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Young blood: is 40 too old for hack-n-slash?

Thursday, 24th January 2013 15:02 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Patrick Garratt couldn’t play Ninja Gaiden 3 and DmC: Devil May Cry made his hands hurt, but he turned down the difficulty before throwing in the towel on twitch gaming for good.

The dead screen followed endless rocket-pounding. I was undone. Am I really beyond mainstream action gaming?

I’m going to be 40 this year, and my taste in games is changing. Content made for younger people is becoming difficult to consume. I first became aware of this with Borderlands 2. Being shouted at by a robot every 12 seconds was irritating at first, but the straight “shooting” bit eventually kept me playing for over 30 hours. It was there, though. I was annoyed. The game is childish, and I’m not a child. I wouldn’t read Twilight or watch the latest Disney release, so why am I playing games in which I’m being harassed by a cartoon goblin? Que sera, I guess. It’s my job. What I didn’t expect from getting older was to become physically unable to actually play a game meant for young adults.

I tried Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge on Wii U last week and found myself facing a crisis. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get off the first stage. I was prepared for the content to be young, but I didn’t expect to get stuck in the first few minutes of play. My 39 year-old fingers had deserted me. The dead screen followed endless rocket-pounding. I was undone. Am I really beyond mainstream action gaming? Am I too old for the games business in general?

Fuck you.

DmC came out last week, and I’ve been following it closely enough. Every time I’ve seen it I’ve been impressed, but the demo hurt my hands. Some suck-cheeked androgyne ODing on mushrooms is one thing, but coming to a point where you’re saying, “I can’t play this,” is another. Ninja Gaiden 3 appeared to confirm it. Hack-n-slash was for ten years ago. I decided I wouldn’t buy DmC. Most of my gaming time post-Far Cry has been with Civ V, and that suited me fine. Ponderous clicking for grown ups. No more kids’ games, I said to myself.

Fortunately, before I wrote this piece I decided to make sure. I went back to Ninja Gaiden and turned the difficulty down. It was like playing a different game. I was scooting round enemies, levelling skills, blasting through stages and feeling all empowered at turning the screen into a teenage abattoir. I had a great time. Ninja Gaiden 3 is a titanically stupid video game in which Ryu (“It means dragon.”) chops thousands of people to pieces with bladed feet to a feverish fuck you blur. It’s one giant fuck you. There’s a mad scientist with a beanie, a shy kid called Connor and some idiot in an opera mask prancing around on desert skyscrapers for no good reason I could fathom. Ryu’s arm becomes infused with his sword, turning bright red and sprouting enough veins to embarrass 4chan /d/. Ayane’s in it, which should speak volumes. It’s ridiculous. I loved it. The play itself is a lot of fun.

Me, yesterday.

What I enjoyed most about it, I think, was that my hands weren’t creaking too badly to access the content. Game-makers are obviously aware that some of this stuff really is too hard for bands outside of the ultra-core. Capcom talked about the increased accessibility of DmC in the run-up to launch, comments I brushed over previously but am now pleased to note. I went from moping about not buying DmC one day to gleefully handing over cash the next. Now I know it’s going to be fun.

So. I’m not too old for the fuck yous. Neither are you. You may have to turn everything down a bit as the years drag on, but that’s life. Swallow that ego, granddad. The cartoon nonsense isn’t over quite yet.

Disclosure: A promo copy of Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge was used in the writing of this piece.

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47 Comments

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  1. KrazyKraut

    Midlife-crisis of an old fart.
    (hahahahahahahah)

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Erthazus

    Ninja Gaiden 3 first of all is a terrible game for everyone and that hack and slash game is also not for everyone. I’m not a big fan either.

    It’s cool that you enjoyed Civilization V. You should try SHOGUN:TW 2 or ROME:TW 2 that will be soon and other strategy games.
    I think PC games are really good for your tastes right now. Good luck and have fun.

    P.S. and also, check out new XCOM.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @2 “check out new XCOM.”

    +1 so bloody good.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. YoungZer0

    “Ryu’s arm becomes infused with his sword, turning bright red and sprouting enough veins to embarrass 4chan /d/.”

    Okay, that really made me laugh harder than it should. :D

    Well done Patrick, short but sweet article.

    It really pisses me off that so many people seem to completely ignore just how important accessibility is. And yes, even making your game easier is a good thing (As long as there are many difficulty setting). The question is why? Just why wouldn’t you want other people to enjoy the same game you do?

