Grammy Gamer: A Senior Guide to Gaming

By: GmaFog | : 572   : 14

When Gma Fog was young, she lived life at a fast pace and could keep up with herself. Good reflexes and sports were her thing. Now at 62 years old, she thinks, “ Where has the time gone?” In the beginning of life, things change slowly and then all of a sudden, it’s gone. In real life, her mind as well as body see and feel things differently. As a gamer, the way Gma plays is different too. There are many things that change, but that doesn’t mean you “can’t” play. She will go over a few of these changes in this article and give suggestions that worked for her. These challenges are priorities, confusion, vision, motion sickness, physical pain, response time, and stress of the battle. There are ways you can combat these issues and still be a Grammy Gamer!

Priorities in Life

As I become older, I realize how my priorities have changed over the years. At first, as a young child I remember the “Let’s have fun and be happy”. We had school responsibilities, but my priority was around game play and parties with friends. Next step, as a young adult, I fell in love, got married and had kids. (Others hung out with their friend and started work.) I had responsibilities taking care of my husband and children so didn’t have much time for anything else. Part of me said, “When I get a bit older and the kids are off on their own, I will be able to do whatever I want!” NOT….

As a senior, I still have responsibilities and have to work full time to make ends meet. So where does that leave me? An 8-10 hour a day job, cooking/cleaning after work and don’t forget grocery shopping, or in my case, doctors appointments. Maybe 2 or 3 hours are left in the day after everything else which I do like to spend at least and hour with hubby before bed, which doesn’t always happen. Add all those hours up and I have around 20 hours a week of personal time. Sometimes I forfeit my sleep, to play with the guild and suffer for it later.

How Gma Fog prioritizes her life

I have to look deeply into my heart and say, “What’s more important?” For me, there are 4 important categories: Family, Work, God time and Playtime. I use a calendar and actually add all my activities including work, doctor appointments, bedtime, meal prep, gardening, shopping, visiting friends, church and personal time. Gaming goes in as personal time, and in that list, my gaming has to share with quilting, puzzles, gardening and reading my bible.

Confusing Games and Areas

Which games do I play and for how long? Ok, Gma Fog is going to make a confession. She likes 4 different games: Pirate 101, Guild Wars 2 (GW2), Elder Scrolls (ESO) and Rift. Each game has something for each mood in my life. Why do I enjoy each game? Well here are Gma’s thoughts about that question.

Pirate 101 is basically my playtime with the grandkids, but I also play with some adult friends. It is a slower paced, turn-based game that has a lot of strategy, but physically easier on the hands. The Cartoon-based Characters come alive in the battles. The wonderful graphics can be seen as each character takes their turn fighting their foe. My partners and I seem to laugh a lot as we watch the powers we choose on each companion and see how these characters interact with their foe.

The game is made for children, I would say age 4 and up. My Grandsons started playing around the time they were 3. I find this game teaches children the idea of working for your “gold” and also the drudgery of doing chores, like building up your nautical xp, training your companions and pets. I love to sail the skyway to each of the worlds and pick up quests in each area as my characters grow.

Guildwars 2 – This was my First Full-Strength MMO. I have lots of time, love and friendships made in this game. I run map clears and other “Just for Fun” events. There are many things to explore and do. No matter what your interest, you can find it in this game: PvP, WvW or PvE. Storylines are challenging and interesting as you pick which way to go; who to be your allies; and fighting together for the good of Tyria. I have figured out, most of the higher-level fights are more fun if you have someone with you, and I do find other challenges like jumping puzzles, the Living Story, mini dungeons, dungeons, fractals and many more. With all the updates and additions, I have not run out of content yet.

ESO was a beta call for me. By the time I got a computer that would run it, I only had a week left to test it. At that point, I was picking up quests and doing a lot of roaming around looking at scenery. That is what this game is all about for me and I like talking to the NPCs and listen to their story. Yes, some are serious, but talking to them is the highlight in this game. When I am in ESO, I just like hunting things down for my quest and sitting on mountain tops thinking about things. There are many battles, and fighting going on, which most people love. As for me, sitting and watching a sunset is just fine.

