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March 19, 2010

Geek Out!: Still got game

Posted: 12:52 PM ET
Older gamers still got game
Older gamers still got game

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From scifi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's Marquee and SciTech blogs.

It’s been an epic week for gamers. First God of War III and then Starcraft beta news. As I trudge in to work today, a little worn out from last night’s Dol Guldur run, I can spot a few others who share the hallmarks of my gaming hobby.

As gamers in our 30s, we’re a little more otherworld-weary than the high school and college-aged kids who were waiting in line to buy God of War III Monday night. But as older gamers we keep coming back to the table. Why is that?

Here’s a conversation I bet a lot of us have had at one point in the last 10 years. Chat log:

ScaryGrrl: This game reminds me of Castle Wolfenstein!
Solereaper: What is that?
ScaryGrrl: Umm, a game, from the 80s.
Solereaper: Dude, how old are you?

Has gaming evolved to a point where it’s a surprise that someone my age would be as into a game as someone (clearly) 15 – 20 years younger than me?

No way! Older gamers still have plenty of game.

Back in the 70s when Atari introduced the 2600 console, we could nestle in the safety of our homes and play to our heart’s content without having to face the questions of “why do you play those things?” from our classmates and teachers.

The kids LARPing and playing D & D back then have become the adults who now embrace new technology in all its forms whether it be FPS games, MMO’s or console games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

The draw for gamers today is the same as it was back then: Escape. For a brief period of time you can be anyone, do anything. Back then it was a roll of the dice and you won the fight, got the loot and praise from your party. Today, all it takes is a few well-timed keyboard clicks and you can become the hero, get the best gear and have the adoration of your guild.

The best part about being an older gamer is the choice. Today there’s a buffet of nerdly delights. Games like WoW, Eve Online and Lord of The Rings Online offer the chance to become one of the characters we read about in grade school. I chose the chance to follow Frodo and his fellowship to Mount Doom. I started playing LoTRO in beta three years ago and I’m still hooked. We’ve made it to Mirkwood Forest and are marshalling the rangers to aid us in our fight.

Do you still have game? Do you notice a difference between younger and older gamers?

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Jonny5   March 19th, 2010 1:33 pm ET

I play LoTRO as well, and I notice a big difference between the older and younger gamers. We older gamer (not all obviously) play LoTRO to follow the story or the Ring, to escape reality for a bit just like you would in reading the trilogy. Where the movies fail to keep your attention for more that the 4 hour extended editions allow, the books and the game completely immerse you in the world that is Middle Earth!

Avrailer   March 19th, 2010 2:43 pm ET


I am 18 (is that considered old?) and have been playing games since i was 6 (how about now?) my main games are WoW, and mostly rpg's or fps's

KevinM83   March 19th, 2010 3:07 pm ET

Woot for older gamers! I've been gaming ever since the Atari 2600 and have loved every minute of it. Now that I'm older and have a family I must admit I have a lot less time to game, but when I do I absolutely love it.

When surrounded by other older gamers my experience within a game seems to be a much richer one as opposed to just being surrounded by younger players. I believe older gamers bring a certain vibe to an online gaming environment that is beneficial to everyone, including younger gamers. We veterans have a few secrets to share of our own 😉

Thamorian   March 19th, 2010 4:22 pm ET

Fantastic article!!!! I'm a gamer and have been since the days of the Atari 2600. I'm also a Lotro gamer and I'm 40.

Alastrina   March 19th, 2010 4:26 pm ET

As one of the *ahem* more shall we say experienced gamers I know, I can also akin gaming (with friends) to that of our parents sitting around our dining room tables with one hand filled with cards, a drink in the other and a cigarette in the ashtray. At least once every couple of weeks my friends all clamor over to my house to play Rock Band II, Left 4 Dead 2, or some other group console game while other nights I've been known to look forward to dungeon raids with my guildmates from all across the world that might as well have been those very same friends. And further yet, the Wii has all but replaced board games for our son in our house, with Wii Mario Party 8 and other fun games! The world's a'changin'. But I digress..

