Is There A Stigma Around Older Gamers?
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I’m turning 40 tomorrow. I will officially be “Over the hill” or about half way through the average life expectancy. Although I know plenty of people in my own family who are well into their 90s and approaching even 100. So I think that hill should not be until you’re 50, but nonetheless, society is about to brand me as an old woman. Not only an old woman, but an old woman who plays video games. But that’s OK, because as I’ve gotten older, I have learned to stop caring what society thinks. I remember clearly, the day I turned 25. I’m pretty sure I had a quarter-life crisis. I cried all day and told my family that it meant that I had to give up everything I loved, my toys, my games, cosplaying, anime, etc. I don’t know why, but I suddenly felt shame for my hobbies. Games and anime and cosplay were popular with teenagers and early 20something year olds, but I didn’t know of anyone 25+ who enjoyed those things. Even my closest friends who used to play games with me, had long since moved on to other more adult hobbies.
Gaming isn’t the only geeky hobby that I embrace. Perhaps even more stigmatic is the fact that I will be 40 years old and collecting dolls. I started collecting dolls back in 2006. Even as a 20 something year old it was considered weird. My own family even later in life told me that they thought only “retards” (their word, not mine, no hate please, direct quote), only “retards” would carry a doll around. I carried it to take photographs of it outside, in flowers and trees, at a beach, and so on.
My family said they were wrong and they have met some of my doll meetup group members and organizers and have witnessed that many are/were even older than myself at the time. But now, 15-20 years later, I’m probably (one of) the old hen in the hen house now.
Prior to 2006 – even as a small child, I never once took interest in dolls. I liked animal shaped toys, but not humanoid ones. I was never one for barbie, etc. It was 2004 I think when I saw my first picture of an Asian Balljointed Doll on the internet. It would take me another year and a half to save up money for my first one. I still have her too. Dollzone Demi version 2. They no longer make her, or any other version of Demi. She’s turned yellow (because they are made of resin and it breaks down or oxidizes over time). But I still love her.
Balljointed Dolls are sold blank, no face, you paint your own, or hire an artist to paint it for you, or pay the company an extra fee to have it painted. They are sold bald. There’s no hair. You make or buy wigs. And they are sold nude. No clothes. They are also anatomically correct. They are adult collector dolls and not intended for children.
But yet, it’s such a very small hobby, that the stigma remains. That stigma society believes tells them that dolls are for children. Surely, a 40 year old woman with her doll in a public place is going to get some stares and maybe even hear some bad things behind her back, or more blazingly, right to her face.
But these dolls are not cabinet babies, they are meant to be works of art. And photography is yet another form of art. So naturally people like to take asian balljointed dolls out into public spaces to take photographs.
I don’t think society will ever accept that dolls are for adults too. And I have decided that’s OK. I stopped caring what society thinks – for the most part. Up until Coronavirus, I was actively cosplaying and attending conventions. I was 38 years old.
I’m overweight (Overweight cosplayers get hate too – damn so many stigma) But on the plus, it makes it so I don’t look as old as I really am. When you lose weight, your face loses collagen and loses elasticity, so I actually look about 10 years younger than my friends who are close to my age, some even younger than me. I could pass for about 32-35 easily. But still, even 30 is “old” in society’s negative mindset. 30 year olds shouldn’t be cosplaying or going to conventions or playing with dolls, or have pink, blue, green, rainbow hair, or watch anime, or any number of other “child like things”.
Well I’m sorry society, I don’t agree with you and your “rules”. I won’t follow your narrow mindset. I am turning 40 tomorrow and even when (if god’s willing) I turn 100, I’ll still be a gamer. I’ll be playing retro AND new video games, pc, console, and mobile games, I’ll be watching anime and Kdrama, I’ll be listening to KPOP and JRAP and probably still reviewing games and anime and dolls and toys here on my blog. I’ll still have the latest gaming computer, latest mobile phone, latest gaming console, and my doll collection by time I’m 100 will probably be damn near 100 (different dolls) itself. Sorry, not sorry. I’ll still take my dolls out in public. And probably care even less as I get older. I don’t know if I’ll still cosplay, but I’ll still go to conventions, and host my own meetups, and board game nights, and everything else.
How old is too old, to do what you love? I describe myself as a geek and a gamer. I identify as a geek and a gamer. It’s WHO I AM, AS A PERSON. That’s NEVER going to change. It’s the first thing I tell people about myself when I meet them for the first time. I don’t say Hi, my name is Jen and this is my career, I live in this neighborhood, I make this income, I have pets/kids/this car, like this movie or this book, no… The first thing I say… is Hi, I’m Jen I’m a gamer. I like to play games and watch anime. Since it’s literally my IDENTITY, I don’t forsee it ever changing.
