Columnists Battle Over Impact of Games on Ambitionless Boys

As one Guardian author wondered what happened to the ambition of boys, citing videogames as at least a contributing factor, another Guardian columnist fired back, defending games as part of the solution.

Will Hutton’s Sunday column examined the possible reasons why society is churning out “so many disaffected, troubled and disengaged young men.” Hutton argued that “the great male demotivator is the risk of loss of face.” He continued:

One of the reasons that boys do not try harder is that the penalties for disengagement are so low – indeed, there are even rewards, at least in the sense that if you don’t try, you can’t fail. Much better to smoke dope, hang out and obsessively play computer games all day.

Columnist Keith Stuart took umbrage with this suggestion, penning a follow-up article in which he lamented that “there’s little attempt to recognise that games are not the solitary teen male pursuits that they were a decade ago.”

Stuart argues that more families play games together now than ever before, which combined with the growing number of guilds and clans means that games can often provide “a rich source of friendship to young men finding it difficult to cope with the rigours of school society.” The author goes on to discuss the positive aspects of games and mentions a handful of educational games.

Stuart does not totally dismiss Hutton’s points entirely however, adding:

Perhaps part of the reason young men are failing in modern classrooms is that their needs and interests aren’t being met by the syllabus, and aren’t being understood by an older generation incapable of engaging with, or at least understanding, game culture.

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