1) Debates centred around subjective beliefs and lifestyle choices never end well
2) Everybody’s getting screwed over way worse than everyone else, especially by their respective governments or management committees
3) Seniority breeds holier-than-thou cockflutes
Let’s cast aside those first two assertions for today, partly because they’re broad enough in scope to spark their own entirely separate debates, and partly because I’d quite like to dust this article off and have a well-earned wank before dusk. Instead, I’m going to talk about why age, or at least many people’s perception of it, can become an unfortunate platform towards asshattery in the gaming community.
My Lawn Is Sacred
First off, if you’re in your mid-thirties, you’re not old. Not in the slightest. Life expectancy in several developed nations is as high as 80 years, so you’re probably not even half-way towards being buried and forgotten within a decade. You’re not a wizened veteran, and you certainly haven’t seen and done it all. Get over yourself, you execrable, high-and-mighty scrotumdriver.
Ahem. So, ageism. That’s a thing now. It’s often attributed to youthful ragamuffins pilfering loose change from pensioners on the Battersea street corners, yet it’s also an oft-forgotten means by which gaming enthusiasts opt to unleash vitriolic lashings on their younger counterparts to underline their superior knowledge and intellect once and for all. What does that mean? Well, let’s take a glance at what the fine folks are saying on Facebook and Giant Bomb.
“Younger players are being picked on for something over which they, and everyone else, have no control whatsoever. It’s not their fault that they weren’t alive to witness the golden age of such industry luminaries as Chubby Cherub and Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties…”
Those young ignoramuses, eh? Blissfully unaware of our plight, they are. Don’t they realise that back when we were their age, games were just so much better? And harder too. And sometimes even glitchier. And easier to break. Wait; where was I going with this? Oh, yeah, we’re better than them. That’s it. A somewhat clichéd and brash statement, no doubt, but it’s one that’s becoming more pertinent nonetheless. Why? Because thanks in no small part to the indies, so-called retro standards are coming back into the fold. That’s pretty nice, but it’s grating too.
As my juvenile brethren can no doubt attest, instigating the spiritual rebirth of the old-school gaming standards can have some harrowingly bothersome side-effects, not least of which being the fact that we’re constantly in the firing line of those who remember the heady days of hardcore gaming lore, when only the true, pure, dextrously-prodigious genetic jackhammers could cope with the punishing rigmaroles of their favourite interactive medium. We, on the other hand, are pitiful perishers who’ll never possess the intellectual capacity to comprehend their crippling initiations into video gaming’s contrived gentlemen’s club. Weak. Guess we should go back to Call of Duty because that’s stupid people play. Or better yet, let’s just play with ourselves some more.
Ha, masturbation jokes! I love ‘em! Seriously, though, I’ve spent a lot of time on my own.
The Generation Game
So, let’s say you’re playing through a retro-esque indie title, and let’s just say you’re getting a tad stuck and some of the more demanding levels. Dilemma time, right? Good thing the Internet’s there, then, especially with all those benevolent forum dwellers ready to lend their assistance. They’ll know what to do.
Except they inevitably won’t tell you, either because you’re evidently not gifted with the physical tools to get the job done or because you’re part of the much-maligned “kids these days” club, meaning that you’re apparently lacking the raw intelligence to comprehend the subtle intricacies that made gaming of decades past so much better than the inimical tripe you settle for nowadays. You just weren’t there, man, and more fool you for being born in the wrong era.
And that’s the real kicker. Younger players are being picked on for something over which they, and everyone else, have no control whatsoever. It’s not their fault that they weren’t alive to witness the golden age of such industry luminaries as Chubby Cherub and Plumbers Don’t Wear Ties, and they’re certainly not personally to blame for everything the cynics perceive to be an ill of the gaming landscape of today. They’re children, most of whom can only afford to buy a smattering of games per year, and so it follows that they’ll latch onto whatever their friends are playing, or whatever has the ballsiest box art. Most importantly, you were no different.
It’s a vicious cycle too. Not only is this semi-bullying style of sweeping judgement a pillar of those who grew up before the NES era, but it’s quickly becoming rampant among the young adult community, and even among the adolescent demographic. The age of the guy in the aforementioned Giant Bomb forum post? 17. He’s not alone, a fact proven by the multitudes of gamers in their early to mid-twenties bemoaning the lack of appreciation displayed by players their junior towards the supposedly revolutionary hijinks of Cloud Strife and his toils with flying dolls’ houses and virile bodybuilders in hot tubs.
“…maybe, just maybe, your generation wasn’t necessarily the canonical peak of popular cultural virtue.”
But it’s not as though we can’t see why. Bully someone for years and it follows naturally that they’ll be inclined to pass on the wedgies, whistle tests and nipple cripples to a new generation, if only out of pure, vengeful spite. Similarly, constantly putting someone down for growing up amidst the bombastic perks of modern gaming is a surefire way to guarantee that they’ll do exactly the same thing to their own offspring. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when the twenty-somethings ten years down the line start insisting that Battlefield 3 was the insurmountable pinnacle of hardcore, balls-to-the-wall video gaming euphoria.
Have your nostalgia if you like. Honestly, it’s a fine thing. But when your nostalgia becomes a mechanism upon which the disdainful treatment of those who’ve done nothing to you is driven, it’s time to take a long, hard look at yourself and admit that maybe, just maybe, your generation wasn’t necessarily the canonical peak of popular cultural virtue. And youngsters, remember that’s there’s still value in respecting your elders. Respect them, but never lose sight of the fact that they’re not always right.
And for the record, Captain Planet was just as crass and vacuous as Ben 10. So there.