I’m a casual gamer. There, I said it. There’s a certain stigmatism that comes with that term among us gamers that calls to mind images of old people, really young kids, or *gasp* girls… But I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s what I am now. Not a girl… A casual gamer. I’ve always been a hardcore gamer. But now that I’m an adult, I’m coming to terms with this transition. Growing up I have always been immersed not only in games, but the gaming community. It was never enough to just play the games, I had to dive deeper into everything about them. From game soundtracks, to art books, to collectible figures, I was enthralled by the imagination that games ignited inside of me.
That creative spark is still there today, but as a young kid I had the expendable time to drop 40 hours a week into a game like Chrono Trigger or A Link to the Past. But I’m 33 now. I find that I have been playing the HD remake of Wind Waker for five months now, a game that when originally released in 2003, took me less than a month to complete. It’s not that I love the game any less. In fact I’m enjoying it more now than I did back then. It’s just that my life has expanded beyond the scope of those imagined worlds into something more fruitful. I have a wife, a child on the way, a book that I’ve recently published, countless design projects on the side, I’m a college student… The list goes on. And it’s not that these things take away from my gaming time, it’s that I choose to dedicate more time to them.
I think the industry is changing to recognize the shifting landscape of today’s gamer as well. Many of today’s top tier games are not 30 or 40 hour endeavors like they used to be, a 10 hour game is becoming quite the standard. Shit, Ground Zeroes can be beat in like, 10 minutes. Maybe it was designed for people with ADD. That was nice of them… Auto save or save anywhere features have been implemented for gamers who need to get to work or tend a crying child. All-in-all there’s a shift in the way that games are played that is recognizing that the mid-age gamer doesn’t want to be left behind. I think that’s great.
So in closing, I don’t really feel bad about going casual. Maybe some day when I’m out of school, have a work-from-home job, and the kids are older, I’ll find myself as a 50 year old hardcore gamer. But for now, I’m more than content just leveling up my real life.