Age – It’s just life’s levelling system…

October 14, 2011 § 1 Comment

When are you too old for gaming? Is it when you turn from mainstream games to niche imperialistic warfare sims? Or when you realise that Bus Simulator 2011 actually looks quite good? Or is it just something that happens overnight that leaves you feeling dazed, confused and desperate for some agricultural action (LS09 Landwirtschafts simulator 2009? Oh yeah…)?

Or is it when all your opponents turn into snot-faced kids and beat you senseless with their lunchboxes, making your blood pressure reach boiling point?

This train of thought has been rattling around my head since an unfortunate event last night, and I have yet to come up with a rational response. Read on, and pity me…  

The girlfriend was in bed, watching The Young Ones on my notebook, and I was salivating with the prospect of an hour or two uninterrupted gaming. Not that I don’t get quality gaming time, I just don’t get control of the big TV very often, and was looking forward to a few games of Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Xbox. If that sentence makes you snort and scoff, please – Black Ops is a great game, for a console shooter, and I was looking for some dumb, thumb-driven fun. I still won’t be buying MW3… it’s Battlefield 3 all the way for me.

Anyway, I decided to plump for a bit of Team Deathmatch. Not the best game-mode in Blops’ repertoire, but I haven’t played in some time and it’s a good way to get your aim in before hitting the far better, far harder Search and Destroy games. A few games in, I had a few kills, a few more deaths and my gun was heating up nicely, when a few more chaps join our game. I noticed them because they all had the same clan tag, and were clearly a group playing a slightly more tactical game than the rest of us. Fair enough, I thought, it’s always harder against a well-organized opponent, but still great fun. I love a challenge, me.

So, first game, they are on my team and we do pretty well – my kill/death ratio is evening up nicely. Second game, they are on the other team and do something I honestly never expected; they hunker down and camp. The map was Summit, and they simply camped the hell out of the top spawn-area… what the fuck, guys? As the game escalated, we had Blackbirds soaring overhead, we had RC-XDs bombing about, we had one attack chopper after another – all theirs. These four guys simply sat in the spawn, mowing down anything and everything that moved. Now, a few of you are probably shouting stuff like “use a grenade, noob” or “you should have used flashbangs and stormed them”, these are all fantastic ideas that would normally have caused these guys some issues. But this is four guys who clearly know exactly what they are doing, against five of us who don’t even have a mic plugged in… it was a slaughter.

My normal go-to response in this kind of situation is take the beating like a man, leave, and join a Mercenary game, where teams are randomized. My actual response last night was to yell “UP YOURS, YOU FUCKING KIDS!!!!” and turn the Xbox off in disgust. Now, my natural Scottish temper aside, I have had a few rages like these in the past – I played Counter Strike 1.6 competitively for four years, I know camper-hate very well. But never have I ever actually visualized my opponents as snotty-nosed teens, sniggering with a mouth full of metal as they camp all the fun out of a game… and that’s exactly what I felt last night. Hell, they could all have been older than me, for all I know. But it got me thinking – is this a sign I should stop playing these games that are clearly aimed at the newer generation? These kids who have no qualms about playing to win, regardless of honor or even what’s deemed “fair-play”? And if my automatic reaction to a bunch of campers is to assume they are simply kids taking the piss, doesn’t that make me even worse? Tarring everyone with a effective (if annoying) tactic as some jumped-up adolescent with no concept of decency?

So, I went to bed and had a think about it.

It’s not something that is isolated to Black Ops, either. Cheese in Starcraft 2 irks me no end, can-flipping in Eve Online makes me want to punch someone, and don’t get me started on those unpleasant twats on League of Legends… I honestly feel like Victor Meldrew sometimes, yelling in broken net-speak and invented swear-words (“you fuddy grue” being one of my most obscure) at people half-way across the world because they simply don’t understand how to play the game properly. Is this what it means to become too old for gaming? The point where it’s no longer water off a ducks back, and it starts to have a dodgy effect on your blood-pressure?  The point where you start rambling about how things were better before iron-sights and how Call of Duty maps are too cluttered these days (“I remember when this was all one big polygon…”)?

After all is said and done, I’ve decided it was really simple, I’m not too old, I’m not coming to the end of my gaming days or anything morbid like that – I’m just a dick. Pissed off because my opponents won’t line up and let me shoot them, or because my Starcraft 2 opponent knows a better opener than me. Spending way too much time feeling sorry for myself and not enough emulating those who best me, and becoming better. Age? Nothing to do with it, I’m as fast as I’ve always been, smarter with experience and it’s about time to show these little nancy-boys how the big dogs fight.

What a load off my mind that was. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go go shoot some spotty kids on Black Ops, I’ll feel even better then.

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