While growing up my parents and other elders would comment about me playing games. Games were for kids, and they expected me to outgrow them eventually. I consider myself still pretty young at age 27. I have long thought what I would do with my free time if I will ever outgrow games but just do not think that will happen. I intend to play games my whole life. Sure, I will get bored of games from time to time. I might also become a more casual player, but I will always play games.
This is hard for my parents to understand. While living at home I tried for years to get them into games. They could see the fun in multiplayer games like Mario Kart or party games like Wii Sports, but they could not see how I could have fun by myself with games. The way they saw it the fun was the other people, not the game. For me, the fun comes from the gameplay. Everything is better with friends, but the gameplay is the reason to play a game.
There was even one day I was playing World of Warcraft during college break. My Dad happened to see it, and asked “Why do you play that?” and “How is that fun?”. I explained there were multiple factors like exploring a new world, competing with others in PvP, and reading the little stories in the game through quests, but he just did not “get” it. Having fun playing hardcore games is completely alien to my parents. There is a disconnect that prevents them from understanding or experiencing the fun of hardcore games.
I have often wondered if this would happen to me at a certain age. Will I get bored of games at some point and never regain my interest? I think that is a possibility, but the more I think about it, the more I think I will play games for life. The core gamers complain a lot about casual games like Facebook games and smartphone games, but these are the games older people are playing.
As you age you naturally slow down. Not all older people experience this but most do. You can slow the aging process by staying physically fit and exercising your brain with mental problems, but your body still slows down. That means it becomes harder and harder to play the real time games. Almost all of the really popular hardcore games are played in real time. I can see myself getting slower over the years and eventually not being quick enough to play real time game.
This is when I would switch to casual games. I do not think I will switch instantly. It will be a gradual process as I get older. Real-time strategy games will probably be the first to go. All the multitasking necessary already taxes my brain at 27. When I am 60 or older, I cannot imagine having the ability to play a RTS well. However, turn-based strategy I will probably be able to tackle. My brain will be slower than before, but no less able to strategize. I might take much longer to finish each turn, but there is no rush in a TBS.
Some puzzle games will also work. They usually have simple rules, so my brain would not have as much information to process. Turn-based puzzle games would obviously be fine, but I could handle some real-time puzzle games too. My mother is able to play Tetris, a real-time puzzle, on the Game Boy and get up to about level 8 or so before she cannot keep up. Even though she has mostly hit her limit, she still finds interest in it. Maybe this game she will improve her score or get up to the 9th level.
Simulation is another genre that works well with a slower mind. The Sims is simple enough, but also has a lot of variety in how to customize your sims and your house. Sim City games let the player pause the game almost any time they want to slow down the game and think about what they want to do. Even flight simulators would be doable since it is more about technique than quick reflexes. Many older people are able to fly planes in real life.
While exploring all those genres that mesh well with my aging body, I will start getting into the Facebook games and the smartphone games. If Facebook is not around, there will be some other casual games platform. Casual games require the least amount of thinking. Not only that, they are almost all turn-based. Anyone can play casual games, even the elderly.
This makes me wonder about the future though. Will the elderly still have bridge clubs or bingo nights? It seems to me that digital games will replace those. Maybe people will still go to those game centers, but everyone will play using their smartphones or tablets. All the results could even be logged online. Everyone would have a history of their games and an online social space to chat with their friends about the games.
All I know is that I am going to play games for life. I do not like casual games right now, because they feel too easy. They do not tax my mind. I need to be challenged at least a little bit to keep interest. When I am older though, my slower mind might find casual games to be just enough challenge. There will always be a game appropriate for my age and playing ability.
I do wonder if there will be something bigger and better than games in the future. Looking at history, we had music first, then movies, and now games. I wonder if there is something else that will replace all of these. Games will still be around just like music and movies are still around along with games, but is there something else that will be the next big thing? Will I be like an old movie critic, clinging to my games and not excepting this new thing? I hope I am able to keep up with the times, but I will most likely always prefer games even if something new comes out.