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Too Old to Play Games? NEVER! A Guide to Online Role Play Gaming for Baby Boomers and Beyond
Playing Games Online
Online gaming is a steadily growing industry that can be accessed from many different platforms. Personal computers, smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles offer quick and easy access to a wide range of games and adventures. In only a few minutes anyone can delve into new worlds and meet new people with little to no cost or effort. And to those who say gaming is not trendy or 'cool', a quick look at the list of famous people who play or have played is impressive. Including but far from limited to: Steven Spielberg, Vin Diesel, Will Wheaton, James Franco, Stephen Colbert, Dame Judy Dench, George R.R. Martin, Kevin Smith, Robin Williams, Steven King, Joss Whedon, Mike Meyers; the list goes on and on. Many of them even attribute their ability to create new characters and use their imagination in their performances directly to role playing games.
With its rise in popular cultural reference, when many people hear the words “role playing game” Dungeons & Dragons is the first thing that comes to mind. Played by millions, both in the original table top aka: pen & paper style, and also online through sites such as DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online), it is far from the only role playing game available. In fact, a quick online search produces more than 60 games just starting with the letter “A”. From classic hack & slash to first person shooter to puzzle solving the popularity of massively multiplayer online role-playing games is growing daily. (Called MMORPGs for short and thank goodness there is a 'short', who wants to run around saying “anyone up for a massively multiplayer online role-playing game”?)
Many are free to play, or have a low monthly or yearly subscription rate. Some offer both ways to play, with paid subscribers gaining access to areas or equipment that free players either have to earn in-game or buy one at a time. The above mentioned DDO costs as little as $0.27/day for a VIP membership, which also gives a monthly addition of in-game credits equaling $0.26/day, so a VIP is playing for only 1 cent per day. There are a lot of hobbies that cost more!
How To Find A Game To Play
Not sure how to find a game that will peak your interest? No problem. Many sites exist to help guide a player to games both old and new, and some even offer a short trial period during which you can return a purchased game for a refund. MMORPG.com, Steam and GOG are just a few that either offer free downloads, game sales, or links to the game site, plus platforms to play from with other site members.
Benefits Of Game Playing For All Ages
There are other, more tangible benefits to playing online games besides having fun. Far from being an activity that 'dumbs people down', published clinical studies show some of the following benefits (references follow each):
1) Improved visual contrast sensitivity (the ability to distinguish subtle differences in shades of gray) (Li et al., 2009)
2) Improved ability to track moving objects in a field of distractors (Trick et al., 2005)
3) Overcoming dyslexia (Franceschini et al, 2013)
4) Successful treatment of amblyopia (lazy eye) (Li et al., 2011)
5) Reversing mental decline that accompanies aging (Basek et al., 2008) (Torres 2011)
6) Improvements in job-related skills (MKinley et al., 2011) (Rosser et al., 2007) (Schlickum et al., 2009)
Thanks to the ease of going online around the world, one can quickly make new friends from every corner of the globe. It is not unusual to join a group of people for an adventure only to discover that one may be from Beijing, another playing in Sydney, Tokyo, Paris, Dubai, or London, you never know who you might run with. Most games allow real time voice conversations with fellow gamers, or there are clients such as TeamSpeak that let users connect while playing. Not only is it a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and traditions, but many times the players you meet become friends in real life, sharing through social media, letters or even phone calls.
Help Is Available
It is true that some games are very complicated and take time to learn all of the ins and outs and exacting details, but most offer very comprehensive tutorials or manuals, and many have in-game or live help desks available. When playing it is rarely difficult to find someone willing to spend a few minutes or even hours guiding a new player through their early steps in a game world. In fact, some people take great pleasure and pride in assisting new players, or “noobs”, maintaining a stash of equipment or game currency to give or offering teaching adventure groups to learn more difficult adventures. All they often ask is that the noob pass on their skills or low level gear later in their game-life to some future new player.
In many games there are groups, often called guilds or tribes, that a player can join. These offer players a smaller, close knit community of gamers to assist each other, share rewards and equipment, private chat channels, and many other things.
In summary, even though some people from generations that did not grow up using a computer or smartphone are hesitant about advanced technology, there is no reason not to take a dip in the online gaming pool. There are games to appeal to almost everyone, whether a person wants to play a hand of cribbage against a live opponent, build a thriving metropolis, or charge into a dungeon for treasure and glory. Come along and give it a try!