RPGOwnage: People outside Australia may not know of it, but The Older Gamers is a community/gaming clan for the more mature gamer. How did the community come TOG ether and when did you join?
DeeP: Father is the founder & overall administrator. He takes care of the behind the scenes TOG matters. He started TOG on 1st September 2002, he then set up several other administrators and forum moderators who frequent the site and perform day to day duties. Most games that are played competitively in one way or another require some people to take some responsibilities to administer these games; they are called our Division captains.
I joined 11th December 2009, I am aged 36 and my Official TOG Forum name is DeeP, I was introduced to TOG by an ex boyfriend who was involved with TOG as a general member of the Counter Strike Division and I used to listen to voice comms and watch him play CSS gun games on a Friday night, the other members who he gamed with seemed like so much fun and the social aspect was undeniable, I had always been interested in computer games and up till this point was a PS2 or Xbox gamer who had never really touched PC games (aside from solitaire) or gaming online.
It didn’t take long before I joined the forums, had a steam account, bought a copy of CSS and I was on my way, I was very lucky to have been introduced to TOG in this manner, I have heard of so many other peoples experiences prior to TOG and the relief that had when discovering a place like TOG exists, where bad behavior, rudeness and cheating are outlawed.
RPGOwnage: I was a bit surprised to learn that for a gaming community, The Older Gamers is especially popular in Australia and the Philippines. Considering most would expect a big gaming clan to come from the USA, how has the site become popular Down Under?
DeeP: I think Father’s clever management, the volunteers that run the community and the ethos it lives by has ensured its longevity and size. Really with the right ingredients such as TOG has it would be successful anywhere, although in saying that Australians have a no nonsense attitude and a natural friendliness that would certainly have contributed to TOG maintaining its values whilst remaining attractive to newcomers. Gamers are getting older and are just as active or more active than before, they need a like-minded environment to ensure they can share their ideas and socialise with people just like themselves
RPGOwnage: Obviously it goes without saying that older gamers are perfectly capable of enjoying the best of the current range of games and systems, despite what the stereotypes suggest. What do you think of the current generation of gaming?
DeeP: Indeed, older gamers have the money to spend on great systems and the knowledge to put it TOG ether, as well as the ability to keep up with the speed technology changes and they know what they want from a game and tend to have a ‘main’ game they support, and do so through that games life cycle.
These days with so many technologies driving our days from the minute we wake up to the last thing you look at before going to sleep, gaming has become a solid social choice with voice comms and alike bringing people all over the world TOG ether to socialize without having to leave the comfort of your home or spend an ever increasing amount of money on a night out. I personally have developed many firm friends for life through TOG and the amount of time our division spends TOG ether we are all like an extended family. I also met my fiancé through TOG and moved from Australia to New Zealand to be with him, he even proposed on a game server, the interactions in a group like TOG are much more realistic, honest and natural than any other social network site. So what do I think of the current generation of gaming … its a lifestyle .. not just a hobby.
RPGOwnage: Although The Older Gamers’ focus is on community rather than a single game, are there still any particular titles that are favored?
DeeP: Each Game Division is equal to the next one in their standing within TOG , there are no favored titles, the numbers of active players of the different games will of course change based on age of game, type of game etc, but the answer would be no, there are no titles that are favored, more popular perhaps but not favored.
I have been in leadership now for a little while as the Counter Strike Division Captain and Counter Strike which is a very old game has always been given the same treatment as any other active division.
RPGOwnage: Talking a bit about the community as a whole: simply put, The Older Gamers comes with a sterling relationship between the members. I was actually told one story where the clan helped raise money for the needs of one of the members. Are stories like this actually true or just exaggeration about the membership?
DeeP: I cannot give confirmation of that particular incident as I was not involved but I am not surprised, I have been party to and aware of many acts of kindness and actions that restore your faith in humanity, we are all a big family and when someone is in genuine need, whether they just need a chat, helping hand or steering in the right direction there are always TOG members putting up their hands to see what they can do.
In reality there are many of us who would spend equal time in the TOG community as we do with our family so TOG is like an extended family. I would expect kindness such as the example you were told about would also have been well thought out and motivated by the attitude and behaviour that had been shown by the person they were helping.
