5 Ways to Tell You're Getting Too Old for Video Games


We tend to be very critical of the video game industry here at Cracked, and damn it, the industry deserves it. They charge more per-copy of their product than any home entertainment medium, and are always looking to squeeze us for more. If they don't like being held to a high standard, tough shit.
But ... a lot of the bitching I hear about games (some of which I hear out of my own mouth) isn't really about the games. It's about us, and the fact that once you hit a certain age, you're no longer the target audience game makers have in mind. Here are some signs that, sadly, you might be outgrowing your favorite hobby.
#5. You Think Multiplayer is Bullshit

Hey, remember when a game was a wondrous adventure you could totally get lost in for weeks on end? Alone?
Depending on your age, there's a good bet that in your teens at least one Final Fantasy game sucked you in with a force that no novel ever could. What happened to games like that, when the single player was a sweeping, epic story rather than five hours you could blow through in a Friday night?

"Now let me tell you the entire history of the War of the Magi."
Of course, those games were created back when the main story was something other than a one-day crash course intended to train you up for the multiplayer. These days, multiplayer is like a "get out of a bad game free" card. Game makers don't have to worry about AI or plot or progression or variety, because the real game is out there on XBox Live, where it's all about players shooting each other until the time limit expires or a point cap is reached. Everything else on the disc is just window dressing for, "point, shoot, die, respawn."
Add in gamer shit-talk from emotionally stunted teenagers, and suddenly most modern gaming is about as fun as being held down by a bully and repeatedly slapped with your own hand until you black out. And if you don't live up to your teammates' expectations, it's even worse -- you have to get yelled at by some stranger who thinks the veteran/n00b relationship is basically employer/employee. What I'm saying is, I'd rather fistfight a wolf than play multiplayer.

But the Truth Is...
My complaint isn't really with multiplayer. It's with the fact that I can't stand teenage dipshits. Of course multiplayer games don't have to be random matchups with children and assholes -- some of the best times you can have in a game involve gathering friends and laughing your asses off as one guy ramps the Warthog off a cliff, sending everybody flailing through the air. And the technology makes it easy to set up those gaming sessions...
... when you're in high school.


"You need your own computers, dipshits."
When you're older, getting even four people your age together on the same night could take literally months, and requires the construction of an intricate scaffold of babysitters, vacation days and placated spouses. And then, when it finally all comes together, the novelty wears off after an hour or so and all that is left is the frustration of being absolutely horrible at the game. These games are electronic sports, they require practice. That's why my own kids can head-shot me on the run while jumping off of a building and switching weapons in mid-air.
And you know what? Not once do I hear them complain about what a fuckjob move it was for the industry to focus on multiplayer. I can whine right into their ear about how it's bullshit to have to pay separately for an online account, and how only an asshole would pay $15 for a pack of five recycled maps. They don't listen. They're too busy sneaking up behind me and laughing wildly as they knife me in my old, arthritic back.

#4. You Think Games Are Suddenly Too Long

Of course, not every game is "beat it in an afternoon" length. The very next notch up the scale of game length is the "you will never fucking see everything even if you play it for three years" games. Skyrim is promising "over 300 hours of gameplay". Games like that have endless tricks to stretch out the game experience forever and ever -- from assloads of side quests, to the promise of a completely different experience if you go back and choose a different character class or skill set (see: Borderlands) .
You can always spot these bloated games immediately, because you have to invest 10 hours in the intro mission that teaches you the menus ("What, you mean Fallout 3 isn't about a dude who spends his entire life inside this fucking underground vault?").

"Press X to party."
But more does not mean better. I didn't have to skin too many coyotes in Red Dead Redemption before I realized I was playing a time wasting simulator. Now please, somebody tell me if this letter icon on my map will actually advance the fucking main story, or is just another side mission to earn $35 so I can buy bullets for the next side mission. Since when is entertainment about making the audience wander around aimlessly so you can boast about the sheer tonnage of hours you gave them?
But the Truth Is...
Boredom is a young man's disease. For me, every minute I spend playing, more shit is piling up in my work inbox. No, I don't need a game that will kill time. I need a game that will give me the most possible fun in the precious few hours of spare time I get in a week. Trust me, if you ever see me reopen my World of Warcraft account, it means I probably got fired from my job.

