Stereotypes and Bad Choices

My two teenage boys love video games. I think it's nearly a prerequisite to being a teenager these days. I can certainly think of worse things for them to be into, so we try to exercise some self-control, but still enjoy game time. Part of enjoying the games is getting magazines that hype all the new games, review the games, rate the games, advertise the games, talk about the games, and -- well you get the idea.

One of the magazines they liked to read was Electronic Game Monthly (aka EGM). "Was" is the key word here. As magazines sometimes do, it ceased publication. Rumor has it the original founder will start the magazine up later this year. Whatever. For now it's dead and the publisher did what publishers do in this situation - they substituted a different magazine for the remainder of our subscription (just renewed).

I've been known to order a few magazines in my day. So I've experience the disappointment of a rag folding up and getting some second rate substitute. Usually the substitute is some how related to the magazine that has ceased publication. So if you were getting a motorcycle magazine, the substitute will be motorsports related. If you were getting a computer mag, the substitute will be a computer mag or at least electronics of some sort. So when EGM folded, it seemed reasonable to expect that another video game mag would be provided. What we got was Maxim.

If you don't know what Maxim is, well it's about this far |--| from Playboy. The magazine is clearly geared for people older than my two teenage boys. I'm pretty sure we don't need a magazine with naked ladies showing up every month. Oh, and the ladies ARE naked in the magazine, they are just posed so that you can't see certain little pieces. To make a long story short, my lovely wife quickly applied for the refund.

Gamers are often stereotyped to be late-teens or early twenties and oversexed. The publisher, following the stereotype provided a magazine that was clearly inappropriate in our situation. A better approach would have been a way for us to select between a couple of different choices. If they had done that, they still might have our business. But now they must refund money - which I'm sure they are loath to do.

Unfortunately, we often put people into little boxes when we believe the stereotypes. We think all "poor people" will act or think a certain way. Or all east coast or west coast people will behave a certain way. All rich people are stuck up. All lawyers are scumbags. All ________ (insert racial group) will be ________ (insert various derogatory statements). You get the idea.

Stereotypes are almost universally a bad idea. The real question is what stereotypes do you hang on to? How are you going to get rid of them? That's worth pondering about....

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