When did you become a “grown-up gamer”?

HEA-VideoGamers-blood-clot

This is the question posed, and subsequently answered by members of the IGN staff.

I can relate to most, if not all of the answers given, specifically those that say they still don’t feel “grown up” or like an adult. I just feel like a big kid with responsibilities.

But that got me to thinking — what’s my defining “grown-up gamer” moment? When I did I first feel the shift from adolescence to adulthood with a controller in my hands? Nothing stands out off the top of my head, but after racking my brain for a bit, I think these might be the most compelling instances.

Not having keep my late-night gaming a secret.

There’s a period of time, roughly around the age of 17 or so, where your parents stop interrogating you about what time you went to bed the night before, or pestering you about getting a good night’s rest. At least that’s how it was for me (I think). Their caring and common sense only got in the way of more important issues, such as side quests and boss battles, you see.

I remember when I was in the 10th grade, Final Fantasy XI had just been released on the PlayStation 2, and that’s all I wanted to play. I had it pre-ordered at Best Buy, where its total cost was something like $100, I think. You have to remember this price also included a 40GB HDD, which had to be manually installed inside the PlayStation 2, along with the network adapter.

As a veteran of the console MMORPG (EverQuest Online Adventures), I already owned a USB keyboard specific to the PlayStation 2. So I was ready to battle, adventure and socialize with like-minded people across the US, Japan, and eventually most parts of Europe.

I have no idea how many hours I spent living in the world of Vana’diel, or hanging out in the PlayOnline chat rooms, but I can tell you that much of that time was in the middle of the night. And during the summer, it would last until the wee hours of the morning, when the sun was coming up. I could hear my parents getting up and getting ready for work. And that was my cue to quietly cut the game off and slip into bed.

But of course they couldn’t know that. Eventually I’d age to the point where this was a non-issue, though, and I didn’t have to tiptoe around the fact I would often sacrifice sleep for the sake of fun.

However, something else eventually resulted from my growing older — I found I didn’t want to stay up all night playing video games, especially once I’d entered college, where I also worked a full-time job. It just could’t be managed — taking 16 credit hours, working full time and playing video games all night? Nope, not happening.

No longer wanting to play online multiplayer games.

For a long time, playing games online was a huge draw, especially in the console space. It was old news for PC gamers, but it didn’t become the norm for console gamers until the Xbox 360 arrived. I had played a handful of online PC games to that point, but I was much more interested in being able to play competitively from the comfort of my couch. And when I finally could, it was awesome.

But over time, it became less awesome. And eventually I hated it. I doubt I need to explain too much, as I’m sure most anyone reading this already knows all about the role of petulant children and enraged 12-year-olds on Xbox Live. But of course, you can’t forget the undying presence of the ignorant, homophobic, sexist, insecure, inarticulate, infuriated, Tapout shirt-wearing dudebros who plague almost the entire online landscape.

It wasn’t so bad at first, but it quickly grew to an intolerable level within just a few years. So unless I’m just feeling sadistic — needing to be cursed at, insulted and threatened — I typically avoid online games entirely. When I was younger, it didn’t bother me as much, but now that I’m “older,” I can’t stand it.

My two examples aren’t really all that profound, but I think it’s stuff a number of “aging” gamers cant relate to. At the ripe old age of 25, I’m faced with a bit of conundrum — I feel as though I’ve outgrown playing overtly violent online games all night long, but I’m still well within Pokémon’s target demographic.

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