Mid Life Crisis…Over

Being over “the hump” has been interesting.  From the start of it all at the age of 45 until now I never really felt like I was going through anything.  Realizing now, during that specific period I purchased my third motorcycle, my Camaro, and I was trying (desperately) to get in good enough shape to continue Breakdancing…I would have to say there was “something” going on there.

I was thinking about how now that I’m 50 years old my midlife technically is over.  But my wife and I have a three-year-old child, almost 4.  So is it really over?  I know I’m only going to live another 40 years maximum but it’s just something to contemplate so I thought I’d put a few words out here ins the blog world.

I figure I’m one of the few men in this world who actually knows there was something that I went through.  Most of my life I was late doing everything.  Late getting married, late graduating from college, late having kids…well, kid.  I don’t consider any of this a bad thing.  I did a lot of stuff people do after they retire while I was still young and could enjoy it.  Not that retirement time would be a bad time to do “things.”  I just don’t believe that I’m ever going to actually get to retire.

My wife and I both purchased our houses around the time when the real estate agents were doing their worst to the public.  We tried to hold on to our homes but lost both because each was too small to start a family in and we needed to sell them to join our lives together.  Being that the economy tanked we weren’t able to sell.  Although buying one was REALLY easy at that time.  So at one point, yes, we had three mortgages.  Oh, it was horrible.  Needless to say, we weren’t the best in class when it came to a prominent financial situation.  My current situational understanding regarding my retiring before I turn 70 is that it would be a bad thing.

I’m just glad that I am now feeling that a “settle down” situation has started in my life.  I smoked cigarettes starting at the age of 12.  I worked as a DJ from the age of 17 so I began drinking well before I was old enough.  I partied with drug dealers girlfriends.  I dated well outside my age range and I lived an overactive life.  I continued smoking until my wife and I got together.  She “made” me quit, which was a good thing.  I bought a TV with the money I saved during that first year.  Now I haven’t smoked in over a decade.

I slowed down on the drinking and am trying to get into better shape.  As Kathleen Madigan says, “I’m just trying to pull a ‘Hail Mary” out of my butt in this last quarter.  Currently I walk about two miles a day and run a 5k at night.  I’m still overweight, but I’m trying to change my diet to compensate and actually get to where I look like I feel, because oddly enough, I feel great – most days.

The home we bought is starting to come into some shape too.  At least we know what needs to be done and are starting to make plans to do it.  The goal is to leave behind an investment for our kid.  To let her get a jump start on life.  One we never had.  I guess the whole thing about the mid-life crisis being over is understanding there is an end in sight.  Not wanting it to come, but preparing for it anyway.

Personally, I would love to hear from some other people about their situations.  Maybe about their crisis’.  Some of the silly things people bought, sold, tried, or did.  I know this blog isn’t a revelation of any type, but it’s just something I wanted to say.

You Never Stop Learning How To Write

If you peruse my blog, you will know that I just finished attending undergraduate school. During my final semester I took a class on writing. It was a very beneficial class and it helped me out quite a bit.

Before I attended JASS 436, Memoir and Travel Writing, I wasn’t sure what benefits it would have for me.  I was a tri-major student with a focus on Business Management.  Where would a course like that fit in? What memories do I have that I could write about?  Do I even want to write? Who would even want to hear my stories? I don’t do a whole lot of traveling.  I hardly ever write anything down. And I read even less.

Those questions and issues were all posed by me before the class opened my mind giving me ideas on how to improve myself as a writer, a thinker, and (dare I say) as a person.  This class proved to be different than other composition classes I previously attended. The class also helped my writing by teaching me how to overcome obstacles, identify areas I (still) need to work on, and it has given me the tools to do all of this with.

I am currently attempting to improve my writing technique.  I recognized several areas requiring my immediate attention though.  One being, to get to the point. I need to shorten my sentences and remove unnecessary words.  Overall, my thought process wasn’t that good. I tried to write too much, without creating some version of a timeline and before figuring out what parts of my stories to tell and when.  This tended to make my first drafts wordy. From the first day of class until now, based on knowledge obtained from activities and discussions in class, as well as instructions given in the book The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr, I have been attempting to adjust my thinking regarding what I write about.  I found a need to concentrate on how it develops in my head and how I will process that on paper.

My hope is that the stories within my blog will be interesting, concise, and provide some level of entertainment or knowledge to those who read them. – The additional information below this paragraph is about the class. Feel free to continue reading if you would like to know more about writing and what I went through in the class.

A typical paper, for me, was purely academic.  Here’s what I’m going to tell you, here’s me telling you, and here’s what I told you.  I have been taught this method of essay writing in every other class I’ve ever taken. I still fight with that concept of thinking because it comes naturally.  Much of what I’ve written for this class has started out in this same fashion. Often I have written from the perspective that what’s in my head is relayed in my writing.  Unfortunately, I’ve noticed in my reviews for papers I’ve written, I interjected outside information from my mind to fill blank spots. These experiences were never written into my work.  Obviously I haven’t mastered this yet, but at least I recognize this fault and was taught something that will help me in the future.   

