I think it's safe to say that we're past thinking of video games as a toy meant for teenage boys, right? I mean, that hasn't been true since musicians were diagnosing them as illnesses. Making fun of people for playing video games at this point would be like your great grandmother mocking you for using a phone. Fuck your great grandmother. She needs to shut her nut-sucker and learn how to no-scope.
No, we're now butthole deep into the stage where, just like any form of entertainment, the "hows" and "whys" of your enjoyment change as you age. It's not only natural; it's unavoidable. And after I turned 40, I was surprised to discover that several aspects of video games had changed for me as well. For instance ...
5I Developed New Reasons For Playing Them
If you were to go back in time and hand 12 year old me a pen and paper, and ask me to write down all the reasons I played video games, I would hand back the following list:
2) *Crude drawing of a hawk fighting Billy Ocean*
Do the same thing right now, and I'd hand back a list that you would immediately wad up, throw in the garbage, and then curse at until it combusted from the friction of your filth, because reading is for assholes. But if you had managed at least a glimpse before you wizard fucked my hard work, you'd notice that the page was filled.
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I don't know why I did all that writing outside, though.
Now, obviously, I still play games for fun. I'm not conducting a study on the causation of human joy every time I hit the power button. But it's no longer just about fun. For instance, when I first wake up, I play Crusaders Of The Lost Idols because it keeps me away from human interaction until coffee convinces me that I shouldn't jackknife-powerbomb everyone in the entire world. It's an activity that requires next to no brainpower, and I desperately need that in the mornings.
If I've had a busy day, and I need something equally mindless to make me stop thinking about pump-handle suplexing everyone I work with, I'll zone out to Swords And Souls. If I need some exercise, or I just have to dance, I'll play the greatest game ever made for the Kinect:
I didn't realize that my reasons for gaming had changed until a couple of weeks ago. I was having one of those days where my mind just wouldn't start up. You know those days. You keep walking into the kitchen and forgetting why you came in there in the first place. You're pretty sure it had something to do with food, but for the life of you, you can't figure out exactly what. Then after the fifth time, you suddenly remember, "Oh yeah. I came in here to put out that fire. Wait a minute ... this isn't even my house."
So I decided that in order to reboot my brain, I needed to do something that required focus. Guitar Hero Live did the trick. It's a game that demands fast reaction times and concentration, but if you fuck it up, who cares? And it worked. After 45 minutes of playing, my brain was used to making quick decisions, and I was able to jump right into work without fear of accidentally dick-slapping someone who hadn't paid for it.
I suppose that makes more sense if you know that I work as a substitute stripper.
4I Don't Finish Many Games
This feels weird and obvious to point out, but the goal of games used to be "to beat it." That's not the case for many younger readers. I don't think my kids have ever finished the single player mode of any first person shooter, because those games are all about online multiplayer. But that used to be why you played: to get that final cut scene. To see the end of the story.
Between my desktop and various online platforms, I have around 75 games that I logged out of midway through, and then never signed back into them again. A large part of that is because there just aren't many stories that I haven't seen before. I'm not being some elitist jerkoff by saying that, and I'm not even being hyper critical of their writing. I've just played hundreds, if not thousands, of games in my life, and that's taught me the basic formula. If you haven't reached that point yet in your own gaming, trust me, you will.
Oh, look, I had the power of the dragon all along. I'm overflowing with indifference.
So no, when characters talk about "The Ancients" for several hours of gameplay, I'm not surprised to find out that I'm one of them. There are only so many Chosen One stories you can tell. When my companion disappears during vital plot points, I'm not shocked to find out that he's secretly working with the bad guy. And if John Madden's face is on the cover of the game, I'm sorry, but I'm just not blown away by the twist that all of the enemies are football players.
Even aside from the story itself, the delivery can totally kill it for me. Ten years ago, I'd have no problem reading a hundred strewn in-game newspapers in order to figure out the town's backstory, because I had a lot more time and patience to dip into. Today? Not a chance in hell. I have a wife, teenage kids, a career, deadlines ... it's not a matter of taste, it's a matter of time.
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Hey, can I call you back later? I have a guild raid at 3.
That sounds odd, right? "If you're so pressed for time, why play a video game at all, dickass?" Because that's my hobby, you fucking tampon, and I want to feel like I'm doing something with it. Not stopping every ten minutes to read things that could have been conveyed through in-game conversation. So if a game tells me, "In order to get the real story, you need to stick your face into 50 of these projectors that are scattered around the world," I'm telling them, "In order for you to get how I really feel about doing that, you're going to need to suck 15 individual inches of my balls."
It's a medical condition, shut up.