So, a few months back I turned 30. Yup, I’ve been on this planet for three decades — I can feel my love of Wether’s Originals and porch-sitting increase by the day. I also, like many guys my age, still regularly play video games. A few grey hairs aren’t going to bust me and Mario apart dammit!
Here’s the thing though, and I think my fellow senior citizens can back me up on this one — once you start nearing the big three-oh, gaming starts to feel less satisfying than it once did. Yeah, studies have shown the average gamer is actually around 32, but for the most part gaming is still a hobby designed for teenagers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always be a gamer, but the following are some of the reasons I’ll probably never enjoy games as much as I did when I was 16…
There’s Not Enough Time
For years I had a real size obsession when it came to games — the longer a game promised it was on the back of the box the more excited I got. Hearing a game took less than 20-hours to beat was enough to immediately turn me off. Now, unless I have somebody paying me to finish a game quickly, a 20-hour game can take me weeks or even months to complete.
Taking that long to get through a game often really deadens its impact. You forget what you were doing last time you played, you’re always trying to re-familiarize yourself with the controls, and there’s no sense of momentum — you hit a hard spot and sometimes you end up stuck there for weeks. It would be like if you tried to watch an episode of Mad Men in 1-minute increments over the span of two months.
For maximum impact I think, ideally, you should try to beat most games in around 5-10 play sessions, but when you rarely have the opportunity to sit down for longer than an hour to play, that RPG is going to take you more like 40-50 sessions. I can only imagine how bad it will get once I actually become a for-real adult with kids and a house and all that stuff.
I Have Too Much Damn Money
Every new video game used to be something special. I remember carrying a 15-pound sack of change to K-Mart to buy Phantasy Star IV, the first game I ever bought entirely with my own money. Unsurprisingly Phantasy Star IV is still one of my top three favorite games of all time.
Now that I’m a grown-up person, 50 dollars is nothing. I spent 50 dollars on dinners I eat in 20-minutes all the time. The thrill of buying a game is gone. Instead of buying a game and playing the hell out of it until I’ve memorized every pixel, I have half-a-dozen games sitting around in a state of semi-completion. Worst of all, my mind has been permanently warped by the days when new games were so rare and special. My pile of half-finished games weighs on me — I spend more time feeling guilty about not giving them the attention they deserve than I do actually, you know, playing them.
Nobody Makes the Stuff I Like Anymore
My formative gaming years were during the late 80s and early 90s, so of course I love platformers, JRPGs, graphic adventure games and other stuff that was popular back then. Sadly those genres aren’t doing so hot these days.
I have nothing against more modern types of games, but when I sit down with something like Resident Evil 5 or an Assassin’s Creed game I have to reprogram my expectations. I have to talk my brain into liking this new thing. I don’t get that instant burst of warm comfy endorphins I get from Mario squashing turtles or a round of insult sword fighting, and as you get older you’re all about the warm comfiness. Anybody want a Werther’s? Seriously, I’ve got ’em coming out the ass here.
I’m Keep Dying Because I’m Decrepit and Distracted
So I’m playing through Mighty Switch Force on the 3DS — it’s a fun little Mega Man style action game by WayForward (the guys behind Shantae). It’s really not that hard a game but I’m dying around half-a-dozen times on all the later levels. I’m pretty sure young me could have bested this game in my sleep — I used to be able to get through the Battletoads hoverbike levels on a consistent basis. I was rad.
So, why do I suck now? Part of it is just my old tired thumbs — I think I wore the damn things out writing dick jokes and Photoshopping stuff. That’s right, I sacrificed my gaming skills FOR YOU. The other reason is that once you become an adult you’re always thinking about three or four things at once. I’ll be jumping along and at the same time I’ll be thinking about ideas for upcoming articles, and the bills I need to pay tomorrow, and that I should really call my parents sometime and, oh s–t, I died a minute ago and didn’t even notice. Young me is shaking his head in shame.
I Actually Find Myself Getting Offended
I’m usually not one to get offended by the media I consume — I’ve watched pretty much every zombie and weird Asian horror movie ever made. That said, back when I got into gaming, it was so thoroughly scrubbed for questionable content that it just seems extra weird when dirty stuff shows up in video games today. Violence is okay, but if I hear an f-word or see a boob I’m looking for the fainting couch. I hate that video games can offend me, because only old people get offended by that kind of stuff, and I’m not that f–king old, okay? Gah! F–k!
I Should Give In, But I Can’t
Look, I realize there are games made for old, busy, distracted people like me. I should just give it up and start playing Bejewelled full-time, but I just can’t. It’s just too goddamn lame. I know how great video games can be, and I’m not going to be satisfied by a pale imitation, so I’ll stick it out. What I will be satisfied by though is another delicious Werther’s original. Mmmm, there’s those buttery endorphins.