The tool that will help is one of the most amazing activities for writing I have ever been taught.  This activity helps me adjust how I tackle a project; although, it comes after the initial idea is on the page.  The activity is called side-shadowing and has been most useful to me. It is this method of defining, questioning, and suggesting that works really well to help further define, expand, or contract my writing.  I had never heard of this method of revision before and when I first read through the process I wasn’t on board. It appeared quite extensive and time consuming; however, after using this exercise on my first article I found it to be extremely useful.  Someday I hope to write a book, or a slew of articles or blogs, about my life experiences and side-shadowing will help. I have heard people say “you are your best critic”, so I hope there’s truth in that statement.

I enjoyed the writing exercise we performed in class on being descriptive.  Unfortunately, this exercise made me realize I need to use more of my imagination.  Not to make things up, but to describe situations, surroundings, people, places, and everything I write about much clearer than I do.  This, in and of itself, will take a lot of practice for me. In the exercise I wrote about my garage. A place I go into everyday. I gutted the building and rebuilt it inch by inch.  I know how many screws are in each shelving unit, exactly how the units are secured to the walls, where each stud is located behind the OSB and how much insulation is contained within each wall and between each stud.  The problem was, I couldn’t provide a better description than it was dark and smelled like gasoline and oil. I need to take a few lessons from Haruki Murakami and his methods of describing scenes. He described an event in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running where on a run in Greece he encountered a mass of dead animals on the road while he ran.  His descriptions of the road, the animals, and the countryside were very well done, not too graphic, and they helped to bring me into his story.

 I also believe that getting a better handle on describing my stories to people will allow for a little more interest in the story itself, which might make me seem more interesting as a person too.  Haruki Murakami’s book was well written but I feel the most helpful reading from this class was Mary Karr’s book, The Art of Memoir.  

Karr’s book reads as a story and it contains a plethora of viable information.  Her methods will help me on my path to becoming a better writer.  Murakami’s book will help with the display of my words and ideas if I review his examples and consider how he uses his words to describe events and places.  Karr’s book contains an intense amount of valuable information. Karr provides several lists to remember and think about when writing such as: expressing your voice, setting emotional stakes, not using exaggeration, express the inner enemies, verbalizing one’s outer conflict, and more.  To write well one should use her examples and incorporate them into their writing. Her book also mades me realize I have much to overcome on my path to becoming a better writer.

In reviewing other writings of mine, I noted that starting my articles and essays has been difficult for me.  I have found it hard to get the reader on board initially by giving enough cause for investment without revealing too much at the same time.  I recognize the need to write a much better opening as well as the need for bread-crumbing. My trouble is figuring out what people don’t know, and what they need to know, to keep them interested.  I also don’t want it to be too boring or the polar opposite causing an information overload. Working on these challenges has been a good place to start, pun intended.  

Another challenge I face is grammar logistics.  I need to improve this as well as sentence punctuation.  In speaking with the Professor, a good method for me to use came up.  Reading out loud. When I vocalize the article or essay it should flow based on the writing, not on the reading of it.  If I insert a comma or forget one and don’t pause at a certain point the sentence may read incorrectly. A good example of this comes from a journalism class I took in a previous semester where the professor used the sentence, “Stop clubbing, baby seals.”  He indicated that it should have read “Stop clubbing baby seals.” Overall, this class has uncovered viable areas for me to focus on and I hope future students will gain insight as I have.

Along that same line, the most important advice I can give to any future students of this class, is to not feel overwhelmed.  The syllabus indicates quite a few written assignments and a fair amount of reading but it is all manageable. Karr’s book reads like a story and the other two books are good reads as well.  Most importantly, don’t get too caught up with your own personal interests, or even the story itself, when reading the articles or books. Each lesson is just that – a lesson. There is knowledge to be acquired.  Future students should use the knowledge in Karr’s writings to be more analytical with the other assigned books.

The second bit of advice I can give about this class is to read the materials and take notes for discussions.  Simply put, do the work! While in class, I noticed if a student doesn’t do their work, and we form into groups for discussion, they have nothing to offer and are often a hindrance on the group.  Personally I want to remember what I’m being taught and take something away from this. I anticipate mental value from all of the classes I have taken at this University. If someone isn’t doing his part then he can’t expect there to be any value from these lessons for him to take away.

Will I ever be a great writer?  I don’t know. With the challenges I have discovered I realize I have much work to do.  This class is far from over – in the universal sense of that word – over. Joe Bunting, a British television presenter, producer, and writer once said: “No one is born a writer.  You must become a writer. In fact, you never cease to becoming [one], because you never stop learning how to write.” In my case, in order to truly learn, I need to continue practicing what I have been taught long after I complete this class.  But, I will continue to improve – because I won’t stop trying.  

