Sigh. A wise man once said, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, but the rest of the people are online calling you a turdburglar." Such is the nature of the masses. Get them online, with enough anonymity and a situation of conflict, and suddenly the hoi polloi becomes the Jerk Patrol. Or at least to the sensitive ears of frail elderly gentlemen like us. The combination of youthful vigor, Neo-like reflexes and a catalog of swears, humps and insults is often a frightening prospect for 30-something plus gamers.
So we were tremblingly excited to discover a safe, warm place for the terminally bewildered, Cadillac-driving classes. The old gamer. That place is
. We talked to Jamey Tisdale, one of the founders of this halcyon haven, and in the interests of full disclosure, a full time Microsoft employee.
Tell us a little about
, what it is and who it's for.
We’re a collection of octogenarians who get a jones going for an afternoon Parcheesi match. Nah, actually we’re a group of gamers in their thirties, forties and sometimes a little older who band together to play on Xbox Live, and generally give each other a well intentioned hard time while having fun. At the time of this interview there are around 200
registered on our site.
Our generation is the one weaned on Atari 2600. Pong forms a core part of our religious and philosophical beliefs. We poured more quarters and squandered more hours of sunlight into arcades to get our Galaga, Pac Man and Berzerk fix than Madonna’s had boyfriends. Xbox Live is a sort of homecoming for us, back to the arcade of our youth.
We don’t have time to memorize all the special sniper positions on every map. We don’t spend hours attempting to perfect glitches for an upcoming clan match. We generally play to have fun.
Given a choice between playing with others like us and playing against a screaming, voice-masked kid who clearly has missed his Ritalin dose we choose the older crowd every time.
But how do you find other Gen X’ers who have lives and want to play? This is where
Basically it started out as a bunch of around 16 guys who’ve continued to play on Live every Friday night since launch. Some were playing together during the Beta. We shoot the breeze and shoot each other. After a little while we put up a Website to get organized. This has grown a bit into an online and offline community. In fact, after a year of this we decided to finally meet face-to-face. So last March, nine of the original crowd flew to Orlando and spent five days playing Halo and paintball. We’re going back in February to do it again. As the community grows on the Web it’s easy to see how we could expand this in the future.
What are the main gripes you and your Geezers have about playing whippersnappers?
Wait a second, I’ve gotta take a swig of my Geritol. Ok, gripes? Where we tend to get cranky is with folks who scream, are abusive, use voice masking, grief, and smell funny. Ok, maybe we’re the ones smelling funny, so strike that one. I’m not saying that the twelve and under crowd do this more than our age group. Actually, yes, I am. And before the middle and high-school set decides to flame me, Yes, I’m sure that you as an individual are completely as mature and wise in your ways in the 7th grade as I am in my “middle ages”.
What kind of atmosphere can you offer, more distinguished, mature gamers?
Well the virtual disco ball and shag carpeting on the Web site is sure to bring loads of flashbacks. Besides that, we’re just a bunch of folks with lives (translated: wives/ex’s, kids, mortgages, gaining medication/losing hair, etc). I certainly will never claim that we all act mature but we do usually have a blast playing each other on Live and conversing on the Website.
What, if any are the disadvantages of being a 30+ something gamer?
Reflexes. Yep, those are going. Mental acuity. Damn, that one’s certainly slipping as well. Time is the biggest disadvantage, however. If we play Halo 2 for eight hours a day, it usually means we’ve been handed papers of an unfortunate sort: divorce or severance. So for the few precious minutes we can squirrel away to play between diaper changes, we typically choose to play with other Geezers.
We have experience as an advantage, though. Though the decades of playing Pong, Pitfall and Pac Man may not show in our overall skill level, it comes in handy for a sense of moral superiority. “That’s nothing; I had to walk up hill both ways in the snow to play Space Invaders”
Does your ability to buy beer provide any advantage?
Oh God yes. Knowing that because you’re usually drinking (or could be) is one of the best plausible excuses for why the other guy or gal just kicked your butt. It’s right up there with (1) I was distracted by my twin two-year olds climbing on me (2) I had to change a diaper (3) getting read the riot act by your wife (which in all defense to her I would only deserve).
What kind of community do you guys (and gals) foster, and how does it relate to Xbox Live and Halo 2?
You know what they say, “It takes a village to burn a witch”. We’re built around Live and at the moment are completely dominated by Halo 2. I guess we would accept PS2 players into our midst. But only if they buy an Xbox, play on Live and refuse to ever mention anything about that other console.
More than any other game, Halo 2 really emphasizes the size of your Friends List. We seek to help folks like us have a more pleasurable experience on Halo 2 by increasing the size of their friends list. Evidently, size really does matter.
Don't you think there are plenty of 30+ gamers who CAN hold their own against "teh punks?"
It’s never really a case of us not holding our own. Lots of us venture into the random violence that can sometimes be the matchmaking system in search of honing our skills and hearing the latest craze in put downs and offensive behavior. It’s just that when we want to relax after a hard week of world domination we tend to want to relax and play with each other.
Plus, in team games we tend to actually, well, play as a team. We might lose pitifully as a team but we’re typically not capping the flag carrier in the back of the head so we can be the one to cap the flag.
There is an upper limit to the age of a
known as "Carousel" or, the "Wu Principle."