Aging and Gaming

When I was in gymnasium (or high school, or whatever you want to call it, secondary school anyhow) I was surprised to find out that according to the survey in Tales of the Reaching Moon (an excellent Glorantha zine from back in the day) the average age for the people who took part in it was 26. That felt ancient to me. I didn’t know any gamers of that age. Neither of my parents gamed outside of very casual games on Christmas and the whole hobby was still in its infancy, at least in our small town, so I might not have seen the whole picture, but that little stat blew my mind at the time.

Who are these people? Are they stereotypical nerds with no other social life? I thought I’d be married, have kids and job at that age. Gaming just didn’t fit the picture.

Well, now I’m 38 and still gaming actively. Actually, right now I’m probably gaming more actively now then I’ve been since … I don’t know when. I certainly wasn’t this active when I was studying or teaching at the University. Of course, I’m not married and I don’t have children. My “indicators” for adulthood are actually limited to a mortgage, a steady job, and a retirement plan (all of which might be going away soon, but that’s not what I want to talk about here).

My weekly gaming regime consists of two MtG tournaments (often a third one to boot), some of which I judge, and usually one or two other nights of gaming, whether that’s roleplaying games, boardgames, or casual MtG. I do play video games somewhat, but not that much (which probably means you shouldn’t read my reviews of video games, but forget about that right now).

I’m clearly older than most people I play with and most people I play with are older than the majority of gamers. Its a new and growing hobby, so majority of the people involved will be quite young. I don’t know about elsewhere, but there doesn’t seem to be a ‘nerd’ vs. ‘jock’ distinction here, but rather people who are competitive will play games.

Gaming is a hobby like any other. It relaxes, takes your mind away from your job and hopefully helps you develop yourself. Gaming definitely changes your thought processes. There have been studies about elderly people and gaming. Tetris kept their mind elastic and helped them stave off dementia, but StarCraft (being much more complicated) had a much better result.

Clearly, playing games is not only fun, its planning for the future. Its an important part of my life, but what I’m basically saying here is that you should teach games in school, so that people would (hopefully) pick them up and make a lifelong hobby. It just helps so many people and could help so many more.

Although, 20-some years ago, I was sure my gaming days would be over soon, now I feel I will never stop. Hopefully there will be good games. I have well over hundred board games available, so I don’t think I’ll get bored with those in a hurry. I have quite a few games in my Steam and GOG -libraries and maybe (just maybe) those will survive to my old age.

I’m guessing selling people on role-playing in a hospice or something will be quite hard, but I’ll try.

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