I am still a decent distance away from considering myself ‘old’. I turned 32 last week, I don’t get confused by modern technology, I get very few eye-rolls when I reference popular culture around my students. My five month old daughter definitely makes me feel youthful, if a little tired sometimes.
Nevertheless, from time to time, I experience events that give me the sense that I am old, or at the very least getting noticeably older. This happens to us all in various ways. You might hear yourself saying things your parents exclaimed when you were little, or react to what you see on the TV with the disgruntled attitude of a person past their youth.
For me, nothing reminds me of my age more than young gamers. I have multiple friends with older children and I see 100+ students on a workday. Many of them are gamers, and on an increasingly regular basis they remind me that I (and the games I play) have aged considerably. It’s rarely deliberate, and never malicious, but it’s increasingly common year after year.
Below are just a few experiences I have had with young gamers that have left me feeling aged. Maybe you have had similar experiences? Leave a comment below:
“I love playing Retro Games”
One of the first gaming conversations that caused me to reflect on my older perspective occurred about four years ago. I was just bringing a lesson to an end – students were packing up, putting chairs under, etc – when one of the gamers in the room struck up a conversation. She had heard that I played games on the Playstation 3, and wondered what other consoles I had.
“Just the PS3 and PC at the moment.” I answered.
She queried, “Nothing older?”
“Well, I do have older consoles, but they’re all stored away. I couldn’t throw them away.”
“Absolutely not!” she beamed, ” I love playing Retro games. I probably play old games as much as new ones.”
It was then that I asked, naively, “What old console do you have?”
“I have a Playstation One!” she replied.
Not a Nintendo 64, not a Sega Mega Drive… a Playstation?! Of course, my shocked reaction was internalized as I nodded and smiled to the Gamer Student. The original Playstation, the console I grew up with, a ‘Retro’ console?
Perspective is important when it comes to determining what constitutes the ‘recent past’. I have students that were born after the PS1s life span came to an end, so they can be forgiven for considering it ‘old’. From my perspective though, memories of the first Playstation are ingrained in my young life. Having been introduced to PC games early on, the PS1 was the first console I ever had!
We are in an era of gaming that has a weird relationship with its heritage. On the one hand, we see a plethora of sequels, pseudo-sequels and reboots of games of all ages. On the other hand, those games are presented as new articles, without number or subtitle or denote a new addition of a larger franchise.
When one of my students starts up a conversation about God of War, Devil May Cry or Hitman, I feel old everytime I have to ask the question: “do you mean the original or the one that came out last year?”. It sounds so very ‘back in my day’.
Time as moved on so quickly that even the phrase ‘Call of Duty‘ is lost on my youngest students. They know that relatively more recent games as Modern Warfare and alike, and most haven’t played any but the most recent. Even mentioning this legacy makes you sound like your rambling about the ‘good ol’ days’
Each new generation takes a long time to realise so little of what they see or hear is the original. Your generation was like it and so was mine. We’re so oblivious to the original versions of things when we’re growing up; the idea that a movie might be a remake passes us by. The idea that the older generation was fashionable at one point baffles the young. The first time you heard an adult swear, you were probably surprised that they knew that word. So it is with video games.
So it is with video games. The problem is that pointing it out reminds you of how far time has move on.
On a Friday morning, me and my tutor group celebrate their successes and rewards of that week. When that is done, we have enough time to fit in a movie or game trailer. The other day, I showed them the trailer for the Final Fantasy VIII remake. After the spectacle was over, the students wanted to know about the original. In particular, they wanted to know why VII was the one to receive treatment, when their are so many others.
After a brief discussion, I put on a clip of gameplay footage from the original and oh boy, the feeling of being an elderly gamer crept in fast. Not only was watching the two versions back-to-back so mentally jarring, but the students were so amused or gobsmacked or embarrassed that the difference between both FFVIIs was magnified tenfold.
There are many other examples, little moments in my day that make me feel like an old gamer, but these three represent major themes. Games from my childhood referred to as ‘very old games’, any reference I make to games runs the risk of becoming nostalgic and images of old games are met with mirth.
I’m never offended by the observations of my friends’ children or my students. Yet as time goes on, the more they accidentally highlight how many gaming hours/years I have under my belt.
Thank You For Reading
Written by Rufus Scott.