Age is just a number. So we are told. Is that really true though, when we talk about gaming?
I am no spring chicken. My first gaming system was the Atari 2600. The first three games I had were Backgammon, Space Invaders, and Pong. To be fair there were like 100 different versions of that pong game but it was still pong. Pac-Man coming to Atari was a HUGE deal. The cheat codes in Pitfall involved trying to put the cartridge in just right to make the game glitch out a little. There was no internet, no GameStop, and no Nintendo Power magazine. We put a game in and played it. That was it.
When I got into middle school I got a Commodore 64 for a birthday. This involved learning how to program in basic because once I turned off the computer, that was it; everything reset. A few months later I got a second-hand “cassette” drive which took cassettes you would record music on and used them for data. For my next big Christmas gift, I was blessed with a ¼-inch floppy disk drive.
I now had a whole new world open to me. I was able to get computer games. I grew up on good old boxed games like Pool of Radiance and other classics like Aliens. There are games I have fond memories of that I cannot remember what they were called and while I would love to play them again I just cannot track them down. Probably for the best since nostalgia is likely stronger than the game itself.
As the years went on, and games got better I played them. Super Mario brothers, X-Wing, Masters of Orion, Super Smash Brothers; you name it I probably played it. For a while anyway. Once I got out of college I became mostly a PC gamer. World of Warcraft got her hooks into me early and really never let go, at least until recently.
I have never been a “great” WOW player. I could be middle of the pack, I could PVP fine enough, but I was never threatening to be a top-level player. I’ve raided since the start, and I’ve run a raiding guild since the first expansion. My guild has always been a home for those people that were new to raiding or weren’t always able to find a competitive guild that would be patient as they learned to raid. In the last 12 years or so we’ve had various ups and downs as a guild, but we’ve done what various other guilds couldn’t. We lasted a long ass time.
Sorry, where was I? We old folk can sometimes meander. Right warcraft. So I recently, at the ripe old age of 47 started taking ADHD meds. You are NEVER to old to be diagnosed and treated so if you feel like this is a part of your life, please see a doctor, it could change your life. Yes, sorry, warcraft. Since I started on my new meds, I picked up streaming and content creation. I have a podcast, I joined a team (HYPE!), I make youtube videos and run small esports events. This all started during the lull between expansions in wow.
Then Dragonflght launched and let me tell you it’s a fantastic expansion. It has so many things I have wanted for years, like a new and exciting update to crafting. Then why was I not really having fun? I was having a hard time balancing everything I was doing and also now raiding at a level where I was an actual contributor. This began to weigh on me. I recently stepped back from raiding. This would have been unheard of in the previous decade.
What does this have to do with being an older gamer? Kind of everything. If I played no other game but wow, I’d be fine. I’d work to train myself to be quicker, and faster, and find ways to pump out that damage as I used to (which again was middling at best), but now that WOW was no longer the focus of my gaming life I could really feel the skills I have deteriorated. Not a lot, but enough where it was harder to keep up. When you are younger your APM is much easier to maintain.
Now I have a choice. I could dedicate myself to putting my gaming time into WOW to make sure I can get back to the middling DPS I used to have. I feel like I have to work twice as hard now to be half as good, and that just doesn’t sound fun. So this is a sign I should stop playing competitive games right?
Of course, it’s not, but you already knew that. Why would I write an article about that? What was I even talking about? Oh yes, competitive gaming.
I have played Hearthstone since it was in open beta. It took me a long time to get to Legend and even at that I’ve always sort of set the bar there and never higher. Over the next six months, I’ve renewed my attack on the game, especially in the last three months. I am now ranked higher than I’ve ever been ranked and have plans to keep pushing that number lower.
Is age just a number in gaming? Of course, it is. Do games get harder as your reflexes and reaction time slow? Sure. Can you work hard to mitigate that, of course, you can. Should you? That entirely depends on what you want out of gaming. When you are 20 the gaming world is your oyster. When you get older balancing that with family, work, and whatever else fills your life can be challenging. Maybe you can’t keep up with the kids like you used to in CSGo anymore. Or maybe with a little work maybe you can. Games are still an essential part of my life as I push towards 50, and this is going to be the new normal. For the first time, your grandparents might be able to kick your ass in Mario Kart and you won’t know what hit you. My grandparents never picked up a video game. It’s a new and exciting time even for us old-timers.
So don’t let age be an excuse. Not only are you not too old to play games, but you also aren’t too old to be good at them. It might just take you some extra work. Is it worth that time? That’s up to you.
Oh and hey you young hotshot hearthstone players. I’ll see you on the ladder. Don’t feel too bad when you lose to somebody old enough to be your dad. We’ve been gaming a lot longer than you.
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