As some of you know, I'm a small school music teacher/avid gamer. Today was another fine rehearsal for the band, and I had released everyone to go to lunch but my 10th-12th grade students who eat lunch during an earlier shift. During our downtime, I brought up the fact that I had recently purchased a PS4, and that I was thoroughly enjoying the system (you'd be surprised how well video games can help you build a relationship with your students). That's when my one lone senior said the saddest thing I had heard all day. "I asked my parents if they'd consider buying me a PS4 for Christmas, but they say that since I'm turning 18 I'm too old for video games".
18 years old. Too old for video games. Pardon my language everyone, but I call bullshit.
I too have contemplated this notion before, especially as a teacher. I've asked myself the question "Am I getting too old for video games?" "Does it make me look immature to be playing video games at the age of 24?" etc. The well rounded conclusion I've come up with is obviously, NO.
I've been a video game enthusiast since I was just a kid. I've ALWAYS loved video games, from the early Sega Master System (my first ever console), to the Nes, Genesis, Snes, N64, PS1, Dreamcast, Xbox, 360, and now PS4. I still have a hidden infatuation with Sonic The Hedgehog (The official poster from Sonic 2 currently hangs proudly in my office), and I've marched the Mario Bros. through every adventure to date. I grew up playing video games for fun, but I've found that my experience playing video games has also helped me to mature as I have aged. Games like Final Fantasy tore at my heart, Madden, NCAA Football/Basketball and MLB The Show further helped me understand the sports that I've long adored. Grand Theft Auto taught me what NOT to do as I got older. Guitar Hero further expanded my love and passion for music to a whole new level. In many ways, video games helped me to grow up every bit as much as my family and social experiences.
So where does it end? When should one draw the line that says "I'm too old" for video games? I say never. Gaming is a hobby, it is a cultural phenomenon. It sparks magic in the eyes of children, and invokes thought and emotion in older audience members. I feel like as technology and video games evolve, we can further promote gaming and fun experiences across all age groups. Should I feel bad for playing Pokemon X and having a blast, or shouting out in excitement and joy as I hold up my brand new PS4?
Video games make me happy. They remind me of my youth, in a positive way. They help me to remember a time of innocence and pure bliss through the magic of a controller and tv screen. That feeling doesn't have to die, and I certainly hope that most people realize this. I sure hope that that student of mine doesn't get the impression that he's "getting too old for gaming", because to me, that excuse is nothing more than a sad reason to save money, or a crude way of killing off any creativity or innocence left in that boys mind.
And when I have my own child, I will be damn proud when the time comes to put a controller in his/her hands and share the same passion and excitement that I have long embraced throughout my life (starting with the Snes, of course).