The Entitlement Generation is Killing Games
In the past decade or so, theres no question that games have gotten easier. Is it because todays kids view losing as unfair, rather than as a natural consequence of sucking?
Most of the little snot-nosed kids Im talking about wont get this reference, but years ago comedian George Carlin introduced a comedy routine about the pussification of the American male. Its funny because its true. Carlin goes on about all these iconic images of manhood becoming so commercialized, so accessible, that they begin to lose their meaning. Things like doctors and lawyers, general guppies of all types, were beginning to roll around the streets of Sturgis, South Dakota, where once only the hardest of bikers dared ride. Friends and fellow geeks, there is a similar plague descending on our beloved community and it promises to turn that once noble pastime into a socialist suburbia.
For years, experts have been slowly taking competition out of schools and promoting lameness instead. You cant play dodge-ball because its too aggressive, and more passive kids are disadvantaged. You cant really play T-ball anymore, or at least you cant keep score, because we dont want the kids who lose to feel bad. Failing the kids who goof around in class and dont do their homework? Oh no, cant have that. It might scar their poor little spoiled psyches. Whats the result of this everybody-wins mentality? Kids who dont know how to win with class, lose with grace, or put any effort into anything even resembling achievement. The Entitlement Generation is killing our games and we need to wake up!
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If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball, but you cant dodge the lesson of getting knocked on your butt by life.
Winning is everything, losing is unfair
Im aware that some folks are out there starting to feel a slight twitch in their lip when they read this. Well, if your feelings are hurt, Im probably talking about you or your kids. The eventual result of this ridiculous desire to protect kids from feeling bad has resulted in a whole generation of little pricks who say the most disgusting things they can anytime someone else wins. Its so common that its even become a running joke.
Theres not a person reading this who isnt thinking of the last time they were on Xbox LIVE having to endure a squeaky tirade from some kid who didnt know the meaning or history behind three-quarters of the words he was using. Raw lack of respect for ones fellow man has a part to play in it, but so does the inability to handle a loss. Anyone else winning is bad because someone loses, and thats just not acceptable to kids who never learned how to deal with losing.
I dont speak German, but Ive heard this rant online plenty of times in English.
Its not enough that we endure the spoiled kids in the games we play, we also get to read their whiney diatribe on gaming forums and social media channels. Visit the forums for any game and youll see the same thing--post after post where someone claims something else is over-powered, unfair, broken, or that their opponent hacks. Another thing all these posts will have in common is that none of them are well thought out or in any way intelligently written. You wont find specific examples or testing results, just a badly written bitch session of epic proportions.
There seems to be an unreasonable expectation that everything should be precisely the same, and that any advantage another player can gain over you is patently unfair. If you cant run right at the other guy shooting and kill him more often than he kills you, then the weapons are unbalanced and need to be fixed. One more example of what happens when you fail to teach kids how to lose well when theyre young.
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 isnt 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 doesnt even make sense in context.
Its not just being able to handle loss that sets the new generation of gamers apart, though. Theres also this sense that if someone else has something you dont, then theres something unfair about the situation. Its not just a problem in games. Hordes of little twits burned down London shops because they couldnt get jobs. Never mind that they werent looking for work to begin with or that the shops they burned down represented places where they would have gone to get those jobs its a question of fairness!
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One of these characters may not live to see the next sequel. Which? Oh it doesnt matter, it wont have any significant impact on the game.
Those in the gaming industry know kids cry when they dont get what they want, so Mass Effect 3 basically lets you walk through a game where choices really dont make any difference. How much better would that game have been if youd 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, wouldnt it? But no, you cant do that. You cant do it because its not fair to expect consequences for our actions. After all, thats what we teach in schools. Kids get bad grades and its the teachers fault. Or they cant 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, well blame it on lack of funding.
In Soviet Russia, games play selves
With RIFT, Trion worlds introduced us to a system where youre not even limited to a single class. Thats too restrictive and unfair. Instead, they let you pretty much pick as many as you want and switch on the fly. Its probably not fair that everyone doesnt have equal access to all the spells and abilities. Why shouldnt an undead-wielding necromancer have the chance to call upon the benevolence of his own soul to heal allies?
Im a big PlanetSide fan, so it hurts to say this, but in PlanetSide 2 SOE decided that you didnt 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.
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This line of tanks probably stretches back to the warp gate. Eventually they coalesce into a single unrenderable team-killing mass.
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 arent really all that special anymore. Neither is any other aircraft or vehicle, and thats a shame. Being really good at what youd chosen to do used to really make you stand out. Now theres 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, youd be accused of cheating and playing unfairly anyway, so maybe its not so big a loss.
End of Days
Id like to end with some upbeat comment about how things will get better, but truthfully...it wont. Weve started a whole new generation of kids who dont 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 hes 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 dont think its the violence Id be worried about, Senator.
The truth is, Im ranting about what entitlement has done to games, and Im definitely mad about it, but its 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 theyre really qualified for. Used to the rapid pace of advancement they learned in games, they get frustrated with their employment when they dont 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 whos taken more opportunities to fail than those around him. Lets teach our children that competition is good, that winning is fun, and that fairness does not mean that no one loses. Lets teach them to respect their opponents, and most of all, that losing is a step in the process of learning how to win.