(Not) Without You

At the age of 50 I have finally graduated from University. I wasn’t “smart” enough to go when I graduated from High School. I was too busy having fun. Overall, I’m very glad that I was finally able to complete this milestone of my life. It has to be said that this achievement only came to me because of my wife. She carried me through this journey and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish as much as I did.

Going to college is hard enough at any age. Of course, the older one gets the more difficult it becomes to complete because life gets in the way. Work, wife, kids, holidays, family gatherings, and friends. It all piles up on us and before you know it you’re 50 years old and thinking about the AARP and retirement.

Three years ago my wife and I became Foster parents. I was attending school at the time and decided to drop out so that we could acclimate the little 7 month old girl into our home and our lives. I was registered for classes and went to the first few in January but I dropped before the first deadline so that I wouldn’t have to pay for the classes (roughly $2k for each class).

As I mentioned, I didn’t go to college after High School. It took me years before I would go. It was around the time the Trade Center was attacked. Just before actually that I had started. I would complete my Associates degree in Business Management around 2005. I took my credits over to University and accepted whatever they would acknowledge.

At that time I was single and working full-time so I paid cash for the classes I had already taken. I continued that way until my first semester at University was over. I couldn’t afford to do that anymore because the cost was more than double and my workplace wasn’t willing to help pay for school, so I dropped out (seems to be a lot of that in my school history).

Every few years I would try again, but the expense was too much. At that time I wasn’t willing to seek government help because I had heard so many horror stories about student loans and how people ended owing for years and years. So I took, pretty much, a decade off.

I was at my current job when my new G.M. asked me how much I had left to go and he wanted to know why I didn’t finish. At that time my college credits placed me as a Junior. I had 40+ credits I needed to fill to graduate. The G.M. offered to have the company help pay if I would go back. That was 2016. My wife and I had been married for seven years but we didn’t have any children (which is a whole other story). So my wife and I discussed my going back and we worked out how it would go down.

Obviously I would go after work one or two days a week. Then I would need time to study during the week and one day on the weekend. She picked up the slack at the house. Cleaning, washing clothes, cooking meals, and pretty much everything else that needed to be done. I spent most of my time studying because I wanted to get good grades and learn something. I figured that I was paying for it, I might as well take something away from all of it.

Before all of this talk about University even came about we had already been registered to become Foster Parents. Nothing had been happening with that in a few years so I figured that going back to school would only help our status. So I went back in 2016 and did pretty well for that whole year. In January of 2017 we finally heard that there might be a chance that we would receive our first Foster child, so as I mentioned, I stopped going.

In 2018, when I started back up I was told, by the University, that my degree was no longer valid and that I would have to, pretty much, start all over. They wanted to remove all but 40 of the 90 credits I had at that time and set me back to Sophomore status. I wanted to quit altogether but my wife wouldn’t let me. I checked into other colleges and universities but everyone said the same thing…I would have to start all over.

So I “fought” the system. I wrote a letter to the Dean of my college and copied a few other individuals on it. Basically I told them we had just become Foster Parents. I said that it appeared Fostering a child was the worst thing anyone could do for their academic career. I also mentioned, had I known the University would do this, I would have probably sent the little girl packing because apparently Fostering a child doesn’t fall in line with the Universities agenda. I don’t fully recall, but I think I alluded to the fact it might possibly be a good human interest story for local TV.

I received a letter and a phone call asking me to come in and see the Associate Dean of Admissions. The “problem” was quickly resolved and I was admitted, once again, with my full credit standing.

In 2018 I started back. The only issue was cost. The money the company I work for would pay me wouldn’t cover the full cost of this University, so I became a FASFA aficionado. Again, my wife and I discussed this. Being that we had so many more responsibilities with the kid, my going back would leave a VERY large burden on her. She wore the increased burden like a badge.

From 2018 through 2019 I spent an exuberant amount of time studying, writing, and memorizing (where necessary) and in December of 2019 I graduated with High Distinction (Summa Cum Laude) from the University of Michigan. I also received the Honor’s Scholar award, which is an award given to only one recipient in each college of the University for each degree.

If it wasn’t for my wife taking up my slack and encouraging me to do better and to complete what I started I would never have finished. If not for her, none of that would have been possible. When I was graduating I kept looking over at her and, in my head, “my” accomplishment was our accomplishment. I could not have done any of this without her.

Trump Blames Video Games For Social Violence. (Studies prove he couldn’t be more wrong.)


With all of the talk about video games coming back up again I wanted to write this diatribe. The ideas expressed here are backed by facts. With all of the violence in the world today and the history of video game violence and the blame laid on video games you might think that the advisors of our President would have “peeped” him to the fact that the studies performed by reputable organizations have shown and proven that (violent) video games do not make people violent. These studies have gone on for decades. (Video gaming has been around since the 1960’s).


