Updated Thu, Dec 06, 2012 by ricoxg
Those who are older, and were lucky enough to have played sports and games where there were winners and losers, back when winning was actually a good thing, have learned the skills needed to actually enjoy games. We realize that losing isn’t bad, it just happens sometimes no matter how hard you play. We see losing as an opportunity to get better. We respect those who have beaten us. To have been beaten by a worthy opponent really just means you were that much better yourself for having been competitive. But with the Entitlement Generation, the winner gets accused of hacking, followed swiftly by an inappropriate term that most of the time really doesn’t even make sense in context.
It’s not just being able to handle loss that sets the new generation of gamers apart, though. There’s also this sense that if someone else has something you don’t, then there’s something unfair about the situation. It’s not just a problem in games. Hordes of little twits burned down London shops because they couldn’t get jobs. Never mind that they weren’t looking for work to begin with or that the shops they burned down represented places where they would have gone to get those jobs… it’s a question of fairness!
Those in the gaming industry know kids cry when they don’t get what they want, so Mass Effect 3 basically lets you walk through a game where choices really don’t make any difference. How much better would that game have been if you’d fought all the way to the last battle only to realize that ‘!@#$, I need Mordin to save Earth?’ Bet that little act of altruism would feel a little different then, wouldn’t it? But no, you can’t do that. You can’t do it because it’s not fair to expect consequences for our actions. After all, that’s what we teach in schools. Kids get bad grades and it’s the teacher’s fault. Or they can’t be bothered to go to class and, well, you see, that school is just under-funded. My grandmother learned to read with a bit of charcoal and a wooden plank, but yeah, we’ll blame it on lack of funding.
With RIFT, Trion worlds introduced us to a system where you’re not even limited to a single class. That’s too restrictive and unfair. Instead, they let you pretty much pick as many as you want and switch on the fly. It’s probably not fair that everyone doesn’t have equal access to all the spells and abilities. Why shouldn’t an undead-wielding necromancer have the chance to call upon the benevolence of his own soul to heal allies?
I’m a big PlanetSide fan, so it hurts to say this, but in PlanetSide 2 SOE decided that you didn’t need to be limited by class or vehicle, either, and that everyone needed to have access to everything. No longer are you required to choose between driving an awesome Vanguard or being the best Reaver pilot on the server; you can do both. In the first PlanetSide, there were certifications like in the new one, but those certifications were how you accessed everything, now they just provide tweaks. In the first game, you had to make choices about what you wanted to do, and I think the results were a lot better.
In the new PS2, you sometimes run into whole fields packed with so many tanks that some of them are not even rendering on the screen. Because everyone can have a tank, tanks aren’t really all that special anymore. Neither is any other aircraft or vehicle, and that’s a shame. Being really good at what you’d chosen to do used to really make you stand out. Now there’s really no point because anyone can pull a tank and get lucky for a few minutes. But then I guess if you were good enough to stand out, you’d be accused of cheating and playing unfairly anyway, so maybe it’s not so big a loss.
I’d like to end with some upbeat comment about how things will get better, but truthfully...it won’t. We’ve started a whole new generation of kids who don’t understand that reward comes from effort. Where fairness once meant having equal opportunity, it now means ease of access. The chivalrous days of saluting the honored victors have passed and been replaced by forum rants and cries of ‘OP!’ Senator Lieberman says videos games are bad for our children. Maybe he’s right, but not in the sense that violence in video games translates to real world violence. Instead, modern games are promoting stupid, lazy, and graceless children. I don’t think it’s the violence I’d be worried about, Senator.
The truth is, I’m ranting about what entitlement has done to games, and I’m definitely mad about it, but it’s not just games. This issue is something we should all care about. Business owners are finding it harder to find people for entry-level jobs because kids come in expecting to get more than they’re really qualified for. Used to the rapid pace of advancement they learned in games, they get frustrated with their employment when they don’t see the same in their careers. A lot of very intelligent people get crushed by failure because they never learned how to manage it emotionally.
Games are fun. Games are also a critical part of learning about life as well, though. Games teach us how to take defeat without being crushed by it and how to learn from failure. The successful man is just one who’s taken more opportunities to fail than those around him. Let’s teach our children that competition is good, that winning is fun, and that fairness does not mean that no one loses. Let’s teach them to respect their opponents, and most of all, that losing is a step in the process of learning how to win.