The main difference I see between myself and someone 20 years younger than me is that I have a LOT of fun from the conversation and a job well done and comparatively more times than not someone from the younger crowd seems to get the most fun from being the pesky kid brother continually barging into your party with your underwear on his head.

Carl   March 19th, 2010 4:52 pm ET

I could only find myself laughing when you made the comment about Wolfenstein. Because, this has happened to me in the past also. I was born with a remote in hand when I came out of the womb and I've tried nearly every gaming console / game (whether it be on computer, console, board game, anything really) that has come out. I've found myself leaning towards certain types of games due to personal likes and desires, but I definately find a giant gap between "new and old" school.

When it comes to preordering, I don't ever really do it, i just go and get a game when i find the time (the joys of being older now is I have a lot less time to myself) and the desire to break away from my current stack of games. But the story I wanted to tell, was I went to Gamestop, picked up my preordered FFXIII PS3 version game, waited in line and before me, were 3 groups of people (parents and children or just younger in general), as people were picking up their game they were all offered a guide/walkthrough book to purchase on top of the game. Every single one of them jumped for joy when they saw it and HAD to have it. When the question was posed to me, it wasn't even something I considered, my automatic response was "Uhm, I'm a little too old school when it comes to games, I don't need my hand held".

It would seem with new technologies and new gaming types, the newer generation appears to enjoy the easy route to "geekdom" fame.

As far as Starcraft II goes, it's nearly impossible to "out do" originals, especially without the original crew doing so. I'm a huge fan of Battlenet and the whole free online play so I will undoubtedly purchase and enjoy this until the next hit comes along to show its face.

Nikki Rau-Baker   March 19th, 2010 9:32 pm ET

Thanks for the comments! I look forward to reading what else people have to say.

Valdimarr   March 20th, 2010 12:32 am ET

Nikki, wonderful article. I hope to be able to read more from you in the future. This 35 yr old, LOTRO veteran has gathered the rangers and can't wait to press on towards Mordor. See you in Middle Earth

Timothy Griffin   March 20th, 2010 9:04 am ET

Phone call from my fellow 42-year-old gamer last Sunday morning:
-I'm bringing my kids to the game store for the Heroscape tournament.
-Great! My son and I will meet you there.
-The tournament starts at 1 pm.
-Why so late? The store opens at 11 a.m.
-Yeah, but the guy running the tournament needs a ride from his mom.

Man, my DICE are older than the people I play against.

davewoodrum   March 20th, 2010 9:08 am ET

I not only still game but I make a small side living at game design... but the traditional table top gaming, not video/pc/console. Currently I'm working with FGU on the Villains & Vigilantes line... which got a true classic reboot and is available in original format.

davewoodrum   March 20th, 2010 9:10 am ET

Timothy Griffin-
Yeah, I know what you mean on the dice. I'm still using dice that I had way back in the 80's... some of them are my favorite ones and are in really great shape and roll more true than dice sets I acquired later on.

tony d. smalltown, NY   March 20th, 2010 9:50 am ET

Gee I built my first PC type computer in 1983 from spare and discarded parts. My first computer was a Timex 1000, that I programed in basic to create a reservation program for a local hot tub business that I worked for. I also had a good time with the original Sim City on my 9" amber mono monitor. I would leave the game running in my attic over night and check it in the morning just before I left for work. I also had a great time with the early RPG's like A Bards Tale etc.

Joe   March 20th, 2010 9:56 am ET

The games have changed, the fun has not. While nearly reaching 40 myself, I got started late into the entire gaming system, be it pen and paper or console or computer. Temple of Apshai Trilogy for the C64 was my first game. Simple graphics, not much interaction with NPCs other than to kill. Then came the pen and paper games of the 90s that I got involved in, FASA Star Trek, AD&D, DragonStorm (card-based RPG nothing like the battle games of today), etc. Then the spread yet again for computer games and MMOs (Diablo 2, Earth and Beyond, Istaria: Chronicles of the Gifted, Star Trek Online). The people and faces and graphics may change, but deep down, the fun, the interaction with other people who "get us", and the feelings of accomplishment outweigh all the drudgery of desk jobs.

Ele   March 20th, 2010 10:05 am ET

It's great to see an article about gaming!

