Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
 
Generation conflict

If I could have one hour of your time, I'd propose you spend that hour watching Clint Hocking talking about gamer generations on Teut's blog. Clint Hocking is Creative Director of Ubisoft Montreal, responsible for games like Splinter Cell and Far Cry 2, and talked at the International Game Developers Association meet in Montreal last February. While the video is long, and gets off to a slow start, it then explains brilliantly Clint's theory of gamer generations.

While the very first video games were made by the generation of baby boomers (which happens to be my generation) born between 1946 and 1964, the exponential growth of the video game industry, and its tendency to hire young people, means that in 2000 80% of game developers were members of generation X, born between 1965 and 1981. But there is a generational change ahead, with generation Y, born between 1982 and 2001, about to take over by 2015.

Clint says that generation X "doesn't play nice with other people", but they prefer abusive, punishing, single-player games, or multiplayer games in which they dominate the other players. Generation Y is a lot more social oriented (not unlike baby boomers), cooperative, and prefer games that hand out rewards left and right, and are very forgiving. That kind of relabels the hardcore vs. casual conflict into a generational X vs. Y conflict, but gives it an inevitable demographic shift direction towards generation Y. But Clint expresses some hope that generation Y learns how to handle handing out rewards better than just giving everyone the same, and that they can solve the hard problem of immersion in the context of games, especially multi-player games. "Generation X always imagined that the Matrix was an objective reality, created by machines, and given meaning by our senses. Generation Y is going to discover that the Matrix is an aggregate subjective reality, created by players, and given meaning by our hearts."

Being a baby boomer, I agree with generation Y that kicking other people's ass cannot be the ultimate meaning and purpose of games. But when I look at the strong effect of trivial rewards on people's behavior, I have to agree with generation X that it doesn't make sense to just hand them out to everyone, regardless of performance and behavior. Having discovered how powerful rewards are, we must now use them to encourage positive behavior. Too bad that generation X and generation Y will never be able to agree what exactly "positive behavior" is. So here I'm with generation Y again, hoping that it will mean cooperation and social interaction, and not just striving to perform well in an artificial, abusive, and punishing virtual reality.
Comments:
"Clint says that generation X "doesn't play nice with other people", but they prefer abusive, punishing, single-player games, or multiplayer games in which they dominate the other players."


;/


I play nice with others. Maybe I was just ahead of my time ... err... or behind it.
 
Is this not the same as the old and faithful argument that the current AAA industry actually just is a niche market which has evolved from developing functionality for its already established audience for the last 30 years.

The rest of the world is coming through the other channels and will have an impact of unprecedented scale compared with any other art form so far. On the level of evolutionary acceleration of human society we will see games and interactive communication thingymabobers (ex: facebook) having a greater impact than the written langugage or book mass production had when they arrived to this world.

At least this is my vision of things that are happening now, hidden within plain sight.
 
This may sound short-sighted, or even missing the point entirely, but it looks to me (as a generation X member, apparently), that generation Y never learned, or maybe ignored, that rewards only have value if they're obtained through effort and competition. And that competition and valueable rewards are required to keep you motivated to improve your skills.
 
I think it's way over-explained. "Generation Y" is currently simply KIDS. Of course kids are preferring rewards without effort and still unaware of the cold fact that there is no free lunch.

When they will be in our age, they will be just as "not nice and abusive" as we are. In the same time, our generation will be more forgiving and understanding, since most of us will be parents by then.

It's not generation shift, merely permanent age characteristic.
 
Generation Y are teens or very young adults - most of them did not have to make a living, raise a family, be responsible for others ... obviously they will act, behave and think differently than another group of substantially older people.

But that is not a labeling thing X and Y - it is simply age. Once generation Y is are older they may feel the same as the current generation X.

The whole labeling is for making controversial statements and getting people riled up - and it works ... for example here is my comment. If he simply said older people like different type of games I wouldn't have commented.
 
