GameSpite Quarterly #1 extra: The Aging Gamer

The Aging Gamer
Today sees the first of GameSpite Quarterly 1‘s final stragglers make their way online with a really great essay by Michael Ayles enumerating a frustration I’m all too familiar with: being an old person in a young person’s medium. Fortunately, the great thing about getting old is that we’re allowed to complain a lot, so hopefully the industry will change simply to placate our cranky wrath.

19 thoughts on “GameSpite Quarterly #1 extra: The Aging Gamer

  1. Here’s my problem with this philosophy towards games and with Parish in particular. Some great concepts are buried under heaps of snarky criticism that aren’t based on the games themselves, but on the adjustments people make in their lives as they grow up. So you don’t have enough free time. Games have to adjust to fit THAT?
    You’d never say that about books, or films, or albums. Kojima isn’t making your style of game, and that’s fine. Some people enjoy a story. Some people like unique presentation. Cut the crank and enjoy what you’ve got. I’m a 30 year old teacher, married in South Korea. Persona 3 took me 6 months to get through. Loved every minute.


  2. @Sam – 1. This article was not written by Jeremy Parish. Not every article on this site is. Refer to the writer, not the host. 2. He didn’t say he didn’t like Kojima’s game, just the time that he had to devote to it, which is a problem with alot of older gamers, and not just himself. If you have a problem with negative criticism, I suggest you read the article I just wrote on my own blog, A Critical Look at Being Critical

    What’s sad is that I wanted to post an opinion similar to yours, that epic games still have a place and at 25 with two jobs (One in the game industry, mind you), college and designing for an independant game developer, I still manage time for epics like Persona and MGS. But now my opinion will look like its channeling your ignorance. So thanks for that.

  3. Ah, there’s no point in responding to a knee-jerk moron who just comes to troll about how I’m ruining his childhood without actually taking the time to look at the subtext. Or even the text, in this case. So pathetic.

  4. If I could have one thing from all games, it would be to save anywhere, anytime, in the middle of a cutscene, or a battle, or the end credits. That’s part of why VC is so great: Automatic suspension when you quit to the Wii menu is so great.

  5. I know that my gaming habits changed dramatically when our first child came along. Now I look at most games I play and ask “What could my daughter learn from this?” Thankfully, I’ve been able to convince my wife that real games offer more education than “edutainment” titles.

    I cannot wait until she can play her first game of Super Mario Brothers 2.

  6. I agree with this sentiment 100%. My enthusiasm for games will never die, but I find myself gravitating toward the games of yore because I can actually complete them without having to devote 4 hours a day for 2 weeks to complete it.

    I loved Okami, but after about 40 hours I just gave up; it had well overstayed its welcome.

  7. I’m playing a lot more puzzle games, because you can set those down in a moment’s notice.

  8. Oh, YES, Okami. The game that makes you fight [spoiler] THREE FREAKIN’ TIMES, and it’s ALWAYS THE SAME FIGHT.

    Also, I don’t think it’s that surprising that more games haven’t learned from Ogre Battle 64. If developers were that good at learning from past brilliant moves, we’d also have (just off the top of my head) Chrono Cross-style post battle healing in just about every RPG…

  9. Oh! And after Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, etc. the PlayStation era would have had no random encounters.

    (sorry about the double post, would have edited if I could)

  10. Oh man, I’ve been screaming for a console suspend feature since the GBA Final Fantasy games showed me the light. I think there will always be a place for epics, but I would like a return to the 30-40 hour RPG. While it is far from perfect, I think that Final Fantasy IV: The After Years has gotten a lot of stuff right: Resonable length, bite-sized DLC chunks and a quicksave.

  11. Yet another reason why Fire Emblem is such an awesome series of games. The ‘suspend’ feature has been a hallmark of the series since the Famicom titles. With the GBA titles in particular, you can just turn off the system at any time (or even let your battery die) and it will auto-suspend. That’s just too cool.

    And I totally agree, there are many other games out there that would benefit from the inclusion of a quicksave feature.

  12. I pretty much agree. I don’t have the time or interest for many 50 hour epics anymore, much less ones that won’t let me save whenever I damn well feel like it. With multigig SD cards and 20 or more gig hard drives (20 being TEENY now. And I remember when 120 meg HDs were the stuff of kings..) there is no excuse for at least a quicksave slot.

    We got into this “save when we tell you its ok to save” thing in the early computer years when developers were either trying to save disk space or attempting to put in some challenge. And even back on the C64 some games had generous save areas (like Ultima which pretty much let you save whenever you were on the overworld map), or savestate cartridges that allowed you to snapshot. And as we all know, Japanese creators are nothing if not hidebound traditionalists who will happily regurgitate the same idea even if its a bad one provided “its the way things have always been done”, which lead to the designers telling us when we can save.

    I would prefer more fair hard saves than an instantly erased quicksave though. A 2+ hour dungeon in Breath of Fire 2 on the GBA CRASHED at nearly the end of it. I just could not go back after that.

    Yes I know hardsaves just cause some players to cheese their way through a game, but so what? It makes Fire Emblem games playable instead of the endless frustration in playing it perfect they would otherwise be. It allows players to explore and take risks they otherwise would not in fear of a game over. (Hi Wizardry and Etrian Odyssey!)

    I think the lack of an in mission save is what hurt Operation Darkness on the 360. I think its a wonderful game, but so many people and reviewers seem to loathe it. The fact most missions are 40-90 minutes long with no save and a VERY small margin of error (usually 1-7 members of your team cannot die or its Game Over, even if you have a way to revive them…) is probably the reason why. Add in the fact many battles seem to have surprise reinforcements that can totally hose what was a winning battle until that point and it just leads to player frustration.

