Never Too Old To Game: Growing Up & Out Of Competitive Gaming

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You’re never too old to game. There’s more to gaming than complaining about 14 year old campers ruining your new game and it’s totally okay to leave those experiences behind entirely.

I’m not going to buy the next Call of Duty” I tell myself every year, but when the time comes, I cave and end up picking up Activision’s new shooter right on cue. All the way back to Call of Duty 4, I’d be there at the midnight launches outside Tesco or GAME, surrounded by Red Bull fuelled gamers with a whiff of BO in the air, ready to jump onto multiplayer the moment I got home.

That streak ended this year, 2017, with Call of Duty WW2.

While WW2 is probably the most appealing Call of Duty for quite some time, I’ve finally admitted to myself that the big budget shooter series just isn’t for me anymore. The same goes for almost all of the games that have released this year with a specific focus on competitive play. Battlefront 2, Overwatch, Fortnite, PUBG and many others haven’t excited me as much as they seem to for many others.

“There’s now an entire generation of gamers that never want to stop gaming”

According to a 2016 study, this is a natural progression for gamers as they age. The study by Quantic Foundry shows that there’s now an entire generation of gamers that never want to stop gaming but their tastes change over time. The data, collected for over 140k players, suggests that the average gamer is now 35 years old and, historically, people would stop playing games all together, the “mature” gamer now chooses to play games that have less competitive play instead. Of the 12 “motivators” that drive people to play certain games, “Competition” is the fastest to decline in both men and women over time. In men, it’s the fastest declining motivator with males opting for solo calm/stress-free gameplay over social fast/stressful gameplay as they age. There are some obvious reasons for this decline. As we get older, have children, have more bills to pay and generally have more responsibilities, finding time to play and “git gud” at a particular title becomes more difficult. Trying to stay competitive against an opposition that has longer to play, learn and adapt to a game can be disheartening when you constantly find yourself propping up the post match leaderboard. The other reason, as hard as it is to admit to ourselves, is that our thumbs and eyes just don’t work as well as they used too. We lose that millisecond of response time as we age and it’s that slow down that can me the difference between a kill or death in a chance, face-to-face encounter. We’d prefer to win at our own game than lose constantly to others.

This study, in my experience, is spot on. Over the past few years, as I’ve had more kids (4 with another on the way) and have found myself having more responsibilities at work, my taste in games has changed. Instead of focusing on my K/D ratio and Prestige races, I’ve found myself throwing myself into other types of games. Interactive Narrative games, such as Telltale’s Batman or Minecraft: Story Mode and Life is Strange: Before The Storm now occupy my thoughts more now than they ever have before. The return of FMV games like The Bunker, Night Trap and Late Shift genuinely excites me. Point and Click and Text adventures have quietly returned to my gaming routine with the likes of Thaurmistry proving to be one of my personal favourites of the year. Big, sweeping solo games I can dive in and out of like Watch_Dogs 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Origins keep me occupied for months.

Relationship goals

The reason I’m writing this is that over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of talk about being “too old to game” and people contemplating giving up the hobby all together after feeling thoroughly isolated by current releases. What I would say to that is “You’re never too old, but it might be time to try something different” and the industry is absolutely catering for you. It might be time to reflect on the reasons you play games at all, coming to terms with the fact that you might not have the time/inclination to stay competitive online (at least, not without buying those “time saving” loot crates). It might be time to make peace with that fact you’re okay with playing a game through on Easy mode, just to feel like you’ve reached some personal achievement after a tough day of achieving nothing in the office. It might be time to play games in which you can’t lose. It might be time to admit that the big AAA blockbuster multiplayer shooters aren’t for you anymore and that you’ve grown up and grown out of competitive gaming. It’s absolutely okay to leave those experiences behind entirely when there are so many other experiences to be had.

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