Friday, 4 January 2013

The 5 Stages of Gaming

So the other day, I was thinking about the slightly surreal moments that come with being an adult gamer. Whether it’s planning Rainbow Six style room clearances while your other half watches reality TV or trying to switch between your work brain (where serious problems include getting money, and boss fights are discouraged) and the gamer brain (where serious problems include dragon-turtles kidnapping princesses and boss fights are awesome).

Where's Johnson with the Account reports?Source

This made me wonder about the stages of a gamers life, and I reckon there are five:

1)Childhood: The days of Wonder  

Tagline: “Wow! This is so cool!”

Ahh youth. I think all of us remember the first game we ever played (Wolfenstein 3D, Mein Lieben!) and how it opened our eyes to world we might never have imagined. At this point everything is new, all the fancy graphics, every genre and even the most basic tropes are new and interesting.

Wow, Crates! I've never seen these beforeSource

This is a precious time, because soon enough every gamer will come into contact with the innocence-destroying Kraken that is the Internet. When that happens, followed usually by the dread-legions of adolescent hormones, then you Level-Up to stage 2.


2)Teenage Years:  The age of Awful

Tagline: “Suck my SAUG b*****! What? I’m not dead! HACKS!!!!!!”

Teenage gamers can be awful (emphasis on the can). I was awful at that age and people rightly feared my swiftly typed put downs (it was a different time). 
Now, judging by Xbox Live, things haven’t gotten much better. If you don’t believe me that there is a incredibly vocal group who fit this category then I invite you to join any competive game, on any system, going on right now.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Good, you’re back. Now how many times were you cussed out by a squeaky voiced pubescent? That’s right, the whole time.

3)College: The years of plenty

Tagline: “Dude, I can’t go to lectures now! Some 12 year old is kicking my ass at Halo!”

I’ve always been a big fan of the phrase: “There’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s called College”. This even holds true for gaming when the combination of lots of free time, very few outgoings and, in the UK at least, the Government giving you money form the perfect conditions to just go nuts.

This picture never gets old Carey

It’s also one of the few times when you are pretty much exclusively around people your own age without their also being a person in authority judging you for whatever odd interests you share. This makes late night gaming sessions an almost nightly occurrence, broken up by outbursts of mild alchoholism.

Come to think of it, there may be a reason I don’t have the best degree ever…

4)Your 20s: The Hard Times

Tagline: “What? That game is being released this month? I can’t afford that!”

Unless you were or are extremely lucky, your 20s are probably the point where you have both the most money coming in and most expenses going out of any point in your life. You graduate college and the safety net goes pretty quick to be replaced by a job, rent and other grown up commitments.

I’m going through it now and while I definitely fall into the lucky category (thanks mostly to my wonderful wife) it’s still a pretty sucky path to tread.

Because of all this, these are also the days where gaming might have to start taking a backseat as rent, food bills and other things you need to live take priority over hobbies (again, it sucks).

The bright side is you can start appreciating the games you do have some more rather then taking part in the endless chase for the next big release. Also, you’re friends are probably broke too so you might find yourselves in a kind of game commune where copies are going every which way.

5) Adulthood

Tagline: “I still game! The kids have a Wii, that counts right?”

This is where gaming, for a lot of people, dies out. Not because it stops being fun or because some mean person makes you stop but life just gets in the way. Mind you, as the below strip from Penny-Arcade shows it can also be something pretty amazing when you handoff to the next generation, and the cycle kicks off all over again.


Until next time, let us say Skål! And drink together.

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