Video games came into homes more or less in the mid 1980's. Sure there were games before then, before the crash, but I'm considering the NES as the start of what we now know (and love) as gaming. Because of this, my generation is the first that have grown up entirely within the era of videogames. This holds a lot of implications, and I'd like to look at a few of them over time.
I was born shortly after the NES debuted. Even though I wasn't an avid gamer until I was a teenager, I do remember video games always having a presence in my life. When I was about 5 years old, we lived in an apartment complex that had a janitor named Mario. Even though my family didn't own any video game systems at the time, I remember thinking it was funny that his name was the same as the guy from that one game. One issue this brings up is this: what becomes of gamers when they "grow up?"
When I was a teenager I played games a lot. I had summer jobs during high school, so I had a disposable income. I had plenty of time, and that time was filled with gaming. Now I'm married and have three kids and a job. Yes, I met a female who liked me enough to commit her life to me, and let me tell you it is more challenging and rewarding than any video game. I'll admit though, I only won her by covering up my game playing for almost two years. This involved about one year of playing without her knowing, and then one year of playing very little. Then Twilight Princess came out, which I had been waiting for since before I met my wife, and I said, I'm playing this game. It came out about a month before my first son was born, so I was racing to finish it before his birth, getting up at 5:00 AM to play it before she got up (she knew I was playing, but didn't like me to play while she was around). As time went by she became more tolerant of my game playing, and I was able to start buying more games. I even got her hooked on Harvest Moon at one point! ;)
Now the question is, should a "responsible" adult be playing "games," or is that something kids do? Well, maybe. I think America is a little confused about what video games actually are. But that's another article. Frankly, I have very little time to play. If I'm diligent, I can squeeze in seven hours of gameplay in one week, but that rarely happens. I usually only play a couple hours a week. That's not enough to even keep up with the games I want to play coming out. Is this ridiculous? Should I just face it and quit gaming and "get on with my life?" I've fought with this many times. Seeing as I'm writing for this site, you can probably guess what I've come to so far.
My oldest son is 3.5 years of age. I have found that gaming is a way we can connect. Earlier this year I played Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, and after a while my son would notice and ask what I was playing. I started letting him sit on my lap while I played, and he was immediately enthralled because of the train. As he paid more attention, he began to be intrigued by more and more of the game. At several points he found little events or activities that he wanted me to repeat over and over. Suddenly it clicked: when I was a kid, it was the same thing in games that got to me. The little funny things you could do, or the one mechanic that was just so much fun you repeat it over and over. As an adult with less time, I tend to focus more on getting through the game, and less on just having fun with the game.
And some other stuff, but that's enough for now.