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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  1. 0
    FlakAttack says:

    Imagine my frustration when, after taking numerous advanced classes and being one of the highest scoring students ever to go to my school… I ended up working the same jobs for the same pay as students who smoked weed all day and didn’t even go to class. So I went to college… and you think college is any better? NO! They don’t want to hear your ideas, they don’t want intelligent discourse.

    As you said Neeneko, "It also does not help that we have had a significant rise in organizations targeting youth segments to preemtivly turn them into uniform voting blocks". Even in colleges and universities, the so-called homes of free thought, you must conform. Whether it be to teachers or certain writing styles, if you do not conform, it doesn’t matter how interesting or even correct your opinion is.

    I failed economics my first run through (first class I ever failed aside from French), largely because I disagreed with the teacher constantly. He told me that Keynesian economics was great. I told him that we are going to hit a major recession within 5 years, and we will continue to hit major recessions every few years as long as we rely on debt and Keynesian economics, because a debt-based, keynesian economy relies on growth to function, and our society has little room for growth at the moment. He told me I was an idiot. That was about 3 years ago.

    I bet he’s eating his words now. At the very least, I’m sure he hates me. But what I learned from that experience is "if you want to get good marks and get a good job, you must conform". Thanks for the lesson oh great gods of college, I never would have made it in the real world without first having my dreams crushed.

    Oh, btw, I play video games. I guess I should post that as a disclaimer because apparently, gaming is the cause of a loss of motivation. Oh yes, games are the cause of all my problems and the source of my lack of motivation, not the fact that I am getting paid slightly above minimum wage despite a college degree I had to pay for.

    Here’s a fun thought: perhaps games are the only source of motivation I have? The only time I ever feel like I am accomplishing something? Because otherwise I feel like I am banging my head against a brick wall of idiots with business degrees who don’t know anything about business (short or long-term), marketing, or even customer service.

  2. 0
    Neeneko says:

     Of course there is a simplier answer…. the number of ambitionless boys is not all that differnt from the past and the author is just using selective memory.

    Or perhaps greater access to information has taken some of the facade off the ‘american dream’ idea and kids are getting disillusioned much earlier then they were in past decades.   Ever since the 90s, the future has felt VERY bleak, which tends to discourge ambition.   

    It also does not help that we have had a significant rise in organizations targeting youth segments to preemtivly turn them into uniform voting blocks (the evangelical movement is esp guilty of this)… these movements do a great job of focusing power at a top few, but also tend to have the effect of discouraging the ‘cogs’ from reaching for more in life.

  3. 0
    Dark_Mellow says:

    Or could it be how we treat them like crap and never let them run there own lives? Eveytime a kid or teen trys to go there own way we stop them and tell them there to young. That kills ambition more then anything.

  4. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:


    Well thats how soemtiems a job works but the school system itself can not function right by doing it that way we need general EDU(real reading,real math,basic science and history,ect) up till the 5th grade then we start focusing on thier skills then by 7th-9th they are on a path to higher learning or vocab training.


    I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression!

  5. 0
    Weatherlight says:

    I want a part number… My Father jokes about his all the time. He works for a large corporation and they use the same software to deal with their employees as they do parts. Schools even do this now.

    I am thinking employers look at people the same way that you described schools here. If you don’t exactly fit their defined hole, you get pushed aside, even if you can do that job.


  6. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ummm…. loook a the shcool system that basily turns you into a number to be pushed through and poo’d out…..and if they can’t slot you in thier limited defined holes you are tossed to the side……….


    A ineffective and ineffectual school system leads to apathy and and anything is good enough…..

    I have a dream, break the chains of copy right oppression!

  7. 0
    Weatherlight says:

    Both articles were a very good read and bring up some questions that must be answered. Personally I deal with trying to define my "self worth" and trying to motivate myself everyday. Society changed, you can no longer show up to work everyday, work hard, and expect things to go well. There is a lot more to it then that, now if I could define it…


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