 to about 23? All of them, even some of the ladies including one who was so proud of the fact that she can beat her boyfriend at FIFA.
Which leads to me to my next point, the majority of people tend to only play a few games when they do play. My friends now only really play COD, FIFA, Destiny, GTA and the odd other Triple-A releases as they are called. They all play on franchises that are well known outside of gaming circles and I have maybe the odd friend who has a pop on Assassins Creed or at a push UFC.
The person who I know spends the most time gaming from my company has only played on two games and only two games in the past year – FIFA and GTA V.
However I have in the past few months played on FIFA, Assassins Creed, Forza 5, Forza Horizon 2, The Crew, Worms Battlegrounds, Game of Thrones, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, WWE2K15, Far Cry 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, GTA V, Tales from the Borderlands, Rugby 15 Pro 12, The Walking Dead Seasons 1 and 2, Crimes and Punishments Sherlock Holmes, Saints Row IV Re-elected and Gat out of Hell and Tetris Ultimate. That is twenty console games in the past three months or thereabouts and not including my time spent on People’s General on the PC either. In my time as an X-Box 360 and One owner alone, a span of around 5 years, I have played over 200 different games, an average of 40 or thereabouts per year.
That’s a difference of 38 games per year!
My Gamerscore is 156,000 (don’t believe me? My gamertag is evilgringo2004) and part of me is proud of that. But if I were to put that on my CV under other achievements the person who was interviewing me, well their eyebrow would jump off their face it would raise that high. I also want to include on my CV I completed the hardest path on Starwing on the SNES back in 1994 and The Legend of Zelda 2 on the NES at the tender age of 5 but alas, even those magnificent achievements would also be frowned upon.
People also grumble at me about the cost, after all brand new X-Box One games costs around £40 – £55 depending on where you buy it and the time you do. It was the same with X-Box 360 games and I owned around 100 of those by the time the newer console came out. In my defence I tried to use trade in offers where possible as well buying from pre-owned sales but even so I spend around £30 a month on games not to mention the £300 I spent on packs and such for FIFA 14 Ultimate Team last year and the £13.99 I pay per month to rent games from Boomerang.
So surely a man of my age should be using that money and that free time to do something more? See the world maybe or take on a project, something constructive and healthy like joining a gym to stave off the onset of middle aged spread due to come my way in around 10 year’s time or just plain old buy something else? My friend for instance has just bought a brand new BMW, on top of that he has lost around eight stone in the past two years, joined a gym and goes on cycling trips. I am proud of him, I’m happy for him and he’s a great bloke but is he normal? Am I not? Should I hang the pad up on the shelf?
I’m fine thank you.
First things first, gaming is now a billion dollar industry. People who game have YouTube channels dedicated to it that are amongst the most popular in the world. Vanoss for instance has approaching 10 million subscribers and can make enough money as a result to not actually do what people used to consider ‘real work’.
Then again people counter, so is porn but hey, from little acorns!
Also these other people game more then they let on. My boss plays Candy Crush and Bubble Witch on her iPhone and more and more people, including my sister who looks down on the amount I game, now game on their mobile devices. Hell, my sister is further along on Candy Crush then me! With the advent of Smart Phones and Tablet devices it has become more common for people to game but for some reason they continue to see some separation. This is because they haven’t bought a £400 console to play games and games alone not realising they have spent approx £400 on whatever smartphone to do just that and not, you know, phone people with. They also forget that my X-Box can browse the internet, Skype, send text messages to people on Smartglass, access my TV and stream a tonne of digital content like Netflix, NOW TV and the WWE Network amongst other things.
Gaming is an escape from reality, no matter what device you use and there should be no separation in people’s minds on that subject. Ergo there are more gamers than ever before.
As for people my age not gaming as much as me, that is because usually at my age you have kids and a mortgage. I don’t though, I have no bundles of joy, I rent a flat which costs me less than the average mortgage payment a month so that means I have the time and money and the lack of responsibilities that allow me to game as a viable past time so why shouldn’t I?
Some of the people from my circle of friends and my place of work also like to drink and spend at least £100 a month a piece on it. I don’t drink and most nightclubs and pubs are boring and unbearable sober so money saved there. Not only that, despite what the odd scaremongering piece from tabloid and reactionary press might suggest, how many people die a week from gaming compared to drinking? Why are people cool if they go out, get so drunk they can’t remember their address and they talk about it on Facebook but I’m not because I reached the level cap for my character on Borderlands? Isn’t that a little ass backwards?
I have a relationship, a healthy and happy one and if the choice comes to do something with my better half than playing a game I choose my significant other. In the future when I have children I will scale back the time I game and the money I spend so really who am I hurting? Why do people cast their gaze down their nose at me for a hobby that I can see doing no one any harm except my wrists?
Plus my parents have never shunned gaming either. I grew up gaming and played Duck Hunt with my Dad on the NES, passing the pad around on Sonic and Mario. My dad at the grand old age of 75 still plays Tetris and Dr. Mario even now when he can’t sleep. If it was sunny then the game was switched off and I was encouraged to play football and other sports, when it was cold and damp then we gamed together once my homework was done.
But now I have a busted knee and can’t play football, I have no homework and therefore I can game if I want too so why shouldn’t I if it makes me happy?
So yeah, I play a bit more than other people and maybe that is the underlying issue because other people have interests that prevent them from gaming as much or obligations that have knocked it out of them. Like I said in about five year’s time when I have children I don’t envisage myself spending as much time on gaming, instead I will be spending my time with the family but right now are they projecting their jealousy on me?
But am I too old? Citing the example of my own dear father, then no I’m not. I would love to see that kid from Modern Warfare now and tell him simply you are never too old to game.
So long as you pay your bills, so long as you make time for loved ones and family and so long as you don’t hurt anyone what is wrong with a bit of fun, from picking up a joypad (see, the hint is in the name!) or doing anything else that brings a smile to your face?
Everyone, no matter their age, should be allowed to experience the joy I received from riding Eponia on The Ocarina of Time for the first time. If they get that from playing Candy Crush on an iPad then cool, if they play on COD or Battlefield then awesome and if not, then maybe one day they can. Until then I hope they are happy doing what they are doing and they stop judging me for simply killing some spare time.