I think everyone above the age of 22 who’s held a controller in their hands has at some point thought to themselves “man, aren’t I too old for this?” The answer, unfortunately, is not something that I know for sure. The question itself, however, has become much more relevant to me since I graduated in May, so I wanted to spend a little time discussing it.
I find it extremely unfortunate that telling someone that you enjoy “gaming” puts you at risk of your maturity coming under question. People love games, no matter what the type – video games, board games, role playing games, card games, mind games, and sports. So why does someone fall under scrutiny if they list games, particularly video games, as one of their favorite past times?
There’s obviously a number of different factors involved – the media’s “image” of gaming, the increasing amounts of time required to play games (Big RPGs, I’m looking at you), and probably most importantly, the ever present stereotype of a “typical gamer” – a young, anti-social nerd/dork with no life. Although I believe that some of these ideas are changing, I find myself constantly battling with the negative social image that’s associated with being a “gamer.” What complicates this even more is that the “real world” is closing in on me, and I find my time all the more limited. Should I be concerned that my “gaming time” has decreased, or is it a natural turn of events? Will I look back at myself in ten years and think spending that much time in front of the TV was a complete waste of time? Or should I actively try to keep playing, to prove to myself that I can play games, and still have a normal and healthy social life?
Like everything in life, it’s all about balance. The month that I spent at home after graduating from Case was full of free time, yet interestingly, I found myself practically unable to pick up a controller. My mind has constantly been filled with wonderful memories, not of the games, but the people that matter to me. Although gaming was a crucial point to bring some of us together, it felt so empty without those same people around to even talk about it with.
Maybe this is why Super Paper Mario has felt like such a chore recently. There’s no one there to laugh with or share in my misery. They say that games are only as good as those that make them. At this point it feels as if they’re only as good as those that you play them with.
So I guess in conclusion, the answer to my “is there gaming after college” question is largely dependent upon who’s around. For one of my friends – for example, who runs Rated Gamer Gear – gaming is work as well as pleasure to him, and he’ll continue on with it. For me, getting older and having friends around promotes that balance that keeps my life in check. Without them, I play little, and with them I play a lot. Hopefully, if I have the chance to be around for a bit more time, I’ll be able to spend some time gaming, and more importantly, making great memories out of the games I play with friends.