There was a recent report on how gamers become less competitive as they get older – specifically over 30 years old. The research has been picked up by many outlets and reported with more than just a bit of surprise in many corners.
When I saw the news I just scratched my head and mentally said, “Well, duh!”
It’s as if no one remembered that it is well established that people calm down as they get older. Things and events tend to bother them less and they tend to become less violent. I may be in my thirties now but I knew this even in my twenties and I knew it, not only through personal experience but also because I spoke to older and younger people.
One of my close friends who had a career in the military once lamented to me that he just wasn’t angry enough to do his job anymore – he found it more difficult to push himself into becoming aggressive and he felt like he was a failure because of that. I had to take him by the shoulder and tell him not to worry about it because it was perfectly natural. You just mellow out over your lifespan (generally speaking!).
A competitive streak is not something specific to games but to a person’s psyche and, as such, is most likely also affected by this general mellowing out. So I say, embrace it! There’s nothing to fear. Just realise that it’s natural and that you will now be able to appreciate games in genres that you may not have thought worth it before – even if, at the same time, you feel that you no longer like the games you used to.
Too much of a good thing
Remember that activity burnout is also a known thing: you do something too much of something – even something you love – and it will lose its lustre over time. How long that time frame is, is very dependent on many factors.
So don’t sweat it. If you feel like taking a break from a game or genre or, well, anything – do so! You are probably going to be able to come back freshly to that activity in some time so enjoy the time you have now to do something else – something that you like more than the thing you’re tired of. One of the great things in life is that most ‘things’ are there whenever you want them. So a game you could have forced yourself through today will still be there in a year when you’re really getting a hankering to play it.
It’s one of the things I tell myself when I buy a game during a sale or I put a game down because I’m just not feeling it. Life is too short to worry about having to enjoy doing something – even if your partner bought you the game as a slightly misguided present (I’m speaking from experience here! :) ), you shouldn’t put yourself through something that makes you unhappy or cranky. Maybe one day you’ll be wanting to play something and, perusing your collection of games you see that title. It may be then that you really appreciate it.
So play the games you enjoy when you enjoy them – don’t worry about feeling less competitive, stop and smell the digital roses.