When you have kids you are able to hear the subtle differences in the sounds of thuds. There is a distinctive sound of a thud where your house is being torn asunder, there is a distinct thud of benign horseplay, and there is an OH, THEY ARE ACTUALLY HURT SO I BETTER CHECK IN ON THEM thud.
In addition to the above, there are requests for snacks, the asking of the same question for the eleventymillionth time, etc. All that adds up to you can pretty much guarantee that your attention is needed elsewhere at least every 20 minutes or so. Drop a pin in this.
But the reality is that I’m not much of a gamer anymore. At least not in the way that I used to be. Let’s talk about how to get old as a gamer.
How to Get Old as A Gamer
I play virtually zero “twitchy” games. Listen, I’m only 43-years-old, so I might not be like Drax–who has reflexes so fast that he can even catch the sarcasm that flies over his head–but my fingers and brain still work just fine, thank you very much.
Still, on an honest day, I’ll admit that my reflexes have slowed down. So I enjoy puzzlers, builders, thinkers, button-mashers, and/or story-driven games over shooters.
I’m well over hearing 13-year-olds talk about banging my mom. Multiplayer gaming has lost a lot of its luster with me. If a game doesn’t have a strong single player campaign, then I’m likely out. Unless there is an option to easily curate a multiplayer game with just my buddies, I’m not very interested in looking for a group among randos on the internet.
I don’t understand how the constant yelling, cursing, and general nonsense of the rank and file Xbox Live gamer doesn’t drive people crazy. I’ll admit that I’m an old fuddie duddie square, but eventually we all get to the point in life where you mature as a person, which means you must mature as a gamer. Ironically, while many of the online gaming spaces feature plenty of “mature” language, they are all too often very juvenile.
I need a game that can be paused. Remember, kids need some sort of attention pretty much constantly and that affects your gaming habits. While I’ve always enjoyed these types of games, I’m now almost all in on games like Civilization. That type of turn-based game you can pause fits really nicely with older gamers.
(Ironically, I played the most WoW when my first daughter was just a baby. I took the 2am feeding and changing, so I fired up WoW about 10pm and played either with my daughter in my lap or with her sleeping in a bassinet right beside me until that roughly 2am feeding, then crashed.)
I play in quick bursts, not in long sessions. It’s hard to schedule an all day gaming session with a bunch of adults with busy schedules, so when I do, it’s 100% D&D. All day gaming marathons like I had in college and my 20s are a thing of the past. Shorter game sessions are the only practical gaming I can do right now.
The good news is that there are wonderful games out there for that. Hearthstone is fantastic. It’s immersive, it’s tactical, and it plays in minutes. I take it with me wherever I go, even if it is tucking my iPad under my arm like a National Geographic magazine to go to the john. And there are many others.
I don’t eat Doritos or drink Mountain Dew anymore. But that’s not just a gaming thing, that’s the reality of it’s easier to put on weight when you are 43 than when you are 23.
I’m also not angry and competitive like I used to be. I don’t want to camp over corpses in WoW; I want to co-operate and be kind. And I might think DANG! when I lose at Overwatch, but I don’t nerdrage and toss the controller across the room. I’m too old to have to get up from the couch and fetch it.
If the above sounded like my gaming life is over, then it wasn’t meant to. Data shows that the average age of a gamer is just over 32 and driving older as Gen Xers like me just keep on playing games like we’ve spent a lifetime doing. You just game a little differently when you are older and developers have always–and will always–create the types of games that fit the circumstances of an older gamer’s life.
Games like Hearthstone, Civ IV, the occasional Overwatch, Diablo 3, marathon pen-and-paper D&D and Pathfinder sessions, modern board gaming, and yes, some Fallout 4 are all a part of my gaming regimen.
AND I HAVE A GREAT TIME! But every now and again I’ll go over to my buddy KC’s house and watch over his shoulder. Because he is awesome at shooters.