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  • The Nature of Games in the 21st Century

    - Lewis Pulsipher

  • Young and old game playersGenerational Differences
    I have already described many characteristics that differ between generations. Here I'll try to generalize about them. Some people prefer to think that everyone is the same, but employers and researchers have seen that there are definite differences between generations, and have described how this affects game preferences. Entire books have been written about generational differences, this is only a taste that will help you be aware of how differently people think about games.

    The Baby Boomer generation is highly competitive and willing to forego immediate gratification for future reward. They don't need constant encouragement to continue playing, in contrast to much younger people who do expect immediate reward for any accomplishment.
    Generation X, people born between about 1964 and 1979, tend to be the generation of the lone hero, in game terms, while Millennials or Gen Y (born around 1980 and later) tend to think in terms of sharing and of groups accomplishing tasks.

    The MMO is the new face of video gaming, then, because it can accommodate both, in the individual adventuring that appeals to Xers and the multi-player raiding that appeals to Millennials.

    As you can see, modern video games reflect most of these changes very well, though early video games often did not. I'd guess that the changes came first, and video games reflect them, but video games have certainly reinforced these differences, as they've become part of the national and international consciousness.

    Dr. Lewis Pulsipher comes from the non-electronic side of game design, and teaches video game design at Fayetteville Technical Community College, NC. His most well-known game, Britannia, was described in a recent "Armchair General" online review as "one of the great titles in the world of games."


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