According to the NPD, some big high muckity-muck of statistics, the average age of a core gamer these days is 30 years old. I'm what you might call 'in the average age range' of a gamer. I've been gaming, in one form or another, for most of my life. There's an odd pattern of what *kind* of games, though, if you track from beginning to present day, and it tells a story that I'm not entirely sure what meaning I should take from it.
A few times in my life, I've owned various consoles, and for a while I even LARPed, playing Vampire: The Masquerade with groups of friends. As I understand it, V:TM doesn't even exist anymore. I think I've done most kinds of gaming short of your regular table-top stuff. Which is really a shame, as most of my associates and close friends over the years have been into table-top RPGs from dungeon crawling to urban fantasy. Sometimes I felt a little left out, but I never really took an interest in it anyways.
There's a pattern I've noticed since settling in on the PC gaming side of things. It was around the time that the Nintendo 64 was winding down and I was starting university. I'd spent a while playing games on PC before that, but aside from a love affair with Carmageddon, mainly I downloaded shareware titles and played until I got bored, only to start the game over next time and never actually finish it. I started Hexen more times than I can remember, but I'm not sure I ever finished it. Then I got my hands on a copy of Command & Conquer.
C&C was one of the first great Real Time Strategy games, and probably the second-biggest name in RTS behind Starcraft. I remember sitting above the battlefield and directing troops to victory from start to finish. Then came Starcraft. Not only did I play the campaign missions start to finish, but I got into the multiplayer, as I got my copy around the time I had access to my first high-speed internet connection. Protoss, turrets and carrier ships. Hours and hours sunk into it.
Within the last few years, though, I've noticed a shift in my tastes that I can't explain. As I've grown older, I've gotten into more and more action-oriented games. Whereas when I was in my early 20s I would have been happy to play match after match of strategy games, now I see more and more of my Steam friends list playing Civilization 5 and I just can't be bothered. My Steam profile tells me that I've spent 824 hours playing Borderlands. 648 hours on Borderlands 2. 604 on Killing Floor. 776 between the two Left 4 Dead games. I have Final Fantasy 7, considered by many to be one of the greatest RPGs of all times, on my Steam account. I've played 45 minutes of it. On the other hand, the more action-oriented Fallout New Vegas had be for 275 hours. I seem to be leaning, to a scary degree, towards games where I can just turn my brain off and react, and I'm not sure why that is.
I fear, possibly, as I've grown older, I've grown less patient. Perhaps I should look for this characteristic in other parts of my life as well. Introspection, ho!
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