when did i become old?

I write this after becoming resigned to the fact that I cannot play Fortnite anywhere near the ability level of my 11-year-old son. I have tried and I have failed. I used to be good at gaming, nay, great. I was the king of playing the objective in the Battlefield series, often topping the leaderboards at the end of a round and I could hold my own during Call of Duty sessions.

These days I feel slower, less sharp and almost afraid to play competitive games like Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds and Fornite. I do not enjoy “dropping” only to be shot a nanosecond later. I spend more time staring at the load screen than I do playing. I prefer playing PvE (player versus enemy) games as a single player or co-operatively. I don’t quite know what’s happened.

I am good at working as a team, I always go for the revive when other players are down and I share loot etc. But there is something missing, a spark, a lack of confidence, something has left my gaming toolbox.

Games have changed over the last 30 years or so that I have been playing them, they always have, and they always will, it’s a natural progression as technology advances and systems improve. Fortnite will eventually stagnate and something will take over its crown, what that will be and when is anyone’s guess.

But do we have to stagnate and become gaming relics ourselves and when do you know if you are “past it”? I can pinpoint the exact moment that my journey from gaming legend to ‘old gamer’ began.

“Dad, is that one nil to me?”

It was while playing FIFA a few years ago with my son. In the past I used to let him score the odd goal or two and I would deliberately miss sometimes. I would watch proudly as he looked at the controller to check which button he pressed and smile as his tongue poked out of his mouth as he concentrated. Then it happened. While he kept playing I was busy working, doing housework, shopping or generally being a husband and a father. He improved almost overnight. Gone were the slow button presses, the frustration of “I pressed the button, it’s not fair”. Now was the era of “Dad, is that one nil to me?”. Legitimately losing at FIFA to my son was a shock.

His hands now move across the controller with lightning speed, like an octopus wrestling a fish, his eyes dart from one area of the screen to the next. He has a focus that puts him far in advance of me. Watching him build in Fortnite while trash talking with his friends is a sight to behold.

I play the slow games, the complicated flight or space sims, games that require tactics and patience and I enjoy them. There will come a point soon that he will learn this patience and develop his own tactics and once again put me out to relative “gaming” pasture.

But hey, there’s always sensible soccer. He’s terrible at that.