Where Art Thou, Attention Span?


What has happened to my attention span? When I was 5, I had a Nintendo Entertainment System with a handful of games and those same games could keep me busy for months, maybe even years. I could sit down, pop in Super Mario Bros. and play it over and over again, all day long. At the end of the day my eyes were burning, my head hurt and my thumb felt like it was going to fall off. What a blast... I miss it.

What has happened to my attention span? When I was 5, I had a Nintendo Entertainment System with a handful of games and those same games could keep me busy for months, maybe even years. I could sit down, pop in Super Mario Bros. and play it over and over again, all day long. At the end of the day my eyes were burning, my head hurt and my thumb felt like it was going to fall off. What a blast... I miss it.

Fast forward 15 or 16 years. My three roommates and I are living in an apartment downtown for the summer. Downtown to you might not mean the same thing it does to us. Downtown consists of 2 bars, a pizza joint and a 7-11 which - although the sign says "Open 24 hours a day" - has not been open at all for a couple weeks. I'm guessing the boarded up windows are a good sign that I won't be getting 2 jumbo hotdogs for $1.09 anytime again soon.

Life without hotdogs and slushies will surely be hard, but I can make it through this tough time. Besides, there are so many other things that are going great in my life right now. No responsibilites once I get out of work, no homework, no classes... just living a college guys life in a college town minus the whole school and studying part... for three whole months. Does life get any better?

One of my roomates has an Xbox. What a god send. I have a Playstation 2, but, as I mentioned earlier, I am a college student so that obviously means I have no money. Not after I buy the essential beer, pizza and Mountain Dew supply. If someone brings an Xbox into my home for me to play for the next 3 months for free, you won't see me complaining. Unless he won't let me play the thing, but my impressive beer, pizza and Mountain Dew collection makes an efficient bartering tool.

I couldn't wait to get at the thing. 4pm Monday afternoon, we get out of work, head home and plop down on my insanely comfortable italian leather couch that I got for $60 bucks. What a steal. I couldn't help but think this was meant to be. Affordable, wicked comfortable butt padding and an Xbox. Life is great. As the Xbox booted up and displayed it's neon green logo across my mean 35" TV, I yelled to Andy in the kitchen "Hey, grab that bag of Cheetos!" and sat back for some quality gaming unlike any I had seen in a long time.

I was in for a surprise. Halo was amazing. I had heard this game was nuts but it was even better then I expected. The opening scene where you are running through the ship as it's being attacked was a rush. My speakers were turned up so high that my pant legs were shaking and we were so close to the TV that I felt like it was going to suck me in.

45 intense minutes of my roommate punching me every time I "accidently" shoot him in the kneecap, yelling, kicking, hooting, hollaring and screaming pass in the blink of an eye. Between the two of us we probably just killed around 500 aliens, successfully crushed the first three levels like beer cans on a forehead and cleaned up half a bag of Cheetos. Our reaction? "Okay, let's go do something else." Don't get me wrong, it's a great game, a great system and great fun, but I just can't sit in front of the thing like I used to be able to.

I often wonder how kids these days get by. If I had owned an Xbox when I was 8 years old, I would become part of the couch. They have it made. It's no secret that technology has evolved and video games consoles are vastly superior to what they were when I was a child. So why can't I play them for days on end like I used to? Just like when I was a kid, I've got no homework to do so let the virtual marathon commence, right? Wrong.

I don't feel bad about it though. Video games are one of my favorite things in this world. I played them when I was a youngster, I play them now and I will always play them. I grew up with video games. So what's the difference? Finding out that girls really don't have kooties was a huge factor, but I really can't explain it fully. All I know is that my love for video games, even though I don't play as long as I used to, is as strong as ever.

It's like Baltasar Gracian once said "Good things, when short, are twice as good." I'll be back in half an hour, it's time for a round of Halo.

The same thing happened to me, but I don't think it has anything to do with the systems. You are growing older, and some things don't have the same meaning to you as they did.
I don't watch Ninja Turtles anymore.

I don't think the point was that the systems are changing a lot. The point is that his love for video games is as strong as ever...even though his life doesn't allow him as much time to play, he still loves them just the same.

"even though his life doesn't allow him as much time to play, he still loves them just the same"


I must admit, I thought that the point was that he had just as much time to play (for now) as he did when he was younger. He just doesn't want to.

Tastes change, I suppose. I don't think it's getting older, or even breaking the Kooties Barrier. It's just that people don't stay the same. Trite, I know, but what the hell. Life can be like that sometimes.

If it comes to it, blackbear may be looking at his youth through rose-colored glasses. Did he really spend all day every day at the N64? Sure, probably he burned a lot of hours. Memory's tricky, though. It may be that he didn't spend nearly as much time as he thinks he did. It's just that what he does remember of the N64 is vivid enough to block out the other stuff.

I'm not entirely sure about that. Myself, I've noticed that I can't play videogames for nearly as long lately. In the days of the SNES, a six hour gaming session was very common. Heck, when I rented Chrono Trigger, I played it almost nonstop until it had to be returned, and a friend and I would occasionally rent one of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms game and play it all night long.

Nowadays, I'd honestly say that I care more about videogames than I did then. Yet in recent times, a three hour session is what I consider long (though I played Dark Cloud for six hours straight when I first got it). Yet my brother, only three years younger at 19, can easily pull off those six hour sessions that I used to. Why is this? I don't have a clue.