I mention culture first before violence (see below) because there is a defining nature to the culture of video games. One’s background, meaning how they were raised, the factors that influence someone’s life, teacher and parent trainings, friends, family, Church, God, relationships with others socially, and a myriad of other factors all go into the “design” of any one human being. So in saying that…I never gave culture much thought outside of, in my head, thinking that there are gamers and there are non-gamers. Simply put: you do or you do not. I never gave much thought to how video games actually affect our society in all of the different ways that they do because there are so many different gaming genres. I mean video games are a definite mode of expression just as a religion or something along the lines of the Southern culture.

Video gaming displays a specific set of transmitted behavioral patterns. Of those types there is a breakdown of the different games one plays. I fit those into categories, as Frans Mayra alluded to in a paper she wrote (feel free to Google any of my references), LARP, Cosplay, MMORPG, and etc…(punks, mods, and skinheads), obviously not as
that, but you get the idea.

I appreciated the statement “culture should be seen as intersubjective domain of experience that takes shape in social relations”, because it sums up the different genres of the culture of games that have developed. Think about it, you have your Larpers, for example. This may not appeal to everyone, but there are specifics to it. In and of itself, it is a particular category, it is subjective to only certain “rules”, they have their own communities, and it goes deeper. Where it gets deeper is as Mayra states, each specific gaming culture has its own knowledge base. How the games are played, information gathering and sharing, and etc.

A classmate of mine at The University of Michigan mentioned how he grew up and how the gaming that he does is directly related to his specific background. He grew up in a sports oriented home and the games he plays are all sports related. That is a great definition of culture. It shows the “customs, norms, and ideas” that another student sited to me. This was obviously something he had learned and adopted from his environment growing up.


In the book “The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies”, I didn’t become engrossed into the chapter on culture alluded to above, but I appreciated more the views of Peter Krapp (no his views are not crap) on violence. His views paralleled mine so there IS a slight bias here. A research paper that I wrote for the University of Michigan about video games had me do quite a bit of research on the violence factor, and the studies I came across gave the same conclusion as the findings mentioned in Krapp’s essay. People speak about the “side effects” of gaming but typically in reference to something bad. I quote “Just as the history of the subjective shot in cinema cannot be reduced to making all audience members voyeurs, gaming cannot be reduced to a mere training mechanism.” It is not viable to think that gaming is the single most influential tool responsible for tragedies such as Columbine or any other lunatic’s rants and raves.

My brothers and I used to play the game of Risk growing up. This is a game of conquering the world. Dare I say that none of us grew up to become Adolf Hitler or to even show those tendencies. Many of our games, as noted in Krapp’s essay, are violent. I still hold that “violent games are a means to get aggression out of one’s system.” is a true and valid statement. When I was growing up, the last of five boys, I retained a lot of aggression that I needed to get out because, as the youngest, I was picked on a lot by my older brothers. To my decree I won a lot of Dodgeball games at school, but that wasn’t enough, I had a lot of energy to spare so I joined a Karate class. The fighting we did in the class helped me learn to hone my aggression and it taught me what was right and wrong about fighting. I do have to admit that, along those lines, the fighting done in class did desensitize me on a smaller level to fighting in general, but by no means do I go around picking fights or getting into them for absolutely no reason.

Violent video games and games in general are not the cause of mental instability. For a great read about what games can do for people, please feel free to read “Reality is Broken” by Jane McGonigal. It is a really good book. See her Ted talk too that prefaces the subjects within the book. https://www.ted.com/speakers/jane_mcgonigal

As a last note, I have to admit, I also agree with the indication that a violent video game will increase aggression in someone (as some studies have also proven). I feel this in myself when I play certain games with increased violence (Call of Duty); however, I don’t go downstairs, kick the dog, slap my wife, and slam my kid into a corner. For me, I feel energized after a good firefight. My blood is pumping and, if successful in the game, I am typically in a really good mood. I’ll close this post with another line from Video Game Studies, “Just Dance-4…has not led to spontaneous dance-offs in the streets of America.”; although, I think that would be pretty cool to see.

Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum – Farmington Hills, MI

In a previous post I mentioned my wife and I foster a little girl.  She has siblings so we try to get together with them every so often outside of the normal visits that are required by law. This weekend we went to Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum in Farmington Hills.  Now our daughter is only 2 years old so many of the items in this museum were too large for her to play on; however, they did have some children’s rides and a couple of games that she could experience.

Here are a few pictures of the place just before people started to arrive. As you can see there is an amazing amount of things just to look at. Ultimately this place resembles an old style arcade; although the prices are nothing of the such.

The games were actually pretty expensive for what was in there. They have a really good array of pinball machines though. Pinball, for one ball, was $1.00. If you wanted to play a standard game it was $2.00 for three balls. The games are in really good condition though. This specific Pinball machine “Abra-ca-Dabra” is from 1975. I had to take a picture of it because of how well it has been maintained. Granted it isn’t as fun as the newer ones, it was still really nice to play it.

