I'd like to talk for a few minutes about adult gamers, and the surprising mindset still lingering in a few people today that video games are but a child's toy that a mature adult has no business playing. Considering where I am at the moment, the MLP forums, I'd be willing to make a deal to eat my computer if there's a single person on these forums who harbors this opinion, however, this opinion is still floating around in the world. There are still those who hear about an adult who plays video games, shake their heads, and says, "Ugh. How can a grown man/woman waste their time with children's toys? Grow up."
I recently watched a old video by Boogie2988 about this very subject. I'm sure many of you are familiar with him. Here's the video if you're interested. It's old, but not old enough to be irrelevant by any means. The following story is basically a response to that video, and a story you can tell if you ever meet someone who says games are just for kids.
I am 31. I have been a die hard gamer for my entire life. I started gaming practically before I could walk. About five or so years ago, my mom got into gaming. She would have been....~57 at the time. She had her first taste of video games, as many older folks have, with Wii Sports. She has never been interested in gaming before. She never gave it much thought. It didn't seem to her like something she'd be interested in, or indeed able to do. It was a young person's thing. But she was instantly intrigued by the Wii Sports. (And props to Nintendo, here; they were really ingenious with Wii Sports, and the Wii in general. It attracted so many people outside of the regular demographic. They expanded their market so much. It really was a smart move, and a brilliant business model.) So, my mom asked if she could try it, and I did it with her, and to all of our surprise, she loved it. She asked me to play it with her all the time, and I gladly made time to do so, even though I wasn't all that interested, to be honest. I'd rather play Final Fantasy, or Skyrim, or Halo or something.
After awhile, my mom wanted more, and became curious about what she could do. I took it upon myself to become a gaming mentor to her, and to try to expand her horizons. We bought some simple Wii games to get her started. She loves CSI and Project Runway, so we got the Wii games of those. Little more than animated menus, these games can hardly be called games. They are rudimentary point and click apps that would be best suited to a phone. (Indeed, I have mobile app games that are more robust than those.) She devoured these quickly and was hungry for more. We graduated to some more substantial games, and got her Final Fantasy: Chocobo's Dungeon, Epic Mickey, and Disney Universe. She loved them. I mean, she absolutely loved them. She was just madly in love with Epic Mickey and Chocobo. She played them non-stop. She had a lot of trouble along the way, but I helped her every step of the way. She then had her first experience with a sh*tty game, which every gamer has to square with at some point.. She tried Cursed Mountain on Wii. When she got stuck, and I tried to help, and I can attest to the fact that that game was definitely sh*t. She resold it back to the used game place.
She played a few other simple Wii games after that, but she quickly started running out of options. Her needs were growing a bit specific: she needed a real, robust game with enough challenge to be interesting, but not so hard as to become a roadblock when she runs into a boss she can't handle. After all, she was very new at this. A small fish in a small pond. I tried to think of what would fit the bill. I did some research, watched tons of Wii reviews. Nothing where the game would stop if she can't beat a boss. No God of War games. That wouldn't do. She needed freedom. I had a wild idea, and I decided to pitch it out of the blue one day. After helping her with something on Mickey, I said, "So, mom, would you like to learn how to play Skyrim?" She was surprised, a little hesitant, but then said, "Yeah. Absolutely." And so, we undertook the epic journey. I had already mastered Skyrim inside and out, so I would be her guide and mentor. I gave her semi-formal lessons. I even formulated a bit of a curriculum in my head before-hand. We would sort of alternate between lessons on smithing, enchanting, perk constellations and all that stuff, and hands-on combat training. She did amazingly well. Over the months, I watched her grow from bumbling around like an idiot, getting stuck in a corner and helplessly spinning in a circle while looking at the floor, to playing completely proficiently, crafting dual-enchanted Daedric armor, killing Alduin, getting stealth kills, riding her horse, and using an infinite alteration set to hold a piece of fruit with telekinesis to level grind. Oh, she was no pro-gamer by any means, and certainly could not survive Legendary difficulty, but she was absolutely proficient. She LOVED it. So much. She had the most fun she's had in years. She was blown away by how much she loved it. She did everything. Every quest, every house, every thane task, every misc objective. Everything. She milked Skyrim for every drop it was worth, and she wanted more.
I recently picked out a new game for her. It was a bold choice, and I wasn't sure how it would work out, but my instincts told me she'd love it. Red Dead Redemption. Now, here's the odd thing--I've never played Red Dead. (Yes, yes, I know--crucify me, right here and now.) I own it for PS3, but I've never played it. It's sitting, along with many other great titles (Last of Us, for one) in my to-play stack. The only reason I haven't gotten to it is simply time constraints. I'm just too busy, and I tend to put more of a priority on the multiplayer games that my friends are into on Steam. But I'm a GTA 4 veteran, and I knew Red Dead would be similar, and I knew enough about it that I knew I could trust the game and the developer. So we bought it for her on 360. She knew I had never played it, so she knew she would be sailing into uncharted (yes, that's in my to-play stack also) waters. She wasn't in the small pond anymore. She was in the middle of the f*cking ocean. I gave her the Celestia-type speech: "I'll still be here to help and guide you, but this is your game now, and you must rely on yourself now. Remember everything I've taught you." I am immensely proud of her. It's amazing. So little experience, such a newbie, such a green gamer, and she is handling herself remarkably well. Sure, she dies a lot, and combat is tough at times, but she plays that game. I mean, she plays the hell out of it. She completes missions, kills the bandits, rides horses, plays mini-games, collects money, harvests resources, hunts animals, explores the world. She really does it, and all on her own, and she f*cking LOVES it. She is so excited to play it. She never imagined that she'd enjoy shooting bandits and hunting game in the wild west; it's so far removed from the norm of her life, but she absolutely f*cking LOVES it. Just loves it.
Gaming has become a fantastic new hobby for my mom. Her life was getting a little...shall we say...routine, and gaming has given her so much new fun and excitement. And there's no question that it's sharpening her mind and dexterity as well. And she's even playing Final Fantasy VI from the Wii virtual store on the side! And you know what she loves almost more than gaming? Telling people she's a gamer! She doesn't go around broadcasting it or anything, but when it comes up naturally, she gets such a big kick out telling people, and she just loves their total shock that an older woman plays f*ckin' Skyrim, Final Fantasy, and Red Dead. It just tickles her to death. She is extremely proud of her hobby, and I'm so happy for her.
My mother is 62 years old, and she plays the hell out f*cking RED DEAD REDEMPTION, and loves it. Games are for everyone. That's all I have to say.
*EDIT* Update a few months later--She's now working on the Halos. Finished 1 and loved it. Nearly done with 2. And she got Fallout 3 for later.
*RE-EDIT* Update a year later--She finished the Halos, Fable, and Fallout 3. Next it's Farcry 2 & 3, and then... drumroll.... RED DEAD 2!!!!! Prolly Farcy 5 after that, I imagine.