In-app purchase games are out of line

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What’s to blame: tech-company trickery or poor parenting?

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. October 21, 2015

On October 9, Kanye West took to Twitter to give mobile game developers a little piece of his mind: “That makes no sense!!! We give the iPad to our child and every five minutes there’s a new purchase!!!” He added: “If a game is made for a two-year-old, just allow them to have fun and give the parents a break for Christ sake.” Empathic and on point as West was, he also neglected to mention that the mother of his child has one of the most lucrative mobile games on the market. I’m speaking of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, a game where you get to prepare the reality TV star for the red carpet.

It’s hard to sympathize with West, because… well, who gives a shit what he does financially. However, many parents out there are facing the same problem as the multi-millionaire rapper. They give their kids an iPad, as a replacement for a doll, a toy car, or a deck of Yu-gi-oh! cards, and expect them to have fun and be responsible. Now, I don’t know too many two-year-olds that are able to conceptualize virtual money, because many adults still aren’t able to. Check around to see how many of your grown-up friends have credit card debt. It’s unfair to put the onus on children to be responsible while playing, so who should take the blame?

We blame cigarette companies for giving us cancer, we blame fast food companies for making us fat, and of course we should blame mobile game companies for leaking money out of our virtual wallets. Some consider the freemium-style of business brilliant, while others consider it trickery. In terms of games, it begins as a sample, usually free, to get the user hooked, and then they up the price once the player is addicted. While I believe the game companies have done a brilliant job in harnessing this, I don’t believe their intentions were malicious. And, as a businessman, West should know that it’s just supply and demand. If the player wants to skip a level, earn more stock, or gain leverage over an opponent—but they don’t want to put in the time—they can upgrade with a monetary solution.

Surprise, your kids are going to cost you money! Freemium games aren’t the culprit, they are just another avenue for your money to be lost. The same way you don’t give your children your credit card and PIN at the toy store, you shouldn’t give them an iPad with full access until they understand that the reality of their purchases. Educate your children about frivolousness and how each $0.99 click adds up.

You cannot stop businesses from creating products for profit, even if they do target children. Don’t believe me? Look at McDonald’s. You can’t win that way. What you can do is pull the iPad away from your child if he or she abuses it. Be a good parent and teach your children from an early age the value of money, and how it relates to the technology they are using. Organizations aren’t going to educate your children for you… or maybe there is an app for that.

I’m talking ’bout your generation

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How baby boomers failed us and then blamed us

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. October 28, 2015

It’s wrong of me to criticize a whole generation of people just because I’ve been noticing some abysmal trends from a few. But if a group of self-righteous baby boomers want to pick a fight, I’ll drop the gloves. Let’s open with this, any problems millennials, or Generation Y, (people born between the 1980s–2000s) have, it’s because of their parents, the baby boomers.

Baby boomers grew up with every advantage in the Western world. A blooming economy, an emerging middle class, jobs with stable income, and enough financial security to buy a house, raise a family, own a couple of vehicles, and set their sights on retirement. How did they get all these things? Were they the most talented generation? Were they the smartest? Or were they simply just the benefactors of their time?

Flip to their children, those like me, the millennials. We were brought up in a pampered sort of way. We were given luxury and opportunities. All of us were raised to believe that we could do anything we dreamed of. If we wanted to be actors, we could pursue that. If we wanted to be doctors, we could do that as well. Then we grew older and reality struck us. Now, we turn to our parents for help and what do they do? They call us lazy. They call us entitled. They call us narcissistic, apathetic, and disrespectful.

It’s harder than ever for a graduate to enter the workforce and even when they do get work, it’s harder than ever to make the type of money our parents made when they were in their 20s. They tell us to pursue school, and then leave us hanging with the debt. It’s our problem, right? Then there is this line that baby boomers often use: “When I was your age, I was already married and a homeowner.” Well, suck it! It’s almost impossible to put down a down payment for a house in Vancouver, let alone consider buying one. Why? Because the baby boomers have closed the door on us, locking us out of what they believed belongs to them. Baby boomers are the most selfish generation currently alive.

I don’t want baby boomers to empathize with us, because that won’t solve anything. What I do want the baby boomers to know is that they are wasting the final ounce of their lives being bitter to people who are striving for their dreams and pursuing what they love in life. Baby boomers are always going to shame millennials for not having this or that, but we have one thing they don’t have: the time to reach our goals. They should resent us. They should fear that we are going to take what is theirs, because we are.

Baby boomers have created a barrier of wealth, hoarding it for themselves. Then, while keeping us at arm’s length they say: “Oh, you should work harder. You shouldn’t have wasted all your time with games and dreams. Oh well, maybe it’s time to go back to college… again.” Our parents set us up for success, but when we failed on our first swing, they wrote us off as weak. Bouncing back gets harder every time without support. But they don’t know that.

It’s the baby boomer’s world, but we don’t have to obey them anymore. The lay of the land is different. We don’t need to listen to their smug comments. We don’t need to make baby boomers proud of us by matching their accomplishments.

What’s in a name?

Opinons_Bad namesA bad name lasts a lifetime

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor

Formerly published in the Other Press. October 9, 2014

Like a birth defect, poor name choices can be an everlasting nuisance to a person’s life. Although, I don’t know the formula for perfect naming, I do know that certain words have a particular connotation that may evoke emotions that you wouldn’t necessarily want to have associated with a person.

When I was growing up, I didn’t like the name Elliot. I thought it had too many syllables, too many variations, which would lead to incorrect spelling, and of course, it rhymes with idiot, if the person could even pronounce it properly. Elliot is an uncommon name, but it grew on me, and now, I can’t imagine my life with any other name. All in all, I’m sure glad my parents didn’t give me a name that was the first noun they heard when arriving in Canada or a direct translation of a name from another culture or language. Elliot fits me; it fits my environment.

Naming is a big responsibility, and parents should not mess around with it and try to be original or clever. Allow your children to be unique by giving them a blank canvas to work with, rather than imposing a name that they’ll have to explain every time they introduce themselves at a party. Believe me, the story of why your kid is named after your favourite patio furniture will not be enjoyable to tell when they’re at a job interview.

There is nothing wrong with reusing names that have been around for generations. Some of my best friends are people with the same names as each other. I’m talking about the Ryans, the Stephanies, the Michaels, and the Erics out there who actually have a personality that doesn’t play into having a particular name.

Your Instagram user name can be witty, but your real name—the one you have on your birth certificate—should not. And if it is, you should really ask your hipster parents why they decided it was a good idea. You deserve an explanation.

Liberal naming, such as hyphenated surnames, are cool and all, and have come to the fore in this generation. I’m meeting more and more people with two last names and a couple of middle names in addition to their first name. As someone with only a first and a last name, I’m a bit befuddled as to why so many names are needed to represent a person. Can it be that having more is better? I don’t think so. I think all that having extra names does is add to the confusion: a small identity crisis.

I’m happy with my name, and I’m sure many people who have “bad” names are happy as well. But we’ve all met someone or overheard a conversation where we leave saying to ourselves: “What an unfortunate name. His parents must have hated him.” For those thinking of having kids in the future, please heed the name.