A lot has been said about how our gaming habits change as we get older. Mostly these changes are due to the lack of free time us responsible adults have in comparison to those younger whipper-snappers. At the ripe old age of 37, I'm no exception to the rule. Still, it's surprising exactly how my habits have changed.For starters, my number one gaming platform this year has been my Android smartphone. By far, I've spent more time on it than any other gaming device in my household (which includes an aging-but-able gaming PC, a PlayStation 4, and a PlayStation 2). People love to hate on how mobile games are not "real" games, but instead just micro-transaction infested time wasters. While true, the reality is more complicated. For one, it's the gaming device that's always with me. When it is with me, I can get my boredom-killing gaming fix in small five-minute chunks. I can clear a level of Angry Birds or make a high-score attempt in Crossy Road in less time than it takes to just boot up a more powerful machine. In a world where time has become my most precious resource, the ability to accomplish something while spending very little of it is quite valuable.
Another casualty of both time and the nature of the internet in general is my lack of interest in multiplayer gaming. Co-op games are hard for me to enjoy due to scheduling conflicts; most of my online friends all live in time zones where they're most likely asleep by the time I get home from work. Competitive gaming is less engaging to me for the same reasons in addition to others. Competition was more fun to me back in the days of the arcades, where you just needed to be the baddest man or woman on the block, not the entire internet-connected world. The toxic nature of online gaming is an unwelcome paradigm shift from the friendly trash talk of the arcade environment, which discourages me even further. Even if I was willing to battle through the hate, there's that whole lack of time thing again. The amount of time needed to play at a decent level on the global stage is exponentially more than what's needed to crush your friends at Street Fighter or Mario Kart, and... well, pretty sure no one wonders why you don't see anyone over the age of a college student in pro gaming unless they've been doing it their entire adult life.
Naturally, the MMO genre would be something that I've had to throw by the wayside as well, but I've done it more reluctantly. MMOs have always been a social game--hell, the acronym stands for Massively Multiplayer--but with the lack of a consistent social circle, the biggest flaw of an MMO becomes easily visible. That flaw is that the mechanics of an MMO don't lend themselves at all to a single-player experience. Oh sure, people will tell you that World of Warcraft achieved its meteoric success largely in part because you didn't need a group holding your hand for basic tasks. That's all well and good, but a game that lacks the staying power of some kind of grouping mechanics just runs out of steam for me too quickly. I mean, if you can solo your way to max level in World of Warcraft, Tera, Wildstar, Guild Wars 2, etc., I don't understand why you'd play that game instead of something better.