Thursday, January 27, 2011

Interesting Article on Generation Y , Today's Job Market and their Expectations---Draw Your Own Connection to D&D's Game Design of Recent Years

From The Atlantic---Some Quotes:

"....Using national survey data, she’s found that to an unprecedented degree, people who graduated from high school in the 2000s dislike the idea of work for work’s sake, and expect jobs and career to be tailored to their interests and lifestyle. Yet they also have much higher material expectations than previous generations, and believe financial success is extremely important. “There’s this idea that, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to work, but I’m still going to get all the stuff I want,’” Twenge told me. “It’s a generation in which every kid has been told, ‘You can be anything you want. You’re special.’”

In her 2006 book, Generation Me, Twenge notes that self-esteem in children began rising sharply around 1980, and hasn’t stopped since. By 1999, according to one survey, 91 percent of teens described themselves as responsible, 74 percent as physically attractive, and 79 percent as very intelligent. (More than 40 percent of teens also expected that they would be earning $75,000 a year or more by age 30; the median salary made by a 30-year-old was $27,000 that year.) Twenge attributes the shift to broad changes in parenting styles and teaching methods, in response to the growing belief that children should always feel good about themselves, no matter what. As the years have passed, efforts to boost self-esteem—and to decouple it from performance—have become widespread.

These efforts have succeeded in making today’s youth more confident and individualistic. But that may not benefit them in adulthood, particularly in this economic environment. Twenge writes that “self-esteem without basis encourages laziness rather than hard work,” and that “the ability to persevere and keep going” is “a much better predictor of life outcomes than self-esteem.” She worries that many young people might be inclined to simply give up in this job market. “You’d think if people are more individualistic, they’d be more independent,” she told me. “But it’s not really true. There’s an element of entitlement—they expect people to figure things out for them.”

Ron Alsop, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and the author of The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaking Up the Workplace, says a combination of entitlement and highly structured childhood has resulted in a lack of independence and entrepreneurialism in many 20-somethings. They’re used to checklists, he says, and “don’t excel at leadership or independent problem solving.” Alsop interviewed dozens of employers for his book, and concluded that unlike previous generations, Millennials, as a group, “need almost constant direction” in the workplace. “Many flounder without precise guidelines but thrive in structured situations that provide clearly defined rules.”

All of these characteristics are worrisome, given a harsh economic environment that requires perseverance, adaptability, humility, and entrepreneurialism. Perhaps most worrisome, though, is the fatalism and lack of agency that both Twenge and Alsop discern in today’s young adults. Trained throughout childhood to disconnect performance from reward, and told repeatedly that they are destined for great things, many are quick to place blame elsewhere when something goes wrong, and inclined to believe that bad situations will sort themselves out—or will be sorted out by parents or other helpers."


Jesus Christ, Old School D&D must be like Kryptonite to them...they have a good chance of dying, it's hard to progress, they have to think outside of the box to survive, and there are far less rules to go by.

And before you say it, yes, I know, you and all your friends, and all the people you have ever met, and all the gamers you've ever played with, and everyone at GenCon, and every RPG gamer who ever lived is completely different and doesn't fit this description and stereotyping and categorizing people is wrong and blah blah fuckin' blah. Go fuck yourself. WOTC seemed to see enough validity in it to restructure their game around the assumptions above...


  1. I'm sorta glad I don't have a high self esteem then ;)

  2. you and all your friends, and all the people you have ever met, and all the gamers you've ever played with, and everyone at GenCon, and every RPG gamer who ever lived is completely different and doesn't fit this description and stereotyping and categorizing people is wrong and blah blah fuckin' blah.

    Nope. I will heartily confirm this characterization of 90% of the people I know under age 30. And I know quite a few, both in gaming and elsewhere.

    Of course, I wasn't a "kid" in the 80's, so I'm exempt... ;-)

  3. Wow. In 10 years, this is really gonna suck for these kids. I feel sorry for the little assholes.

    On the bright side, I make a lot more than the average 30 year old it seems like, and I am only 29. WOOT!

  4. Self esteem isn't the problem, it's self-esteem without a basis in reality, without a basis in achievement, self esteem based on external ego-boosters.

  5. I'm 22, I love my job (which is interesting and rewarding), I make plenty of money, and I play 4e. You must be right! =P

  6. Scary stuff there for the future of America if that's what's going to be in the workforce. Especially as much of that workforce goeso verseas. Eek!

  7. Do people in New York have lawns?

  8. I absolutely agree with the article and find it fascinating that they actually think so highly of themselves.
    "91 percent of teens described themselves as responsible, 74 percent as physically attractive, and 79 percent as very intelligent"
    Yet the youth of this nation are some of the most obese in the world and score far behind in almost every academic area than a lot of other countries.

    Not meaning to sound like an old codger, but it cracks me up to be driving down the road and see kids (6 - 16) walking in the middle of a lane, usually 3 or 4 wide, and never once look up to see if a car is coming or move when one does. They just continue walking down the middle of the lane, expecting everything to revolve around them. Most don't even look before crossing a road.
    My mom would have beat my ass if I had pulled a stunt like that.

