A few random thoughts that have happened this last week: I was reading an article over at PCGamerN about gaming’s rising popularity amongst older people (the article states this as 50+). The reference that smart-phone gaming is behind this may make a lot of sense, but it’s not been my anecdotal experience as yet – in my family older relatives are playing on PC or console, not on phones. Perhaps my presence as a PC tech and the overwhelming popularity of consoles among my nieces and nephews, might skew this very small sample size.
Regardless of how we are all playing, we do game together a good amount. I foresee that MMORPGs, coop RPGs and virtual tabletop RPGs will continue to play an important role in allowing us to stay connected individually and collectively. When we met over Christmas there was plenty of time spent together offline; chatting, watching TV or playing board games. But, there was also time spent playing World of Warcraft, on Playstation 4 and running local Fantasy Grounds D&D sessions using three laptops all connected (1 host and 2 clients). Outside of festive family gatherings gaming offers numerous opportunities to keep in contact with family members and friends and I’m thankful for that.
I’ve lived in a different part of my home country from all my family for over half my life now, so this has more of an impact that it might for many other online gamers. In my Everquest 2 guild, when it was still active, members of the same guild would casually drop in guild chat an invitation for the others to come around for dinner or whatever. That’d never work in my family at least from my side.
Early January is traditionally a time to contemplate resolutions and changes to one’s life. As I contemplate the possibility of a big life change: my husband and I are looking into a move to Toronto, Canada. So, I’m very aware that gaming will take on an even more important role in maintaining these connections. Yes, it is just as possible to talk via Messenger chat or Skype with someone far away as it is in a MMORPG. Gaming implies, more often than not, setting aside some quality time. So online games like WoW represent to me not just a hobby but, specifically, a shared hobby.