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I had an interesting discussion a couple of days ago. I was chatting with a relative and the conversation turned to video games. We discussed Fallout 3, Halo, Oblivion, and various other games. We compared playing styles and talked about what we liked and didn't like in games.

So, what's interesting about that?

Well, I'm 42 and the relative was my wife's uncle who is in his 60s. A conversation about the merits of FO3's VATS system would not be out of place between a couple of young adults. But, two men with gray in their beards? Not as unusual as you might think.

In 2004, the average age of people who played video games was 29 (1). This was considered "old." In 2009, the average age has increased to 35 (2). I guess this is "ancient." (I prefer "venerable.") Of course, looking around at the mainstream gaming press, you wouldn't know it. Most online gaming news and commentary sites seem to be not only aimed at a younger demographic, they often seem written by same.

Penny Arcade, written by a couple of thirty-something husbands and fathers, displays a distinct frat-boy aesthetic meant to appeal more to the 20-something crowd than the "average-age" gamer. A blog about a 73-year-old grandmother who plays "hardcore" video games seems more intent on getting granny to act as foul-mouthed and juvenile as the stereotypical teen gamer than on examining gaming by older people. (3) And of course, a quick perusal of Gamespot or IGN or any of the other major gaming news sites quickly reveals a focus on teens rather than adults. (Not to mention a surfeit of coverage of M-rated games, even though M-rated games account for about 16% of all game sales. But, that's another blog entry for another time.)

And, who can blame them? The demographic for hardcore gamers skews younger and more predominately male than the averages computed by the ESA. (6) But…but. The most frequent game purchasers are older than the average (2) and even though us old fogies are spending all the money, games seem less and less appealing to us. The upcoming Dragon Age: Origins seemed headed in the right direction and the game may still be great for older gamers. Unfortunately, once EA got their hands on Bioware, the marketing campaign shifted to a celebration of sex and gore. Mostly gore.

I've been playing video games since I first fired up Missile Command on my Atari 2600. As I grow older, I find my tolerance for and ability with "twitch" games--games requiring fast reflexes and faster movement--is decreasing. I loved inFamous; but, I'm more likely to pop in LEGO Batman than to play through Cole's adventure again. The game I'm most looking forward to right now? LEGO Harry Potter. Yeah, that's about my speed these days…LEGO games.

Who would have thought? I certainly didn't. Maybe it's just a phase.

(3) I won't link to Penny Arcade or granny's blog because neither are "safe" for work (or, in many cases, home)