Friday, November 07, 2008

Grown up?

A little while ago, I was talking to my mother and the subject of early computer games came up. (I don't remember why.) I said something about not being able to remember the earliest computer games, and she said neither did she, since she was too old for such things when they were first developed.

I am the same age now as my mother was when I was born. When the earliest computer games were available, she was younger than I am now. I still enjoy playing computer games; although I don't spend very much time doing so at the moment, because I'm too busy, I don't envisage that I'll ever go off the idea altogether. (Here's one I particularly like. It took me ages to work out what you have to do, though.)

Yet the concept that adults don't play computer games doesn't seem particularly alien. And it does seem to me that people of our generation are much less "grown up" than our parents' generation at the same age. Most of my friends don't have kids; only a few are married or settled down in a particular location, and not all of them have fixed on a career yet. We read fantasy and watch Doctor Who and play World of Warcraft (well, I don't, but I know people who do) and it probably all looks rather childish from the point of view of Real Grown-ups.

Maybe I'm biased because a lot of the people I know are academics or postgraduate students; I can certainly think of exceptions to what I've just said. But it does seem to me that there has been a slant towards not letting go of your youth, or even childhood. When my mother got her first teaching job, she cut her hair so as to look grownup and responsible. I used to think I would cut mine (it's long) when I was 30, but now... that's not as far-off as I'd expect.

I suppose that in many ways the eternal-youth thing is superficial. We might look scruffy and read books about dragons and listen to new music, but we still have grownup responsibilities. I mean, there are good reasons why J and I don't have children yet, even though we might like to, and not all of those are under our control.

Whither our generation, though? Will we still be wearing T-shirts with obscure slogans and playing computer games when we're in our fifties? Or will things take another turn? I would hesitate to make any predictions.


Simone said...

The definition of "grown up" has changed. Although my 44 yr old husband turns his nose up at computer games, I have other friends his age who play them (and other games, including role playing) all the time. I think a large part of what's "delayed" our generation's growing up is the damn economy. When I was a college student in the 80's, I knew I was the first generation likely to earn less money than my parents, and to have a lower standard of living, and things have not changed for those coming after me - so why bother to cut your hair and put away computer games and grow up when you know it's unlikely you'll ever have the salary that the grown ups you know have??

ariandalen said...

I suppose your wardrobe will depend upon your friends and job. My DH is a computer network middle manager. He goes to several computer seminars/conventions/sales shows every year and we have several T-shirts from those get-togethers, and that won't change. He'll be 48 and I'll be 47 in December. We also still keep in touch with friends we met in college.

I have a friend, male, who will be 49 in February and his wife, also a friend, who turned 50 last September who still play computer games; games of all types, really.

Don't worry about it. "Grown-ups" used to play bridge, canasta and/or dominoes. Well, at least in the Southern USA. I don't think my generation, and moreso yours and the one currently in grade school are less face-to-face social than previous generations.

scoliyogi said...

I think it is partly the circles in which you mix. Most of my pregnancy yoga students are younger than me (I'm 34) and all of them either married or co-habiting and settled down with proper jobs. Seriously.

I on the other hand will always wear Foo Fighter Tshirts, will always read fantasy, have no intention of marrying Himself or having children (two furry children is more than enough), and honestly, some of these 25 year old married mums to be make me feel like a child...and then we go back into that whole "I am not worthy to teach these people yoga" that we were talking about the other day!


Loth said...

My husband always wonders what the equivalent of "tea dances" will be in the future. A roomful of 70 year olds, headbanging in unison to the nostalgic sounds of AC/DC? Pogoing to The Clash? The mind boggles.

K said...

You are all quite right, of course. Context is all. I've had jobs where jeans-and-T-shirts were standard attire, but I've also had ones which require smarter clothes. And I suppose I see my friends at weekends, when they're probably behaving less like responsible adults than they do in the week.

As for tea dances... my grandparents were doing Scottish country dancing well into their seventies, and most of the people I know have been doing it since their teens as a social thing. They just do it to ceilidh bands with bass guitars and amps. Maybe the rate of change isn't quite as fast as I thought.

Quixotical said...

I don't think there is really anything particularly grown up about putting away video games.

Video game technology is far advanced now, and games have developed into something that many of our parents would have found hard to imagine.

I always find it funny when The Boy's father rants about his sons still playing games. Then he goes out to the garage and plays with his toys - bits of steam engines etc, which are his hobby. He will also sit for hours and play Freecell. He also loves to do jigsaw puzzles. Given the depth and complexity of many videogames today, I don't think that they present a lesser way of passing time than any of the hobbies regarded as being "for grown ups".

Perhaps the tendency to cling to pastimes regarded as youthful also has something to do with the increased stresses of modern life. I know that gaming often provides me with a very necessary outlet and distraction.

I think that, as long as there are games that appeal to me, and I am able to access them I will probably still play them, regardless of my age.