Ok, so I’m not that old, but I’m getting there. I’m 28 years old, rolling over to 29 this week. I’ve been roaming around this life for over a quarter century; I’m a husband, pet owner (Garfield and Odie, and yes, they are an orange cat and tan dog), and a father to a 3 month old boy. I go to my day job, I hang out with friends, love hockey/basketball/football/baseball, and enjoy people in general. I have adult problems that need adult solutions, along with bills, pay checks, and a mortgage. Oh, and I still play video games very regularly.
Recently I’ve realized that I don’t have many friends who want to hang out and play local multiplayer games and just chat about life. It almost seems as though they’ve “grown out” of gaming and aren’t interested anymore. I remember merely 5 years ago: a group of about 7 friends and I would either get together and play games locally or play online via Xbox Live. They were great times, not only because of the competitive gaming, but those were times that we would chat about life and actually talk while playing. Yes, there was trash talk and joking, but mixed in would be the real conversations between us all, in which we would keep up with each other’s lives. It was a part of our culture, and I miss those days. These days I can’t seem to find any gents to share those gaming, and life, experiences with, which forced me to rethink my current situation. I couldn’t help but think about it, and feel that I needed to grow up: Am I too old to play games?
The first thought that permeated my mindset was that games are for kids, and I’m an adult; therefore, I need to stop being childish. I have other important things to do, right? I have a house to keep up, a wife to give attention and love to, as well as a fantastic young boy who will need guidance from BOTH his parents. So, I shouldn’t be into gaming anyway, right? This one I thought about for some time because I began to feel guilty about enjoying video games, almost as though I shouldn’t be playing them. However, I decided that, no, this isn’t a valid reason to stop playing. My reasoning?
If I can do what needs to be done, support and spend time with my family, and still make it a point to do other things (recreational and, especially, impactful in other’s lives), why can’t I be a gamer still?
I’m a night owl, so when my priorities changed – child, wife, friends, extended family – my gaming moved to mostly at night. My gaming passion conformed around my life, not the other way around.
The other stigma that haunted me was the connotation attached to a 30 year old man playing his 3DS in public, or finding enjoyment getting together with friends and playing Mario Kart. Let’s be honest; have you ever been out and seen a fully grown man playing a handheld system, or gone to a retail store and noticed a fully grown woman purchasing a game that is obviously for her enjoyment (and not kids)? What did you think about that person? If I’m being honest, in the past I’ve thought it was mildly sad. Now that I’m here, and I’m that person, I can feel the eyes of judgment on me, and I have to say that it isn’t fun. My perception, and therefore, my opinion, has drastically changed. So, should I stop playing games like I do because I need to grow up? Who started this concept? The same people that said if you eat spinach you’ll be as strong as Popeye?
If I function as an adult, and life comes first – whether through family, work, accomplishment/careers, recreational outings, or other duties – why should I feel bad about being an advanced gamer? The same silly view could be applied to fans of sports, film, TV, Broadway, board games…just fill in the blank. Are those activities truly different than being a gamer? No, they aren’t; they just look different.
Why do I need to stop playing games, or “grow up” and leave them behind? I find enjoyment in gaming, as I do in going to a hockey game, going on a date with my wife, or spending time squishing my son’s cheeks together and laughing with him (don’t judge!) If you enjoy gaming and still accomplish your adulthood duties, don’t stop playing, and don’t let someone else’s opinion affect your own opinion. I’m also truly blessed to have a wife who is mildly into video games, but more importantly doesn’t see my passion for video games – both writing/discussing them as well as playing them – as any kind of flaw or lack of being a good husband and father.
After truly contemplating these issues, I have resolve that my gaming habits are in check, and therefore, I shouldn’t have to stop playing, nor feel bad about playing. Rejoice older gamers, for if you are the responsible adults that I think you are, don’t stop believing! Erm…I mean, don’t stop playing.