Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Mindset List - Or How To Make You Feel Old When You're Not

The annual list produced by Beloit College is intended as a means of providing professors and administrative staff on college campuses a better idea about the incoming class of Freshman who are set to graduate within the next 4-5 years. It has also evolved into a list of "holy crap, that makes me feel old - what is wrong with kids these days?" But I think it still serves a purpose to those in higher education. There have been a lot of changes socially, economically, environmentally, and politically over the past 10 years. Every new class of students will have been brought up in different world from their predecessors, and it's important to understand why they think the way that they do. It helps professors dive into the mindset of their future student by looking into how today's Freshmen learn, and they are able to tailor their lessons to ensure their students succeed in the classroom.

It's also fun to poke at the list, and inevitably feel depressed about it later. Here are a few to start off your day - things that people born in 1997 have never experienced and/or have always had since coming into this world:

- South Park has always been in existence. So has The Simpsons, but that's been around since the 1980's. South Park is that old. No really. It is. It began in 1997.

- Black and white photos were swapped to color in the New York Times. True story. The Times didn't adopt color into print until 1997.

- Harry Potter has always existed, just like South Park.

- The Lion King has been on Broadway since 1997.

- CNN went to Spanish in 1997, and sugar substitute Splenda was happy to get on the market and advertise their sweet, not-sugar goodness.

With the "Class of 2019" list out and making the rounds on the internet, I wanted to add on a few more bullet points that are video game related. Gaming has been a significant cultural influence to kids and teenagers since the year 2000 (when the industry made a huge shift in technology and content distribution). They have grown up with games in a way many of us never have before. They had access to newer technology, faster upgrades, and instant connections all from their cell phones. How they perceive the world has been affected by video games, so it's important to add these  moments to the master list:

- 1997 was one of the largest years in gaming, sales of the PS1 blew up because of Final Fantasy 7.

- 10 Days later Mario Kart 64 beefed up the N64 output. Followed by Golden Eye 64 in April (the definitive Bond game).

- It was also the first year for Grand Theft Auto. Kids starting college this year have ALWAYS had GTA in their lives.

- With the exception of the N64, the 1997-ers have utilized discs to play their console games. Some of these kids may never have had access to an N64. By the time they were old enough to hold a controller, the XBox and PS2 were being released.

- 8 bit and 32 bit are not normal terms for kids of this time frame. They don't know that Mario use to look like a bunch of red, blue, and white squares.

- They also don't understand why we like "retro." It's all blocky, and stuff.

- Online gaming. It has been there for the 1997-ers. Mostly without dial-up. How depressing is that? Those born in 1997 most likely have never heard of the AOL dial-up noise.

- They also don't know the joys of the Game Genie and it's game-breaking cheats. It died out by 1996.

- And finally, just to make you all feel that much older: Pokémon for the Gameboy was released in 1996. The anime began airing in 1997 (1998 in the US). People born in 1997 have been exposed to Pokémon since birth.

You're welcome.

Now that I look at the list, a lot of cool stuff came out in 1997. Man. That was a great year to be a gaming teenager. There was also X-Wing vs Tie Fighter, Fallout, Curse of Monkey Island, PaRappa the Rapper, Final Fantasy Tactics, Ultima Online, Age of Empires...1997 was awesome!


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