Aging Gamers: Are You Still Psyched About New Stuff?

I’ll preface this by saying I’ve been playing video games for well over three decades now. I still remember when my uncle brought over an Atari 2600 for the first time (my parents hadn’t bought one yet), and playing Pong when I was four years old. I remember seeing Super Mario Bros. for the first time on the NES and thinking, “wow, video games can’t get any better than this.” After all, compared to Atari, Colecovision, Intellivision, etc, the NES was just…the bomb-diggity.

Yes, my gaming experience dates back to the dawn of the industry but while I still play, I have to admit that I’m not the same gamer I was. In fact, if I think about it hard enough, I can pinpoint various stages I’ve gone through and I imagine all aging gamers can do the same. For instance, I was on a hardcore role-playing kick back in the glory days of the original PlayStation. I think I played and beat a good 30-35 RPGs on that amazing machine, and tossed in a few more on PC (DiabloBaldurs GateIcewindaleHeroes of Might and Magic, etc).

My tastes became far more diverse after the PS2 came out and I started playing just about anything that seemed intriguing and got great reviews. I forged new love affairs with titles like Grand Theft AutoMetal Gear SolidGran TurismoResident Evil, and the first-person shooter genre in general. For the most part, that has continued. And though I will forever miss my traditional turn-based RPGs (I Am Setsuna was great but a trifle watered down, especially when compared with the best classic PS1 and PS2 RPGs), I play all sorts of games. However, things have indeed changed.

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These days, I just want to have fun. I’m not interested in having another chore. I was able to beat the first Ninja Gaiden on Xbox, all the Onimushas (with the exception of the last one, which I didn’t play), and most of the Devil May Crys, including DMC3 before the Special Edition was released and Normal mode was actually normal. Normal was in fact Hard when it first released, believe it or not. Hence, I well understand the desire to conquer at all costs and the ensuing satisfaction. However, having tried games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne, I’ve since realized that I’m just not into it anymore.

Great games, yes. But I only have a certain amount of time to play and besides, I’ve got other responsibilities and other hobbies now. If I’m sitting down with a controller, I’d rather not do the whole white-knuckle, frustration-fueled experience. I’d rather have fun. I’d rather enjoy a spectacular game like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (still by far and away the best game of the generation, IMO). I don’t mind a little challenge – games that are too easy do indeed get boring – but there’s a limit. For instance, I’m playing Aragami right now and there are certain parts of that game that are pushing the envelope for me… Last chapter now, last boss…I’ll finish it. But it’s a struggle.

These days, I’m reluctant to try something like Nioh. The reviews are great and it sounds great but I just…I’d rather try something else. I’d rather give the new Resident Evil a shot and I’ve still got Dishonored 2 sitting here (LOVED the first one). The point is, the conquer all mentality has left me; it has been replaced by the need for ease and relaxation. Furthermore, I do admit I go back to play old games when I can’t seem to find a new title that will interest me. This is a definite change because I was always up for the latest and greatest and “going backwards,” as I called it, held little appeal for me.

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Older gamers are accused of being “stuck in the past” and now I understand why. It’s not always about nostalgia, you know. It’s sometimes just about wanting to play something that simply doesn’t exist anymore; wonderfully in-depth and unique turn-based RPGs are a perfect example. They really don’t exist nowadays so I have to “go backwards.” Platformers aren’t exactly flourishing outside of the indie retro space, either, despite the fantastically revisited Ratchet and Clank on PS4. Even that wasn’t entirely new, of course. Then there are the more complex 2D side-scrollers like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that I really miss.

One thing you young’uns need to understand: This industry has gone through a huge – HUGE – array of changes in the past 35 years. Games from one era simply aren’t comparable to another era, not only on a technical level but also on a design and gameplay level. Therefore, when we oldsters “go backwards,” we’re often doing it to play something we just can’t find on store shelves today. The indie scene offers a ton of variety and retro experiences but by definition, indie titles are typically less involved than the huge AAA productions. Sure, we love the fact that we’re playing something we recognize but as was the case with I Am Setsuna, there’s always a little something missing.

I’m just wondering if other aging gamers feel this way. Have your habits changed? Are you less competitive? Do you play fewer or more genres? And when it comes to keeping up with trends, are you still one of the first to pick up a hot new game, or are you waiting a few months because you have other things to do? Or are you going to pass altogether and play a classic game because frankly, in your mind, it’s just better and, dare I say it, more fun…?

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Yes, we change as we get older and how we enjoy our leisure time changes as well. So prepare yourselves, youngsters, and don’t think for one second we veterans weren’t all thinking exactly like you at one point.