No matter what I’m doing, if it isn’t gaming, a part of me nags: Isn’t this time you could be spending leveling up? I’ll be 31 this year and I’m not sure I’ll ever learn to ignore the fact that video games reward those who play them.
That’s long been the case. The people with the best gear in games like World of Warcraft and Diablo aren’t going about their loot-finding in a different way, they’re doing it more often (that’s not to say you don’t need skill, you totally do, so, you know, don’t freak out). In Pokemon Go, you get bonuses for visiting Pokestops and catching Pokemon every day. Even competitive games like Overwatch, while you don’t gain any skill ranks just by playing, you do get experience, which leads to unlocking more skins and voice lines and such.
For many games, the less you play the more you fall behind. I’m unhealthily aware of this. It’s always made it difficult to watch other people play, and with the addition of trophies and achievements, it’s made it difficult to even play with a friend on their system (those could be my trophies we’re unlocking).
And yet, even when I have nothing else on the go, I’m finding it harder to play games for hours on end. All-night game-a-thons were a weekly routine for me as a kid. A friend of mine, Scott, would come over with his desktop every Saturday; we would order a Big New Yorker pizza from Pizza Hut, two two litres of Pepsi, and we would game from when he arrived in the evening until we had to pass out some time after 7:00 the next morning. We’d play Diablo 2 (even though my computer couldn’t really handle it and it would take minutes to load every screen), Starsiege: Tribes (oh, one of the best), and toss in some others like OG Counter-Strike and Age of Empires. Every week, we’d get way too excited about forming a clan, convinced we were going to make it pro.
Having a friend there, especially one as enthusiastic as myself, made the gaming as good as it could get. But I’d also have solo all-nighters, playing Final Fantasy 8, NHL 2000, WCW/nWo Revenge — anything — it didn’t matter. I was gaming.
But I can’t do it anymore! 1) None of my friends are remotely interested. We certainly wouldn’t be sleeping over at one another’s place (I am sleeping in my own bed tonight and that’s final). Even online, we’re pretty much all too sleepy, and bored, and fed up, by 1:00 AM at the latest. 2) I’m not interested. It’s tough to think of a game these days that can hold my attention for more than a couple hours. That’s not a knock on the games at all; it’s not you, baby, it’s me!
Now that I’m old and frail, there isn’t much I find worth staying up late for. There’s been many a night I tell myself ‘this is it, this is when I stay up and make it really far in all those games I’ve been meaning to make it really far in,’ but it never happens. I scroll through my list of games and inevitably decide I don’t want to play any of them at this particular time.
And since I play less than I used to, the time I do spend gaming should be even more precious. I should be focusing, choosing the games I play carefully, ensuring I get as far as I can as fast as I can. But alas, I tend to choose one of two: Rocket League or Overwatch. Sometimes I wonder if I like the idea of video games more than I like consuming them. Sometimes I wonder how other people find the time to play and finish so many of them. Then sometimes I wonder if I don’t finish them because I’m bad at them. But then I realize that cannot be (after all, I’m the Super Gamer).
Video games will always be a major presence in my life, but clearly the way I interact with them is changing as I get older. A friend of mine teases me sometimes and says I’m the biggest video games fan in the world who never wants to play any of them. I give myself a decade before I’m telling the youngfolk, ‘Back in my day, games were played on a tube TV and that’s the way we liked it!’
Tell me, other aging nerds, are you able to marathon-game like you used to? Any tricks to keep yourself going?