Rift is very new to me. I was invited to join Gaiscioch in the Telara Saga, it was a great 10 weeks! I got to know people that played and learnt a bit about the Rifts and Raids. Rifts and the monsters you battle are very engaging and there is always someone to help you and show you around in Rift. This one is one I play with large groups and have a great time chatting on Discord.

That being said, each game has different mechanics and different maps. Earlier, I said 20 hours of personal time. Now split that up between 4 games and all the other things I like to do in real life, so probably 12 hours left to play games. I usually have days I play Guild Wars 2 and Pirate 101 on the same day. It makes it fun when I get the maps mixed up in my head, or how about trying to jump on a mount when we don’t have mounts. My favorite is trying to jump off a set of stairs and realize I can’t do that in Pirate 101. When talking with guildies in discord, I will say “just port to me” and realize “oops wrong game”. I find my main issue is the keystroke controls. Every game seems to have their own default setup. As an example:

In Pirate 101, you can’t remap keystrokes and to interact, press x.

In GW2, to interact, press F

In ESO to interact press E

In Rift to interact, right click on the NPC

That is just to interact with NPCs and opening doors! I have found trying to change all the keystrokes to the same thing doesn’t work because what works in one game messes up other keystrokes. It has a domino effect. This includes Auto-run. R for autorun works in one game but opens the chat box in another. If you change the keystroke to R, then you have to find another free key for the chat,and it gets very confusing and complicated. Another example is steering. Some games use right click to steer and another will put you in a crouch/hide position. One funny thing I did notice, every game has “Jump”(space bar) and “Map”(M) set up with the same button. Yes, the W, A, S, D keys are also movement in each game but the camera views with the A & D are a bit different.  Some “turn” right or left and others “straffe” right or left.

Ways I use to help with the confusion

Note: If you want to take the time and effort you can change the keystrokes, but also takes a bit of ingenuity to figure out where and what keystrokes to change. Personally, I have made a spreadsheet with the main keystrokes listed for all the games I play. (I did change a few that didn’t cause a domino effect.) I review and keep the sheet handy when switching games. Now the errors in your brain that you make between games, such as accidentally dodging off a cliff, I just laugh, revive and move on.

Vision

Vision is very handy to have when you are playing games. It is very hard to see in dark areas and if your screen is too small, it is difficult to see where you are going, what you are hitting, and just forget about the chat window. At one point a couple of years back, I had scratched both my corneas due to Dry Eye Syndrome. I was told by the doctor, “This happens as you get older” Great.. Yet another fun and exciting thing to deal with as you grow old. I have to make sure I use certain eye drops to moisten them at all times. When this happened, wearing sunglasses constantly, and making sure the backlighting on the computers was low. Of course for gaming, that made it even harder to see.

Ways to help with the vision issues

The main thing for this situation was to get a bigger monitor, turn down the brightness and make sure to use my eye drops every hour while I was on the computer. You may want to make sure there is no reflection on your monitor and put up a room darkener on any window behind them. I’m sure this helps with other vision issues too. Just make everything larger so you can see it, but that can bring on one more issue - Motion Sickness.

Motion Sickness

I received Guild Wars 2 one Christmas and I thought, how awesome a new game would be. It comes online full screen, I struggle with the controls to figure them out, “This is cool.” Friends come online to walk me through the basics and within a half an hour after starting to play, I’m sick to my stomach. Motion sick?? What is this all about? I am way too old to be pregnant! And that is the only time I get motion sick. Then someone says, “Well, that happens.”

Tips on how to help with the motion sickness

There are a few things you can do. Make sure to get out of fullscreen mode and slow down your mouse tracking. You can turn down the graphics setting in your options or get a good graphics card in your machine, with good internet. That way the choppiness will not be as bad and your movements will be smoother. The smoother the motion, the less you will be nauseous. Lastly, look away from your screen frequently, as this will anchor you in the real world so your eyes and ears don’t get out of sync so easily.

Physical Pain

Pain happens all the way through your life, but I seem to be getting creakier as I get older. Arthritis sets in the joints and movement is hard. I have been blessed with only a few problems with my wrist, knees and back.

What to do? How do I keep them moving?

