A Day In The Life Of Something I Know Nothing About: Gaming

I’m not talking about pickup artist gaming,

I got that shit down.

I got that shit down.

I’m talking about the world of video games.

I’m 36 years old and some days I feel like the world’s youngest crotchety old man. Nothing makes me feel like the world is passing me by more than technology. It seems like I’ve been saying, “I don’t understand these kids and their new fangled i-things” for the last 15 years.

Along with my almost petulant aversion to technology, I found myself disavowing video games as well.

Let me tell you how bad it is. I never owned anything newer than a Nintendo. (For myself. The kids has a Wii and we just bought a used Xbox 360) My last video game purchase was Legend of Zelda.

I never made it past the fourth level.

I never made it past the fourth level.

The only video game I ever beat was Kung Fu. I’ve never engaged in a multi-player online game. Hell, I didn’t even play Farmville.

So, what have I been missing?

To find out, I reached out to a video game aficionado, Rich Drummond, editor and founder of Gaming Tech United. He graciously agreed to answer some questions to bring me up to speed with the gaming world.

Some brief background; How long have you been gaming? When did you really start to feel passionate about it?
I’ve been gaming for literally my whole life. Growing up in a house with younger parents, (Mom was 20, Dad was 21), my dad frequently played his Sega Genesis with his buddies, so I was always playing those games when I was growing up. Being born in 1993, I was also the exact target age group for Pokemon when that craze started up, so just like every kid my age, the Pokemon video game were always plugged into my Game Boy Color. When I was older, I eventually bought a Xbox 360 and from there my love for video games really blossomed.
I grew really passionate around 2011 when a game called The Elder Scrolls V: Skryim came out. It was after that game that my love of writing and video games came together. I started a site entitled Richie D Rants and eventually wanted a more professional platform, I created Gaming Tech United, where I am right now.”

Notice that he indicates that he dad was frequently playing Sega Genesis as an adult back in ’93. My age group, kids from the 80’s were the first generation to grow up with video games in the home. You might assume that we are also the first generation of adults that are avid video game players, but you’d be wrong.

While my age group makes up the majority of players, the age group 36+ makes up 36% of players, we aren’t the first generation of adults to play. When I was 5 years old (1982) my dad (a single father) and all of his friends had Atari 2600’s. And none of the other guys had kids. Keep in mind, this thing had a retail price of $125 in 1982. This was not a toy and we kids had to ask permission to play it.

"This is a highly complex computer thingy. You kids wouldn't understand what to do with it."

“This is a highly complex computer thingy. You kids wouldn’t understand what to do with it.”

While the dynamic of adults playing video games is nothing new, the “community” of gaming has changed drastically.

My dad’s community was a group of guys sitting around drinking beer, playing games with no save function. It was a competition, like a basketball game. When the game was over, you went home and started from scratch the next time you got together.

In my teenage years, my gaming community consisted of swapping cheat codes for Contra (guys..up up down down left right left right BA..am I right?) and letting the kids down the street borrow and get through the first seven levels of Zelda for me.

In today’s gaming world, community is everything. Not only do a majority of games offer multiplayer modes, but the interaction involved in online discussions has exploded. A google search for the phrase “gaming forum” gets 179,000,000 results.

Describe what the gaming community was like when you first got into this.
The gaming community has and always will be a very bipolar animal. It hasn’t changed much since I was younger, but with the internet, those who are uneducated are now louder than ever. There are many people that get more enjoyment out of shitting on what other gamers enjoy, but no matter what sort of games you’re in to, there is a message board, chat group or website for you.
That’s always been the great thing about the community. From the day I jumped in, there’s always been a great group of people that enjoy the things you do.

How would you describe today’s gaming community? How important, to you, is the social aspect of gaming?
Like I’ve stated before, the internet has intensified a lot of trolls and just plain assholes, but it has also brought together a lot of great and creative people. Dedicated gaming sites and message boards are bigger than ever and even some of the biggest YouTubers are creating video game sites.
All in all, the social aspect of gaming is a pretty integral part of the community. From message boards, to gaming websites, to multiplayer games, the video games community and industry will only continue to expand.

