The Adult Video Gamer
Whatever happened to the once mighty video game? Forty years ago, Pong took the world by storm; gathering entire families around a single screen, chomping at the bit to play. In magazine ads, everyone from children to parents and even grandparents were featured, having a gay old time with their Atari gaming system.
Fast forward to today and video games have lost their social-lustre, having been relegated to the domain of children and the awkward teenage male. Some of the blame could be placed on the uprising of child-like games during the “golden age” of the late 1980s and early 1990s. That’s when Nintendo and Sega blitzed the world with games featuring plumbers and hedgehogs, wizards and warlocks and space zappers and aliens – none of which, admittedly, appeal to adults.
In the last ten years, things have progressed even further in that direction, with the most video game publicity falling on games that glorify violence. For example, World War II shooting games where after just a few hours of play, one has used knife-and-gun to kill hundreds upon hundreds of other soldiers. Again, not the type of experience that attracts a diverse demographic.
So are video games really that bad? Have they totally lost their social appeal? Should being an adult gamer have such a stigma attached?
The quick and simple answer to these questions, is “no.”
DFC Intelligence projects that the video game industry will rake in $87 billion by 2017. The industry is massive and as a result, there’s never been better time to start gaming. Due to its size, there are games for every manner of interest, age, gender, etc. and actually, it’s been that way for many years. The industry is so pervasive that if you own a smart phone, you can become a gamer literally right now. But chance are, you might already be a gamer, since statistics show that most people with smart phones have downloaded at least one game. Have you ever played Angry Birds?
Gaming is no longer just about killing wizards, stomping mushrooms and blasting guns. In fact, with the abundance and diversity of games on the market, the benefits of gaming have started to present themselves through scientific research. Increased creative thinking, problem solving, hand-to-brain coordination along with stress relief, relaxation and plain enjoyment can be attributed as benefits of video gaming. In 2007, the American Psychological Association found that gamers were approximately 27 per cent faster and made 37 per cent fewer errors performing laparoscopic surgery than non-gamers.
Perhaps one of the best reasons to take up video gaming is that it’s now just so accessible. As mentioned above, a smart phone will get you access to thousands of games – from Scrabble to Zen Buddhist games, to games that require taking photos with your phone’s camera. There’s even a game for the Walking Dead TV show.
Even better, is that because the video game industry has been around for nearly fifty years, there’s a fantastically large used-game market. There’s no need to spend $300 on new systems and $60 on new game discs; you can find excellent deals online through sites just like Used.ca. A quick search brought up these really great buys:
- $25 retro Atari system with two controllers and seven games, on UsedVictoria.com
- $50 Nintendo Wii with two controllers, on UsedOttawa.com
- $20 PlayStation 1 with two controllers, on UsedPEI.com
- Plus on any of the various Used.ca sites, there are games for pretty much any system as low as $5.00
So if you consider the deals on used video games, along with the accessibility and affordability of games available for smart phones, then factor in the array of developmental benefits associated with gaming, then what’s not to love? When viewed this way, there’s no longer a good reason for the negative stigma. And really, aren’t video games just that – games? And games have been around since time immemorial. If it’s okay for my grandma to play Bridge, and for my father to play lawn darts, then I think it’s okay for today’s generation to play Angry Birds. Wouldn’t you agree?