  9. Seriously, guys? The "Kids these days!" shtick? Do you have any idea how much your own 13 year-old selves would have been sickened by your attitude now?

    Times change, societies change, people change. You can either stand on the sidelines and whine about how everything is going to hell, or you can realize that the world is more or less just as screwed up as it was when you were a kid, and that everything isn't going to go to hell because young people see things slightly differently than you do now.

    I say this with no small sense of irony: Grow up.

  10. “I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words. When I was a boy, we were taught to be discrete and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint.”
    -Hesiod, 8th century BC

    "The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress."
    -Peter the Hermit, 1274

    "The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."
    -Inaccurately attributed to Socrates, but doubtlessly before our time.

  11. I love the quotes from Hesiod and so forth.

    Um, guys? I understand that this may be news to you, but Rome fell. So have a lot of other civilizations. Doubtless there were reasons for these collapses... doubtless something changed, almost certainly *very* *slowly*, about the civilizations in question that made them more vulnerable to outside forces.

    So just because someone said something similar to what's being said now before, that doesn't make it wrong, either then or now.

  12. So I'm sold that my generation is full of idiots, but I'm not sold that yours (nor any other) was not.

  13. WotC made DnD easier than old school DnD because of my generation?

    Uhh... I've been playing since ADD in the early 90s. I remember fucking thAC0! Why did they make things easier? Probably because it takes FUCKING HOURS TO MAKE A GODDAMN CHARACTER!! Seriously, I just made a cut-and-dry cleric for a low-level Pathfinder game and it took me three hours; two hours before that rolling a Dwarf only to realize Dwarf clerics kinda suck since they get a -2 to Cha which happens to be quite useful for their channel class power. You might assume that I'd just put more points into Cha, but NO! You're wrong! Because I did the fucking roll 4d6 remove the lowest which caused my character to have middle-to-low stats! Optimizing I could go with maybe using that ability 4 times per day, but no, that'd suck because I want to follow a neutral evil deity with the magic/darkness/fire domains because the rest of our party consists of a rogue, barbarian and two fighters, so we could definitely use some more magic, AND healing. But of course since I was born after the 80s I should expect everything to be easy!

    Maybe since most adults my age don't have time to fuck around making a character on paper for hours because a kobold happened to ejaculate Evard's Black Herpes everywhere. Maybe we're used to playing a game instead of reading a fucking huge book to play the game. Or maybe, really, death isn't as FUN or INTERESTING as it was before? Maybe old school red box dying or failing meant something interesting happened to you, even though it was bad? Man, I wish all those older GMs that take it upon themselves to complain about younger players and run games had better imaginations.


    But no, all these new games about using your imaginations have rules you have to follow that effectively kill free thought. Oh man, if only you could have the power to creatively come up with whatever you want, that'd be an AWESOME tabletop game system!

  14. Fuck, I wish I checked that last post for grammar and spelling. Now I sound like an even greater dick! >:/

  15. But seriously, if you're the GM, and the players fail at something or die, make it interesting. It's a fucking STORY for Vecna's sake! BAD SHIT HAPPENS sometimes, but it adds to the drama. Most older players I see complain about this shit don't even bother to narrate the fight going on. They just roll dice, say what happens in as quickly and blandly as possible and move on.

    What happened to DnD being able metal, and bitches and dragons and shit? When did it become as streamlined and as close to videogames as possible? What happened to the threat of Githyanki flying in from fucking Spelljammers and raping the shit out of some dirty little gnome village just because?

    Oh wait, you can still do that. You just need (a fucking LOT of) time for preparation and a little imagination. Just try putting on your showmanship hat and seeing what happens. If some asshole complains blow pixie dust glitter in his eyes and do a gay little jig. He'll get weirded out, leave, and the rest of us can have some fun watching skulls crack and jamming phallic things into shit.

  16. P.S., every other comment after this one by someone named Anonymous isn't me.

  17. I play RPGs with kids and adults and in general the kids don't try the crazy adventurous crap we tried as kids. Presented with some situations they just sit there like does in the headlights of an oncoming car asking what dice they should roll to avoid their fate instead of taking action to define the upcoming events.

    If the buttons aren't sitting in front of them they do seem to have trouble making choices. Yes they can catalog an amazing array of interactions and permutations but if button "X" isn't there ready to be pressed they are slow to act.

  18. or maybe...people have been trying to make it BETTER for years now. There is hard painful and hard challenging. Maybe, just maybe, later editions tried to remove the painful while keeping the challenging. But I'm sure your myopic vision of editions will be unable to reconcile such a concept.

    You know what I see a lot of on "old-school" sites. Ways to change the game. They all have their little house rules to make the game better. The second you add a house rule of any sort, you are making it easier for yourself. Gygax did the exact same thing.

