Apologies. I wanted to make these really tongue in cheek, but that’s not who I am or how I write, so you’ll have to deal with straight up observation.
Since I play my fair share of this game, I thought it high time I analyzed why teenagers often have the in-game skills to back up their claims. I hear my fair share of prepubescent children questioning my sexual status, but then again, I hear it from people my age too. This isn’t to say that we twenty-somethings aren’t good at CoD. I know one who can Blackbird, Chopper Gunner, Dog it with the best of them.
The stigma remains, however, that the best players on XBOX (I can’t speak for PC or PS3) are between twelve and seventeen. The question is, why?
The first reason is simple: time. When you were twelve or fourteen or whatever, did you have a full/part-time job on top of hours of pro-bono (college or other necessary but not-paying) work? Did you have to travel around the country competing in sports? No.* So after homework and/or chores, the average 12-17 year old sat down to do some good ol’ fashioned vegging. Nowadays, CoD’s one of the most popular ways to do that. So they’re spending inordinate amounts of time online, and practice makes better, so their skill is going to go up.
The second reason is not so simple. Rather, it’s anatomical and psychological. I think most of us can speak to this one, but let me put it to words. First, kids nowadays use control sticks to aim before they can draw a coherent picture on paper or write a sentence with more than ten words. I played Mario 64 when I was six or so (do the math), and I couldn’t read, write or draw. Control stick aiming for the camera. Mario 64’s no FPS, and that’s really all kids play now. I’m not a superstar, but I can hold my own. For the eight or nine year old whose thirteen year old older brother gets Black Ops or Modern Warfare 3 for Christmas, the pathways in his brain that control movement, dexterity and hand-eye coordination are still very much in the development phase. Also, kids of that age are still forming who they are, who they envision themselves to be and how they view the world. Encapsulate all that, and by the time Big Bro lets you have the controller alone, the thing is like an extension of your hands. Parents don’t understand how we don’t constantly look down to make sure we know what we’re doing, but we don’t have to, these kids most of all. We know through muscle memory how to aim, crouch, shoot, whatever.
The third and final reason is more intrinsic than the first two: competition. When a squeaky little kid pipes up on the mic, there’s no doubt he’ll be abused and bullied because of his voice, his age and whatnot. He feels the need to prove himself and so puts what I’ve written above to good use. When and if he succeeds at his goals, he feels he must retaliate, and so starts smack talk, with the score on the leaderboards to back it up. Until his voice drops and he takes out the X’s and Z’s from his gamertag, this will continue, and so the cycle goes on.
*If you were, I’d like to know why.