Are you part of the ‘Nintendo Generation’? To most video game fans — even Nintendo fanatics — that term tends to apply to people who first became obsessed with the company’s 8- and 16-bit output in the late ’80s to mid ’90s. The ‘Nintendo Generation’, then, are fast approaching their 40s if they haven’t hit that milestone already (making them ‘Millennials’ in generational parlance). However, for US Army Major Jon-Marc Thibodeau, the term apparently applies to today’s 18-25-year-olds.
That’s according to a bit of US Army PR put out recently (thanks, Vice) where, in a matter of words, the Major — “a clinical coordinator and chief of the medical readiness service line” — described Gen Z recruits as soft, tender morsels with mushy skeletal structures unprepared for rigours of army life thanks to an upbringing involving too many video games and too few outdoor activities:
“The “Nintendo Generation” soldier skeleton is not toughened by activity prior to arrival, so some of them break more easily.”
Army Captain Lydia Blondin provided a little more context:
“We see injuries ranging from acute fractures and falls, to tears in the ACL, to muscle strains and stress fractures, with the overwhelming majority of injuries related to overuse.”
To be fair, we think what Maj. Thibodeau is trying to say here is that the more sedentary lifestyle of the tech-driven modern era tends to produce youngsters who are less physically strong pound-for-pound than their counterparts from the good ol’ days in the ’50s when kids would play outside and temper themselves with a bit of rough-and-tumble on the farm and what have you (rather than spend four hours every afternoon racking up chicken dinners and victory royales in their bedrooms).
It’s just a little comical to hear today’s youth described as the ‘Nintendo Generation’, especially as Nintendo — of all the major video game firms — has probably done more over the past 15+ years to get people young and old off the sofa and moving than any other company. Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Wii U’s GamePad, and more recently Switch games like ARMS, Ring Fit Adventure, Fitness Boxing, and the free-to-download Jump Rope Challenge — heck, even 1-2-Switch — encourage movement and a more active lifestyle to varying degrees, especially compared to the competition.
Ah, we can’t get too perturbed by this instance of generational mislabelling — after all, it can be hard to keep up with all the fuzzy demographics and the exact temporal boundaries that separate them. And hey, Boomers made a comeback of sorts, didn’t they? Perhaps it’s time to recycle ‘the Nintendo Generation’ and rebrand all the Zoomers and Alphas playing Fortnite and Minecraft as ‘N-Gen’.
Yeah, they’ll love that.