    If you’re anything like me, the first thing you’re in for is the experience. I don’t want to be challenged right away, maybe i just want to casually play through it first. Maybe i will enjoy the gameplay so much that i go back and try the harder difficulties. The new DMC for example. Even though i played all the previous DMC titles before, i went in and played it on NORMAL first, now i’m replaying the game on HARD and it’s really fun. I truly embrace the fighting mechanics now, i’m not just looking for finishing the enemy so i can see what’s next. No, i want to get an SSS as often as possible, while also trying to do some insanely awesome combos. I love it.

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Telepathic.Geometry

    I’m gonna be 38 this year, but I feel like I’ve still got my gaming mojo. I can still reliably get 210 in Lumines time attack mode. HOWEVER! I find myself gravitating more towards games where I can think/plan/scheme my way to victory.

    Games where the key is using the right weapons in the right order, taking down the bosses with the best strategy, preparing properly before battle, honing your weapons and gear. WHY!? Because Pat, we are grizzled veterans, still alive after decades of taking down the minions of hell, necromorphs, splicers, turtles, ninjas, supervillains, punks, cyborgs, daedra…

    I survived the brutal timing and dexterity required to beat the likes of Megaman back in the day, so I’ve no need to master online CoD or SF IV. Been there, done that, now I want to try something that requires thinking and problem solving, not just simple twitch reflexes.

    Maybe it’s not relevant, but: “There are two bulls on a hill, an old one and a young one. The young bull says “Hey, let’s run down the hill and fuck one of those cows.” The old bull replies, “No, let’s walk down the hill and get them all.”

    Also, at all ye young posters, get the fuck off my lawn!

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Telepathic.Geometry

    Yeah, play XCOM, and promise me that when you get an Irish male sniper, rename him TG and train him in Psi Ops. He won’t let you down.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. YoungZer0

    It’s weird, the only psychics i have are Irish. :/ Even my best and first Spec Ops Guy, a french codenamed “Papa Bear” didn’t become Psychic. :/

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Telepathic.Geometry

    /raises eyebrow both suggestively and mysteriously

    I had an Irish and Japanese sniper raise to the mighty ranks of unstoppable psychic sniper hellcat. Nobody else seemed to have the gift…

    #8 1 year ago
  9. CycloneFox

    I’m 26 and I find Claptrap just as annoying, Patrick. So don’t worry.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. YoungZer0

    @8: I have two irish medics, both psychic. Papa Bear is my favorite of them all, he never bitched around.

    @9: Yep, he’s annoying.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. silkvg247

    I’ve always played a mix or fast/twitch games and relaxed or turn based. I find I’m getting crap at the fast paced ones, but I find that more to do with the shift from ball mice to optical then laser than anything. I never did get the feel for the newer tech, which sounds backwards I know but I just felt so much more in control with a ball mouse.

    Age is a factor though, I find my reflexes are either too slow or too jerky, it’s not uncommon for my aim to fly a mile off my target because my twitch was too violent. Though again I wonder if this wouldn’t have been an issue when I had a ball mouse.

    I do feel immature content just bores me now. Blood or misplaced childish humour, or females as eye candy. Yawn. Claptrap does irk me a bit but not to the point where I’d want to stop playing. I find the humour of the other characters in BL2 to be far more sinister and enjoyable.

    What I buy hasn’t really changed, but physically I’m less agile and get wrist or finger pains, so I do have to take it easy now, and can’t really keep up with the young uns even though I’m only mid 30′s.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. viralshag

    I had a Scottish sniper of all things as my first Psychic… who’d of thought it.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. OlderGamer

    Really good write up Pat. Wait ten more years man. I have around 500 colective hours on CiV V, 356 after adding it to my Steam Libary, 150ish before that.

    I used to love Hack and Slash But around the time Guts: Beserkers Rage(N/A Dreamcast), I started having the same problems you had. I wanted to play the game, but I was often overwhelmed by on screen action and yeah my hands just ached after playing for any length of time. Games with easy modes are important. Just because I or you might play on easy, it doesn’t diminish the experience or “value” for someone else playing on Normal or Hard. Tho some of those people would claim it does.

    I find that I still love gaming, but the mainstream big stuff…not as much as I used to. And Console games…depends on the game.

    Instead of Halo or BF or CoD for PVP, I play Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft, Rift, etc for my PVP. Instead of StarCraft, I play Civ. Instead of blazing fast racers like NFS or Split Second, I play Sonic Racing or Mario Kart.

    I find that Mouse and KB games tend to be easier for me to control(less strain on my hands, I have arthritis).