Thank you, hot mage chick. That money was really weighing me down.
And this is when I realize that these are the games I specifically asked the industry to make 15-20 years ago. Back then, one of a game's selling points was the amount of hours it took to beat it. A 40-hour RPG was a big deal, and even after you beat it, you still wanted more. There are RPG's I've beaten a dozen times. Grinding and leveling was such a "rinse and repeat" set of motions, there were times when I'd snap out of a daze and realize that I had been killing the same monsters for three hours, increasing ten levels on autopilot. I fantasized about endless games that you could just get lost in.
Well, game developers listened to the 17 year-old me. It's just that by the time they got around to figuring out how to make a 300-hour game, I had a job and three kids, and 300 hours represents every minute of gaming time I'll have available to me in the next three years. In other words, selling me that game is the same as taunting me, reminding me that the same obligations that let me afford to buy games also prevent me from playing them.


"And then you just hit the squat button to teabag him..."
#3. You Miss Game Storylines That Were Actually Compelling

When's the last time you actually cared about what happened in a video game? Between the stiffly-acted cutscenes and bullshit recycled plots, you can't help but wonder what happened after the golden age of Role Playing Games in the 1990s and early 2000s.
I got absolutely hooked on a series of Nintendo games called Dragon Warrior in the 1980s. Jump ahead to 1994, and regardless of the day you arrive, you'll find me camped out in front of a Final Fantasy III (or FF VI, for you purists) marathon that lasted five years. When we got a hand-me-down Playstation, the first thing I bought was Final Fantasy 7. In 2000, it was The Legend of Dragoon, or the more aptly named "Final Fantasy with an Extra Button."

That's Dragoon on top. FF7 on bottom.
And what modern game can possibly match that amazing 20 minute-long ending cinematic for FFIII that wrapped up the storylines for each of the characters we'd come to know and love in the course of beating the game? And then again while beating it eight more times?
Now, all of those deep, engrossing games are gone, replaced by "point and shoot" games for the kiddies who could care less about story and just want action, action, action, hitting the "skip" button half a second into each cut scene. If they're playing Mass Effect, maybe they keep watching to see the fucking.

"It's like you dicked down the whole town... even though you got dick to go 'round."
But the Truth Is...
Let's go back and watch one of those cut scenes from Final Fantasy III/VI:

Huh. That seemed... way more powerful when I saw it as a teenager.
And even weirder, I watch my kids play games now that barely have a story at all, yet they're transfixed. It's almost like they're seeing something I'm not. For instance, I let my kids mess around in a Grand Theft Auto game (supervised) and the first thing my son does is steal an ambulance. My youngest daughter then pretended to be injured and dialed him on her pretend cellphone. He drove the ambulance around town until she told him, "I'm there on that next block." He'd then pull over and pretend to pick her up... and drive her to the actual in-game hospital. The whole trip, he'd bark out things he'd heard on medical dramas and pretend to save her.

"Be advised: incoming six year old female, acute myocardial infarction, BP steadily dropping..."
Wait a second. Is it possible that those old games didn't do anything magical with their programming to create "immersion," and that, like my kids with GTA, I "immersed" myself in those games because I was playing them at a time before I was dead inside?
I can play a zombie game now, and I just see a bunch of boring, repetitive enemies. My kids can't even be in the same room with me -- they find those games terrifying because they're imagining themselves in the game, fighting the zombies.

"If I hear you scream 'motherfucker' one more time, you're grounded."
The older you get, the less elastic your imagination becomes, and the less able you are to fill in whatever gaps the game leaves in the narrative. It's why a toddler can open a birthday present and then immediately disregard the toy in favor of spending the next three hours playing with the box. If you see an adult doing that, suddenly it's time for an intervention.

#2. You Think Originality is Dead

The complaint is the same on every gaming message board: "Every goddamn game on the planet is a first person shooter." They're all Call of Duty (or before that, Halo) clones -- same mechanics, different outfits. Every sports game is exactly the same as the 15 versions of the series that came before it. Innovation is abandoned in favor of tried and true brands that guarantee sales. Shelves are a blur of Mario and zombies.
And holy shit, do not get me started on the zombies. Forget the actual zombie genre games like Left 4 Dead or Dead Rising or Dead Island or Dead Zombie Deathkill: the Dying. They even cram zombies into Call of Duty: Black Ops and the Red Dead Redeption expansion "Undead Nightmare" (a fucking cowboy game).