TOG is full of sensible and good people so I am sure that although they are always willing to help, they would not be easy targets to those who would wish to exploit it.
RPGOwnage: Gaming clans tend to come with a somewhat mixed reputation, one that The Older Gamers seems to have avoided. To ask the deadly question: is age a factor in this reputation?
DeeP: The age limit set by TOG is to give us a greater chance of Maturity and with mature members comes a more stable and respectful environment to belong to.
Maturity is a psychological term used to indicate how a person responds to the circumstances or environment in an appropriate manner. This response is generally learned rather than instinctive, and is not determined by one’s age, but you have a greater chance of finding members who have learned Maturity aged 25 or over. So although it is not always perfect the age limit of 25 plus does appear to work well when aiming for a more ‘mature’ member. Maturity also encompasses being aware of the correct time and place to behave and knowing when to act appropriately, according to the situation and the culture of the society one lives in – this is pure gold when your placing many people from different backgrounds and ‘norms’ in situations when they may need to work with each other to reach a common goal or just plain get along while partaking in a adrenalin fuelled shoot em up game. The strength behind TOG is in the respect we all show each other and the extensive thought behind the administration and the TOG ethos.
The Success of TOG is largely due to the individual game divisions living that ethos and wanting to make sure that every new member gets to experience the same as they did when they first joined
To some extent it is almost self governing, admins and moderators are of course available to deal with any issues and to lend guidance and support Division leaders but on the most part the members themselves realize that there is no place like TOG and are vigilant in curbing their own behavior to ensure they keep their membership
Like any community from time to time some people get frustrated at things or think there is entirely too much politics but in reality the simple fact that there is a human factor to running a community of TOG ‘s size and it doesn’t take long to recognize that you can’t always please everyone and the positives of being a TOG member far outweigh any grievances.
RPGOwnage: Have there been many younger gamers attracted to the site?
DeeP: Absolutely, and I have met a few people under who would fit into the community beautifully, however a line has to be drawn and it simply means they need to be 25 before joining.
There are often attempts by those under-age to join and not be honest about their age but they are generally found out and it is really foolish to risk it because once found to be under-age it means that the application was not truthful and TOG has zero tolerance when it comes to people not being honest, basically it taints any future chance at being a member and in reality if you haven’t got the patience to wait then you also unlikely to display the Maturity expected.
RPGOwnage: What plans do The Older Gamers have for the future? (This was answered by FATHER, the founder of ‘The Older Gamers’.
FATHER: TOGwill be 10 years old on the 1st of September 2012, we have a bit of a birthday party planned for then with some giveaways.
In the future I would like to get our website and forums upgraded again, this sounds simple but it is anything but, there is so much custom code within TOG to give us all the functionalities we need that upgrading can be quite a challenge, people want to see closer integration with social media for example, mobile tailored designs but at the same time we can’t just break what we currently have in place.
You either rely on volunteers or you go to market and pay a designer/developer to do the work for you; it’s a choice between things that take time vs. things that cost money. TOG is expensive to run, a dedicated web and database server, a backup database server and all this constantly synchronized with a cloud based failover solution that duplicates this.
There is a lot going on behind the scenes that people tend to take for granted, TOG is a free community so big projects reliant on money are not easy to realize.
Operationally I see no reason to make too drastic a change to a system that has now proven to work for 2 months short of 10 years now, the structure works, it does get tweaked and adjusted where needed. The fundamental reason why it works though is because TOG is made up of enthusiastic people whom volunteer their time to make it work, providing them with the technology to do the best possible job is always on the future to do list.
The gaming landscape has undergone many a changes as well over the past decade but one thing remains a constant truth, people’s tastes in gaming may change as we grow older but the need to enjoy the experience alongside similar minded people remains the same.
TOG has always been about the community and the shared interest in games is what brings us TOG ether, whether they are AAA multiplayer titles or small indie games, some we play TOG ether and some we just enjoy talking about. There are many ways to share a common passion, at TOG we hope to provide a way to do exactly that for gamers.
The future of TOG , another 10 years I hope and hopefully it will be around long after I’m gone. A scary thought I better start looking into an heir!