I just wanted to add that I, at 25, started gaming because of my father. He started me out on the PC Junior, we had an Atari and the Intelevision and worked our way up from there.

After my sister and I left for college, gaming became a family gathering to meet online in our MMO at the time. Now that we are out of college, we have weekly game sessions.

The only reason I even got a date with my now husband was over a dispute as to who would win at Smashbrothers.

It's weird to think how much a part of my life it is, but I wouldn't change a thing!

(And yes, my father, now 51, is still a proud gamer.)

Matt   March 20th, 2010 10:06 am ET

I miss all of the 80s computer games. I feel like the graphics limitations forced them to be much more original in terms of gameplay. Most of the commercial games today are just fancy graphics on top of a first person shooter. Could pac man have been invented today?

I've resisted getting into the MMORPGs. I don't have the time. We do enjoy Wiiing though.

If anyone is interested, I am self publishing my own indie computer game for mac or pc at Its free to try, and is kind of like a cross between risk, go, othello, and minesweeper.

Mikel Rysk   March 20th, 2010 10:09 am ET

This was an awesome article, and the comments were exceptional as well. Today is D&D Game day for the release of the 4th edition player's handbook 3. I could care less about the handbook, but I am going to meet fellow gamers and have some fun. For me, the chance to actually interact with people in person is why I am so addicted to tabletop games. I haven't played them since I was a kid, but I have played games since I was a kid. My parents weren't the richest, so I would always have to go to a friends house to play on the Atari, love Pitfall, its the best. Anyways, continuing my lack of financial freedom into my 20's, where I became more interested in women than gaming, but still gamed on my friends PS2 and fell in love with the FF series. Now I am thirty, and prefer tabletop games because I understand that in those console/computer games, there are limitations to your actions and the outcomes of those actions. With table top, its a different story. You can do whatever you want, your only limitation is your imagination and the imagination of the GM/ DM/ ST. I now am addicted to Rifts by Palladium and Werewolf: The Apocalypse by White Wolf. The Rifts is table top and I actually am the GameMaster for that game. For WtA, I have been the ST, but I love being a player, especially since it is a LARP. Your next story should be about why LARP has gotten such a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Every time I mention it to other gamers, its like the black plague. Anyways, look forward to more articles and thanks.

Guest   March 20th, 2010 10:30 am ET

Speaking of dice rolling and tabletop gaming, let's not forget about the incredible addiction that is Warhammer 40,000. You kind of have to be an adult gamer for this one, as there's no way I could afford this stuff as a kid.

Kathy   March 20th, 2010 11:07 am ET

Age becomes irrelevant when gaming. From LARPS where the youngest age of the play may be decided by when the mother goes in to labor, to families going to parties where everyone takes a tuen at Mario Party or Rock Band.

I love that i have come to an age where the gamer is accepted by people not looked at only as the weird kid in the '80, and to an age where the female gamer is not a myth.

WH40K   March 20th, 2010 11:46 am ET

I've played RPGs since the early 80s when the dad of a friend asked some of us to play. I was hooked right away. As some of you have pointed out it's an escape. For me it was an escape from all the crappy things going on in the real world. From that point on my friends and I spent many weekend nights not sleeping and slaying trolls, dragons and kobolds.
Although I don't play MMOs myself I can imagine that kids today are attracted to them for many of the same reasons we were attracted to tabletop RPGs. What seems to have changed is the culture and make-up of the participants. The stereotype of kids that played tabletop RPGs in the 80s was the geeky kid that couldn't get dates so he was stuck home on Saturday night playing in a fantasy world. Today it seems that, while video games are still considered geeky by some, you see the "cool" kids playing as well. Video games today don't seem to be the social stigma that AD & D once was.
I haven't played D & D in quite a while due to lack of other players. What was once a huge part of my life has faded into distant memory. As an adult I find it hard to make the time required to play. I also find that it's still a bit of a social stigma. I think this carries over from other adults my age that made fun of the kids playing back in the 80s. What I am curious about here though is why tabletop games still seem to carry this negative connotation while modern video games, which are virtually the same thing in many cases, do not? Is it our overall culture that has changed? Is it that we find it harder to get into a game if we must use our imaginations rather than seeing the virtual images on a screen in front of us?
I would like to second another Guest's comment regarding Warhammer 40,000. I've played this game for only a few years but it is a huge, expensive addiction that I really could not have afforded as a kid. Hell, I can't afford it now but I manage somehow. Although I enjoy playing the actual game, a huge part of WH40k for me is constructing and painting all of the figures and scenery. It really is an artistic endeavor that can be enjoyed by almost anyone. I would liken it to being a modeler for a gaming company...the sky's the limit! I actually am a programmer working on various visual simulation programs but to be honest I still prefer creating with my hands rather than my keyboard.

