Am I too old for video games? I have to confess. I never got into video games until after I turned 40. Even though growing up, my family was one of the first in our neighborhood to have a computer (a TRS-80 that ran software from a tape recorder), we didn’t have much in the way of computer games. Yeah, the Trash-80 came with a clunky space shoot-’em-up that I recall, where you navigated the ship using the computer keyboard, and there was another game where you could explore an ancient tomb, but it was all text and no graphics, so it was kind of liking playing a video game blind-folded. Beyond that, we had no game console, no Atari, no Intellivision, no Commodore 64, and my dad wasn’t really into computer games so we never got any more than those two that came with the TRS-80.
I didn’t really get any experience with games until I started dating the Hubster. He and his brothers grew up with video games and played them compulsively. When I expressed some curiosity, Hubster set me up with a copy of Ultima, a fantasy adventure game that should have been right up my alley. But as it turned out, my interest in the game lasted all of about a month. The game was okay, but playing it seriously ate into my study time, and besides, killing monsters over and over, or being killed by monsters over and over, got pretty boring/frustrating after a while. No hack and slash for me, thank you.
I didn’t play video games again until I was pregnant. The Hubster and I knew we were getting ready to make a big financial change in our lives, and as such were feeling pretty cash-strapped. No dinners out, no movies, and since this was in the days before Video on Demand and Tivo and Hulu, not much on TV to watch. To keep us entertained, Hubster figured out how to attach a computer to the TV, and bought us some of the Myst games. The Myst games were definitely more my speed. Exploring a digitally created environment, solving puzzles, finding clues to a bigger mystery… It was great fun for many months. Then we reached the point where we really needed a better, more expensive TV to be able to see certain key details in the latest game; otherwise, we couldn’t play. And since we couldn’t afford said TV, our game days pretty much came to an end.
It was another few years before I ran into games again. This time, it was the Wii. I first saw the Wii when one of my brothers-in-law brought it over to a family gathering, along with a copy of Rayman Ravin’ Rabbids TV Party. This was a silly, bizarre, twisted game that appealed perfectly to yours truly. Plus, I found playing on the Wii to be far different from sitting on my assets in front of a computer; more interactive, more active, and more suited for playing with others, i.e. the kids. After my first taste of the Wii, I did some research and decided that I wanted to get one for our house. Lo and behold, the Hubster set us up with one that Valentine’s day.
Since then, I’ve gone through Rayman’s Ravin’ Rabbids, Wii Fit and Wii Fit Plus, EA Sports Active, More Workouts for EA Sports Active, etc. Someone gave us a copy of Mario Block Party. Hubster picked up a copy of Boom Blox and some other games he thought the kids would enjoy. Even I started buying games, picking up copies of Just Dance and Mario Kart.
In the last two years, I’ve really come to appreciate having the Wii. I can work out with it, or just blow off some steam and relax. I can enjoy it with my kids. And I’ve discovered I can enjoy playing games by myself. My first fun game, solely for me? Rune Factory: Final Frontier.
Yes, another fantasy game, but unlike Ultima, not one filled with monster killing and dungeon crawling of the Ultima games? While Rune Factory does have it’s share of hack and slash, it also has a lot of other things going on too. In fact, I think Rune Factory was designed for people like me. If the monster kicks your ass, you don’t die, you just end up in the hospital the next day and you can get back in the game without having to start all over. And the focus isn’t on monster bashing. There’s farming to do, and black smithing, and cooking, and characters to interact with and befriend. It’s an immersive sort of game where you’re living this whole other life, and yours truly actually geeks out on that sort of thing.
Which is why I eventually got myself a DS this year. Princess already had one, and while researching games for her to play, I came to realize that there were a lot of DS games I’d like to play too, including the sequel to Rune Factory.
When it comes to video games, I still prefer RPGs to adventure and shooter games. That will probably never change. But now I also enjoy spending an evening with the kids crashing around the race course in Mario Kart or shakin’ our booties to Just Dance. And if I ever worry that all this game playing is causing my brains to leak out my ears, then I can just grab a copy of the latest Professor Layton game and bend my smarts around that.
So here I am, a 41-year-old woman, who has finally developed a taste for games. Who’d have thunk it? Regardless of how long it’s taken me to pick up this new hobby, I’m glad I have. Sometimes, I need a little down time, and game play gives me exactly that.