I Was A Much Better Gamer (When I Was A Kid)... - subsaint Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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I Was A Much Better Gamer (When I Was A Kid)...

Many of you know that I am an avid fan of Star Wars. Even though it was decades ago, it seems like just yesterday when I was a little kid watching Empire Strikes Back, my favorite of the movies. I first saw it in the theater, but not your traditional brick & mortar type of theater. Back then the Drive-In was the big thing to do on the weekends and though we didn't get to go that often, my family was there for Empire Strikes Back, watching it on the big screen from the comfort (or discomfort depending on your perspective) of the family car. The movie was amazing, with the legendary Hoth battle featuring AT-ATs and harpoon equipped speeders, to Han Solo escaping the Imperial Navy by piloting the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid field.

Darth Vader: [interrupting] "Asteroids do not concern me, Admiral. I want that ship, not excuses."

If you watched the movie then you know how it ends (and shame on you if you haven't). The credits scroll, Luke Skywalker is the proud owner of a shiny new bionic hand and Han Solo is an ice cube in the cargo hold of Boba Fett's ship, Slave I.

I was upset (understandably) with the ending, but being so young I just accepted it as is...as truth. Kids generally don't think about questioning the outcome of a movie or cursing the person responsible, in this case George Lucas, for allowing this to happen; nor do they consider that a sequel will be made that answers all of the questions about the fate of their favorite characters whose lives have been suspended until the sequel is published. Certainly thoughts of protest or boycotting future episodes never even cross the mind of a child unhappy with the outcome of something they hold onto so dearly.

C-3PO: "Oh. They've encased him in Carbonite. He should be quite well protected. If he survived the freezing process, that is."


I left the Drive-In with my childhood hero's life hanging by a thread. That's just the way it was.

It's this same logic or line of reasoning that causes me to conclude...

I was a much better gamer when I was a kid.

Kids are undeniably strange little creatures. They can be loud and obnoxious to be around (when they're not yours of course) but they can also be fascinating little beings (or beans as I used to call them when I was one) that haven't been corrupted by adulthood. I look at little gamers now, I consider my own kids and I reflect on being a young gamer myself...and it seems to me they aren't guilty of a lot of the bad behaviors I've picked up over the years.

I'm always amazed when a little kid can sit down to play a game they've never played before and in no time and without instruction, figure out what to do. I've seen them in Wal-Mart and GameStop and witnessed it with my own. It's like some natural instinct internal to their very being guides them along and they are able to not only play the game, but play it well. What's just as fascinating is they can play a game for a few minutes, and put it down and walk away, never to return to find out what happens to the character or the story. They don't seem to be as consumed with greed or desire to get every achievement - it's almost as if they play simply to have fun. What a strange and bizarre concept that seems like now. I can remember at a very young age my son was able to beat me at Mario Kart...easily. It wasn't luck. It wasn't that I wasn't trying to win. I think what bothered me the most was that it seemed like he wasn't even trying that hard. He was just better than me. He wouldn't brag or laugh at me with each of his wins...he would just keep playing and having fun. But not me. No. I would get all mad that this little kid, something I helped create and bring into this world, which was now whipping the snot out of me on a game he had no business even playing. I would get so angry and competitive, it just wasn't healthy. I'd result to, "Oh...look, its bath time, or bedtime" excuses effectively parking him. Why couldn't I just have fun like he was?

Now that I'm an older gamer and been around for awhile, I compare my behavior as a supposed grown up to that demonstrated by far younger gamers.

What I've discovered is my skill (and even attitude to a certain degree) as a gamer diminishes the older I get. I suppose I could blame my worsening vision or slowing reflexes, but I don't know if it is as simple as that. The truth is I came from an era where games were notorious for being hard, devoid of the ability to save and brutal when it came to the amount of damage you could sustain. I could play, and beat, games like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Contra and Rush 'n Attack after playing and replaying the same levels hours on end until I finally mastered them.

And now I can't.

Now, I need frequent checkpoints, a robust save game feature and an abundant supply of extra lives if I want to have any chance of finishing a game. I get annoyed when a game detects I'm struggling in a certain part and suggests dumbing down the difficulty level to help get me through. I remember playing Super Mario Bros. and being able to do that trick where you keep bouncing off a turtle shell and after so many repetitions you start getting 1UPs, but last night playing Mario on the Wii U, I repeatedly injured poor little Luigi because I couldn't even jump on something as simple as a Koopa. True story. My son would gladly laugh and tell you, because he was right there next to me playing as Mario. I consider myself somewhat of a veteran with the shooters, but I play shooters with friendly fire disabled and unlimited respawns.

Yeah, I'm a far worse gamer today than I was xx years ago (I refuse to tell you exactly how many years ago that was).

Unlike when I was a young gamer, I'm no longer able to play a game and walk away from it without finishing it and/or getting the achievements. I get so wrapped up with playing certain games on my backlog, I rush through them just to say I've played and finished them, but often wonder if I really and truly experienced them, much less enjoyed them. Sometimes I wish I was able to just play a game for a few minutes and run off to something else and not think twice about doing so. Now I get disappointed if I can't devote hours of time to play and will forgo playing at all if the conditions aren't favorable. The other night my son and I were discussing whether to play Minecraft or not, and the conversation went something like this...

"I can only play for about an hour...maybe an hour and half."

"An hour? We can't do anything in an hour. Might as well not even play."

"Yeah...maybe tomorrow then."

Don't even get me started on the bad attitude that often comes along with being an adult gamer. I don't know if you're guilty of it, but I know I have been (even though I try not to be). If you've ever watched kids play games together...if someone asks a question, or ask for help they are generally met with a quick and kind reply. Most kids seem eager to help, or at least excited to talk about something they know that nobody else knows. Oh, if this were true of adults wouldn't Call of Duty be a much better game.

The attitude doesn't end with my fellow gamers. I'm judgmental of developers and critical of games that aren't made the way I want them, so instead of being like the little kid who watched the ending to Empire Strikes Back and just accepting it, I grumble about how I would've done it or what I'd like to see in the sequel, long before anyone even mentions that a sequel is under development. Heck, sometimes it's so bad we question whether gamers are really gamers or if games are really games...instead of just enjoying them from an impartial perspective.

I wonder if the good old days of gaming were really the good old days of being young and carefree.

Well, I have to go...I think I hear some kids getting too close to my yard and I need to go run them off.

"Being young only lasts so long; you have your whole life to be an adult."

Cheers.

 

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