A key point that he brings up; whatever your interests, there is already a large group out there to share it with. I assumed that if I tried to get into gaming today I would be lost in this overwhelming sea of information. But the gaming community has grown so large that you can narrow your focus to your specific interests and still find everything you need to get started.

For instance, one of the few games I’ve actually enjoyed as an adult was Mortal Kombat. The game has been released multiple times and is available on all the current platforms. There are entire forums devote solely to this one game franchise. And they’re active, too. At 6:00 am on a Wednesday morning, there were over 100 uses online at trmk.org.

Or maybe you insist on being stuck in the past, like me. Head on over retrocollect.com’s retro gaming forum with nearly 7,000 topics and over 8,000 members.

My point is, no matter what your level of interest, it is still available for you today.

Since I was feeling a bit nostalgic, I asked Rich about some of his favorite highlights over the years.

Like I stated before, Pokemon was the first big gaming craze I was into. From trading and training them, all the way to flaunting them to your buddies, Pokemon was a blast when I was growing up. When the Xbox 360 came out, Halo 3 was a game that my buddies and I really got our money’s worth out of. I don’t like the series that much anymore, but that game was a blast for us.
As I get older, I’m starting to enjoy more single player experiences, like Skyrim and BioShock Infinite as it’s nice to sit back, relax and play a game at my own pace. The best part about the advancement in technology has been the addition of voice chat, so that while I may be playing a single player game alone at my apartment at college, I can still talk to my buddies from back home.

My highlights were River Raid and Boxing on Atari.

Note the conspicuous lack of Hispanics. These games were so unrealistic.

Note the conspicuous lack of Hispanics. These games were so unrealistic.

I still had it in my head that the video gaming world had past me by and it was just moving too fast for me to consider jumping on board. The idea of jumping into a multi-player online game overwhelms me and I assumed that it would be a complete non-starter. If you aren’t already and avid gamer, don’t bother starting now. Nobody has the time to sit down and teach grandpa how to turn on an Xbox.

It turns out, Rich thinks just the opposite.

If I decided I wanted to get involved in gaming today, what do I need to know? How hard would it be to just jump in?
I believe now is the easiest time to jump into the gaming community. Not only is the online community pretty welcoming, there are plenty of walkthroughs and how-to’s that can be found online. The console experience is streamlined to the point that even a grandparent could learn how to operate them and the vast genres of games will satisfy anyone’s tastes.

Well I’ll be damned.

My last big concern about gaming wasn’t just how much I had missed, but how much more complex is it going to get. I’m afraid that just about the time I figure it out, everyone will be moving on to something else I don’t understand and I’ve wasted my time. So I asked Rich what he thought was on the horizon.

What changes in the gaming world do you see coming in the next 1-5 years? Are they going to make it easier or more difficult for new members to join the community?
The next “big thing” that will be hitting the gaming world in the near future is the use of Virtual Reality devices. These are found in things like the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus. These devices will actually put gamers into their games and give the experience a big boost. It may also help a new crowd get into gaming as there will be fewer things to control/buttons to press and make the experience more true to life. Will this just be a fad like 3D? Will it crash and burn like the Virtual Boy? Time will only tell, but there are many people in the gaming world that are really excited to see where it’s going to go.

So maybe the gaming world isn’t so scary after all. I am a grown ass man after all, I can still learn something new. So, to prove that, I bought a new video game today.

Wii-Mortal Kombat

Well, it isn’t a new game. It’s actually six years old, but it’s new to me. I’m hoping to be pulling my son’s spine out through his throat by this time next week.

I asked Rich if he had a recommended top 5 sites if you want to learn more about gaming. He recommended the following:

IGN
Kotaku
The Escapist Magazine
Giant Bomb
Joystiq

You can find out more about Rich Drummond at the following;

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4 thoughts on “A Day In The Life Of Something I Know Nothing About: Gaming

  1. OHMYGOOOOOOOD! This made me want to pick up my City of Heroes again. SUCH A TIME SUCK! I dont understand how people can only play for a few hours a day – when I wasnt working for a few months, I would look up and 12 hours have passed! Ugh. MUST RESIST!!!

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