Today instead of my usual review I want to ask all our readers a serious question. Does gaming have an expiration date?
It is something I have been thinking a lot about recently. As I face up to the fact I am getting closer and closer to 40, I ask does gaming have a retirement age like other hobbies? Or does it adapt to suit our age?
Let’s have a bit of context here. I started gaming roughly around the same time I started playing football in an actual team and not just on the street with friends. During that time I have played everything from School level to regional, Sunday league pub team to company 5-a-side teams. About 8 years ago I stopped playing football due to complaints from my body such as shin splints, hamstring pulls etc.
Throughout that illustrious football career, I played every system from the ZX Spectrum 48k to the Sony PlayStation 4 and everything in between. I have never really defined myself by genre of a game either. Some days I can smash hours into Final Fantasy and the next complete a full season on FIFA in one sitting. I’m just as happy saving the world from alien invasion in X-Com as I am winning cups in Gran Turismo.
The Problem is that as 40 looms and I begin to face mortality, I notice just like football I cant do the things I want any more. The mind is willing but the body falls short.
My long sessions on Pinball FX3 are cut down to about an hour before my eyes start hurting and resulting in me having to wear my glasses for the rest of the day. Online PVP matches such has Fortnite have me feeling like my reactions are woefully lacking. A point hammered home when my 14-year-old son builds a three storey base in the time I have put four walls and a roof around me.
The point I am making here is not my skill (or lack of) in PVP games but my noticeable reduction in reaction times. The mind is willing but my fingers just ain’t got the dexterity and speed anymore. Just like my legs with football.
The reason I keep making the similarity to football is the recent explosion of eSports. If we are to consider competing at Overwatch and Dota 2 as a sport then we must consider those competing as athletes.
There isn’t a single gamer in the top ten earners for eSports over the age of 30. Like International and Premier League footballers it seems that 35 is the beginning of the end in terms of competitiveness.
Now I am not saying that at the age of 37 my gaming days are over. Quite the opposite. I still enjoy gaming, it is in my blood, just as much as I enjoy football. But where I changed my footballing habits from playing to reporting/commentating my gaming habits have changed too.
Gone are the days of epic Street Fighter battles and now I enjoy a peaceful evening on my farm in Stardew Valley. Nights spent taking on the entire world in FIFA online are now spent teaming up online to Save The World in Fortnite.
For a hobby, nay a way of life, that depends so much on hand-eye coordination and reaction times. It is quite jarring to realise that these essential abilities that we have spent decades training and honing will slowly leave us.
As much as I would love to dive into the next iteration of Battlefield or Call of Duty I know that the experience of playing an online PVP will be akin to me trying to play 30 mins of an 11 a side football match at centre back. I will be defeated, humiliated and physically in pain…Like any dog that has had its day, it is time to boot up Stardew Valley and go live on a farm.
What are your thoughts on the points that Badger raises in this opinion piece? Does gaming have an expiration date? At what point does fun become more important than the competition? Are you facing your PVP retirement or are you an immortal 20-year-old? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.