Mortigan's fur is about to turn grey. From old age. Because later this month, I'm turning 40. I always try to keep my personal life OUT of this blog, but the big Four-Oh-No is coming for me like Deathwing across Azeroth, and I find it hard to keep it from affecting EVERYTHING I'm doing right now.
I've never thought of myself as "too old" for video games. I was a kid when the video game craze started (yes, I was around when the local mall got its first arcade and we all crowded in to play Space Invaders and Pac-Man). I've played games off and on ever since. And for the most part, I've been oblivious to my ever-increasing age.
I clearly remember the first time I felt like I was growing old. I had been playing America's Army, and had just joined Team -=CSF=-. It meant "Combat Strike Force" or something like that. It was a solid team with players on almost every continent, and we were working our way up the PVP rankings. Our star player was a guy called "Gumpkiller" who was an unrelenting killing machine. If you went up against him, you were guaranteed dead. He'd sink 3 bullets into your head while you were still trying to mouse him into view. He knew every hiding hole, every strategy. He knew what you planned to do before you did. He was my hero. I wanted to learn to play JUST LIKE HIM. And when I logged into Ventrilo for the first time, he greeted me in a sweet, enthusiastic, high-pitched voice. The voice of a 10 year-old boy. I never saw it coming - Gumpkiller was a little KID. And later, when I ended up owning the practice server we used, and people would chip in to cover the cost, he'd send me $5 Money Orders scrawled in the large shaky letters of a child's handwriting. It was weird getting money from a kid's allowance - but everyone on the team was expected to chip in, and "keep your money, kid" didn't fly with the team.
I learned my lesson, though, and ever since then I take no one's age for granted. So when a character is constantly jumping and running in circles during buff time or between trash fights, I do NOT try to judge whether they're a little kid or just drunk. Could be either, but hopefully not both. The drunks usually self-identify, anyway: "I'm SOOO drunk!" Which I often think is purely a lie to cover obvious idiocy.
But the question still looms: "Am I getting too old to be playing video games?" And part me wonders how to draw that line. Should I poll kids under 18 and ask, "Would it creep you out to know that I'm 40?" or perhaps, "Which is creepier, playing with a 40 year old dude, or playing with a 25 year old dude pretending to be female?" On the latter question, my suspicion is that I'll come out the winner.
Overall, I have a very hard time believing that I'm too old. Maybe I just don't want to believe it. Maybe I NEED Azeroth. It's the one last piece of childhood fun that I get to cling to. It's my escape from this cubicle that has me so buried in work that I haven't been able to post or even tweet for several weeks now. Maybe it's the one thing that is keeping me from getting old. After all, what old person is half-way to their second piece of Valor gear? What old person goes in Heroic Shadowfang Keep and leaves with the Mantle of the Eastern Lords? What old person is now rocking 10K DPS in Heroics? Only young, cool people are Warlocks, right? I mean, Charlie Sheen is a friggin Warlock - is he old? Hell no! I've got tiger blood, dammit, and I SET THINGS ON FIRE. To hell with my 40th birthday, I'll burn it to the ground! MOAR FIRE!!!
Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ’neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now.
- Bob Dylan
Mortigan the Ageless