Salacious   March 20th, 2010 11:55 am ET

Awesome article. Although I pretty much gave up on MMORPGs (particularly LOTRO, the sweeping changes they made to the game last year was something I couldn't play through), I still like me a dose of pen and paper gaming. Anybody up for a night of Advanced Heroquest?

Aztinman   March 20th, 2010 1:14 pm ET

I'm 62 and my wife is 50. We have both been playing WoW for 4yr.
It's the most non-horizontal fun you can have, and it's cheap.

Sandra   March 20th, 2010 3:00 pm ET

What about gaming couples? It's tough when the two of you are vying for top score.

I think we all need to read the book "Girl's Guide to Dating a Geek" to find out how to not only date a geek, but discover our inner geek.

Woot Woot =D   March 20th, 2010 3:24 pm ET

Woot Woot for us old people. Who says you have to be a kid to love games 🙂

"Old" Calif Gamer   March 20th, 2010 5:17 pm ET

I've never been ashamed to be a gamer and never will be. I play D&D monthly with a group, the youngest being in his late 30's. The thing is, it was gaming that brought us together, provided the opportunity to meet each other. We've been to each other's weddings. Go to our kids' birthday parties. Go to sports events together. These guys are my closest friends on the planet. Gaming has impacted my real life, not just my recreation habits. Are we nerdy? Could be, but...
Several of us have served honorably in the military.
Several of us have Masters Degrees.
One of us was scouted by the Phillies while he was in High School.
One of us works in management for a major manufacturer of aerospace parts.
One of us works in management for a major construction company.
One of us is a CPA well on his way to retiring by the time he is 50.
One of us works as a developer of military software.
Gaming helped make each of us who we are, but it is not all we are. Still, one of my current concerns, which I've spent a bit of time trying to correct, is getting good enough to at least compete in the Madden league we have going. Is that so wrong?

Jill   March 20th, 2010 7:14 pm ET

I'm a 44 year old mom of three (22, 20 & 18) who used to play both WoW and LoTRO but just WoW now. People are often shocked to find out that (a) I'm a "girl" and (b) I'm in my mid 40's. Gaming is a nice way to relax and get away from it all. My husband is 50 and played LoTRO, WoW, and Star Trek Online. He's just playing Star Trek now – like me, he found it easier to concentrate on a single game. I, however, do actually miss our WoW'ing time together...

CramerNH   March 20th, 2010 8:14 pm ET

OK.... I remember playing Colecovision before Atari 2600 – I remember Dungeons and Dragons diehard weekend playing at friend's houses – we never went to bed – we had our junk food, soda, music and D&D books piled high with a Dungeon Master that could come up with some amazing quests and storylines on a whim!

Through the years, then it became Nintendo ES, then Playstation (still have the first generation platform of PS), PS2 (still have the first gen of this platform)... now we have PS3 – also a first gen of its kind....

Yes – everything from the Colecovision STILL works today... albeit a few jerryrigged wires and a small 25in TV for the older platforms...

Id like to see today's kids try their hands at "Haunted Mansion", "Pacman", "Super Breakout" and the original Mario-Brothers.... hehehehe betchya they will give up REAL quick! LOL

chuck   March 20th, 2010 9:32 pm ET

I'm 58 and still get a kick out of gaming, started with a pong game and now play WoW and Silent Hunter 5

VJ Dietrich   March 21st, 2010 3:27 pm ET

45 and still play table-top D&D weekly. Advantage of being older: Magic alpha cards!

