What I Wish I Knew About Gaming When I Was 20
While it hasn't really been all that long since I (and many of you) hit the 20-year-old mark, it's already felt like an age and a day.
What did we have 5, 10, 15 years ago? Can you imagine facing your young self now? What were you even doing? Deeply entrenched in the whirlwind life of undergraduate academia, just getting started on your new-job-turned-career, or...?
Time slips by sometimes without us noticing, and all it takes is a single electrifying moment to make us look up in startled realization: a 12-year-old asking what life in the US was like before 9/11, 6-year-olds who don't understand the purpose of a casette tape player... 8-year-olds who don't understand where the apps are on a GameBoy.
Just imagine those halcyon days: DLCs? What's a DLC? What do you mean "wait for an update"? What's a "face book"?
Things have changed: some for the better, some... not so much. But it's not just the stuff around you - you've changed too. And there have got to be a few things you really do wish you could go back and drum into your 20-year-old self's head - not that they'd actually listen.
Your wallet will never feel the same again.
One day, not so far into the future, you will learn that games don't have to be $50-60 each... and it will go to your head. There is no escaping it. What is this "Steam" you ask? No, it's not just for Half-Life 2 anymore... it's so much better.
You know it's okay to sleep more, right?
"Baby's first MMO." For some of us, there should be a Mylar balloon with that written in gold leaf, and a singing Hallmark card attached to the string. Now, perhaps you may not have gotten into MMOs in your 20s, but nearly everyone who ever picked up a controller understands gaming too hard and gaming too long.
What started as the promising teaser of a million World of Warcraft demo CDs mailed out to everyone and their grandmother turned into a generation of kids who stayed up at all hours swigging Mountain Dew and screaming raid calls over Vent channels.
During such days of our lives, prime gaming hours were between 9 at night up to about 6 in the morning. You might recognize a sunrise only because that was the telling sign you should probably get some sleep. You might have missed a few morning classes and ignored the prof because you were IMing your guildies during evening classes.
Someone, namely your mother, probably told you that this is not the way you have to live. Words like "addict" and "loser" may have been thrown around. (see Are You a Video Game Addict?)
But ultimately, you ignored everyone, had a crazy good time doing what you liked doing with other people who knew you in some ways better than your IRL buddies, and (hopefully) didn't end up repeating all your classes.
...But you know, making it into bed by 2 AM is perfectly reasonable too. That student loan ain't paying itself off.
Get better internet.
You're going to think yours is good enough. You can stream the odd video, people can hear you when you hop onto Vent and ROFL-chopter for a few hours with your friends.
But it isn't. It will never be good enough. One day the words "Google Fiber" will be indelibly burned into your soul as one of your true heart's desires... and you still won't want to live in Austin.
If you want to live through the zombie apocalypse... know your surroundings.
If late-night marathons of Resident Evil have taught you anything, it's how to keep the undead down. But you're not in Raccoon City, you're smack-dab stuck in your highly-indefensable two-story with plate glass windows. So it doesn't hurt to know a little about what's going on outside of your own four walls.
Take a walk around. Enjoy a sunset. Ogle some pretty joggers. Maybe even tell her you like her Mario tattoo and hey, can you call her sometime?
In all seriousness, maybe you won't have to know the quickest way in and out of your local Kwik-E-Mart (through the window), but you will get those lazy bones of yours moving and remembering life outside of the screen.
If even that's a little too hard to fathom... time to break out the DDR mat, and get your Sandstorm on.
Online friends aren't second-rate friends, just because you've never physically met them before. They can be as good to you and better than the people you have a little closer to home. (see Friends I Make Online Are Still My Friends) It's okay to love them. They're awesome. And they think you're pretty great too.
Don't worry 20-year-old me. You're going to be just fine. (Also, you can probably drop those RIM stocks now. Quit while you're ahead. I'm serious.)