The psychology of the Gamers, and its generational roots

Kathlene M. writes:

I’ve been reading the Mangan/Roissy threads for the last three days to get a better understanding of the Roissyist Game phenomenon. The men on those threads, who appear to be under age 35, claim that anyone above this age group doesn’t understand how bad dating has become and that they must endure long dry spells without sex. (How horrific! As if none of us has ever experienced this wretched state of existence.) They petulantly claim they are realists and that older people just don’t get it, yet as realists they seem to have not been taught one bit of reality: Life is Unfair. Some offer noble-sounding theories for why they engage in the behavior they claim to despise. So let me offer my less-noble and brutal analysis of the Roissyist phenomenon.

The Roissyist men were raised during the height of the self-esteem movement, when all children regardless of talent were told how special and deserving they were. They grew up in divorced or absentee parent households with a diet of MTV, video games, junk food, fast food, and later instant computer porn. They expect instant gratification. They also expect to get the trophy with minimal effort because, as kids, even those in last place were given badges so they wouldn’t feel bad for losing. Lost in the self-esteem movement was the reality that life is unfair and that there are always winners and losers. Also lost in the self-esteem movement was the idea that if you work hard and develop expertise in a skill, you can achieve success in something.

The Roissyists grew up in the era of President Clinton, the ultimate cad who always got what he wanted. Clinton became a role model of success for many of this generation who more than likely had divorced fathers who weren’t there due to custody arrangements. Their mothers weren’t there either because they were working all the time.

The women of the Roissyist world grew up with Monica Lewinsky as one of many poor female role models. She became famous not for having accomplished anything but for having given the greatest man in the Western world a b___j__. They were treated to the endless spectacle of the Cad-in-Chief’s numerous women from Paula Jones to Gennifer Flowers. Women of the Roissyist universe also grew up in divorced households where men were absent. Experts often say that women who grow up without a fathers guiding presence are more prone to promiscuity. Furthermore the advertising of the ’80s and ’90s was very sexually charged.

Cheating became more rampant in the ’90s as kids discovered that they could get a reward for minimal effort. It didn’t help that by 2000 we had a new Bumbler-in-Chief, George W. Bush, who had poor grades in college, was a drunk in his younger years, and really hadn’t achieved anything significant except becoming POTUS by luck, connections and timing. So the attitude of this generation that hard work doesn’t pay off was only reinforced by our leadership.

The Roissyist men resent having to be the “beta providers” because they resent their jobs. When they left the shelter of home they discovered that life isn’t all about fun and pleasure, it’s about work which is often boring and dull. Work, relationships and so on require hard work.

I think it’s interesting that Roissyists use The Game to describe what they do. From The Game follows the term gamers which is also a video game term for people who spend lots of time on video games. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if some of the Gamers are video gamers too. (Coincidentally alpha and beta are terms used in the world of computer geeks.) So The Game is the ultimate expression of men and women brought up in the aforementioned environment. Indeed one often hears older people complain about the poor social skills of the “Gen-Y” generation in the workplace. That would seem to describe the Roissyists quite well.

Roissyist men view women as the women of their video game wet dreams: the Lara Croft ideal. Lara Croft is a box-kicking gun-wielding “alpha” double-D babe. Women in video games usually are some variation of this ideal. So it’s no surprise that the Roissyist men look for this in the women they’re trying to catch. Their interactions however have been reduced to manipulating joysticks, so they need guidance on how to manipulate women; thus The Game gives them that. The Game is a lot easier too than actual dating and long-term relationships. Dating and human relationships require fortitude, the ability to handle rejection, and hard work.

Gamers epitomize the attitude of this generation: “I expect instant gratification. I expect the best for minimum effort. It’s not fair that I can’t have what others have.” The Game is the playbook for the lazy. The Game offers simple steps to get the instant gratification and fulfillment they want and need. It’s far easier to blame large social forces and women for their problems than to work hard at changing one’s environment and one’s self. There will be no revolutionaries in this group simply because revolution requires hard work.

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Aaron S. writes:

Kathlene M.’s analysis, while containing some truth, is greatly overdrawn, and sounds too much like traditional feminist gripes concerning female images, i.e. “they only want perfect, airbrushed women,” etc. etc.