Dea   March 22nd, 2010 12:32 pm ET

LOVE gaming. And I got started late actually. As an older female (40-something), I find people all the time that are older than me playing MMO's for the same reason. We love living in another world for awhile, making friends, and just escaping. I play SWG still, and LOTRO. I like FPS's, but I just run out of time with work on how many games I can actively play.

Great article, and I hope to see more.

gamEr   March 23rd, 2010 8:37 am ET

so avrailer i see we meet again. im 19 and have been playing since i was 4. my main games are WoW and fps

ErnSyl   March 23rd, 2010 12:40 pm ET

I'm a 48 year old WOW player since release. My guild thinks I'm older but they have no idea I'm 48 🙂 I still shoot stuff with the best of 'em and enjoy our scheduled raids 3 nights a week.

leowic   March 23rd, 2010 1:34 pm ET

I have gamed sense the late 70's when I was playing the original D&D, before they came out with AD&D, when Elf was a class and a race.

Now I work for a major computer company making good money. I don't really roll the dice anymore, but I play a lot of WoW. I am still friends some of the people from gamming group, one is even in my WoW guild. And most of us are successful in life. Gaming has been a great influence on my life. I will however not comment on that whole Magic: The Gathering phase, that was just WAY TO MUCH money wasted.

jonmpat   March 24th, 2010 12:05 pm ET

I'm so glad that I have taken the interest in the games of our forefathers. To be honest, Wolfenstein 3-D that I played on my dinosaur of a computer so few years ago turned out to be one of the best. I keep a copy of the disk under my pillow at night, and while I do not play much anymore, my full set of Dungeons and Dragons books occupy a seat of honor on my shelf

BryanP100   March 25th, 2010 2:52 pm ET

As an old(er) gamer... I'm 37... I also started gaming early in life. From D&D, to AD&D, then to Champions, Gurps, Amber Diceless in College. As soon as the internet became accessable I was playing Text based MUDs (like Dragonrealms), which led to DAoC which was really the last game I've ever been able to get really into.

Since then though, I have found that there are some online games I can not stand because of the younger crowd. WoW namely, but almost all of them are overrun with 13 year old boys, or people who act like 13 year old boys anyway. Heck, even in STO I was joined in one mission by the USS BLEEPerprise. The first letter in the BLEEPed word was a C and women generally despise the word... that's the type of behavior that drives me insane.

I also stopped playing most FPS's because of all the racist remarks made by those players in chat. It's as though these children are so excited to be anonymous that they will do anything from calling people the N word to camping a gavesite for hours on end after a PvP encounter.

So I'm basically tired of gaming in general now. The only thing that had kept me going is my guild, which is made up mature players... the youngest, I believe, is in their mid-20s.

The only online game I can play with people is World War 2 Online which seems to have a very mature player base.

I guess I'm just jaded.

TinyTheWicked   March 28th, 2010 8:25 am ET

I am an all around gamer, At the moment im stuck on playing dragon age origins and just bought awakening, im not much one for the online games much anymore, I played everquest city of heros, even had a breif stint with WoW (over rated). I am also a Table top gamer. I am not what you would consider an old gamer but I'm 20 and i play with some older gamers. all in their 30's. The game of choice is palladium, we switch through the diffrent verions rifts nightbane phaseworld. Its fun. The only problem with gameing with older gamers is that we offten get derailed from the adventure with reminising of previous campaigns from years before i joined the group.

M   April 13th, 2010 5:32 pm ET

I'm 28. I started gaming with D&D and LARP–almost always the youngest of the group–and retired to MMO's for a while, but now I'm back into D&D after moving to an area with many more gamers. And it's true–age just doesn't matter. I've played with people half my age and had a blast.

Michael   May 8th, 2010 2:13 pm ET

I'm 30 and have come full circle back around to tabletop D&D. Went through all of the major consoles over the years and then on to a serious WoW addiction and then realized the need to have face-to-face socialization within my gaming activities again. So, weekly I'm rolling the dice again. Printed out some character sheets at work and when they were found by my boss I was expecting strange looks or outright ridicule and instead got, "oh man, you play D&D?! I used to love it back in college! Can I get in on your game?!" Funny stuff.

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