Friday, February 11, 2011

Observations from a 40 something video gamer

Maybe I'm too old for this stuff...

Maybe not.  See, I like to play video games.

Shouldn't be that much of a surprise for someone my age considering I grew up with them.  So I'm old enough to remember (and probably played all of) the classics.  So everything old is new again.  Now there's a subculture and even subscription services to play games I still have in a box somewhere in the garage.

Now before you run off and start assuming I'm one of those strange people who live in their mother's basement saving their pennies to attend the next quake con in some outfit modeled after my favorite character I invite you to STOP RIGHT THERE!  I don't even have a copy of WOW nor do I want one.  It's not my thing.  My general opinion of MMORPG's is that they're for folks who need something to do when they tire of splattering their life on their Facebook page for the day.

I'm a normal guy, I do computer consulting for a living and  often wish I'd chosen something else for a career.  I like working on my old El Camino more than removing the latest rootkit that someone downloaded.  I'd like to think I'm reasonably  intelligent and sociable and I get a bit stir crazy if I don't get out amongst the populace on a regular basis.  So I'd like to think I'm fairly average albeit a bit off-center from the norm.

So what about  the gaming?  Well, I'm not an early adopter... of anything.  I don't buy the first model year of a new car and by extension don't buy games when they first come out.  For one thing I think it's ridiculous to pay $60 or more for a product I don't even own.  You never own a game, you're "licensed" to use it which means a perpetual rental that some faceless corporation can pull the plug on at any time.  So I like to wait till the hype simmers down and pick up something that seems interesting if steam happens to have a sale on it.  Don't believe it?  Try to play Need For Speed: Carbon online sometime.

Anyway, that's how I picked up the entire Half Life 2 collection.  I don't care that I wasn't the first to see all the cut scenes.  I like the fact that by the time I got it I had a boundless treasure of walk-throughs, cheats and YouTube videos to help me over the rough parts.  Hey, I appreciate the work that went into the game and the long hours it took the developers to figure out how to confound me.  In then end, however, I figure I paid for the right to play this game and invest my time in it.  If I get stuck, I need to get past it and get on with it.  Nothing is more irritating than having to give up in the middle of a game because you can't get past one stupid level.  I paid full price (meaning whatever Steam charged me) so I expect to see the ending credits at some point before I ring in the new year.  So I do what I must.

For me time is precious and valuable.  Look, I want to be entertained and immersed in someone's vision of an impossible reality.  I'm not looking to make this a career.  Now if I were twenty years younger and indeed lived in my mom's basement maybe I'd be a bit more tolerant but as it is... I'm not.  I enjoy a good driving simulation like Grid or Need For Speed: Shift as well as the more arcade leaning NFS: Most Wanted, or Flatout 2.  I also enjoy a good First Person Shooter so long as i don't have to be 14 to last  more than 5 seconds online.

I look at gaming as a semi-social event.  Not unlike the typical poker night. Which means I prefer to be in the company of other people when I'm doing it.  It's  important to me to have a good selection of titles with long replay value.  It's also critical that there's a good co-op component.  I don't believe that online gaming means being thrown in with the masses.  I enjoy going up against AI opponents with a few friends.  I also don't appreciate confusing controls or being subject to "Games for Windows" consoles that ruin and frequently block the gaming experience.  Ask anyone who's played Dirt 2 on Windows XP 64 and you'll see what I mean.

So that's it.  A basic profile of a more "mature" gamer.
I've got lot's of observations and I've finally decided to start dropping them on the world.

  
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