    Developers keep designing games for the no life teenager who is happy to spend dozens of hours playing a game and going for 100% unlock.

    The problem is the market has evolved where a sizable percentage of the playerbase isn’t interested in this style of play, and they can’t be due to time restraints even if they might be!

  13. to be fair as a kid I could only get between 3-6 games per year
    so I prefered long games.
    As an adult with my first decent salary I got all the games I wanted but I dont have the time to play until the end all of them

  14. I don’t think the problem is lengthy games. It’s games that demand you play for long stretches. This is ultimately why I game mostly on DS and PSP: with a single motion, I can suspend action on either system and resume where I left off later. Personally, I’m all in favor of long games! I logged probably 80-100 hours in Etrian Odyssey. But when a game assumes I have 90 minutes to sit between save points, that’s an issue.

  15. This article pretty much hits home for me. I know my experience echoes many other gamers my age (pushing 30). While I still do a lot of gaming on home consoles, one of the bitter realizations I came to this generation was that I could not enjoy RPGs anymore. I thought something was wrong with me, I just could not get into them no matter how hard I tried. At first I thought it was because the games could nearly 80-100 hours to complete and I just wrote the genre off.

    I later came to the same conclusion parish mentioned above however; it’s not that I don’t have the time to complete RPGs, it’s just that (J)RPGs unnecessarily cling to design conventions that excludes players like myself. After buying a PSP, it was to my great delight to find out that with a proper means to suspend play (either via hardware or through a suspend feature on the software) I was able to drop another 80 hours into one of my favorite games, Final Fantasy Tactics, as well as play Crisis Core and Disgaea to completion. I was particularly happy about Disgaea, because the PS2 version was in my library forever and after watching it dominate my college roommate’s life for 6 months, I knew I could never spend that amount of uninterrupted time with it. I still believe that good design choices can be made in home console RPGs though. I recently completed/satisfied my addiction to Persona 4. Even though it didn’t have any hardware sleep or suspend features, the nature of the game’s design allowed me to complete a couple of events at school, maybe crawl a dungeon floor or two, then town portal out. I probably dropped around 100 hours into that game cumulatively as well. Persona 4 gave me hope that it IS possible to design games for the “Gamers with Jobs” section of the population. I hope developers come to better realize this, especially when we’re the ones with the larger amount of disposable income that can continue to support them.

    Looking forward to the Persona remake this fall!

  16. I always find it interesting when this point comes up that it’s always “We’re getting older! We have day jobs! We don’t have the time to put into these games we used to!”

    Personally speaking? Looking back to when I was a kid, yeah, it SEEMS like I had all the time in the world to play videogames, but thinking back objectively, no. I really didn’t. There was school, there was homework, there was my mother insisting I periodically go outside and get some fresh air and exercise, lots of other factors. It felt like I was sitting down and investing huge chunks of time playing games, mainly because of that whole perceived time dialation effect that comes with aging. Spending 2 hours on something when you’re 10 feels more like 6 hours looking back on it when you’re 30.

    Way back when, playing through the entirety of oh, Contra? Believe it or not, it’s reasonable to play that whole game through in under half an hour. Heck, fact checking that I saw a 6 minute speed run that wasn’t playing much differently than I did. Mega Man 2? Half an hour to an hour. Even oldschool RPGs really only last about 10-20 hours or so as a rule. And all these games had levels (or dungeons in the case of RPGs) which really only took at most 5 minutes to plow through and get to a point where you could save or jot a password down. The only possible exception I can think of from the 8-bit era was the original Phantasy Star, with its crazy 10 floor mega dungeons late in the game, but that was one of the rare console RPGs with a save anywhere feature, so again, quick bursts work.

    Games where you can spend a full half hour watching cutscenes, or fighting a single boss, are a relatively recent phenomenon. If I were still in grade school it would take me months to get through something like, oh, Xenosaga, or MGS2, just from how little I could get through at a time.

    Plus, it’s just kinda tedious quite frankly. If you have a huge swath of a game with no interaction, or where I’m just repeating the exact same pattern again and again, I’m going to be bored. Which shouldn’t be the result of your major effort to deliver an eye-popping set piece. Games going for an impressive total play time to brag about can be even worse here, since at a certain point, you’re only going to have so many ideas for clever content, and then just start padding the game out with repetitive and/or boring as heck levels.

  17. Totally agree. Yet, I constantly hear reviewers fixating on replay value. I hardly have time to PLAY a game — it’s incredibly rare that I want to play it again (assuming it’s not a multiplayer game). I do wish reviewers would keep in mind that for older gamers, money is less an object than time. If 50 bucks only buys me 15 hours — but they’re amazing hours — I won’t be dissapointed.

  18. I’ve been playing portables a lot more than consoles these last couple years. Not entirely by preference, as I do like the theatrical experience that comes from playing on the big TV. But aside from being easy to put down, portables can be played anywhere in the house and also while other members of the household are using the TV.

    A save-anywhere feature on every console game would be fantastic. It’d make me more likely to pay $60 for a big epic console RPG, whereas now I don’t feel like I could squeeze one in between the other things I want to do with my free time.

  19. You know, it’s always refreshing when I come to the site and see sane opinions by gamers. I can definitely relate in a lot of ways, even more so because I missed nearly every game while growing up.

Comments are closed.