I’ve played games since the first 8 bit NES, or even atarii at friends houses, or even had my stepdad lift me up to reach controls on arcade or pinball machines since before I could walk/barely talk.
I’m a gamer. I am a female. And I’m turning 40 tomorrow. That’s me. If you don’t like it, too bad. HAHA. I’m also a “casual gamer” and we get A LOT of hate, even from other gamers. What is a casual gamer? It means I play different less popular games. I don’t play mainstream stuff like call of duty or fortnite, I don’t care for action games. I play games for a different reason. I want to experience a story, to connect with and identify with the characters, or in some cases, I want to freely express and explore my own creativity, in things such as dressup games, simulation games, building games, so on where there maybe is no story or character progression. But it’s usually one of those two reasons – Story or Creativity – that’s the type of gamer I am, always have been, always will be.
Turning 40 won’t stop me from enjoying my hobbies. I know society will (continue to) judge me and others like me, who have a young at heart mindset… but that’s too bad. It’s their loss, not mine. They’re losing out on making friends with a good person with a good heart, a good friend. I won’t let their judgment stop me from doing what I enjoy. What is life without pleasure, without enjoyment, without ENTHUSIASM. It’s good to have hobbies and passions – and I am and always have been and always will be SUPER PASSIONATE about games, anime, dolls, toys, technology, and Kpop/Kdrama. Those are my passions. Those are my identity. They give my life meaning and purpose. They fill my life and my mind and my heart with love and enjoyment and creativity and wonder and amazement. This will always be true.
It’s a shame society forces people to give up what they love. Age is just a number. A birthday is just a day. You don’t suddenly gain maturity or wisdom by living one more day, or one more year, or one more decade. Wisdom and Maturity are awarded through overcoming struggles and hardships, from hitting rock bottom and climbing to the top, only to be pushed to the bottom again, over and over. And without your passions, your hobbies, the endless climb of life can be too much to bear for some people.
Take enjoyment in whatever makes YOU happy. Don’t stop something you love just because society thinks it’s for children. What is a child? We are all children of God. And god says judge not lest ye too shall be judged. So go with peace and go with grace. And the next time you see an adult enjoying child-like things. reflect fondly on how you were also once a child. I think instead of judging that person, you should admire that person, that they feel confident and comfortable enough to be their true selves and when you look at the happiness that person has enjoying their hobby, instead of mocking them, perhaps you should examine your own life. Are you perhaps the one lacking happiness? Your inner child is screaming, let’s play! But you’ve locked your inner child in a small tiny room. Let your inner child out once in awhile – it’s quite an enjoyable experience. I guarantee you will live more stressfree, happier, and receive more abundance in your life when you follow your heart’s desire, whatever that may be, even if others think it’s just for kids.
I’m turning 40 tomorrow and I feel more confident in who I am as a person, and what I want and desire from life. I’m getting married in 3 months. We just bought a house. We’re openly discussing adoption or perhaps natural birth (but with my age there are some concerns). We are building the life we want together. And no, my fiance does not share my same hobbies or interests, BUT he always respects me and encourages me to continue to enjoy my hobbies and interests, and I love him for that (and many other reasons obviously). So see – there are those who will love and accept you as YOU. Don’t change yourself for others – because in the end, you’ll both be miserable. There’s no greater feeling in the world than to be loved and accepted for the person that you truly are without hiding or holding back or changing yourself for that acceptance.
So this is to give a boost of confidence to all geeks, gamers, doll and toy collectors, cosplayers, whatever out there reading this, whether you’re 20 or 80 or 800, I’ll close with the old saying “Those who matter won’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter” – Stop caring what society thinks. Be brave, be bold, and be 100% Authentic Always. Be You!
PS: I’ll be unboxing my Smart Doll Starlight later today – it’s my birthday present to myself. Stay turned to this blog and my social media for lots of doll photos later. I decided I wanted a doll for my 40th birthday. 40 is a monumentous birthday. A transition from a young woman, into… I dunno what lol. An old woman? A middle aged woman? lol Whatever society chooses to call me, I am still just simply “me” at the end of the day. I’ll have my doll for my lifetime, to look back and reflect “That’s when I turned 40” 20 years from now, 40 years from now… It will be a cherished landmark of my 40 years thus far. All that I’ve been through, but also a window into the past – as the years go by – all of the unforseen, wonderful, sad, terrible, amazing, happy, exciting things that we can’t see until they happen to us. Come what may though, my games and dolls are here to stay.