My birthday is coming up soon, less than a week away. It will mark the 3rd decade in which I will have been here. I'm not sure how important 30 is, I usually always hear talk of 40 being "over the hill" and not much notice is paid to 30. I have been giving it a lot of thought though, mainly in looking back on what I've done with those 30 years...minus the few where I still pooped myself and drooled on things.
Like many, I have been gaming most of that 30 years and it's really interesting to see how the hobby I love has evolved and how I've grown with it. Starting out with Atari and Nintendo it was great to grow up in this era where game developers had no idea what they were doing and we were just along for the ride. It was a wild west of video games with very little information about them aside from commercials and what was written on the backs of boxes. Now, we're oversaturated with gaming news and information. What is very interesting though, is back then all the way to today you have people claiming the death of consoles is on the way. Really, I think the gaming crash of the 80's has mostly shaped this view, much like people who lived through the depression would save every dime they could decades later ready to face impending financial doom.
I would say the biggest change in the last 30 years is interaction in games. The golden years of my gaming memories happened with the SNES and N64. Friends would come over, I'd go over there, we'd play Mario Kart and Smash Brothers for 18 hours at a time sometimes. Not only is everything online now and that's how you play with friends, but being older comes with it losing a lot of friends. Not in terms of "losing friends" in a traditional sense of not actually being friends anymore, or death (though that has happened), but that they have lives now, they have mostly moved away to other states, they have kids, wives, jobs that consume every hour of their time, etc. As do I.
This has easily been the hardest part about growing up. Even though I may have a healthy number of friends on PSN, Steam, or Facebook for that matter, it's all so distant...remote. Nothing compares to 4 player split screen Goldeneye deathmatches. Not the mindless raids of Destiny, not the soul sucking grinds of Diablo 3 or WoW, no...none of these things are a replacement for other people in the room with you. It's great that it exists though, for sure. As I said, even if gaming were like it was in the 90's I would be hard pressed to find and gather 3 of my closest friends together where we all had the same time off for a round of Mario Party or something. As it stands now, I barely have time to play a few hours a night if I'm lucky just myself.
I know this must read like an early life crisis of sorts, and maybe it is. With my time gaming dwindling as much as it has I often wonder if my place is still here with this hobby or not. I spend more time now than ever looking up news about games, finding the best sales, and ultimately collecting them only to play them a year later or not at all. I used to enjoy JRPG's the most, but now I find that unless I can commit 2+ hours at a time to one I won't even bother starting them considering how absurdly slow progress can be at a pace any less than that. So they often stay sealed in plastic...
Still I can't help but be drawn into it, and want to hold onto it. This is a feeling I find gets stronger as I age, the need to retain things about my life that feel as though they are slipping away. It's probably not healthy to stress about, I'm sure many go through this. Actually, I hadn't reflected on this too much until I saw a few videos of the Angry Video Game Nerd making an off the cuff remark about how he essentially doesn't play video games anymore now that he has a kid. Him of all people, it's facinating to me to see how such a large part of your life could just disappear over time and be replaced. I see it happening to me too, slowly but surely.
Well, here's to another decade....still buying the NX...I'm just stubborn that way....