old lady gamer

It happens to all of us. We get old, we get cranky, we start playing Earthworm Jim again. At a certain point, as our life stress increases and our free time decreases, as our bones get denser, our asses fatter and our reflexes slower, we undergo certain… changes in how we play games. Are you worried you might be approaching the top of the hill? Check out this list, and then use the handy guide at the bottom to find out what kind of gamer you are.

 5. You’re Really Just Playing for the Story

You’ll notice this when you struggle to complete basically any campaign that doesn’t have a very compelling storyline. You feel like I need a reason to stick around and see things through; simply shooting things isn’t quite enough anymore.

When I was younger I could blast away monsters and people alike with whack-a-mole levels of enthusiasm, but now I quickly find anything that isn’t embedded in an intriguing storyline somewhat tedious.

To be honest, I often feel like I’m wading through the gameplay bits to get to the meat of the story.

Which brings me to my next point:

4. You Play Everything on Medium Difficulty

I used to get a sort of sick pleasure by cranking up the difficulty and playing each level several hundred times before finding the perfect way through.

Now, however, I feel like an old cripple hobbling through on my cane and trying not to get hurt. I have to put the difficulty on Medium for my the sake of my ego (although I’d secretly love to breeze through on Easy), but I’m fairly certain my last shred of dignity can’t hold out forever.

Truth is, I just want to look at the pretty colours, listen to the interesting story and blast away any enemies without much fuss. I get enough stress in the real world; when it’s time to game I want it to be relaxing and not too much like hard work.

You really want to go for not too rough, but your ego won't allow it. This is a good sign.

You really want to go for not too rough, but your ego won’t allow it. This is a good sign.

3. You Were Better Ten Years Ago

This one hurts all of us. The average lifespan of a pro-gamer, particularly for games that require fast movements such as Starcraft 2, is around my age. Once you start to reach your late 20s, you’re put out to pasture.

You just can’t keep up with the young ones anymore; you’re old and slow and you don’t react quite as fast as you used to.

It’s hard to jump into a Call of Duty server and lose a shotgun war to an eleven-year old child, but this is the reality. You’re still trying to find the keybind for your grenades while a pre-pubescent jackass with an open mic rudely knifes you in the back.

A decade ago you were the king of your high-school LAN parties, now you’re a washed-up has-been with a bad kill-death ratio.

2. You Constantly Reminisce About the “Good Old Days”

You reach full-blown “Get Off My Lawn” syndrome about the same time you start replaying old Sierra games because “text-based games were more exciting”.

We all reach a point where we start spending more time on Good Old Games than Steam, we start downloading obscure mods for Doom 2 and tell anyone who’ll listen about how much better FPSs were when they had secrets and different coloured keys. For some reason, nostalgia tends to trump the story rule.

Instead of playing the latest Call of Duty online with your friends, you’re having a 3-man LAN playing Quake 2 and Unreal Tournament.

However, instead of staying up all night and eating white bread and potato chips, you’ve got a bag of Woolworths carrots (new diet) and you politely shutdown your computer at 2am and sleep in the spare-room so you’re not too tired for tomorrow’s lunch with the in-laws.

I spent last weekend playing Duke Nukem 3D and Carmageddon 2. It’s too late for me – the rest of you still have time.

Still - I bet I had more fun than you.

Still – I bet I had more fun than you.

1.  You’ve Lost All Patience

I distinctly remember playing through the mind-numbingly difficult Sierra games when I was 9 or 10 years old, and I distinctly remember seeing the end screens of games like Space Quest.

These were before the days of easily accessible internet, and it’s not like I could easily jump online and check a walk-through. Which means between 9-year old me and my brother, we actually managed to finish these damn things without cheating.

The older, smarter and more mature version of me periodically goes back to these games (see point #2), and I’m usually about ready to throw my keyboard across the room within ten minutes.

If you haven’t actually played these – believe me – they are borderline impossible. It never takes long before I’ve got the walkthrough open in front of me, at which point a sense of overwhelming shame kicks in and I give up for a few months.

Remember how I was playing Carmageddon 2? Well I got to this ridiculous time-limit level which I gave up on after my first attempt. After trying unsuccessfully to get some cheat codes to work, I haven’t been back since.

Younger me could plug away at the same annoying level for hours; older me has no time for such frivolous endeavours.

The Old-Age Spectrum

To help you gauge the severity of your old-age, I’ve put together this helpful gradient – where do you fit in?

Spritely – You frequently stay up all night playing games, sleep is for the daytime. You try and finish everything to 100% completion and don’t feel right playing a game that’s not on the hardest difficulty.

Youthful – No staying up for games on a work/school night, but on the weekends all bets are off. You prefer games with a little substance, and enjoy games that make you use your brain the most. High-intensity games like Starcraft 2 get your blood flowing, but you can only play them so long before you need a break.

Getting On – You’d love to go to a LAN like rAge, but you just can’t seem to find the time between work and relationships. You enjoy strategic/teamwork-oriented games, but don’t like them to be too intense. Your idea of a good time is collapsing on the couch with a game that lets you play it how you want, taking your time – exploring open-worlds and adjusting your character in Skyrim or wreaking havoc in GTA V.

Senior Citizen – You aren’t much interested in the newest Call of Duty or sports title; you’d rather play your way through a story-rich FPS like Bioshock or cruise your way through an RPG. You tend to put things on one of the lower difficulties – you want to experience the game to its fullest without feeling too stressed out. You get nostalgic about old titles, and sometimes find yourself having another run at Diablo 2 or Age of Empires.

One Foot In The Grave – You’re no longer interested in what’s new – it’s all a load of crap anyway. You’re working your way through the Good Old Games catalogue, and will download the occasional indie from Steam that has an old-school feel to it – those guys know what they’re doing. You play Doom 2 on the weekends and bring up a walkthrough after three minutes of searching for the blue key.