There are a bunch of signs hanging from the walls and ceiling but one caught my eye. They also have a “plane train”, which is a bunch of planes suspended from the ceiling on a track. When it works the planes “fly” through the building. It wasn’t working when we were there, but it was quite amazing to see all of the different types of planes that were hanging up there.

This appears that it might be a good place to throw a birthday party for “tweens” but I really didn’t see a kitchen so you might have to bring in your own food. They sold drinks and popcorn, but I didn’t see much else or how it could be cooked. They also run the games on the ticket scheme. You play and you win tickets. Which they have a bunch of prizes for…mostly candy and the standard trinkets and trash. On another note: I was fortunate enough to be able to park right next to the main entrance as they also don’t have a changing table in their incredibly small restroom. I had to take the baby out to the car and change her in the back seat.

As for the games, there are plenty of pretty good games here. They have some good classics, as well as some of the newer, games. They had two “roller coaster” type games that children can sit in and watch a short movie on the screen and be shaken by the moving seat. My daughter liked that because there were things happening and that she could experience. For a place to take your kids for some good gaming fun I give this place a 7 out of 10. It isn’t a bad place and I would suggest going, if for nothing else, just to take a look at everything that is in the building.

Golf – The Live Video Game

So the main focus of this blog has been on gaming for people over the age of 50.  I know you are probably already wondering about the title and saying to yourself that a golf range isn’t a video game; but I beg to differ.  My wife took me to TopGolf in Auburn Hills for my most recent birthday (Sunday) and I was amazed to find the entire experience wasn’t much different than playing a video game.  

Concierge and Main Lobby Check-In Desk

Once we walked into the main lobby we noticed the concierge on the left and the check in desk on the right.  Yes, just like a hotel…very cool. This reminded me of the check in process in some of the older Star Wars games like X-Wing. Just past the concierge there is a dining area. It wasn’t too large, but that is because they want people to go to their respective gaming areas to play.  We only had their nachos but were thoroughly impressed with them. Like nothing we ever had before. We didn’t get anything else to eat but we had a few drinks and another appetizer that TopGolf paid for when we sat down before playing. Overall the little bit of dining experience we shared there was quite impressive. (No this isn’t a blog about food).

Several Monitors Display the Action

There are two main screens that the players interact with.  One is a 40” television that is informational only whereas the other one, much smaller, requires input by the player before, or after, taking your turn.  There is also a map of the environment and an infrared “button” that must be activated (see the picture below) in order to begin each level. There are also 7 different “joysticks” (golf clubs) to choose from to play the game.  When playing each round of the game the “video game” technology automatically tracks and calculates the score.

Ball Dispenser & Game Map

When you are standing in the ready position you will cross your club over an “eye” located in the upper right hand corner of the console. This action will program and release a ball.  Yes, I said “program”. The ball has an RF-ID microchip inside of it, which once programmed, knows who is taking a turn. (For a split view of the TopGolf golf ball see the video below). The field of play has 10 areas to hit your ball into for points.  Each section knows where you hit your ball from and what the distance is once your ball falls through the specific area of the RF-ID reader at each scoring target.

What’s Inside A TopGolf Golf Ball? RF-ID Chip.

There are several different types of games, but we chose the practice mode which left it “open” for us to just hit and score.  They have a 20 ball “scramble” that you go head to head with the other players on that looked interesting too. Once your ball has registered the score it is immediately displayed on the interactive screen. This screen will also tell you exactly what target you hit the ball into and it will also tell you the exact position that it registered at within that target itself.  The targets have RF readers (see the picture above). The primary screen will revert to a totals view when it’s at rest. The video game portion keeps track of total balls used as well as the scores for everyone. The secondary, 40″ television, screen shows who the current player is and what their last ball score was. This screen faces toward the sitting area so everyone can keep track.

Men’s & Women’s Clubs

The seating area is laid out incredibly well.  There is a nice sectional couch and a little gathering table in the center of it all.  Two convenient exits on each side of the couch for easy access to play. As I mentioned, my wife took me there as a surprise so she wasn’t able to bring my clubs without giving it away.  Not a problem at all, as mentioned, this “game” comes with everything that you need to play. I am right handed so I don’t know, but I’m sure they probably have options for lefties too. They have some really great practice clubs.  My favorite was the hybrid 3 wood. I was spiking them in the white without issue and racking up the points (after I got used to my stance and swing again – the video below shows my third “practice” swing.

We will definitely be going back.  Oh yeah, before I forget to mention this…my wife hates golf…with a passion…and she is the one who suggested going back.  She had a really good time too. I suggest going, to anyone of any age, but for us over 50’s this is a great place. Take friends, family, and anyone who wants to have a nice time, good food, good drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and a fantastic gaming experience.

Cartridge or DVD/Blu-Ray?

