Still Playing Video Games as a 40-Year-Old

Video Games Age Better Than We Do

It occurs to me that video games are about the same age as I am. I distinctly remember playing the game Pong back when no one I knew dreamed of such a thing: turning a dial on a wired controller, only to watch deliriously as a blip of a line moved up and down accordingly. That single ball bounced back and forth, back and forth, and my love for video games was born. I couldn't believe that I was controlling something on a television screen. I think it must have been that element of control that first drew me into video games, back when video games really didn't contain much video. It seemed like I had crossed a forbidden threshold, one that had only come into being to captivate me.

Now I'm married with children and I have a steady job as a teacher, but I like to boot up the XBOX and play single player and online multiplayer. My wife has grown used to my erratic habit: at times, I'll play for lengthy sessions, and at other times, I'll ignore games for a few weeks straight. Regardless of how long or often I'm playing, however, I'll invariably begin to question myself. Sometimes during a Call of Duty multiplayer match, I'll hear an opposing player speak in a little, high-pitched voice and it all comes crashing down. Am I getting too old for this?  How old is too old?

Too Good to Be Too Old

According to The Entertainment Software Association, the average gamer age is 34. At first, I had a hard time believing this, but then I realized that various games for the IPhone, Wii Sports, and Kinect workouts all count. This isn't what I like to play. Oh, I'll play Wii-type games with the kids, but they aren't my true passion. I wonder what the average player age for an FPS (first-person shooter) is. Judging from what I've seen and heard, I'm guessing it's just south of fourteen. This is for good reason, too: much of this genre is a run-and-gun, mindless, visceral experience. Things explode, you explode. Everyone explodes. You shoot your weapon and your enemy shoots his. Sometimes, I like to hide like an old man in the brush and watch everyone else exploding. The sounds of bullets rip through the speakers, and I am lost in a ridiculous primal world of reaction. Eventually, when everyone is a good bloody mess, a final tally pops up and someone yells something to the opposing team about being owned. That's how you know the game is over.

Most of these players have no idea that the game they just lost is derivative of a host of earlier games, many of which I played when they first came out. I'm like a walking time capsule, overly aware of my place in the larger scheme of gaming. Sometimes I feel like I'm from the Stone Age, but then again, I'm actually pretty good. I think I'd be more comfortable if I weren't. If I were a bumbling fool, consistently losing badly to a group of teenagers, I could laugh off my investment of time and money as a goof. Unfortunately, I'm still good enough to wonder how in the world I fit in.

How Does One Fit In?

What started out as a love of control grew into a love of escapism. Arcades and Atari blossomed, and I did as well; I saved my quarters and spent hours accomplishing nothing more than bragging rights in the neighborhood. Asteroids, Missile Command, Defender: games became increasingly focused on survival, and the visceral nature of combat-oriented games provided the perfect release of stress and the weariness of everyday living. Years later, I played Duke Nuke 'Em and Half-Life on my PC, and home gaming became a reality. The XBOX 360 evolved to the XBOX One, and that's just my latest venture. Though spare time is often at a premium, I try to play video games at least every now and then. My life has changed tremendously and my bedtime has gotten earlier and earlier, but my love of gaming has survived.

I know I'm not alone at my age playing video games. I know there are people far older than me playing better than me. The sensation of being an anachronism, however, is nagging. How does one fit in comfortably to a new age of technology? How does one mesh with a new generation of gamers? Ultimately, graphics and realism have evolved a thousand-fold since the days of Pong and Pac-Man. Can I evolve, too?

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19 comments

SimeyC profile image

SimeyC 5 years ago from NJ, USA

Hey - I still play RPGs at 43 - spent a lot of quality time playing Final Fantasy with my daughter..and now she's not in the house, play real RPGs LOL hence all my 'hints and tips' Hubs!


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

You know, Simey, I get the RPGs. Those seem more age-appropriate, somehow. Do you also play FPS titles?

I see that you're also married, with two daughters. That's great. Does your wife ever have any issue with you playing?


SimeyC profile image

SimeyC 5 years ago from NJ, USA

Yes I play the odd FPS when I'm in the mood..and games like Fallout 3...my wife doesn't care as long as I'm happy and it doesn't take over my life!


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Simey, you're speaking my language now. I love Fallout 3. It's a hybrid, wouldn't you say? Part RPG, part FPS?


SimeyC profile image

SimeyC 5 years ago from NJ, USA

Yep - that's why I mentioned it! I remember playing the first Doom type games....there were a ton of them!


