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9 Things All 30-something Gamers Can Relate To

9 Things All 30-something Gamers Can Relate To

I am an aberration. Have been for most of my life. It wasn’t always this way.

I was the third child, a female, with two older brothers, and being a bit of a tomboy was probably somewhat predictable. But when the Atari 2600 came into our house, life as I knew it changed. For those who are not 30-somethings like me, it’s important to understand that the world of gaming became a “guy thing” from that point on. But that “guy thing” became “my thing” too, and today, as an avid female gamer, I still get weird looks and comments. No matter. But for all of you 30-something gamers out there, here are nine things we can all relate to.

1. We Don’t Abide Online Walkthroughs and Cheats

Having begun our gaming “careers” with the Atari and graduating to more sophisticated systems, even though they were still offline, we understand the sense of accomplishment of beating an opponent who sat next us. We didn’t have cheat sheets — it was all on us, baby. Too many gamers today just don’t have perseverance. The minute they run into trouble, they’re off to YouTube for the walkthroughs that some more advanced gamer is making money on.

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Where’s the challenge in that? Where’s the sense of accomplishment when the next level is reached all on your own? You cheated, so your accomplishment means nothing. We veterans, who grew up doing it all on our own, still do it that way — even if we are lying awake at night with unfinished puzzles in our heads and ruminating about different strategies to get to the next level. Get a clue — gaming is not supposed to be easy.

2. Joystick Envy: It Was a Real Thing

The original “joystick” was a computer keyboard. But as the gaming industry grew, of course, that had to change. We became airline pilots with sticks that could move in four directions and control where people, cars, and other figures moved around on the screen. It was great fun, and we thought gaming had reached a great pinnacle. Now we had a joystick and a couple of buttons — what more could we want?

But as the industry continued to “improve” the joystick design, and there were those who could afford the trendiest models, such as the Quickshot and the Cheetah 125, not to mention the Competition Pro, joystick envy became a real thing. Those who had the latest sticks had the advantage, so new joysticks hit every Christmas and birthday list.

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These joysticks were still personal, though. We had “relationships” with them. Then, along came ergonomic controllers from the likes of Microsoft and Sony. Sure, they’re easier to use, but they have taken the personal aspect out of the joystick, and that is a bit sad.

3. Graphic Design: Did We Really Care?

No, we didn’t. On the Commodore 64, there was the Hobbit game. It actually won an award for being the best strategy game in 1983 (I am a bit of a gaming trivia addict). The games we played had flat, two-dimensional designs — no HD backdrops and cinema. We finished a level before our very eyes and moved onto the next, before our very eyes. We were given prompts such as “Get Key” or “Shoot Dragon.” Our gaming was based upon logic and strategy, not romps around HD, 3D screens with hints to be found by pressing an “X.” We had no video graphics — just our brains and a logical puzzle to solve that would get us out of a tunnel.

4. We are Still Huge Fans of Old Video Games

Yes, we have adapted. We play with strangers with “handles” from places of unknown origin. We use the latest ergonomic joysticks, and we compete to win. We were gaming while some of our competitors were still in diapers. No matter.

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But every now and then, the nostalgia hits. We pull that old Atari or Commodore out (I still have both) or we go to an arcade that still has a Ms. Pac-Man machine.

We remember “Frogger,” where the only violence was being eaten by an alligator or squashed by traffic, as we tried to get him across the road. There was skill and strategy involved, and an emotional connection that we don’t often feel as we chop off heads or tear out hearts and spinal cords of our enemies today. That frog had our hearts and we were sad when he died.

5. We are Old Enough to Afford the Latest and Coolest Gadgets

As we have evolved, so have gaming consoles and gadgets. We are in our 30s, gainfully employed, and no longer have to ask mom and dad or Santa for the latest. So, while younger gamers are trying to figure out what they can sell, pawn, or trade for the next new gadget, we already have it. Personally, I have a closet shelf of joysticks, and my latest purchase? An Oculus Rift Developer Kit — we’ll see where that takes me!

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6. We Join the Teens for Midnight Launches

There was no such thing as a midnight launch when we began to game. We went to the store and bought the newest joystick, game, or system. Now, we find ourselves bundled up in coats and hoods, wrapped in blankets, drinking our hot coffee that a friend has dropped off, and all for what? To be there when the door opens, line up, and get that game that has been hyped for months. We triumphantly exit the store with our coveted “prize,” get home, pop it into our gaming system, play for a few minutes, and pass out exhausted. Our younger counterparts, who don’t have to get up for work in the morning, are playing all night.

7. We Get Warned About Addiction

I have a friend who is in AA — she has been sober for three years, and, to be quite frank about it, she has become my conscience. I don’t like it. As she explains to me often, some people have a propensity for addiction — scientists have isolated a gene. She thinks I have it. Her evidence?

  • I can game for hours and lose track of time
  • I have more than once gone into work bleary-eyed because some new game has consumed me all night long
  • I have cancelled other social activities when a new game has me enthralled.

Addiction is real. I have read the science, and I understand that addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, social media, and, yes, even gaming, can wreak havoc in people’s lives. In response, I have now set scheduled times for gaming, although I do “slip” a bit.

8. We Do Some Really Crazy Things to Try Our Own Repairs

Years ago, when our games didn’t work, the “fix” was just to blow in them — yes, we literally blew air from our mouths. And often it worked. Now, when something goes awry, we get online and try every crazy remedy that someone recommends. I have put towels on my Xbox 360, still blow into Game Boy cartridges, and send the system in for repair only as a last resort — my separation anxiety is real.

9. Real Violence: We had to Switch on a Code

We remember the cheat code ABACABB. If we had SEGA, that moved us to the uncensored, more violent killing in Mortal Kombat. It’s no longer necessary, of course, but we still remember the code and whisper it to each other when our boss has been getting us really mad.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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