Old And Busted Gamer

How time and age dictates what games I play.

This October (2016), I turned 55 years old. That means I’ve been playing video games for over 40 years.

I remember the day my father brought home a Magnavox Odyssey 300 (early 70s). We hooked it up to our Zenith 19-inch black-and-white TV and played its variations of Pong. I haven’t stopped playing video or computer games since.

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(That’s not entirely true. I stopped playing PC games around the year 2000; I got tired of constantly upgrading my home-built machine. Much to the chagrin of my PC-gaming friends, I’m a console-only guy now).

As a kid and young adult, I played every genre of video and computer gaming there was. Text adventures (Zork series), graphic adventures (The Wizard and the Princess), puzzle games, ASCII dungeon crawlers (Wizardry series), on Apple, Commodore, and PC machines.

When consoles first started showing up in people’s homes, I couldn’t yet afford them, but my friends could! Atari, ColecoVision, Intelli-Vision, it didn’t matter what the games were, I played them. I’m not a jock but even sports titles were fair game and opportunities to get my hands on a controller.

Finally, by college, I could afford my own consoles. First was the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The Little Tokyo in my area had a toy store that sold the Japanese version of the NES, the Famicom, and I had to have one of those.

Then came the SNES and the Super-Famicom. Then Sega and the Sega Genesis and all of it’s wonky peripherals (Sega CD anyone?). There didn’t seem to be an end to it all.

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I almost bought the Neo Geo system, but the cost of the system and its games, about $100 or more a piece, scared me away.

It wasn’t until Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen (1993) that video games affected my physical health. Sure, there were plenty of sleepless nights and bloodshot eyes due to video games, but I was young, and recovery was quick and painless.

Not so with Ogre Battle; Ogre Battle sent me to the doctor. Diagnosis: Repetitive Stress Syndrome. Luckily not carpel tunnel syndrome. I explained with pride to my gamer friends, and embarrassment to non-gamers, why I was wearing a wrist brace on my right arm; yeah, I’m a gamer.

Weeks of rest (and video-game withdrawal) eventually “healed” my RSS. That was the first sign of how age would eventually affect my gaming habits.

Ogre Battle isn’t a “button-masher”; it’s a strategy RPG, one played slowly, methodically. It’s not the type of game demanding “repetitive” nor “stress”-inducing actions. But I played it for hours, HOURS on end. Non-stop. Playing through the cramps and shooting pain in my wrists.

What an idiot.

I know better now, to take breaks, stretch and flex my hands, fingers, and wrists, and get up and walk around to hopefully prevent any blood cots from forming in my legs and breaking off and traveling to some vital organ (pulmonary embolism).

Nearly the double-nickel age bracket, I can no longer play games that require button-mashing, at least not for any length of serious game play. God of War, Bayonetta, any fighting or music-rhythm game, and many platformers (which I’ve always sucked at anyway) are all off my gaming menu.

I have a few titles in my collection that I haven’t finished, and probably never will, simply because my aged hands won’t allow it.

Getting old sucks.

Physical limitations due to age are not the only factors affecting my gaming choices. Time and “maturity” (typed with a smile and chuckle) have drastically changed my game tastes.

I used to play a LOT of Japanese RPGs (JRPGs). The Shining series, the Phantasy Star series, Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest), Breath of Fire, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, Xenogears (later Xenosaga), the Genso Suikoden series, etc., I played them all.

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But as the pixels and graphics became better and the genre transitioned to three dimensions, the Japanese aesthetics, art direction, and character tropes began to… annoy me.

I grew tired of ridiculous manga/anime hairstyles, outlandish, fan-service clothing and “armor,” silly weapon designs, etc. I especially hated the angst-ridden heroes.

I really hate the angst-y teen trope….

The last Final Fantasy I played was FF12, and, halfway through, I quit.

(I did play Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn for nearly a year, mostly due to my friends. When my friends quit playing, I followed suit short after.)

Having seen the “boy band” design of Final Fantasy 15’s protagonists, it’s doubtful I’ll pick up the latest in what was once one of my most favorite series.

Will I play the Final Fantasy VII remake…? I just don’t know. I LOVED the original. Played through all the endings. Bred a gold chocobo…. But will playing it again, in its shiny, new coating, live up to the joy I felt playing it in all it’s pixelated glory 19 years ago?

And (SPOILERS AHEAD!) can we save Aeris (Areith) this time? Please?!

I blame my current dislike of JRPGs on my age. If I were younger, even by 20 years, I’d probably still be playing Final Fantasy and other JPRGs (in fact, I was). I’ve just become a cranky, old gamer….

Age hasn’t affected how much I play games, only what I play. I still pull marathon gaming sessions, though now, it takes me twice as long to recover as it did when I was in school. My days and nights of sleepless gaming are broken up by frequent breaks for stretching my old bones, food (healthier snacks too), and emptying my bladder.

With luck, I’ll die in front of my TV, my mummified body found on my couch, still holding a gaming controller. Or maybe I’ll be wearing one of them newfangled VR headsets.

Not a bad way to go.

This article was written by the immensely talented Brian Kaya and has been reposted, with permission, from Medium.

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