    Not only do I have physical issues with playing a lot of todays games, but alot of the time the games just don’t appeal to me. They really seem childish and over the top stupid. Hard to get into. Clearly not aimed at gamers in their 50s.

    I recently had a go with Darksiders II(WiiU) and couldn’t get very far at all. The combat was fun, but the jumping and platform elements made me put the game down…and I was playing on an easy mode :(

    I think an aging gaming demographic is something that the industry should look into. Just because you get older, doesn’t mean your not still interested in buying and playing games. But it does mean that games aimed at 17 year olds aren’t going to be a good fit for a few different reasons. I don’t know about you guys, but I have a hella lot more income to spend on games then either of my 17year old or even my 21 year old sons. Something worth noting.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. orakaa

    I’m 34, going on 35 in March. A year and a half ago I bought a house with my wife. The first thing I did was buying an Arcade Machine to install it in the kitchen (we have a big kitchen opened on the living room).
    I was surprised to see that I was still enjoying the same old games or the same kind of old games (I’m still discovering oldies that I missed back then).

    Gaming habits indeed change a bit over time. For instance, I find myself be less patient than I used to be, but maybe it’s also because I have other things to do and I don’t have as much free time as when I was a kid. But when I played “Demon’s Souls” and “Dark Souls”, I realized that if the motivation/reward was there, I “still had it”. Reminded me of “Super Ghouls and Ghosts” on SNES and other hard games from way back then.
    Same goes for X-COM: I was surprised to see how I could as easily get sucked in the game as I was in the 90s (the PC game I played the most back then)

    #14 1 year ago
  15. Lounds

    I’m 22 and working full time and gaming is hard now, my concentration isn’t there Counterstrike:GO is about as good as it goes, I’m also enjoying FC3. I’ve also got an addiction to netflix at the moment, when I come home from work I just want to shut off and relax, too many games make me think, I’ve been doing that all day and the drive home to and from work doesn’t help with my concentration.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. friendlydave

    OG, I love some CiV, ever since I played CiV 2 on the PS1 I have been hooked.

    I’m only 24 and my hands are starting to hurt when I play certain games, I started noticing while I was playing TekkenTag 2. I’ve been playing games non stop since I was 5 [Megadrive] and using a computer when I’m not. I’m also an artist [career and hobby] so my hands get a pretty extreme workout daily. It doesn’t bother me to much at the moment, sometimes I notice a real slow down in my movement but I’m not looking forward to them getting worse.

    @13 Sword of the Beserk? That game was great fun but had such a terrible ending.

    @16 ouch, lol.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. Cobra951

    40?! I was a young man at 40. I plowed through SNES and Genesis (Megadrive) masochistically difficult games at 40. Now, almost 19 years later, I have finally thrown in the towel on pure-twitch, brutally hard gameplay. But I still enjoy action games with a suitable difficulty range, like Far Cry 3. But not Dark Souls. That is definitely in my past.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. DSB

    I think it’s pretty natural that tastes evolve over time.

    The more you play, the more you see, and the less you want.

    I think it’s kinda obvious that something like the most mindnumbing hack and slashers would fall by the roadside. Not because your nervous system is slowly decaying, but because they just don’t have a lot to offer.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Sini

    The question is whether you were good at these game to begin with.

    On other hand here it is kids, proof that EVERYTHING is going to be taken away from you as you age.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. Erthazus

    “Good at these games”

    these games are not hard at all. It’s not the level of Starcraft multiplayer match with Korean guy.
    NG3 is simple and so is DMC.

    #20 1 year ago
  21. Psychotext

    Pride is the first thing to go Pat. :(

    #21 1 year ago
  22. Clupula

    I’m turning 38 in March and I still got a huge thrill out of the Metal Gear Rising demo. DmC was ridiculously easy, though, and that was yet another strike I held against it, especially after thinking DMC4 was too easy as well. I don’t think it’s age, really, because I can still play the same stuff I liked 18 years ago and be fine with it. But on the other hand, I’m still playing in bands and dating 20 year olds, so maybe it’s just that I haven’t grown up sufficiently to have my video game skillz (with a “z” because that’s what the kids say) deteriorate.

