Do MMOs Make You Feel Old?
My brother, part time gamer and full time noob, is only 35 years of age but to hear him talk you’d think he’s approaching pension age fast. “Those young whipper snappers”, he mutters under his breath whilst shaking his head at the folks in their late twenties who idly wander through his middle class suburban habitat. I’ve never know anyone to skip straight form sulky teenager to lecherous old man before (although admittedly it does come with some rather wonderful family related benefits). I, on other hand, feel pretty great being 31. I feel in my prime, a proper adult with enough milage behind me to give me confidence and enough road ahead to give me hope. No sir, I don’t feel old at all… except when I play MMOs.
I realised the other day when talking to my new guild in World of Warcraft (I finally found one that’s comprised of people who actually like to chat) that most of them had no clue to the prior existence of any other MMORPG. A discussion about how it would be nice if WoW encouraged more grouping almost got me on my high horse about how lucky we actually are now that it’s not a mandatory component of progression à la the original Everquest. As nostalgic as I sometimes get, I’m delighted that in most MMOs today a play session doesn’t require four hours out of your life and a bucket under your desk to pee into (AFK biobreaks are for whimps). It dawned on then that I’ve been enjoying this genre since 1999, a staggering 14 years. A lifetime for some of my fellow gamers.
Granted, like any good addict, I started young. But there can be little doubt that we’re seeing an emergence of new gamers in all aspects of video gaming society. Perhaps as I primarily play MMOs, I notice it more there. Trends are changing, customs are altering and social interaction is slowly creeping further away every year from what I was used to be familiar with. Gameplay mechanics are altering too. Back in November I wrote about the mechanics of combat in MMO and how in a few short years it went from ‘auto attack and gossip’ to ‘hammering keys and silence’.
My newly discovered love for raiding in WoW has made me realise just how incompetent I am at these new fangled gameplay mechanics. Move here, jump now, dodge this, run through that, I just can’t cope. How do people remember all this stuff? Well, actually, judging by the number of player corpses that start to pile up, not many. Good to know not everyone finds it a breeze. I’ve taken to raiding with my iPad in front of me, strategy guide open so I can read through the mechanics as I undertake the fight. Some bosses are a blast, some are just plain confusing, some makes my fingers bleed and my mind scream. Sometimes I just wish I could stand still in place whilst I DPS and exchange meaningless banter with new friends I’ve never met before rather than being worried about being chastised for standing in the wrong puddle of glowing goo at the wrong time.
PvP makes me feel old too. “Now, now kids, it’s just a game”, I say as the little bastards slaughter me in seconds whilst my “team mates” make horrendously obscene slurs in the process. I take some solace in the knowledge that I’m a happily married, well adjusted, reasonably successful and fulfilled person and videos games don’t actually matter. That and the thought that I could probably beat them up in real life. Still, every time my finger slips because I lack the nibble dexterity I used to have, I cry a little inside.
I know I shouldn’t feel bad about ageing and should recognise that I’m still in that peak video gaming demographic of 18 -35 year olds that everyone keeps yammering on about. I should be happy that I don’t have to deal with issues like pocket money, parents and home work that the young gamers out there have to deal with. I’m my own man who controls my own life as I want it. Still, I wish some MMO would make a server for over 30s only. And devise a PvP battlegroup system based on eye-hand-coordination. And set mandatory pee breaks in raids.
But what about you? Do make MMOs make you feel old? Or am I just turning into my brother?