It's like being a real cowboy!
But the Truth Is...
From the first days of console gaming, and we're talking Magnavox Odyssey here, each hit game spawned a shelf full of clones. Tennis, Hockey, and Soccer were just modified versions of Pong. Track the top-ten best selling games down through the decades after and you see these fads come and go in waves. In later years it was Mario-style side scrollers, then Street Fighter-style fighting games, and so on.
The industry looked just as cookie cutter then as it does now. Which you don't mind, if you're young enough that games themselves are new to you and your parents can only afford like three games a year anyway.

Via Techeblog.com

"Oh, mom, you really are too good to me!"
Then you get a little older, and you obsess over games in the way that only a kid has time to do -- buying all the magazines and talking games with your friends, hunting down the cool stuff that isn't on the shelf at Walmart. It's the same as getting into unsigned bands or indie films -- you don't just shop among the bestsellers. But that takes time, and energy, and a willingness to try new things.
So now I'm approaching 40, and I often am surprised to find games I had been anticipating suddenly show up on the shelf. Hell, I obsessed over Diablo II back in the day and somehow missed that they were all the way up to doing a beta on Diablo III -- and that's a AAA, blockbuster game. Following that sort of thing takes time. And these days, when it comes to the smaller, more innovative titles, you generally have to look to the PC. For instance, those user-created mods for GTA IV look like the most ridiculously awesome things ever:

But me? The first time I spend two hours tweaking physics settings to make cars go shooting around the game world, only to have it glitch out and freeze on me, I'm going to feel like I've been cheated. It's the same if I download some indie game that's both innovative and impossible to play. It's easy to forget that discovering great new bands in college meant listening to a lot of shitty new bands in between.
So you reach that age when consuming entertainment becomes a passive rather than an active thing -- you sit back and say, "Bring me new, polished, original content. And feel free to take risks, but God fucking help you if I don't love it." Scroll up and skim all of the game titles I've mentioned owning in this article -- can you find a single one that isn't a blockbuster, AAA mainstream game?

Via Vgmuseum.com

#1. You Miss When Games Used to be "All About Fun"

You know what the real problem with games today is? It's all about graphics and technology and flash, rather than fun. Whatever happened to simple, joyful games that you could just pick up and play? I remember playing Donkey Kong Country until I could hit those jumps with my eyes closed, circling back through the old levels to collect red 1-Up balloons. Over and over again, never getting tired of it.

And never questioning its logic or my own sanity.
Whatever happened to games like that? And why do people buy these new games by the millions? Do they really not know what they're missing? Are they that brainwashed, that they can be fooled into thinking they're having fun when they're clearly not?
But the Truth Is...
And now that I think of it, when did they change the ingredients of Kool-Aid so that it started tasting like a fist full of sugar painted with harsh red dye? Why were the Transformers cartoons I saw as a kid so amazing, but today the huge-budget Michael Bay movies featuring the same characters and plotlines just punch IQ points out of my brain? Why are toys today so lame compared to what I had as akid? Why do McDonalds cheeseburgers taste so cheap and bland to me now, when as a kid that was the shit straight from the Five-Star restaurant where God himself works the grill?

And why do my kids so happily consume all of this stuff? Don't they know it's bullshit?
They play Gears of War and laugh their asses off when they chainsaw an alien, and then proceed to do it over and over and over again, never getting tired of it. I swear I watch them play these modern games and it's almost like... and this can't possibly be true, but it's almost like they're having just as much fun as I had when I was their age.
It's like the poor bastards don't even know any better.


You might be interested


Reply Attach
  • 4

    Skyward Sword pretty much blows #5 out of the water. That shit was fucking good. I literally spent almost 2 weeks more than 3 hours a day and one full day of sitting at my computer with Wii mote in hand swinging that shit around like my life had no other meaning. I'm 20.