    My guitarist, for example, is 10 years younger than me, and he gave up on Ninja Gaiden Sigma, once he got to Alma, so I don’t think age has much to do with it.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. manamana

    I’m born 72 Pat and I dig what you say. Old farts have different taste than younglings and that really is no big news. Although I don’t understand why the industry isn’t taking care of this demographic, as it must be a huge number of players in the mid thirtees to mid fourtees. Born and raised with videogames. And with lots of money to spend. Some developers them self, if not fresh from the college, must be around this age, so they could really go all in with what they like.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. DarkElfa

    @1, I can’t wait til you hit 40 assclown, you’ll be up in here bitching about your arthritis as well.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. manamana

    Oh and yeah, either you where always bad at DmC or you aren’t in the mood for it. Don’t try to force your way through games, you have lost connection to. I know, its your job somehow but you know, life is what it is and you should concentrate on what you like. And maybe you just don’t want to spend too much time on something that doesn’t click, as you where used to. You can always do what you like the most, don’t forget that. And while you’re at it, let the younger team members run through the hardest difficulty settings of DmC…

    /amen ;-)

    #25 1 year ago
  26. Ireland Michael

    I don’t think it has anything to do with age.

    Sometimes I’ll pick up a game from years ago when I was a kid, that I remember being exceptionally good at – Revenge of Shinobi, for example – and suddenly it seems like the hardest thing in the world. What you often seem to forget is how much time you spent playing them, and the amount of practise you got in.

    That’s what its all about. Practise. We tend to play a lot more games now than we did when we were younger (I was lucky to get two or three games a year), so we spend far less time with each game learning their intricacies than we used to. It’s just like any sport or activity. The more you practise it, the better you get.

    I’m 31, and I know for a fact that I’m better at these games now than I used to be when I was “younger”. When I originally picked up Devil May Cry 1, I couldn’t even beat the first spider boss without trying like 20 times. I picked up the HD remake recently, and sailed through him on the first try.

    #26 1 year ago
  27. FeaturePreacher

    Something makes me think Pat is a hunt and peck typist. I guess he needs to find a job as a community manager quick since he’s either too old to game or too lazy to learn game mechanics.

    #27 1 year ago
  28. sh4dow

    Wow… linking to THIS video… Patrick, aren’t you afraid Brenna is gonna rip your Koch off? ;P

    #28 1 year ago
  29. GwynbleiddiuM

    CIV is bloody good, also Total War games. I really prefer them to any RTS, RTS bores me greatly.

    @28 My thoughts exactly, but I think it is time we loosen the grip on Brenna’s throat. It’s over, let’s just put it behind us.

    #29 1 year ago
  30. absolutezero

    Why is it that every game ever made must be able to be played by any single human that decides to pick it up?

    There are hundreds of games released every single year. Sometimes those games are hard from a design perspective, like say ZombiU. They meant to make that game hard, its hard for a reason.

    Do I think that it should have an “I win” button in-built just so every single person should be able to see it through to the end? No of course not.

    Difficulty, dying, practice and perseverance should be there own rewards. If you are someone that plays games for the challenge then the amount of games created for you are dwindling, slowly but surely. Yet there is no reason for it as far as I can see. Of course both are mutually exclusive but if you build the game with the idea that its crushingly difficult and thus highly niche you can come out with another I Wanna be the Guy. Theres no call for a IWBTG sequel with an easy no-clip mode built in.

    Basically why must every gamer play every game. I do not feel the need to watch every movie, or read every book. I know somethings are beyond me or I’m just not interested in others. If I do take an interest in something outwith my knowledge I take it as it stands I would never try, fail and then cry about.

    #30 1 year ago
  31. Telepathic.Geometry

    Main reason is that the publishers want as broad a demographic as possible so they can maximise their profit of course. It’s the same reason that a movie producer will always want to keep the age restriction in a movie as low as possible, meaning that a lot of movies that should be 18s or 15s, end up being 15s and PG respectively.

    But over and above that, I honestly don’t think that the barrier of difficulty should be there. A game should be challenging enough that you can’t just waltz through it, but for different people that will mean different things. You should accommodate everyone, have every play style covered. Nobody’s making YOU play Easy mode.

    #31 1 year ago
  32. absolutezero

    Yet there are hundreds of movies released with 18 certs and no one complains that they can’t take their kids along.

    Dredd was an 18, they wanted to make an adult movie and they did it despite studio pressure, things were scaled back due to a lesser budget but they still created the film that they wanted to. They never set out to appeal to every single last person and the greater public at large more or less knew this.

    Why do video games have to appeal to everyone? The industry is large enough that niche games can be profitable and small scale in budget without thinking that they need to change core components to let anyone that picks up a pad play it.

    Accessibility is not a bad thing, thats not what Im saying at all.

    #32 1 year ago
  33. Telepathic.Geometry

    Well, the nature of videogames means it’s relatively easy to change the difficulty to make it accessible for everyone without impacting the game. You just change the difficulty from normal to hard, or from normal to easy.

