Being a grown-up gamer

Like many gamers who are also husbands, fathers, librarians, cyclists, guitar players, I have trouble finding time for games, much less finishing them.  Sometimes it’s hard to face the fact that you’re not a kid anymore, and life is not just about playing whenever you want to.  However, Paul Govan offers comfort by encouraging us to play less and enjoy more :

  • Looking back on the last few years, I realise the brutal truth of the transition from young gamer to family man is that I no longer finish many games. Some are simply too long to warrant the time with so much else to do, whilst others just don’t manage to grab my imagination. This might sound like I am leaving my old hobby behind. But don’t take this slide into gaming lowlands as a lack of care or devotion to these masterpieces of digital agency. Quite the reverse, I’m still as inspired and committed to games as ever. It’s just the reality of life that means I now play in the gaps around the main event of friends and family.

With this new console generation picking up steam, more and more cool games are being released.  It’s really quite easy to get caught up in the fever of the next big release.  However, I’m still playing my “ancient” Playstation 2, and I have quite a few games to play before I can justify a PS3.  The PS2 has a ton of games, many of which I can get for under 20 bucks.  My PSP is also getting a lot of play time as well, as more greatest hits and used titles are available for the gamer on a budget.  If you shop around and are patient, it’s likely you won’t often have to spend more than 20 bucks on a new game on either system.  This, of course, requires you to play the games that all the cool kids have already played.  However, when you’re no longer a kid, it’s impossible to keep up with the cool kids.  So that’s why I’m playing games from 2005.  However, because I’m picking my way through last-gen’s games, it allows me to be more selective about what I really want to play.  As Paul sums this up nicely:

So as the torrent of new games continues, I can more easily pick my way through to those that connect with me. I realise I am learning to play the games I like, rather than those I am told are groundbreaking. The bottom line here is that I am enjoying playing now more than ever. I’m probably more evangelical about these experiences than ever before, and because they genuinely move me rather than for their technical prowess. The games I play now capture my imagination and create meaningful experiences, I hope that yours do too.

4 thoughts on “Being a grown-up gamer”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Chad, as it mirrors some of my own thoughts lately. Too many great games and not enough time, and I’m not even a parent anymore! I’ve deliberately slowed down my travel and blogging schedule for the summer in order to spend more time outside and more time playing games.

    I’m particularly enjoying boardgames right now, but I also find myself drawn more to casual gaming, which is becoming a larger and larger segment. It’s taken me two months to play through “Professor Layton and the Curious Village” while commuting on the train, but I’m almost done. This will be the first game I’ve actually finished in years, but I’m okay with trying different games out as I have time. Just getting to play every once in a while is a reward in and of itself. It’s even better when I play games I can enjoy with friends and family.

  2. I would highly recommend the Prince of Persia series of games for PS2. I have never before or since played anything that captured my imagination as those did. Also, I really enjoyed all the Onimusha games.

  3. Michael and Jenny, thanks for stopping by. And thanks for the game recommendations. I’ve really loved my PSP. I recently beat Daxter for it, and am on the last level of Syphon Filter. I’m also loving Hot Shots Golf, which is great for portable casual play.

  4. Chad,

    We’ve had this conversation before. And just like you my list of “to play” games continues to get longer. I’m also picking my way through the back catalog of PSP games and DS games looking for value in my gaming dollar.

    While gaming is my primary source of entertainment (more than books or movies), I’m always thinking of it as gameplay for my gaming dollar. Playing a game for a few hours and setting it down for a while seems like a decent use of $20 (but not $40 – $60). I know I’ll get back to them sometime.

    If one is playing a game for the story, it can continue to compel play. But if one is playing a game for fun, then picking up and putting it down is normal. We don’t play through a board game until we’ve read all the questions, do we? Why then should we worry about finishing some games? I love picking up Madden for a game or New Super Mario Bros. for a few levels. I don’t feel guilty about not playing it through.

    Other games pull the player into the story. You went back and finished MGS2 for the story. Brave Story on the PSP pulled me back in after setting it down for 4 days. Games with a narrative purpose asked to have the story experienced. Dark Mirror and Zelda:TPHG are pulling me back to playing to see how the narrative plays out.

    Maybe it’s the Narratology and Ludology sides of me staying in balance.

    Paul

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