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Growing up a gamer was probably one of the greatest things to ever happen to me. My SNES and Sega Mega Drive were as important to me as life itself and always provided an adventurous escape route from the everyday trials and tribulations of school life.
Fast forward a few years later and at the peak of my gaming years I was spending countless hours on games like ‘Okami’, ‘Ico’, ‘Shadow of Collosus’ and ‘Devil May Cry’ on what in my opinion was the greatest platform of all time, the PlayStation 2.
Being an avid football fan, I also started picking up a lot of sports titles in order to have some variety in multiplayer games as the novelty of multiplayer in Syphon Filter at this point was wearing off amongst my friends. This was the moment competitive gaming was introduced into my life, with Pro Evolution Soccer and Tekken being the front runner in games that I invested the most time in.
In my late 20’s now, I can’t say I’m as much of a gamer now as I used to be mainly due to the fact that I don’t have the luxury to spend 4-5 hours in a day gaming as I have to go about being an adult and ‘make it’ in life. I usually find myself playing afew pick up games in FIFA or NBA 2K to burn through an hour of down time at most.
I do however, have a younger brother who has just hit his teenage years and is a certified centennial or the ‘Generation-Z’ (we have a 13 year gap). On a recent tripback home, I saw him playing FIFA by himself in his room and I decided to join him ina game and that is when I noticed our differences in our approach to gaming.
I observed over the course of a few days as we cycled through various sports andother multi-player themed titles along with some of his close friends that the common theme for all them was win at any cost. I realized that my brother and his friends grew up playing multiplayer online and were usually not in the company of the opponent. They also seemed to have a need to earn ‘style’ points in any game they played, while I was constantly playing catch up to each and every single one of them.
Now of course they were better than me in every game we played with quicker reaction times, less combo drops, taking advantage of broken mechanics and overall just having more practice than me. But I found myself constantly quoting the pastand how games were played in a much more ethical and honorable way, which to nosurprise, they kept mocking.
It finally hit me that in addition to quicker response timings, daily practice and better technical knowledge these kids were bred to be competitive gamers first. Upon asking all of them what percentage of their time was spent playing against other people online, each of them had a number in the 80 percentile.
Rewinding back to my younger days, I reminisced about playing most games aloneand only getting introduced to online play when I was in my final years of university. If I did play with friends, we would be in the company of each other and more often than not would have to hear an earful if we watched a replay or tried a skill move. In other words, there was an unspoken rule amongst my friends about substance overstyle and we held that very dear in our hearts.
However, finding myself playing against a handful of ruthless teenagers out for blood was an eye opener for me. I was tea bagged, I was gimmicked, I was styled on and to rub more salt in my wounds I didn’t even win a single game. These boys were raised in an environment where they were able to play each other from the comfort of each other’s homes, not having to deal with the repercussions of your opponent’s ire when you’re dribbling with the keeper and you’re 5-0 up.
In any case, this might not hold true for every millennial and centennial but I get the same gist from friends who have played video games with the next generation and there generally seems to be more regard for completely destroying your opponents morale than simply beating him.
That being said, their attitudes towards gaming made me step up my game and I do enjoy having a benchmark to reach in certain games. I’ve also allotted myself moretime to practice on a daily basis and I hope to one day return home and go ‘oldschool’ on my brother and his friends!