  19. The thing that bothers me is how those ancient quotes don't seem to fit the current description. They talk about how the kids of yesteryear thought they had all the answers and were going to turn the world upside down.

    But that's not what they're saying about Gen Y. Gen Y isn't too independent and willful, but too dependent, and unable to handle unexpected circumstances. If this characterization is accurate, it's doubly disturbing because, when Y was coming up through high school, we were warned how confident and self-motivated they were going to be. We were told how they would need less oversight, not more, that they worked really well in peer-focused teams with clear goals but little in the way of micromanagement, and that they would be heavily interested in entrepreneurial opportunities. Now we're seeing lots of reports like this one and this other one saying it's not that way, that the new generation will make excellent foot soldiers, but don't expect them to be leading the charge any time soon.

    I hope it's not true. I hope it really is the usual bemoaning of elders at the sight of the latest generations antics. I'm concerned, however, because I see boys who don't seem to understand how to ask girls on dates, I see college grads who seem to fall off a cliff when they realize that nobody is going to tell them where they need to be for the rest of their lives, and can't seem to handle issues when they deviate from the script.

    I also see an education system in tatters, especially in the liberal arts. Apparently, critical thinking and analysis aren't in vogue right now. >.<

    Still, I imagine a brush with reality will work the same wonders on this generation as it has on the others. It'll be interesting to see what they do with their unique perspective on things.

  20. Anyone involved in teaching at the college level knows that while, yes, there are still self-motivated, curious, hard-working students out there, the vast majority fit the description above, and feel they should get their grade without doing any work. Is it the decline our civilization? Well, yes, it is. Does this have anything to do with D&D? I'm not sure. But there are some sadly ignorant kids getting through our schools these days, that is a fact.

  21. Darn it Joe, there you go stirring the pot . . .

    I treat twenty-somethings;

    yes, they have a sense of entitlement,
    and egos that do NOT match their accomplishments ;
    however, their biggest problem
    (as predicted by Allen Bloom in
    The Closing of the American Mind)
    is that they do not have stable homes.

    Their ego inflation is a defense mechanism against abandonment. Almost half of American children are born out of wedlock and/or have no father in their house.

    Especially for boys,
    fathers teach tenacity and self control;
    "Sorry son, life isnt fair, if you think your teacher is an asshole - wait to you have a boss."

    For the naysayers, my small fingers are crushed form decades of martial arts - i type poorly. My lack of typing skill does NOT negate my MD, MHA & BA in mathematics.

  22. A counterpoint to the article Joe references
    here; different not necessarily being bad. with lessons for each other.

    As for the lack of critical thinking thing, that's cross-generational. :) One born every minute according to Barnum.

  23. Yes, Clovis, Teh Wimminz can't teach tenacity and self control. The Nuclear Family is the only valid family unit in existence.

  24. @clovis

    You are completely wrong in every way that a person could possibly be wrong. As is Allan Bloom.

  25. @ anonymous
    @ Zak

    It sure seems kewl to be counter-culture and resist conventional wisdom.
    There are always motivated and resilient individuals like yourselves, but statistics are clear;

    the absence of a reliable father (biological or not) is a huge predictor of incarceration and/ or scholastic failure for boys.

    I am relatively immune to criticism by bloggers, too many good things in my life to worry about naysayers; however, you should read a professor’s book before you condemn him.

    For the record, I am libertarian.

  26. A post at another blog reminded me of your post.

    The author teaches physics at a university, and was participating at a meet and greet for potential students and their parents.

    One parent asked if his kid would have to live in the cinderblock dorms. (As if that would be a horrible fate, and as if such construction isn't pretty standard across US universities with residence halls built in the past century, at a range of statuses and price levels.)

    Another parent asked about whether the extra-curricular activities were safe.

    Maybe some parents have always been like this when their precious crumpets are going off to college, but it might be evidence in favor of the gauzy, sheltered nature of today's kids.

  27. @clovis cithog

    Nothing that you just wrote addresses the fact that the specific charge you made in your post is inaccurate.

    And assuming that I didn't read Allan Bloom's book is another mistake you made.

    And hey you're:

    -wrong, -and-
    -arguing with someone on the internet

    therefore everybody knows there's a 90% chance you're a libertarian.

  28. I've read Allan Bloom too. He was a smart guy, had some interesting things to say about Shakespeare. But the Closing of the American Mind was, is, and will always be a steaming pile of horsecrap.

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  30. Two things.

    1. Professor Blooms book was written in 1987. The 17 year olds he's talking about are 40 now.

    2. This is a widespread cultural problem. Trying to draw the distinction along generation lines (its not us, its them!) is a narcissistic defense mechanism.

    I want to say that I want to see more people playing ODND just as much as you do - or at least as much as I think you do. I don't know, maybe you want to treat it as a membership some imagined exclusive club that you can pat yourself on the back over. I just know this: the "You're not good enough for my game," BS doesn't reflect well on the game or its players.

  31. Also the post that preceded the above said the exact same thing; I just messed up the URL.


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