The Entitlement Generation is Killing Games
Most of the little snot-nosed kids IÂm talking about wonÂt get this reference, but years ago comedian George Carlin introduced a comedy routine about the Âpussification of the American male.Â ItÂs funny because itÂs 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, ÂexpertsÂ have been slowly taking competition out of schools and promoting lameness instead. You canÂt play dodge-ball because itÂs too aggressive, and more passive kids are disadvantaged. You canÂt really play T-ball anymore, or at least you canÂt keep score, because we donÂt want the kids who lose to feel bad. Failing the kids who goof around in class and donÂt do their homework? Oh no, canÂt have that. It might scar their poor little spoiled psyches. WhatÂs the result of this everybody-wins mentality? Kids who donÂt 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!
Winning is everything, losing is unfair
IÂm 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, IÂm 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. ItÂs so common that itÂs even become a running joke.
ThereÂs not a person reading this who isnÂt thinking of the last time they were on Xbox LIVE having to endure a squeaky tirade from some kid who didnÂt know the meaning or history behind three-quarters of the words he was using. Raw lack of respect for oneÂs 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 thatÂs just not acceptable to kids who never learned how to deal with losing.
I donÂt speak German, but IÂve heard this rant online plenty of times in English.
ItÂs 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 youÂll 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 wonÂt 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 canÂt 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 theyÂre 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 isnÂt 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 doesnÂt even make sense in context.
ItÂs not just being able to handle loss that sets the new generation of gamers apart, though. ThereÂs also this sense that if someone else has something you donÂt, then thereÂs something unfair about the situation. ItÂs not just a problem in games. Hordes of little twits burned down London shops because they couldnÂt get jobs. Never mind that they werenÂt looking for work to begin with or that the shops they burned down represented places where they would have gone to get those jobsÂ itÂs a question of fairness!
Those in the gaming industry know kids cry when they donÂt get what they want, so Mass Effect 3 basically lets you walk through a game where choices really donÂt make any difference. How much better would that game have been if youÂd fought all the way to the last battle only to realize that Â!@#$, I need Mordin to save Earth?Â Bet that little act of altruism would feel a little different then, wouldnÂt it? But no, you canÂt do that. You canÂt do it because itÂs not fair to expect consequences for our actions. After all, thatÂs what we teach in schools. Kids get bad grades and itÂs the teacherÂs fault. Or they canÂt 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, weÂll blame it on lack of funding.
In Soviet Russia, games play selvesÂ
With RIFT, Trion worlds introduced us to a system where youÂre not even limited to a single class. ThatÂs too restrictive and unfair. Instead, they let you pretty much pick as many as you want and switch on the fly. ItÂs probably not fair that everyone doesnÂt have equal access to all the spells and abilities. Why shouldnÂt an undead-wielding necromancer have the chance to call upon the benevolence of his own soul to heal allies?
IÂm a big PlanetSide fan, so it hurts to say this, but in PlanetSide 2 SOE decided that you didnÂt 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 arenÂt really all that special anymore. Neither is any other aircraft or vehicle, and thatÂs a shame. Being really good at what youÂd chosen to do used to really make you stand out. Now thereÂs 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, youÂd be accused of cheating and playing unfairly anyway, so maybe itÂs not so big a loss.
End of Days
IÂd like to end with some upbeat comment about how things will get better, but truthfully...it wonÂt. WeÂve started a whole new generation of kids who donÂt 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 ÂOP!Â Senator Lieberman says videos games are bad for our children. Maybe heÂs 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 donÂt think itÂs the violence IÂd be worried about, Senator.
The truth is, IÂm ranting about what entitlement has done to games, and IÂm definitely mad about it, but itÂs 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 theyÂre really qualified for. Used to the rapid pace of advancement they learned in games, they get frustrated with their employment when they donÂt 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 whoÂs taken more opportunities to fail than those around him. LetÂs teach our children that competition is good, that winning is fun, and that fairness does not mean that no one loses. LetÂs teach them to respect their opponents, and most of all, that losing is a step in the process of learning how to win.