I’m 45 years old. I’ve been playing games since I was 8 and making them professionally since I was 18. During that time there have been an amazing number of technological advances.. better consoles.. better computers.. amazing video cards.. smartphones. As a result of that technology we’ve seen some simply astonishing games take over out lives for long periods of time.
It wasn’t until the last few years that I started to take a closer look at the arc of my own life as a gamer and open my eyes to the fact that my journey is really different than the one my kids are on. I see the gaming world through the eyes of someone 45 that grew up on consoles and early PCs. My kids (I have 4.. 3 of which I would consider hardcore gamers) grew up in a very different gaming world than I did. They’ve had smartphones to play games on, they’re already used to multi-tasking to a degree that even someone like me has a hard time keeping up with. They’re tweeting with their friends while they play games. They’re on Facebook while they play games. Gaming is already a very social experience for them simply because of their ability to connect with each other. It lets word of mouth become almost instantaneous. That’s a very, very powerful thing.
The generation we’re seeing coming into the gaming fold now are going to be even more extreme versions of my own kids. They will never have seen a world without an iPhone.. or an iPad. They will be playing in a world where they can log onto a PC, find just about any kind of game they want to play and go ahead and play it.. all without going to the store to buy something. In fact, they’re growing up in a world where the free options are actually incredible. This isn’t me saying Free-To-Play is the only way. I’m saying let’s open our eyes to the world we’re living in. The next generation of gamers has an awesome world to look forward to.
We’re also seeing a massive influx of people of all ages into gaming in general. Things like Candy Crush Saga have hit a chord in a whole lot of people. My own Mom is 75 and plays Pogo for 6-8 hours a day (yeah. really.. not exaggerating).
So what does all this mean for us as both game players and game makers? Well as a game maker the world only gets more interesting. We always can look forward to the next new awesome piece of tech that’s going to give us the ability to make cooler things. However, we also need to start actually paying attention to our own demographics a bit more than perhaps we did in the past… particularly in gaming segments that have longer game lifetimes. In the MMO space, we have Everquest which is just about to turn 15. That’s 1/3 of my life. One game. We have a whole lot of people who played right from March 16th, 1999. There have been many games that have sucked me in so completely I’ve played them for really extended lengths of time.
What’s interesting about those numbers is that I know I’m not unique in them. Most of you have probably also played some games for a super long time too. I was 30 when we launched Everquest… and I’m 45 now. That’s a huge age gap. My tastes have changed radically. There are new categories that didn’t exist before that I find my gaming time split between (Planetside 2, Dota 2.. ipad games.. iphone games). I have responsibilities I didn’t have when I was 30. My desire to pull an all-nighter playing a game hasn’t changed one bit. However my ability to pull an all-nighter playing a game has absolutely changed. I also find that once I’ve learned a game I tend to stick with it more than when I was younger because the key investment I’m making now is time.
And that’s really what sums this up for me. My key resource in my own life now is time. It’s a finite resource. Maybe it’s THE finite resource.
Where will I be when I’m 60.. or when I’m 75 like my Mom is now. I know for sure I’ll still be gaming… and I can’t wait to see what it is I’ll be playing. But really, 15 years to hitting 60 doesn’t seem as long now to me. I’m starting to measure my professional time in terms of what I make.. because we only get a certain amount of time on this Earth and I’d rather be playing or making games than anything else so I want to make the best games I can… and I want to have fun doing it.