We live in a world where children need to be coddled. Even when they don't do anything special, they need to feel like they are above the norm just for their ability to breathe. No more are the days of being called a dumbass for the stupid things you do. Now you are just "less understanding" in the things you fail at, and you are patted on the back just for getting off your lazy ass and giving it half an attempt. And now the gaming world has jumped on that bandwagon, and done so with both arms flailing as they belly flop into the pool of rewarding the mundane in our species.
Back in the day you got kudos for beating a game. I spent months getting to the end of Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros and every other game Nintendo put out. I failed, got laughed at by my friends who spent more time on the game than I did, and eventually gamed so hard I earned my bragging rights. But not the next gen consoles make you feel like you are awesome, even when you are barely grasping at mediocre. How do they do this? with achievements and trophies. Achievements are Xbox, while trophies are PS3, but for this article I will just focus on Xbox.
When I was a kid, you were bad ass if you got your initials on one of the top five spots in the big machines at the game arcade. And if you got your initials there, you played every day and improved your game to make sure no one got lucky and took your spot away from you. But the days of having exclusive ranks are over. Now you get kudos for just turning on your game and playing it.
It doesn't matter now how much skill you have. You can earn achievement points just for passing a level in the game. It's the equivalent of getting high fives for jumping on all the mushroom bad guys on the first level of Mario. YAY! You did what you were suppose to! congratulations on having hands! did you jump that one block off in the corner that most people overlook? Awesome! Here is another achievement! Did you pass the game on easy mode because you were too afraid to play it on normal mode? You are a god! Here is half the achievements in the game for just wizzing through it!
And just being rewarded for doing what you are suppose to do isn't the end of it. Xbox Live now has a site where you can earn achievements for getting more achievements. It's like getting rewarded for pouring yourself a glass of water, and then getting another reward because you were capable enough to be able to lift it to your lips and drink it. you can get achievements for getting a certain number of achievements in a day, week, month or year. you can get achievements for getting achievements in a multitude of games. You can even get achievements for getting achievements on the achievements that you got achievements for. And there is probably an achievement for achieving an achievable level of achevementation that is easy to achieve.
Being picked on helped you improve your flaws so you could be a better person. Getting bullied helped you to stand up for yourself and gain conviction and strength. Being laughed at helped you to choose wisely and make better decisions. And parents across the country did their best to see that their children gained none of these benefits. And now, when children escape the real world and slip into the gaming universe, they get patted on the back for running away from reality, even if they suck at it. Where do we draw the line between letting a kid know they are something special and spoiling them so completely that a fart pooed out in the wrong direction won't devastate them and put them in counselling for years to come?
If we, as parents, are too ignorant to see that diversity, failure and the need to fix our personal problems to be better and more productive people are not things to be swept away in lieu of overbearing praise and sympathy, then we run the risk of having a future of adults that feel they should be rewarded for just waking up in the morning and taking a piss without hitting the rim. What kind of world are we wanting to make when there are no demons to face, situations to conquer and enemies to stand up to? We already have kids killing themselves because they got mocked for their looks, beliefs and sexual orientation. Things that in my day we would just flip the finger to. Do we really need this to swarm over into our game world? Do we really need our kids to off themselves because most of the neighborhood kids could snipe the alien on level three and your kid couldn't?
NASA spent years getting a man to the moon. Actors spend years training to have believable characters. Writers spend years working to improve their literacy so people can not just follow their story, but feel they are a part of it. So why are children now being given the false belief that they should be rewarded just for breathing? And why is the gaming industry doing everything they can to perpetuate the issue?
I have a special achievement for all the kids out there. If you get off your ass and work at getting really good at one thing, and saving the games and their idiotic achievements for your spare time, I will give you the achievement called "success at life." And maybe if this achievement catches on, we might just have a gaming community that can be proud of working hard at their games like they do at life, rather than barely working at being alive in both the real world and the fantasy one.