Exercise and eating habits have changed, but the more you move the more fluid stays in your joints, at least that is what the doctor tells me. Sitting in one position for too long is troubling and  I react to anti inflammatory drugs, so I use a more natural approach. “Gamer clots” are another worry so in my events, I suggest everyone get up and move around every hour. We will find a safe spot and leave the computer for 5 minutes. This will help keep blood flow going in your legs and hopefully, ward off blood clots that could cause strokes.  I try taking a walk, gardening, cleaning house and playing with the dog when taking breaks in between dungeons, jumping puzzles or boss battles.

If you are having hand and wrist issues, you can get a different mouse and keyboard. I find the programmable mouse with the 12 keys on the thumb works well for my fight skills. It gives me an extra way to change up if my wrist on the opposing arm is bothersome.  Changing up the position of your wrist and hand will help with repetitive injury symptoms.

As for eating habits – I try to stay off of junk food while playing. Have healthy snacks prepared,  like whole wheat crackers and cheese, nuts, apples or your favorite crunchy veggie.  

Response time

I want to start out by saying, some days are better than others. I do notice if I don’t get enough rest and am tired it will be worse. Get plenty of rest and then play. Response time is a big one for me, as when I am in a battle, I can’t think fast enough to dodge and evade or run and shoot at the same time. Jumping is also a problem as I love jumping puzzles, but I can’t seem to get the run/jump together, even with practice. I don’t give up, but it takes me longer to achieve. I have accepted it as part of where I am in my life and learned how to adapt.

How to adapt to slower response time

First is practice, practice, practice. Know where your dodge keys are. Learn how they move so you don’t dodge of a cliff while fighting foe. If that doesn’t work, make characters that have longer range abilities, that way you can have more time to react if an enemy is coming your way. Make sure your armour is beefed up with toughness and vitality and try not to get stressed on the days you have issues.

Stress

Oh the stress of it all!!! Frustrations in game can build – When you are just one last ledge from the end of the jumping puzzle and you fall off. Or how about that 50-man zerg that just pasted you to the ground and spiked you with a bunny finisher. The horror of it all. Yes, both of those have been my nemesis.

Some signs of stress are: Major language issues; wanting to throw your keyboard or mouse across the room and actually throwing it across the room; body and face getting hot; heart or head pounding to the point of headache; or just feeling like you are going to scream.

How can we manage this stress?  

Focus on having fun. You do know – it’s just a game, not real life.

If you are getting frustrated, find another area to play. If you are mad, get up and take a walk.  When you calm yourself down, review what made you stressed and figure out how or what you need to do to fix it. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting better armor or weapons. Other times it is practice, asking others for suggestions, or just finding what doesn’t stress you and do that instead.  This can change day to day as a senior, so be aware of how you are feeling and don’t punish yourself if you are having an off day. Tomorrow will be better.

Gma’s Final Words of Advice

This article is just my experiences being a gamer. I know of many that have issues with major vision, MS, pain so bad they can’t sit to play or other disabilities. I find my friends have it way worse than me and they still find time to play. Find your sweet spot and be a Grammy Gamer!

Published: September 29th, 2017

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About the Author

GmaFog
Senior Editor

Esther has accomplished many things in her life. Learning is one continuing objective that is important to her.. Through the years, no matter what was in front of her, Esther took steps to learn something new. She is and has been a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher's assistant, medical records Clerk, church nursery worker, archaeologist, osteologist, biological curator,  GIS student  and now a gamer.

After fighting a bout with breast cancer, she had to change her field of expertise. So, furthering the menagerie, Esther became a Web Production Assistant. She produces and edits press releases for franchise companies and moves them out onto the net, as soon as she receives them. Esther loves the things she can learn while releasing these PRs onto the web. There are a lot of ambitious people out there and someday, she might meet a few of them. Until that time, she will move on with her life and work.

In her free time, this grandma plays with the Gaiscioch gaming community; works on the Gaiscioch Magazine and volunteers at church. She also stain glass paints, quilts, gardens, watches and take pictures of nature around her area. There is beauty out there in this crazy world, and Esther is ready for the challenge of finding it.

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