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The old man gamer acquiescence.

September 26th, 2006 @ 4:46 pm
by Vince Twelve

A recent article on Wired had me nodding along at the beginning and standing on my chair shouting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” by the end.

Clive Thompson focuses in on The Mythical 40-Hour Gamer. From the article:

[A] recent study by the NPD Group showed that hard-core gamers — those capable of truly monklike devotion — are, as you’d expect, aged 6 to 17.

In contrast, folks like me — “soft-core” gamers? — also crave to play these richly narrative, long-lasting titles. But we can only play in dribs and drabs — an hour here, an hour there. The unspoken truth of gaming is that this creates a vastly different, and vastly inferior, mental space for game playing.

“Yes!” I shouted.

I can’t count the number of recent games that I was excited to get into, but had to ditch before finishing. Because while I’m slowly chipping away at the 40-hour beasts, the siren call of new gameplay experiences drift across the sea of newly released games.

In the last year, I ixnayed three epic RPGs, and what did I recently drop sixty bucks on? A Final Fantasy XII preorder… God, I’m dumb.

And when that rare moment of freetime comes up, what do I do? Boot up a game and dig in? Nope. Recently, I find the short “hour here, hour there” playstyle exhausting. I’d much rather just watch a TV show.

The majority of my free time is actually at work, in between classes. I usually have two free periods a day, and during those two hours I certainly can’t boot up a Playstation in the teacher’s room (although it would be cool if I could). I sit quietly at my desk making games, which I’m currently finding to be a much more rewarding hobby than playing.

Edit one day later: Slashdot just posted this article again and misquoted the TITLE of the article! How incompetent can you get? “The Mythical 40-hour gamer” was represented as “The Mythical 40-hour game” which is a completely different thesis. And judging by the comments on Slashdot, the users rarely read past the title and short, oft misleading, summary…

One Response to “The old man gamer acquiescence.”

  1. Dr. Zaiss Says:

    This article came across my desk today too, and I was going to write about it before you beat me to it! I guess it resonates more readily with Old Men Gamers. =P

    I hear what the article is saying (didn’t you make this point two months ago, V?) but it’s mostly just whining. Two important points to come off of the article. One, I don’t think the difference is age. It’s having a career and a family (with kids). That’s why hardcore gamers are less prevalent outside of the 6 – 17 year old range, but they still do exist (-cough-). Ask the wife of any World of Warcraft player.

    The larger point, though, is that nobody’s needs are being met in the status quo. The hardcore gamers want longer epic games, whereas the softcore gamers want something that supports the short bursts of time that they have. It seems that, in trying to cater to both groups, the game design industry is failing at both counts.

    So the real question becomes one of strategizing how to meet the markets separately. That, and, measuring the size of the softcore gamer market to make sure it would be profitable to tap.

    But to prevent the softcore gamers from coming after me in droves, might I suggest the future of passive gaming?