Samples of Cartridge Games

Just like us (people in their 50’s), the older the better.  The phrase “They just don’t make ‘em like they used to.” is fitting for this discussion.  Cartridges are the equivalent of a nice hard plastic safe for gaming software. The entire program is contained in one area whereas DVD’s have the data laid out across an extremely fragile surface.  Granted we used to have to blow the dust out of the cart but that usually got it to work correctly. With DVD’s and Blu-Ray discs one little scratch and the game is ruined.

Damaged CD/DVD

Needless to say with age comes a conspiracy theory (or two).  I think this is done by design so that we go out and purchase more games.  I still have most of the cartridge games I grew up with. I did, unfortunately, sell my original Nintendo Entertainment System.  I only had 26 game cartridges with that system but I was broke, living on my own, and I needed money. That was the most valuable thing I owned that would be worth something to someone else and could be easily sold.

In all actuality my class at University is currently reviewing a chapter on convergence and how a company like Sony worked to release the game Spiderman 3 with the new PS3 all at the same time the movie was set to be released.  This was obviously done on purpose to introduce the new tech to the consumer (us) and at the same time promote the other mediums. They even went so far as to use the same font in all of their brand logos just to subconsciously marry them all together in the mind of the consumer.

In sticking to the old tech, during my 50+ years on this planet there have been more than a dozen cartridge game consoles.  Below is a list of the more popular ones that I remember and this list doesn’t even include the handheld ones.

  • Intellivision
  • Atari 2600, 5200, & 7800
  • Magnavox Odyssey
  • Neo Geo
  • ColecoVision
  • Nintendo ES & N64
  • Fairchild Channel F
  • TurboGrafx-16
  • Atari Jaguar
  • Vectrex
  • Bally Astrocade
  • SEGA Genesis
PS4 & XBOX One

Now with convergence and the push for new technologies there are only two gaming consoles that I am aware of and those are the Sony PlayStation and the Microsoft XBox.  I am not even sure what Nintendo is using anymore since they changed to the Switch, which is a handheld unit and not a console. If there is another, outside of these, it is so far off the beaten path that it doesn’t have a horse in the running.  Out of the long list of cartridge game consoles there are only two contenders now and both of them use discs to retain their software.

Although, as you probably already concluded, I am a fan of the cartridges but I don’t believe the gaming industry will ever revert to those again; although, if they were thinking of reducing their carbon footprint they could go to flash drive games.  They are RAM (Random Accessible Memory) based so they could be backed up. They could also be password protected, or married to the console it is played on first, so that someone couldn’t just make copies and they are much smaller so packaging would be less.  The only drawback would be the people who would lose them and have to buy the game again.

Technological differences between HDD, SSD, and Flash

The access in a cartridge or flash drive running through a USB 3.1 connection can be as fast as 10 Gbps, which would be much faster than any DVD (10 Mbps) or Blu-Ray (36 Mbps) disc.  This chart shows the difference in opening a certain program using a HDD, SSD, or a Flash Drive. The Flash Drive wins…hands down. Look at Solid State HDD shown here. Those statistics are obviously better and faster than even the best standard gaming eSATA HDD with 256MB of cache.  Perhaps I am just being nostalgic or it might be a better idea to go back to technology like this.

Please Stand Up Mr. Chuck E. Cheese

Chuck E. Cheese’s in Novi, MI

Being that my wife and I are “older” parents and didn’t have children when we were younger we didn’t go to places like this very much.  Now that we are the “representatives” of a budding 2 year old baby girl we are getting out to bounce houses, trampoline villages, and other places like Chuck E. Cheese’s play place and restaurant.  In Detroit these places have always had a bad reputation for the fighting that people get into over tables, presents, and who gets to spend the most time with “the mouse”. I have heard some doozies in my time.  Fortunately we didn’t have any issues which is why I am choosing to write about the experience.

Prize Station in Chuck E. Cheese’s

My university has touched on the subject of interactivity but mostly the discussion is regarding the act of an individual interacting with the controls and the avatar they are playing and not so much a concern of interaction with another individual.  My point in a few of the items I have written for class are in regard to the experience one actually gets when they interact with other people while playing. More importantly, interacting with people in real life and not just online.  I know that most people in their 50’s have children who have children now, but that is my point. Taking your kids and your grand-kids to a place like this will help you engage with them in a different way. I know most people will say, “We can just play games at home and not spend the money.”, but I say it is good to get out and frequent your arcade with the kids.  No matter what their ages are. Besides, everyone loves to earn a prize, and that you can’t get at home. The games here spit out tickets and if you get enough tickets you can “purchase” prizes with them. They have quite a bit of children friendly toys. We made it a game when we went in, just to add to the fun. We had her pick out a toy that she wanted and we explained to her that to earn the toy we had to play games and have fun.  She loved it.

There aren’t a whole lot of games for a 2 year old, but there are a few that attract their attention.  There is one game that simulates a roller coaster, of sorts, that we must have sat in for about a half an hour.  The seats shake with the action on the screen and move you back and forth. I know it may seem a little “lame” for the older people, but it was an experience that our baby loved and we got to share that with her.  In the truest sense of the reason, isn’t this what games and gaming are all about? We played the games that gave out the tickets and we were able to earn her the toy she wanted. All in all, it was a good day.

