The Aging Gamer


by Miyuru Fernando



Ever since I started playing video games way back in my youth, I knew that I would always be playing games. My first system being a SNES when I was seven or so simply added fuel to the inevitable fire which was to burn in my soul for all time. Of course, I consequently bought a Nintendo 64 and GameCube, but recently I don't find myself enjoying games as much, a saddening result of my aging self.

The most obvious theory to my not enjoying games as much as in the past would be that my tastes have become refined over the years - I can tell the difference between an innovative genre-bending title and a cheap rip-off. In the day of the SNES, everything was in 2D, and most games (to me) dealt with shooting while platforming. Looking back, most of the games I enjoyed were essentially the same, while a couple stuck out (Contra, for one). These days, other than the games I buy (which are worth playing), the ones I rent aren't half as fun as those of the past - I can smell garbage before laying my hands on the controller. Perhaps I'm too picky, or perhaps I'm an educated gamer, but it certainly hurts my gaming experience on a whole. Playing games for review, or basically for a living, may sound amusing at first, but the concept is for the most part a painful experience - imagine wading through game after game, each letting you down one by one. Of course, there are a couple pearls amidst a sea of despair, but they simply do not outweigh the pain of playing through countless games simply not worth my time.

Playing games over so many years has obviously fine-tuned my gaming abilities. I can bust out some sweet combos in Killer Instinct or Street Fighter, or race a record lap in Mario Kart. The downside to all of this is that I blast through games much too quickly. Coupled with my limited attention span, a game that would have warranted my gaming dollar when I was seven could now only be worth a penny or two. Who would buy a game that could be beat in five hours the first time through? It's especially tough with developers cranking out estimated play-through times, some being as ridiculous as 30 hours for Luigi's Mansion. Games need to constantly introduce new techniques, enemies, characters and basically anything to keep my attention. They also need to be long - and more importantly the ride should be enjoyable, as in NOT a couple hundred random battle sequences that have me mashing a single button, or playing through a game 23 times to unlock all secret characters.

Another problem with aging is that I have much less time to play games. School, especially, taking up the majority of my attention limits my playtime. I rarely get a whole day to myself, my 'Cube, and a fine game. I don't necessarily forget about what games I'm playing, but I certainly do lose interest as I play less and less due to interfering responsibilities. Sure, that's only during the semester, but during summer a job certainly hurts, in addition to non-gamer friends wanting to go out every night. Still, it is possible to play games regularly, but like an ignored girlfriend, she slowly slips away, and in turn my gaming backlog has outgrown any hope of being resolved.

Like insecure women worried about their looks, what can gamers do to turn back the clock? After much thinking, I have come to the conclusion that there is no real cure - all I could recommend is to stick with a healthy diet consisting of great games of varying genres, and feed regularly. Have faith, gamers.