    By contrast in a movie, you would have to do a lot of work cutting things, re-shooting some of the scenes and re-editing, making for a lot of work. I guess there are a few movies out there that have done more adult cuts as a director’s cut, but I can’t think of any…

    Anyway, to be clear here, I don’t want or need an easy mode (well, not yet anyway), but I have no problem with it existing. It doesn’t hurt me, or restrict the game. And it does hurt the game.

    Take Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. I don’t want them or need them to take the challenge out of their game, but there can’t be any doubt that their difficulty hurt their sales. If they could have an easy mode in there somewhere that doubled your life-bar and halved the demons’, I’m sure that they could draw in a bigger audience, in turn allowing them to generate more revenue and make a more polished game.

    You say the industry is large, but we have devs and publishers dropping like flies, they need all the cash they can get their hands on, meaning they have to appeal to a larger audience. The days where we can enjoy our niche hobby are gone man…

    #33 1 year ago
  34. absolutezero

    Hardly.

    For you as a console trapped player perhaps but with access to stuff released by Pubs like Paradox I would say that niche is perfectly fine and that developers do not need endlessly larger audiences and endlessly increasing budgets.

    I guess when we say industry we think of two completely different things.

    I’ve never been all that good at chess but I have’nt once thought “I sure hope they make an easier chess 2.0 so I can play it.” It was always “I wish I had the time to get better at chess.”

    #34 1 year ago
  35. Telepathic.Geometry

    Maybe.

    @Your edit: Yeah, but you can play chess players with very low ranks and still enjoy it. Also, whenever I play against weaker players, I usually give them a chance to take back a move, and maybe explain what would happen if they made it.

    In other words, as much as possible I want to bring in more people and help them become good players. Not put them on the clock, beat them over the head with the “touch a piece, move a piece” rule and annihilate them.

    #35 1 year ago
  36. absolutezero

    “Accessibility is not a bad thing, thats not what Im saying at all.”

    #36 1 year ago
  37. Telepathic.Geometry

    Sorry fella, I thought that was your entire point. What are you saying?

    #37 1 year ago
  38. absolutezero

    Trying to change every game to be everything to everyone is churlish.

    #38 1 year ago
  39. Telepathic.Geometry

    Well, I agree on that. But I think that there’s a fair amount of flexibility in any game. Like, I hated the blue-spiky shell in Mariokart, because it makes good driving a disadvantage. They rubber-banded it too much. But within reason I think it’s okay to be flexible with an individual gamer’s difficulties…

    #39 1 year ago
  40. stalepie

    Does the size of the controller help? My dad seems to be able to handle Realflight R/C Flight Simulator all right. That comes with a Futaba R/C controller which is kind of like holding a large Atari Jaguar controller with two stiff analog sticks. It’s a good bit larger than any gamepad I know of.

    #40 1 year ago
  41. polygem

    “Does the size of the controller help? My dad seems to be able to handle Realflight R/C Flight Simulator all right. That comes with a Futaba R/C controller which is kind of like holding a large Atari Jaguar controller with two stiff analog sticks. It’s a good bit larger than any gamepad I know of.”

    here you go pat…you’re feeling better now?

    i personally want to thank you very very much for this article;)

    *orders a nice coffin made out of RROD 360`s*

    #41 1 year ago
  42. sh4dow

    Not that anybody will still read this but…

    @29

    I think it’s important to hold people accountable for their actions. And since she didn’t issue a public apology or even resign from her job, realizing that writing articles may not be her destiny, I will keep bringing the issue up whenever I see an opportunity. Unless I forget. Or get tired of it. Or she actually apologizes.

    #42 1 year ago
  43. Ireland Michael

    @42 She doesn’t have anything to apologise for.

    There has been absolutely no negative outcome from the story. If anything, its given the site and journalist more exposure, and the only people holding any sort of grudge are pubescent virgin fanboys.

    Grow the hell up and get on with your life, Jesus Christ. If someone hounded a person in this manner offline, it would be constituted as stalking and warrant a restraining order.

    #43 1 year ago
  44. Telepathic.Geometry

    Has anyone noticed the explosion in the absolute cunt population lately? It worries me…

    #44 1 year ago
  45. Cobra951

    @33: Best post in the thread. Thank you.

    #45 1 year ago
  46. Ireland Michael

    @44 Must be all the Devil May Cry fanboys.

    #46 1 year ago
  47. absolutezero

    All according to plan there then.

    #47 1 year ago