A study performed about 8 or 9 years ago when iPhone and Android gaming was getting a big push asked people what they liked about phone game applications and the overwhelming response was that people were able to connect with their parents, old friends, siblings, and their children.  Whether they played these games constantly or intermittently the finalizing thought was that people liked being interactive with one another in a gaming environment. Although that study was done in regard to online items, being with friends or family in the actual world is, and can be, much more fun.

Flavored Crust Pizza

The pictures in this posting are from the Internet so don’t get the wrong idea.  It was a Saturday and they were packed inside but I chose to live in the moment instead of trying to document the event. They have quite a few games in the “mouse house” located in Novi.  They even have games that us older people will appreciate, like Skee-Ball. For the most part though, they have games that are good for interaction with someone else.  On a totally different note, they also changed their pizza and added some flavor to it. It was greasy (like Silvio’s Pizza from Redford Township for those who are familiar with it)…but it was good!

Now, I do have to mention that they have a mechanical Chuck E. Cheese in the back of the building.  We thought it would be nice to get a picture of her with the human sized machine. We thought wrong, the mouse scared the crap out of her…in more ways than one.  But, outside of the five minute crying session she did have a great time and she is still talking about playing games and wants to know when we will be going back. That’s the type of interaction I think gaming was meant for.

Get Out There and Play!

Dave & Buster’s – Livonia MI

So my wife and I patronized Dave & Buster’s for my first time ever this past Saturday.  I have to be honest, I am not sure I liked it as much as when we went to Lucky Strike in Novi.  Here’s the thing…Dave and Buster’s has every popular game known to mankind that is available right now.  They even cater to the nostalgic and the novice players in a pretty fantastic way but the only reason that I would not rate my experience as a 9 or 10 is because I prefer playing in an environment that isn’t so busy.  I’m just not a “crowd” person…per se, but that is the ONLY reason.

For the most part I found that the environment is incredibly family friendly…at least at the time we went.  We stopped in to the one on 7 Mile Road at about 15:30 hrs. About $120.00 later, which included the tip, we left.  Now, that total involves drinks, food, and games so don’t think this place is expensive. We just went a little overboard is all.  The cuisine is “bar” food. The drinks are where they get you but I thought that the bar looked pretty nice. Pricing for the game cards is standard, I guess.  I didn’t do the math on any of the games. The card records points and each game requests X amount of points for each play. This was the same theme that was at Lucky Strike.

I wasn’t too surprised, even with all of the reading that I have been doing lately on gaming, that the crowd consisted mostly of people between the ages of 4 and 60.  Obviously there were a plethora of children there. With them were their parents who were mostly in their 30’s. There were only a handful of people my age (around 50).  I didn’t speak with any of them but I did corner a few of the children who were playing some of the more violent games and one father whose daughters were playing my new favorite game Halo.  I introduced myself and indicated to them what I was studying at school.

Ron was there with his two daughters Elisa (8) and Monique (7) who were busy playing Halo.  The game itself was incredible. There are two large screens and positions for four total players.  The players are working in tandem and can play on either screen. There were two other children who were older than these two girls sitting on the right side.  Elisa was sitting in the second seat from the left and she was “killing it”. I asked Ron how long she had been playing this game and he said since she was about 4 or 5 she started gaming in general but he keeps it alive at his home where they play Halo and other FPS games.  I inquired about the violence in the game and if he thought that was too much for a child and he indicated that he has explained that it is a game to his children and not something that happens in reality.

I didn’t catch the names of the two boys I interviewed.  They were teenagers from what I could tell, but too young to drive was my guess.  I also asked them about their feelings regarding the violence in certain video games.  They were both playing Alien and as you may already be able to establish, based on the movie, this is just a game of killing (see the video below).  Needless to say, coming from two teenage boys, you can imagine their satisfaction with the game and the violence. They wouldn’t have it any other way.  Of course, I tend to agree with them as those types of games attract my attention too.

Although this blog is wrapping itself around the idea of people who are over the age of 50 and still gaming I will still say that this place is a good place to go to experience some pretty good games.  I would take the family there at least once a month. As I mentioned, they have games for pretty much every type of gamer. They even have the largest Pac-Man and Space Invaders games I have ever seen not to mention the larger than human size Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots game. Unfortunately it was out of order so we didn’t have a chance to play it.  Overall, I give this place an 8 out of 10 for the environment and excellent choice of games they have. I find it better than the old arcades I used to go to but that is mostly because I wasn’t able to drink in those. Not that drinking makes it more fun…just more adult.

What is the best choice – Gaming via PC or Console…?

