Pushing Back on Ageism
Valuing Youth should not Devalue Age
In the game industry and within the broader technology sector, ageism is becoming more pronounced as first generations of game creators reach their traditional “retirement years.” While sexism in the industry has garnered tremendous attention – and rightfully so in the wake of massive harassment episodes, trolling, and other incidents – the response to ageism has typically been tepid or nonexistent by comparison.
Several games media sites have recently highlighted the ageism issue as an ongoing problem, including Gamasutra, Kotaku, GamesIndustry.biz, and others. Yet various media outlets continue to exacerbate the problem by enthusiastically publishing their annual “30 Under 30” lists to double down on the perceived value of youth and vision, ignoring the benefits of experience and wisdom. The “50 Over 50” List asserts that celebrating veteran talent is just as positive and valuable to any industry as elevating emerging talent.
Our Reality should Model Our Fiction
In much of the popular media consumed by the wider public – and especially admired by many in the tech and gaming sectors – older and wiser characters are regularly featured as key advisors, teachers, mentors, and leaders whose experience and knowledge are greatly prized. Gandalf, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Oracle (from The Matrix), Dumbledore, Mr. Miyagi, Antiope, and on the list goes. Even the word “mentor” is derived from a character in Homer’s The Odyssey; the elderly Mentor provided guidance to the younger Telemachus (and ironically was actually the goddess Athena in disguise).