    • Disco
    • July 18, 2012, 4:42 pm
  • 1

    Sounds like stan marsh to me in "you're getting old" when everything starts to be shitty XD
    Well to #1 the games that are nor about graphics and stuff but just about fun are the "casual games" or games for "little kids" all the wanna be pro gamers never played but hate. The games for kinect and wii and motion control stuff. These games are making so much fun, I even can play it with my 60 year old mum and have so much fun.
    But nowadays I care more about the story, I want a story to be told, a story I like. That is why I almost do not play any shooters, the stories are feeling like a background story just to have a reason to kill people. And in some open world games there are so many side quests that at some point I dont even know what the main quest is. But as long as the side quests have an interesting and important story I want to know more about I dont care.

    • Vans
    • July 18, 2012, 2:52 pm
    I love the saying, "If the music is too loud, you are TOO old."
    As you as a person grow older you loose the excitement you had as a child due to the fact that not everything is new and exciting any more. From movie, tv, games and music it is harder for something to truly get you excited due to the fact that its not that new to you. Part of that is due to the fact that we are getting near the end of this generation of consuls life span. There are still plenty of wonderful games out there but from this old mans point of view not as many. Yet I do think we all know that the best is yet to come. With computer power increasing and the price going down I can't wait to see whats next. I just truly hope its not just Modern Combat 5-10.
    - johnecash July 18, 2012, 3:08 pm
    Well probably just like the remixes. When you hear a song you heard a million times before but see that some douchebag singing it you dont really like it, but all the kids like it. So you mean it is kinda like with the games? We already played what they play nowadays, just with some small changes like graphics.
    - Vans July 18, 2012, 3:13 pm
    Thats what I am talking about. Game producers are some of the worst offenders when it comes to milking a "cash cow." Take Super Mario for example. He has been in games longer than most of the readers of this site have been alive. Let him go I say. Make something new and wonderful, but I think we all know that new and wonderful is also riskey. So they stick with the same old predictable stuff. I blame us the gamers as much as the makers. We buy it so they keep making it.
    - johnecash July 18, 2012, 3:17 pm
    true story
    - Vans July 18, 2012, 3:19 pm
    Each Mario game is still pretty different than the others, minus all the sports games hes in. Galaxy was far different than Super Mario 64, Super Paper Mario was very different than Thousand Year Door, etc. The problem with trying something too different, like they did with Super Paper Mario or Bungie did from Halo 3 to Halo Reach, is most people don't like change even though they all think they do.

    There's the same phenomenon in most things entertainment related, not just games.
    - casper667 July 18, 2012, 4:21 pm
    When change and innovation is good, it is always better than just an upgrade of the old.
    - johnecash July 18, 2012, 4:31 pm
    There's still some change and innovation in gaming, take for example Square's new graphics engine:

    However, rarely does innovation and change pay off in the gaming industry. Even most Indie games that sell well and are considered "innovative" are just upgrades of older games like Minecraft(Roblox) or Angry Birds(Crush the Castle).

    Look at any top sellers list for any current gen console, and you'll likely have to look very far down for games that were innovative. LittleBigPlanet didn't sell even half as much as Gran Turismo 5.

    It makes no sense for developers to develop unique and innovative games when their customer base buys their old re-made games(which also cost less to make) more than their unique innovative games, no matter how much their customer base says they want unique and innovative games.
    - casper667 July 18, 2012, 5:09 pm
    I could not agree more. Innovation and change does not pay as well as slight modification of existing hits, ie Madden, Fifa, COD. Thats sad to me, but its the truth. So to eyes like mine the gaming world is starting to stagnate. Thank god for Heavy Rain, Journey and LA Nuar. They at least try and break the mold.
    - johnecash July 19, 2012, 10:30 am
  • 1

    He wants story? He should try playing the mass effect games. But never complete mass effect 3

    I do not mean to imply that there is NO new stories being told, only that that there are not enough.
    - johnecash August 17, 2012, 4:14 pm
    If you want story, you should try RPG's. There are LOTS of new ones out there, although the majority of them are JRPG's now so they are not so popular outside of Japan(they still come in English though). Some examples would be Blue Dragon for the xbox 360 or Opoona for the Wii.
    - casper667 August 17, 2012, 7:49 pm
    Jrpg have not held my attention in a long time. I think it's just part of growing older. Just like the shows you watched as a child are not as good to you today
    - johnecash August 18, 2012, 11:05 am
  • 1


    please break the code for TLDR. I hope it does not mean too long didn't read, that would be a worthless statement.
    - johnecash August 17, 2012, 4:15 pm
Related Posts