So for people in their 50’s gaming can be hard on the hands.  For me, I have worked with my hands all my life. Not rigorously, but I have used my hands to do a lot of work throughout the years like carpentry, I used to work on my own cars, construction, I substituted as a volunteer Fireman for a little while, and I used to do a lot of Karate (Tang Soo Do).  So my hands have seen some use. In fact I have broken many bones in them from karate, getting them smashed under vehicle parts, and crushed from demolition jobs. So using my hands now, as I grow a little older, and depending on the weather, can be a task.

Video Game Controllers

What it boils down to is the controllers.  I am very partial to using a keyboard and a mouse to control the action on the screen.  I also like to use the larger controllers like steering wheels or a nice joystick that has quite a few programmable buttons (like a flight stick).  I am not admonishing the console games…in fact I will be writing about a few console games in the future. It is a preference, but when you have as many miles on you as I do you tend to want to play games that allow you to have fun and not get all cramped up or feel it the next day in your bones.


Console gaming requires the use and mastering of a smaller controlling unit whereas you could also purchase a unit of the like for your PC gaming you don’t have to.  There are a number of alternative controlling ideas out there for PC gaming. I visited the Dell website to check on a few options and it appears there are well over 50 different options just on their site alone.  Alienware, Corsair, Logitech, and Razer are a majority of the options. They range in price from $30 to over $200. Mostly the differences I noted are the prominently raised keys. My assumption is they are more heavy duty than a standard keyboard.  Now, I have to admit that I haven’t broken a keyboard yet, but they are making them much more flimsy nowadays. Tech Radar suggests the keyboards from the list below.

Cooler Master MasterSet MS120
  • Logitech G513. …
  • Cooler Master MasterSet MS120. …
  • Corsair K63 Wireless. …
  • HyperX Alloy Elite. …
  • Corsair K95 RGB Platinum. …
  • Razer Cynosa Chroma. …
  • Corsair K68 RGB. The snack-proof gaming keyboard. …
  • SteelSeries Apex M750. Great for gaming, just OK for everything else.
Corsair K63 Wireless Keyboard

There are even special gaming mouses (mice?) too.  There are several that are rated as being the best, but I have found that these fancy mice are individual specific.  When you go out to purchase any controller for your PC or Mac you should experience the unit and not just take the word of some Salesperson.  Best Buy is a good place to do that. I found a nice list of some preferred units and I posted it below. They are quite fancy.

  • Logitech G502 – Highest Native DPI Mouse. …
  • Razer DeathAdder Chroma – Best Budget Mouse. …
  • Corsair Scimitar RGB – Most Programmable Buttons. …
  • Razer Naga Hex V2 – Another mouse for MOBA Games. …
  • Corsair Sabre RGB – Budget FPS Gaming Mouse.

Personally I prefer wireless controllers.  It doesn’t matter if it is console or PC. I am not one for being tethered to anything.  Not that I am walking around my office with my mouse and keyboard in hand I just prefer the look.  The largest issue, as you can guess, is if the power runs out in the middle of a game.

I do find it strange that the XBox 360 allows the use of a USB keyboard with their “computer” but you cannot modify the controls to play games with it.  Personally I feel this is a market they should look into. Since I can plug my XBox into any device that takes an HDMI connection it would just be an area they could possibly gain a few more acolytes for their console.

HORI PS4 Keypad & Mouse

This is where the PS4 blows XBox out of the water (again).  They do allow for control via keyboard. They even have specific suggestions for which ones to use and they have games that allow them.  PS4 suggests the Logitech G19 Gaming Keyboard and the HORI Tactical Assault Commander Pro. The games that they allow are in the list below.  You can see that some of them are made ONLY for the keyboard.

  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Overwatch
  • War Thunder
  • Elder Scrolls Online (keyboard only)
  • Neverwinter (keyboard only)
  • DC Universe Online (you can only use the keyboard)
  • Paragon

The website below is a good list for the PS4 and how to set it up for control of this fashion.


PC Flight Simulator Cockpit

Now, no matter what your preference in the end, it will all boil down to what games are even available for the choice you make.  Obviously consoles would be the better choice just for variety alone. My father passed away about 8 years ago. He was 87 when he died and he played games on his PC up until his death.  He loved Myst and Flight Simulator mostly but he wasn’t a fan of console games. He verbally mentioned that the controllers were too hard for him to use. Now, not growing up using a controller I can see that.  Overall it is the preference of the player and what they either want to play or what they are willing to play. With all of the retro gaming sites that have games available for downloading there is a wide variety/library of choices.  For the best graphics and gaming experiences though, excluding MMOG games, then consoles are more than likely the way to go.

You can probably tell that I have a definite preference toward making the controls easier for the older generation.  I mean, these companies should respect the pioneers of the gaming industry. Even though we are older and may not have as much time to game…we are older and have some (more) expendable income than we did when we first started gaming.  I’m just saying, they can cater to the target audience, but they should still consider the loyal audience too. I have been gaming my whole life and the only way I will stop is if I physically can’t do it anymore.