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edeify.com » Blog Archive » The Gaming Generational Gap

The Gaming Generational Gap

January 24, 2008 – 11:36 pm

Does gaming skip a generation?Via Slashdot, I came across this great survey of the first gaming experiences of prominent journalists and heads of gaming companies (unless you’ve worked in the industry you’re unlikely to recognize any of the names, but trust me, they’re influential people).

One common thread that I noticed amongst many of the responses was that several of them were first introduced to gaming by their fathers, which is also true for me. While I’m not sure of the exact game, I know that it was definitely my father who showed me my first DOS-based game shortly after buying our first family PC. I want to say the first game I played was Frogger, but I also have memories of primitive golf games and several variations of Tetris (which my father used to be obsessed with when it first came out). I also have fond memories of the whole family gathered around the PC playing multiplayer Monopoly and being totally unaware that it was based on a board game.

However, from the start of the nineties till just recently, my folks stopped playing computer games altogether (and were barely aware of the rise of console gaming). But just within the last year or so, they’ve gotten back into casual games for the PC and Nintendo consoles.

I’m not sure exactly why this is. Part of it is that game developers are finally addressing some of the needs and interests of a more mature, busier type of gamer with software like Brain Age, Wii Sports, and Wii Fit. At the same time, the demographics of gaming are getting wider with games like Nintendogs (which has universal appeal because who doesn’t love puppies?) and World of Warcraft (which just passed the 10 million subscribers mark), both of which encourage intergenerational play.

However, what about the almost two decades of game development that these casual gamers missed out on? When you jump from 8-bit monochromatic into haptic photorealism are you in for a shock? Or is gaming finally returning back to its roots with easy-to-learn fun and simple gameplay (with Wii Tennis basically being a modern day version of Pong)?

I’d be interested in hearing about others’ experiences with this phenomenon. What types of games do you play? Do you ever play with either older or younger generations? What sorts of games do you think promote intergenerational play?

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