I’m a (married) man of 40, slightly older than these Roissy-ites, but familiar with most (I think) of what they’re talking about. It seems to me if we were dealing strictly with spoiled, instant gratification, wannabe cads, the whole Roissy phenomenon would be a smaller deal, and the language of his followers would contain very little of its “conservative” tone, however confused that tone may be.

Let me offer a hypothesis in response to something Kathlene has said:

They also expect to get the trophy with minimal effort because, as kids, even those in last place were given badges so they wouldn’t feel bad for losing.

The horrid feeling among many men my age was not, “I won’t get a trophy”—indeed, most at that time were not yet raised in an environment of self-esteem badges. It was instead more along the lines of, “Where are the trophies?”, or perhaps that the odds of finding them was so low that it was more like embarking on an effort at winning the lottery rather than “competing.” In this environment, I knew more than a few men who simply concluded that they might as well just go get some sex—the opportunity for something more dignified was, well, nearly as closed as the Western frontier.

Now I say this not in any way to excuse such an approach—the Roissy-ites are terribly confused about their own good. It’s just that I don’t think we can chalk this up to the kinds of things Kathlene is listing.

This is why, though I’ve argued against Mark. P. in the past, I find much truth in the revised, non-reductive formulation of his position. And though I’ve agreed with darn near everything Laura W. typically argues, I’ve got to say that her position in this case takes amplifying factors as causes. She should look carefully at what Todd White has said. The terrible behavior of most young women starts long before they attempt to climb any employment ladder or even have a thought for supporting a family—for many, it starts before they have even settled into a college major. They are enjoying themselves, not planning for the world.

I’ll end with a modest suggestion for incipient Roissy-ites, at least those among them who have not yet been corrupted by the dark master: if you would still rather have something better, and want to improve your chances, get off the coasts. Come inland—things are a bit brighter.

August 22

Laura Wood writes:

In reply to Aaron, nihilist thrill-seeking is the inevitable corollary to worship of self and career. I agree with Aaron that many of these women probably are hedonists with no thought for tomorrow. But, the woman mentioned by Todd who seemed intelligent and diffident, as well as placed in an important job, is probably thinking of one thing every hour of the day: how to advance in her career. She’s probably not selflessly thinking about her future family, but she has been conditioned to believe this is what a responsible woman does. When she is having sex in the bathroom at a party, she is probably even then thinking in a distant way of her job. Career is addictive, exciting and exhausting. I think for women it becomes particularly romantic, a passionate endeavor. It is a disaster for men that this is what preoccupies the best women in their twenties.

I also strongly agree with Kathlene. So much of this anger over the difficulty of attracting women is a desire for instant results.

Aaron S. writes:

The last week on your site is certainly a testament to an enduring truth: the issues surrounding the family are the central ones in political philosophy.

In reply to Laura Wood, I’ll begin by asking whether she doesn’t think this is just a bit of a stretch:

“When she is having sex in the bathroom at a party, she is probably even then thinking in a distant way of her job.”

I’m not suggesting that there couldn’t be a woman for whom this is the case. I also appreciate that Laura is attempting to justify a program for change, and this is to be applauded. The loss of male economic priority is indeed a factor in the rise of female promiscuity. It is misguided, though, to reduce the latter to the former so quickly.

Is there something so inconceivable in the reality of female promiscuity apart from economic motivations? Yes, women are told they must have careers in order to be worthwhile human beings. They are also told that they are entitled to a degree of sexual pleasure before they “settle down” (the gratification-and-esteem premise works both ways). Many people—male and female—also believe that they must “test drive” a lot of models to be sure they will be “sexually compatible” with the person they ultimately settle down with. That’s just a start—there are countless false ideas floating around out there to facilitate vice and justify people in it once they’ve arrived. Career worries are but a small part of this noxious brew.

As a plain matter of observation, I’d suggest that the majority of 20-somethings—particularly in the bigger cities—are playing and drifting, not yet getting serious about a career any more than they are getting serious about relationships. They are maintaining the “open vistas” illusion that anything might yet happen to them.

I agree that restoring male economic significance is a step in the right direction. It is probably necessary. But it is far from sufficient. We will need much more work to put this genie back in the bottle.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 21, 2009 02:41 PM | Send

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