While working our way through 50-days of streaming for GameBlast20, a new viewer popped up in the Twitch chat and asked how old my other-half and I were. It was a caught us off-guard at the time and one I’ve been thinking about in the weeks since the event.
It’s fairly obvious to anyone who’s ever come along to one of our streams and seen us on camera that we’re older than the majority of content creators on the platform. We’ve both been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and have over 70 years’ gaming experience combined. Personally, I don’t think this is a bad thing: we’ve lived through several decades of video games, have seen trends come and go, and are still interested in what’s going on in the industry today.
But based on the question we received during that stream last month, not everybody sees it that way. I understand (although obviously don’t agree) how some viewers who’ve never heard of Later Levels before may stumble across our content and think we’re too old to be doing this. Snap judgements based on our appearance could lead them to believe we’re never going to be successful, don’t know what the latest trends in gaming are, and that we should move over for younger streamers and bloggers.
So we’re frowned upon from within the community, but also outside of it too. Gaming and its associated culture have become more acceptable in the past several years but there are still many out there who view it as being ‘for kids’. I’ve written before that I think this comes from them being considered more akin to toys than other forms of media. Therefore older people who play them, just like Pete and I, are stereotypically thought of as being individuals who just don’t want to grow up.
But why should we give in to our age? We can be responsible adults, hold down full-time jobs, pay our mortgage and look after a teenager; then use our free time to enjoy video games, and even stream or blog about those experiences too. What harm is that doing anyone? It might be considered more ‘grown up’ to watch a film but playing a game isn’t much different: both draw us in with compelling stories and let us see the world through someone else’s eyes. It’s just that one of them is interactive.
I can honestly see Pete and myself still picking up our controllers well beyond retirement. We’ve both been gaming since we were very young and don’t think we’ll ever give it up, so it’s unlikely our hobbies will change when we’re older. But blogging is a different matter and one I’m not so sure about. I’d love to think I’ll continue writing far into the future because my love for blogging and video games now goes hand-in-hand; but as the years pass, it gets more difficult to see that happening.
I’ve said before that there’s a space here in the community for everybody who wants it, regardless of their age, sex or anything else. That’s something I still truly believe. But the landscape has changed and the goals newer members seem to want out of blogging are far different than the objectives I’ve ever set for myself. Although writing is something I continue to enjoy right now, there are days where it almost feels as though I’m slowly being left behind and I wonder how long it can last.
I don’t want to build a group solely around Later Levels and be constantly active on social media. I’ve never considered running a Patreon or making money from the blog in any other way. And I’m not going to broaden the subject of the site to widen its appeal. These things, along with my age, set me apart from a lot of other bloggers. The heart of the hobby for me is the sense of being part of a community with a shared interest that supports each other, and this is what my focus will remain on.
I may not know how long the site will continue but what I do know is that I’ll carry on blogging and streaming for as long as they’re enjoyable. And you can guarantee Pete and I will still be gaming for many years after that too (although I doubt he’s ever going to be able to persuade me that The Division is the best game ever). And as for those people both within and outside the community who think we’re too old? Well, we’re simply going to ignore them and carry on doing what we love.
Do you ever feel you’re too old for your hobbies, and have you been put under any pressure to give them up? Whatever happens, never grow up.