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Doom and all Doom clones...I played 'em. Did you play Wolfenstein when it first came out?


jelliott115 profile image

jelliott115 5 years ago from Cincinnati

Wow.. this took me back a bit. Granted Im not 40 (only 27), but I find myself mentioning Wolfenstein to people only to find they have no idea what Im talking about. That and Blake Stone. Ahh.. memories.

I'll likely be playing until Im quite old. They keep you sharp in my opinion. My grandpa had cribbage, well.. this is my cribbage.

I'll love the day when my son grows up and laughs at me for playing something as prehistoric as Dragon Age.


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

jelliott115, thanks for reading. It's fun to think back on games, remembering where we were in our lives. I like the idea that video games are a modern cribbage...I suppose in some ways that's true.


DoItForHer 5 years ago

I'm 40 and quit playing video games. When I was a kid I played them for a while, but didn't stick with it. Instead, I played with my dog a lot and shot a ton of gophers. (I even ate one once!) I read a lot, too. What do I do now instead of play video games? I train and play with my dog a lot. I don't shoot too many gophers anymore, but will do that more in the future when the funds are there. (Still recovering financially from my legal battles.) I still read a lot, and am writing a book which takes a stupid amount of effort and time, but I like it.

Not much room in my life for other stuff.


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

What's strange is that minus the dog, we're similar. I read a lot, and love the outdoors (I'm an avid flyfisherman). I don't fit the profile of a video game player at all. No one would look at me and say I'm an indoors-type. It's like living a secret life.

I just like the stress relief, I guess.


DavitosanX profile image

DavitosanX 5 years ago

I'm also 27, and I've been playing video games since 1990. I had to privilege to experience first hand jewels such as Final Fantasy and Zelda on the NES, Wolfenstein 3d and Doom on the PC. I don't think that these games are being developed with just children in mind. They are an entire industry now, and they cater every demographic imaginable!


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

I hear you, DavitosanX, but in your twenties, you have the luxury of still feeling like part of the "young" crowd. :) You're right, though, of course: games aren't just designed for kids anymore, but back when the ball got rolling, pretty much only kids played them. I'm guessing most people around my age remember that, which is why it's hard to adapt.

Thanks for reading and making the comment. I appreciate it!


Lex 5 years ago

I'm 22 so I can't really talk about being an older gamer but I'd like to tell you about my dad. He plays lots of FPS and RTS, 3 to 4 hours a day after work each night and he will be 59 this month. My friends and I marvel at how hardcore he is compared to us


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

Wow, Lex, your father is serious about it! 3 to 4 hours a day is like a job!


thebeast02 profile image

thebeast02 5 years ago from Louisiana

I found this hub to be extremely entertaining. I too am an avid gamer, about half your age, but a gamer none the less. I have played with various competitive teams, all of which were made up of primarily 25+ year olds. They seem to make the best competitive players because they can settle down and get serious when it counts, as well as sacrifice to help their team. I think this makes older gamers more valuable than the random 15 year old who can do really good in a random lobby. Just my $.02, again great hub! If you'd like I have a few of my own that are gaming related, I'd love some feedback.


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

thebeast02, thanks for the feedback. The biggest advantage to getting older certainly is the ability to focus. I guess this helps in the real world as well as a virtual one!


CrazyMantis 5 years ago

Haha, i just turned 34 and for well over a year i have been wondering this, married (married at 23, no kids) and working as a designer and programmer of the net, however i do spend most of my free time with games, i started with Galaga at the arcades and currently on Fallout new vegas/Battlefield 3 and waiting for Skyrim to take away hundreds of precious hours...

And sometimes one can´t help but wonder if we are getting too old, im even replaying some of the old classics ffs.. but then my wife comes and says that is the same than watching tv but you control the action, simple and easy, games make you sometimes feel things like a movie would, and if you are playing a game you enjoy is like watching a good movie, the average person spends 130 hrs a month watching tv and this number just increases with age xD.


shogan profile image

shogan 5 years ago from New England Author

What's funny, CrazyMantis, is that since I wrote this article, due to lots of factors, my video game time has gone down to almost nil. Not sure if/when I'll get back to it.

Thanks for responding! :)


RolyRetro profile image

RolyRetro 3 years ago from Brentwood, Essex, UK

I've been playing video games since 1979 and there isn't a week that passes without me starting up my XBOX or playing a game on my iPad. I've a huge collection of classic consoles, and run my own retro gaming website. But I also run an IT company and have 4 kids, so gaming time is short!

I'll sure I will still be gaming when I am 70!

Roly

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