Leading up to Diablo III’s release, I saw numerous forum posts (and heard in personal conversations) from people who said it had been years since they’d looked forward to a new game they way they were for Diablo III. Literally; a lot of people said they hadn’t *really* gotten into a game since Diablo II, and in most cases they meant Diablo II in like, 2003. Or earlier.
I don’t know how satisfied those types of fans are with Diablo III now that it’s finally arrived, but speaking as one of them, I can say that it’s hard to compare… literally! It’s been so many years since I’ve invested serious hours into playing a video game that doing it over the past few weeks with Diablo III feels a bit like attending an online class reunion. It’s familiar and nostalgic, and yet I’m different than I was, and so is Diablo.
Two recent online articles touched on this issue, and I’ll give a quick quote from both.
Online Gaming Acknowledges That “Hey, You’re Busy.”
I have two kids, a full-time job, a yard that needs mowing, freelance assignments, dirty dishes, a full DVR and adult responsibilities involving bills and something called “escrow.”
Luckily, “Diablo III” is the rare demon-themed entertainment product that’s sympathetic to my domestic plight. Frequent checkpoints allow me to drop out of the game pretty much whenever I want without losing any progress. Even in group games, when you pair up with other adventurers, nobody gets bent out of shape when you type to your team, “Sorry, time for bed, gotta go.”
I’m getting older. I’ve been gaming all my life. And I’ve had to admit to myself that I simply can’t take on games that eat up all my time.
…I’m not alone. According to the Entertainment Software Association, the lead industry group for video games, the average game player is 30 years old and the average age of the most frequent game purchasers is 35.
The Diablo Blues: When the Games Don’t Change but We Do
After that first week of jumping back into the world of “Diablo III,” I realized something was different. I still wanted to play. And it still felt addictive. The game was just as well-made as one would expect, and it really had a lot of marked improvements from “Diablo II.” Yet I had mixed feelings about playing it as often as I played its predecessor.
It wasn’t until I was struggling to pencil game time into my daily schedule that it came clear to me: I never had to do that before. Because when “Diablo II” was in its heyday, I was in my early twenties – and I had all the time in the world to play video games.
I joke about being too busy writing about video games to actually play video games all the time, but this was the first time I actually realized the level of conflict involved. As much as I wanted to play, I also had a lot of other things I wanted to do. It wasn’t just annoying, grown-up responsibility stuff like cooking dinner or taking the car in for a tune-up. I wanted to do other things that included getting off the internet and going outside.
This is an issue with a lot of games, these days. And it’s odd to find how many more obstacles there are between you and your gaming time as you get older. When I was a kid I remember thinking how great it must be to be an adult, with money to buy what you wanted, no parent telling you to go to bed or do chores, etc. And how adults just laughed
There were people in their 30s and 40s (and beyond) playing games back in the 90s and 00s, but they were the exception, and in many cases they’d just started gaming recently. Most of today’s thirtysomething gamers have been playing since they were kids, and it’s odd to try to fit a time sink semi-MMO like D3 into an adult life. I think it’s especially noticeable for people in the Diablo community, since we had to wait so long for D3 that we’re out of practice. Not just for the click click click, but for playing hours of any video game at all. I doubt the average age of a Diablo III player is much different than that of a WoW player, but those poor Murloc-hunters have stayed in practice.
So, is any of this ringing true for you guys? Or are you like 21 and hearing this whole post in Grandpa Simpson’s voice? Or better yet, you’re 13 and wondering who the hell is Grandpa Simpson?
Luckily, Diablo III can be played perfectly well with an onion tied to your belt.