Lamentations of a 30-Year-Old Gamer

David Taylor serves a warning to younger generations of gaming enthusiasts.

In high school and college I was the personification of video game addiction. I made it my personal quest to play every game of note for the past twenty years. I bought a Sega CD specifically to play Popful Mail. I picked up a Sega Saturn exclusively for Panzer Dragoon Saga. I even reached the acme of nerdom by buying Japanese imports via the Internet. I managed to extend the lifetime of my Sega Dreamcast by about three years due to imports like Ikaruga and Border Down.

The point is that I was quite obsessive about my collection. Yet, as I approach thirty years of age, it dawns upon me that the only home consoles I now own are a Nintendo Wii and Xbox 360 – neither of which contain the exotic titles of my previous collection. There is a stack of practically new games next to my television, waiting to be completed. Some of these are even – gasp – Gamecube titles! Curse you, F-Zero GX!

F-Zero GX

There is nothing more depressing to a hardcore gamer than the ultimate realization that you don’t have the time to play everything that graces the shelves of Best Buy. While I somehow managed to briskly complete BioShock 2, it took me two years to get around to finishing Dead Space and beginning Fallout 3 (my current endeavor). I know I won’t get around to playing Mass Effect 2 until next Christmas, if ever. Forget about buying imports like Fatal Frame IV. The closest I’ll ever get to playing that game is looking a JPEG image of the box art.

Who is to blame for this debacle? To some degree I hold developers and publishers responsible. There are way too many games released each year, too close to one another. Red Dead Redemption, Alan Wake, and Super Mario Galaxy 2 were all released within the same month! For me those three games represent a yearlong time commitment that is difficult to meet with the responsibilities that come with adulthood.

That doesn’t explain all of it, however. Even if new video games didn’t spring up like rabbits, I still would not have the time to play every game released in a given year. So let this be a warning to high school and college-aged gamers – enjoy your video game salad days. As you graduate and move into the working world, you will not be able to play the same amount you do today (and hold a steady job, anyway). Keep in mind this is coming from someone who writes about the video game industry professionally.

Fallout 3

That being said, these cold realities don’t necessarily spell the end of your hobby. I have come to better appreciate lengthy, immersive games like Fallout 3. It also makes me better appreciate local multiplayer games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl. If you turn games into a social outing, then you can kill two birds with one stone. Finally, portable systems are now a much more attractive option. I have played my Nintendo DS much more during my post-college years than I did previously.

The long and short of it is that you must adapt as you grow older to preserve your hobby. There will always be room for video games in your life, but just not quite as many. You can make up for this by making your experience last longer by choosing the right games and pacing yourself. I look forward to the day I get to play Red Dead Redemption, whether it be next month or two years down the road.

Author: Dave Taylor