I remember my first Saturday at college. My eyes opened, hazy from a night out – a state I would grow all too accustomed with. Shouting, sprinkled with high pitched screams of “Here we go!” and “Yahooooo!!!” filled the hall. When I stumbled into the room responsible, just over a quarter of my floor mates had forced themselves into the small living space. Mario Kart 64 decorated the 26” TV screen and commanded the crowd’s attention. The loser passed their controller to whoever had waited the longest for a chance to show off their skills. We spent most of the day in that cramped room, strange smells increasing with every hour. To this day it was one of my fondest memories of college.
College is truly a gamers’ paradise. Almost every male student owns at least one console and a number of games which are traded with a high frequency. This common interest amongst peers also makes forming clans, tournaments and new drinking games (“Beerio Kart” anyone?) an easy activity. It is the pinnacle of everything young gamers dream of while they spend nights playing Madden, Halo or NHL.
However after four years, many expect us to put down the controller as we collect our diplomas.
As much as gaming has found the mainstream with advances in motion gaming, the opinion that games are for kids is still prominent, particularly among the older crowd. However misguided, there is some truth to the opinion. As gamers get older, they must take on more responsibility which leaves less time for recreational activities. Some choose to drop the activity entirely; others struggle to keep it in their lives.
While console gaming renaissance began roughly five years before me or any of my peers was able to pick up a controller, the majority of this generation will take some form of their gaming habits well into adulthood. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the average gamer is 34 years old, with the number of American gamer over fifty increasing by 17 percent from 1999. Both these trends will no doubt continue in the coming years. Unfortunately, remnants of the traditional social stigma around gaming still remain today as evident in television shows like The Big Bang Theory and South Park.
These depictions of gamers, even if they are hilarious (and in some cases true), prevent non-gamers from taking the medium as seriously as film, television or even literature. Even though gaming has yet to reach the artistic standard of other media, it is a major part of this generation’s perception of what consists of entertainment. The medium will only continue to grow in that regard and if gamers want to silence the haters, their behavior needs to mature with the medium.
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