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Midlife Gaming Crisis

February 4th, 2010 by

There’s something I’ve been meaning to get off my chest for a while. With the launch of the new site, now seems like a good time to do it, so here goes.

I’ve been playing video games as far back as I can remember. It’s a constant in my life, same as TV or movies. I couldn’t imagine life without them (or want to, for that matter).

When I bought my first console in my teens I’d think nothing of four-hour stretches on Tekken or Gran Turismo. The combination of disposable income and a lot of free time’s a powerful thing.

Now I’m past 30, my gaming habits have changed. I’ve more bills to pay, so I buy less games. A job and a busy home life mean there’s less time to actually sit down and play. I grab an hour a day in my lunch hour at work and brief sessions at home. The games I play have changed accordingly. Fallout 3 and Dead Space are top-notch, but both have sat unfinished in my pile of shame for months. I go back to them every few weeks with the intention to finally cracking them, but it’s a pain to re-learn the controls and get back up to speed on the story. By contrast, I’ll fire up Guitar Hero or Live Arcade games because I can drop straight back in for short bursts. I rent games with shorter single-player campaigns. I have to schedule online matches days in advance. I’m more likely to be hit by a bus than get into an MMORPG!

I don’t consider myself a “casual gamer”. Between spending longer on gaming websites and listening to podcasts when I’m away from a desk or console I’m more clued-up than ever. This site’s involved me in a growing community of like-minded individuals, so my friends list is a mile long.

My problem is that I (and a fair few of us I’d think), don’t fit the “casual” or “hardcore”  stereotypes, we fall somewhere in between the two. We’re dedicated and well-versed in games, but don’t play all that we’d like to. We need a third category to be boxed into. In the meantime, I’m embracing episodic games and digital downloads like never before, at least until I have kids to school in the fine art of headshots…

8 Responses to “Midlife Gaming Crisis”
  1. avatar smurf_assassin says:

    100% with u on that one martyn

  2. avatar Russell Chilvers says:

    You read my mind, nice article Martyn.

  3. avatar guernica2 says:

    In my mind, I’m as hardcore as they come. I bumped into an old friend today that I hadn’t seen for fourteen or fifteen years. We used to play Madden together. One of the first things I pull out of my pocket is my Gameboy Micro. He laughed. “Just in case” he said.

    Damn right it’s just in case. If I get stuck in traffic then I’m going to be playing some decent games. Not those crappy iPhone games which are just brief amusements, but some proper 10-15 hour epics.

    Does that make me hardcore to the youth of today? Absolutely not.

    Don’t worry Martyn, we are the core. The youth? They can come back in twenty years and complain to me about it. It’s just like a day on the farm.

  4. avatar David Murphy says:

    Good article. I’ve had something similar in where my gaming habits have changed. I used to gobble up survival horror games by the bowl full, but I find nowadays I get too involved in them and end up having to shut them off less I want to run out of boxers for the week. Every little creak and groan gets felt through my ageing bones. I used to think it was just the advancement of the technology and maybe to a certain degree it is, but deep down I know it’s really the fact I’m getting older and don’t want to be scared out of my mind. Even the thought of sticking one in makes my hands all sweaty and my heart beat faster.
    It took me two and a half hours to finish the first level! You know… the training one. I’ve shut it off since and never gone back. No doubt about it. Middleage has turned me flakier than a stale Kimberly biscuit and softer than the mallow glueing the whole thing together.

  5. avatar Vampire Azrial says:

    I’m more of a gaming addict now than I ever used to be, I never go anywhere without my DS or some sort of handheld in my pocket, and I probably spend more time gaming than I have in years of late, this may be because I’m currently in between employment, so I have more time on my hands, and the fact that I don’t sleep a great deal if at all. But I don’t find getting older makes you less of a gamer, until my hands turn into into arthritic claws, I’ll always have a joypad or handheld in them at some point of the day. (as long as I don’t get so old the only thing I’ll be able to play is Natal or Wii games, I think my futures fine!)

  6. avatar Pres says:

    That is so my life. Nice article. I still however have no kids and, my disposable income is fine enough for me to buy what I like. Only trouble is, I have about 40 games in my pile of shame, most that have only been played on day of release and never returned to whilst I have put about 80-100 hours into bejeweled :-0

    This year I am trying to reduce the games I buy. Only FIFA10 and Bayonetta (played only for about 30minutes) have been purchased in 2010. Oh, theres Bioshock2 which I will pick up next Tuesday.

    I totally need a clinic LOL

  7. avatar Adamski UK says:

    Smashing read there Martyn.
    Why only earlier today was I sat in my 12 year old nephews pit of a bedroom, barely managing not to get tangled in the gaming wires (headsets, chargers, drum kits, steering wheel, pedals, guitars et al). Green with envy that he’d finished Assassins Creed II in a week, clocked up over seven days on MW2, broken two rock band drum pedals and was halfway through PURE after buying it yesterday….but then I realised…what was I doing when I was 12?
    Spending every waking moment at the rubber keyed shrine of Sir Clive Sinclair.
    I had my saturation of gaming back then, just as my nephew is having his now.
    I take solace in the fact that when he hits the rat race and gaming takes a back seat, I will be approaching the age of retirement…will I be getting a set of golf clubs? Will I balls…bring on the NEXT generation of gaming, hover boards and 3D telly.

  8. avatar Martyn Hackett says:

    Thanks, all. Feel a bit better about my situation now, knowing I’m not alone!

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