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30 was fun, spent with friends and being wild.   40 was subdued, spent with friends around a dining room table sipping wine, with pinkies out, being Faaaannncccyyyy.    50, now – this is a big one.   I’ve literally received my AARP card in the mail (and did not join, thank you) and am now eligible to retire (!?).

I find myself looking back on all the things gaming that I’ve experienced.   Probably the very first thing is pinball machines, perhaps back when I was 8 years old.   The memories are hazy.   I wasn’t any good at playing them, but that didn’t stop me from playing more.    I remember thinking, and being told, if you want to master something you must practice it.   Good advice that served me well over the years.

Target Alpha. Destination for many quarters. I never got good at it.

Target Alpha. Destination for many quarters. I never got good at it.

Pinball is the very first thing I mastered, during my teenage years.   I could win a free game every time I played.   I knew which machines to play, and which ones to ignore, due to the way the free play was set; wear and tear on the machine; and a myriad of other factors.    I knew how hard to shake a Gold Wings versus a Sorceror.    I was a kid without much money and I learned how to make the games last, spending $1 or 2 over the course of a night.

But during my teenage years I also discovered video games in many forms, certainly first in the arcades.    I clearly remember the first time I saw Asteroids – 14 years old, and wondering how these kids were able to play the thing so well.    I’d been playing Space Invaders for quite a bit before that, at the local pizza place.    I never looked back; it was clear to me this was going to be a hobby, forever.  How many times during my teenage years was I told to grow up and stop all this gaming  ?   A lot.   I never listened.

And teens is when I discovered War Gaming, when my brand new next-door-neighbor introduced me to Luftwaffe.

This game started me down a new path.

This game started me down a new path.

War Games had one distinguishing characteristic – they were all VERY COMPLICATED.   I loved them for it.    Being able to memorize all the obscure rules and obtain enjoyment out of it was enriching; and prepared me for a life of memorizing obscure facts and figures, and the sometimes ridiculous demands of the working world.

Eventually I grew older and the computing industry matured.   I got a job, after graduating college.    And I bought my first PC, to my first wife’s chagrin and disgust.

I was one of the few who bought one of these things. Tandy 1000. Radio Shack. LOL.

I was one of the few who bought one of these things. Tandy 1000. Radio Shack. LOL.

The PC was intoxicating, and I spent every spare minute on it.   I learned programming in BASIC.    I learned how DBASE worked.    I learned how to get games running on it, no easy feat at the time.    I look at my kids and their IPADS, where they select from menus and install dozens of games with a tap, and I think, but what about figuring how your CONFIG.SYS ?   They’ll never know that stuff, which is both good and bad.    But I know how to hack around computer systems, at least.

The knowledge served me well.   There was a time in the late 80’s, and early 90’s, where if you hired a computer gamer, you were getting someone who knew PC’s very very well.    I managed to impress everyone with my skills on the PC and it’s morphed my career along, changing from pure accountant to a mixture of Info Tech and Accounting.    This is not a surprising story for accountants of my era – everyone knows someone who did this.   But it is my story.

And I moved on from $5,000 PC’s to build-your-own desktops and multiple devices in the house, upgrading and replacing, until I am where I am today.   Let’s see.    Three Desktops, One Laptop, One Google Tablet, Three IPADS, Two Iphones, One Samsung.   I provide limited Apple tech support – usually, all the not-specific-to-Apple stuff like why won’t it connect to the internet? – and keep everything else running in geeky fashion.

What a ride it’s been.    And it’s not over yet.

Ingress continues to be my game of choice.   It’s like nothing else out there.    How many games can you play where you connect with teammates – who you’ve never met before – and coordinate a war over the face of the planet ?    Or where you just jump in and assist in said war ?   I’m curious to find out where it’s all headed, if this remains a niche game for the next year, or if someone gets out to mainstream gaming.   Who knows.    I’m sure Location-Based is over a year out for the Farmville type players and my kids, but I don’t want to take my crystal ball any farther out.

The thing about Ingress is, it’s not just a game, but more of a way of life.    This has to get old, at some point.    Do we all become filthy casuals someday ?    Will the game shut down ?   These will be interesting answers to discover.

While it would be fun to detail more of why I make that statement – Ingress is a way of life – there’s the problem of the game being a team based competition over the world, and the blog being read by the enemy team.   So unfortunately that’s all I’m going to say.    No removing the fog of war, completely.

And yet, there’s no doubt that I’m helping out anyone reading the blog, both by 1) Providing info about how to play, and 2) By detailing my experiences I’m sure the Enemy Team gets some intel.    There’s a delicate balance here.    I’ll go ahead and take the risk of saying too much, because documenting the experience is important, useful…… and a lot of fun.

I’ll continue to watch the location-based-gaming segment, because I’m convinced someone is going to make a fortune with this.    The type of game might be the next big thing.    Or it could be mainstreamed.   Maybe that’s the upcoming Pokemon Go.

Free To Play continues to work well and siphon my money, in the form of Marvel Heroes.  It’s a good break from Ingress, and really, a lifetime of coming home and sitting on the PC would never change completely overnight.   But it’s definitely the second fiddle as far as gaming goes, and I put it down if I find someone attacking one of my portals.   Recharge !

Someday, I’m probably going to be in a retirement home, and partaking in whatever geek gaming culture has offered up at the time.   I just hope they have a LAN (or whatever it will be in 15 years or so) and other gamers for me to interact with.    I’m expecting it, actually – technology is great for the senior generation that doesn’t get out much.    How much better will it be for seniors once they’re thoroughly comfortable with tech ?

But in the meantime, time to see what my 50’s offer.