""Generation Y" is currently simply KIDS. Of course kids are preferring rewards without effort and still unaware of the cold fact that there is no free lunch."

I have to disagree Gevlon...I think being over the age of 20 firmly qualifies me of not being a kid (and yes I'm a gen Y member)...not that age and maturity go hand in hand anyways but thats a whole other arguement.

Generation shifts like this do exist and they work in cycles. If one generation is wild and crazy the next tends to be uptight and proper, it's just a back and forth thing.

I pretty much agree with Clint and do think that soon we'll be seeing more and more games with social interaction and cooperation as their strong points.
 
Most of you want to redefine what Generation X and Y are.

They are generational demographics specifially in time past.

You can call the new generation Gen Z or something but don't cloud the information with diatribe.

A visit to Wikipedia or a Google search might prove frutiful for some of you.
 
Gen X here.

For a lot of us gamers, our heritage is playing against other people in order to win in multiplayer mode. And I'm not just talking about Street Fighter or Starcraft. Go back to when, like Baby Boomers, video games were science fiction. Monopoly, checkers, chess...GO FISH...are multiplayer games where you win by beating someone!

Maybe on second thought, you might re-interpret the differences between Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. You could choose to see Gen X as gamers who want to beat other players in order to win.

Or you can see Gen X gamers as reflecting upon what the games were like growing up. There weren't multiplayer games like The Sims in the mid 1980s. We played fighting games in the arcades and fighting games at home. Think RTS/FPS games that dominated the PC multiplayer market in the mid 1990's on. It was what we were used to.

Whether Generation Y just wants to crap out games that hand everyone the same 1st Place trophy or not is yet to be seen.

Lets hope that Gen Y realizes that everyone receiving a reward for showing up does not a good game make. Talk about dull...log in once, be told you are a hero just for opening and installing the game, and thats it.

I'm sorry, but a game usually means the player is playing against something. If that means only Generation X is going to get video gaming right, I feel sorry for future video "gamers" who don't get to experience anything more than a digital ego stroking.

Playing with friends has always been a part of playing video games, even for Gen X'ers who played against each other in Monopoly, Street Fighter, or WoW. Healthy people have fun playing the game, win or lose. Friends, in the classical sense, don't hold a win or a loss over another friend's head as some bargaining chip, or some measure of worth.

Winning or losing in a game only really matters if the winner or loser ascibes some out-of-game meaning to the result. If that is so, that person has some real issues that need to be addressed outside of the game, probably by a professional.
 
That's one of the weakest definitions of Gen X / Gen Y I've ever seen.

Also, having been born in the very late 1950s myself, I've never felt any connection with the baby-boomer generation.

Culturally, I have more markers from the 1980s, in common with Gen X, than I do with the 60s-oriented Boomers. Most of the core cultural, social and political events of the 60s happened while I was a child and utterly unaware of them.

The first, big, formative cultural movement that I participated in was punk. That was almost directly in opposiition to the values associated with the Boomers. I was 18 then, while the youngest GenX, using the dates above, would have been in their early teens. We had far more in common with each other than with the Boomers.

As to how this applies to games, heaven knows...
 
"Or you can see Gen X gamers as reflecting upon what the games were like growing up. There weren't multiplayer games like The Sims in the mid 1980s. We played fighting games in the arcades and fighting games at home."


No. Some of us played RPGs (which were huge at the time) and which were all about cooperating with other players. We pioneered online cooperative games (like MUSHes as opposed to MUDs).

There are two strands in 1980s era gaming, but Clint et al only focus on the hardcore one. I think that's sad.

But ultimately it doesn't explain why games like Diablo (which is easy whichever way you cut it) were so very popular. That wasn't Gen Y. I think we played those games because that's all we had, so maybe it's the game designers rather than the players generation that's the issue.
 
Perhaps as a "Social experiment" someone should segregate game servers by age instead of skill.
A WoW server for over 30, 40 or whatever age instead of by pvp, rp or pve. The results of that would be interesting.
 
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