It's called growing up you dolt. You get paid to make these flaky weak observations? Two problems I see with this pansy "writer" wanna-be-one, he never had to suffer since he grew up in an already spoiled age (Having Nintendo) and two, he plays HALO which shows he is a retarded codependent loser.

John, theres no need to get touchy. Gamgreen is a forum where people post their work for all to see, not to have eggs thrown at them in the stockade.

Personally I agree with Blackbear, and I have to point out a little biochemical remark: Old games never used to pump adrenaline like the amazing-effected ones of today. When you get a high from adrenaline, your attention and concentration is tunneled and focused, but like most good things in life it only lasts a while. A dozen or so minutes later, you're back to normal mode, and that much more later you're on the down: Lazy, tired and attention fleeting. Old games never used to make your heart race. Sure they had their moments, but their majority was rather sedate. Don't get me wrong, fully interesting and stimulating, but a lot more sedate than today.

Study on this. FNORD.

Hey I resent the Halo comment John!

I've been through this discussion with countless people about TV, Movies, D&D modules, you name it.

There are 3 main reasons why you can't like the things you liked as much as you used to:

1 - We tend to have idealized memories; either things are portrayed as much worst or way better than they "actually were".

2 - We get used to almost anything, so we eventually get jaded. I no longer have gaming marathons were I lock myself up in the basement with my gaming buddies for 20 or so hours of gaming, there is no more fun in that (except in reminiscing about it).

3 - Your experiencial background is richer than it used to you've tried many other fun things since then (sex, bungee jumping, hiking, zen archery, house keeping or what not) and you like to do them, so you choose not to spend so much time on the console.

Oh and John, growing up doesn't mean you automatically stop having meaningless fun.

I agree Sam. Most of the time I am too busy to sit in front of my ps2 and play for hours and hours like i used to. The only time i have recently is when Devil May Cry came out. I may not be the best at this writing stuff but i do get my point across. Oh John just because you grow older doesn't mean you can't go out and cause the same mischeif that you always used to. Your only as old as you think. You can always retain that shred of youth and do all the wild and crazy things. I am 19 and i still ahven't grown up, sure i am more mature, but I don't sit in front of a desk all the time doing a job and never having fun. Life is fun thats what its all about. Plain and simple. Halo is a kickass game btw.

I read this thing but it's talking about one perticular person I want information for my reserch topic with is deal with attention span. if yu can help me with that. thank's

I think you are all getting a little to philosophical about it all, I still have as much fun playing HALO as when my friend got it, I finished it on the first night I had it but that didn't stop me from upping the difficulty and playing some more. BRING ON THE SHOTGUN BUTTSTRIKE thats what I say

I think it's more of a quality of game thing, I can play some of the newer games for long periods of time, but I can still whip out a classic like Aladdin, Chrono Trigger or Zork and play for hours. Newer games are practically mindblowing in graphics, but practically all the boundaries have been broken; what can you do with RPGs now except change the storyline and graphics, all the systems that would work have been done. And platformers and action games have never really had that many options to begin with(don't even get me started on the fact that all FPSes are the same and that Doom or UT2003 both have the same play value).
When Super Mario Bros came out, it hadn't been done before. There weren't any crisp, well done, platform games for consoles and they kept upping the bar over the years(with the exception of dropping it for Super Mario World 2); With Mario 64, they reached the limit for the genre. You can't do anything else with platformers(probably why Metroid Prime is FPS); Until some newer, greater technology comes out, gaming has reached it's limit and playing something you've probably played under 5 other 'guises is only exciting for a short period of time.

P.S. Halo is fun, controls take some serious getting used to; would be infinitely better on computer. Go WASD with +mlook!

The entire gist of this article can be summed up in the following,

"I can't play video games for as long as I used to be able to, but they're still fun and I like them just as much."

The end of the article left an almost audible 'and..?' humming on the tip of my tongue.

I think the phrase, 'crunched... like beer cans on a forehead' is indicative of a great deal, here, in retrospect. What segment of the population are we expanding the concept of 'gaming' to include? To my mind, real gamers are people who grew up with video games and moved on to things that require intelligence and creativity, such as RPGs... not Baseketball-esque types who sit around, munching cheetos, and would probably be playing Nintendo if the X-box wasn't around. The occasional video (or, better yet, computer) game is all well and good, but if I recall high school correctly 'gamer geeks' were heckled and picked at incessantly by the majority of the Playstation-frenzied population. Gamers have enough of a problem with the general 'mainstream' as it is; we are now starting to see certain things banned, such as schools and libraries banning Dungeons & Dragons due to the publishing of Evil and the Book of Vile Darkness (and more, soon, from the Book of Erotic Fantasy). Having recently moved from a very fringe-tolerant location to an 'upstanding, conservative, and religious community' (it was against my will, sadly) I am suddenly very cognizant of the differences between the two... and of who's in charge out there in the big, wide world.

Taking in the segment of the population with the 5-year-old Super Mario fixation lingering on ad infinitum isn't going to help our situation any.

I actually play games longer now than I did when I was younger. I had to go to school then and I had parents who limited my playing time because they though it was bad for me *twitch* crazy huh? *twitch twitch*

Now I have credit cards and an apartment where my parents can't find me or tell me what to do. I can buy all the video games I wan't! Sure I have no food and I'm literally in financial hell, with a negative number on my credit report...but I have my games!

Playing game is one of my hobby. I actually enjoy playing game while I am chatting with some one. but when I was 5 I tend to like cartoon and when I turn onto 6 I started to attract with games, It's just feeling. Now a days online games are very much I enjoy most.
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