Getting older: Gamers raising gamers

Think back to your childhood. I mean way back. What are the odds that your memories of learning to read are stacked beside those of learning to handle a one-button joystick? Did you know how to fight your way out of dungeons before you knew how to tie your shoes? Remember growing up with video games? If you’re visiting this site, you probably do.

Like it or not, though, somewhere between the Pong paddle and the Sixaxis, you grew up. While you were busy stomping goombas and making chocobos do it, time decided it didn’t want to be your friend anymore. Now you’re an adult and the games that you loved as a tyke can be played on a keychain. The 8-bit worlds that once dazzled and amazed you are suddenly considered old school. That can be hard to swallow for some, but before you go shopping for a Ferrari to take the sting out of adulthood, hit the jump for a look at why losing your hair and getting wrinkly might be the best thing that’s ever happened to the gaming industry.

 Getting older is scary. I should know: I’ve got nearly 28 years of experience. The idea that I will one day have to adhere to a strict diet of two dozen pills for breakfast, soggy corn flakes for lunch and the 4pm early bird buffet for dinner is enough to make anyone want to break out the just for men to cover the grey in their beard (even if you’re a woman.)

 No matter how you look at it, we’re all aging, and of all the horrors that fate is undoubtedly cooking up for us, I can think of only one thing more frightening… one thing that can make Ben-Gay and moth balls smell like strawberries and funnel cake.

 Having children.

 Oh, it’s real. You think I’m crazy, but I’ve seen it happen. You laugh, you say it’ll be different for you, you’re smarter than that. Chances are, you’re dead wrong. We can’t all be the handsome bachelor that Ron Workman is. We can’t all be robot playboys, flirting with booth babes and destroying small cities in our spare time.

 For many of us, at least those not tethered to some MMO all day, it’s coming. Oh yes, it is. Don’t think for a second that you can sidestep that train just because you’re an ugly geek, either. Ugly people have babies all the time. How else do you think the world got so full of ugly?

 However, there is hope. To see a glimpse of the shining beacon that will guide your ugly ass through the dense fog of parenthood, you need look no further than your own controller drawer. Therein, fellow nerd, lies your salvation.

 fat guy and his kid ftw

 You’re not so old that you’ve forgotten your own early years, are you? Are you so smitten with the glistening sweat and independent breast physics of next gen that you’ve no fond memories of the bleeps and sprites on which you first calloused your thumbs? Of course not.

 Everyone got to be a kid once, but your youthful days were not squandered on exercise and fresh air like those of your parents. You didn’t climb trees, you cut them down with the master sword in search of stray rupees. You didn’t swing a hula hoop around your waist, you piloted your spaceship through it for bonus points. This ain’t yo daddy’s Oldsmobile, poindexter, you came up with an uncomfortable NES pad in your boogery little mitts and it’s a new age.

 Things will be different for you because video games have a certain way of acting as a preservative for your inner child. That sounds stupid, but think about it– your children’s parents will have been gamers.

 So instead of leaving your little ones to discover video games alone in their room, You’re going to pick up the Player 2 controller and teach them how to pwn those little soccer team brats from next door. You know, the ones who won’t stay off your lawn and keep poking flat spots in your air conditioner coil. Those of us who grew up with Atari and NES are now crossing the threshold into our 30s and for the first time in history, we have gamers raising gamers.

 We are the first generation that has had a chance to be exposed to gaming our whole lives and therefore the first generation capable of becoming truly hardcore; the first ones who can say it’s always been there.

2 kids playing 2600

 What does that mean? It means that not long from now, there will be no Jack Thompson. There will be no more absurd legislation, because we will have gamers in public office. There will be no more media rockets launched at developers for violent content, because we will have gamers in the media. There will be no more parents lashing out at store clerks who sold them the gory FPS their kid is having nightmares about, because we will be those parents. Those kids will be our kids.

 We will have the experience that lets us see an ESRB rating and know what the hell we’re looking at. We know better than to buy Rule of Rose for our preschoolers.  What’s even greater is that we know better than to buy “Happy TV character’s Super generic action collect-a-thon” for our children, and that will scare developers to death. It might even scare them into actually making some kid-friendly titles that don’t insult the intelligence of everyone who looks at the cover.

 The fact that our demographic has grown to take over the positions and roles that most influence the future of the industry means that the next few decades will see the beginning of a video gaming paradise greater than anything you thought possible.

 So try not to worry too much about getting older and squirting out babies. There’s always somebody nearby for multiplayer with a kid in the house. Sure, they grow up to trample lawns and break stuff, but when gamers breed gamers, it only makes it a more exciting time in history to have a controller in your hand.

Topher Cantler