Younger Generation, Flight Sims and Aviation

It’s getting harder because the connections aren’t the same anymore. When I was growing up, my grandparent’s generation had gone through WWII; everyone had stories of aviation before the war, during the war, and the Cold War. My grandfather spoke of the crude wood planes he put together when he was a kid, the Japanese planes abandoned on the ground when he was overseas, the allied planes coming back from their missions. Combined with my father being a pilot and it gave me a sense of desire toward aviation.

Today’s kids don’t get that. The chances that they’ll be exposed to anyone with firsthand knowledge or memory of aviation is exponentially smaller than it was 30 years ago. Our simulation hobby takes dedication and that’s not easy to get when your exposure is primarily drones – and nowadays the narrative has changed to “drones are bad, mmm’kay?” Plus, what we do is primarily historical, which is apparently a boring subject for a lot of people. Add in the expense of just getting into sims and it’s no surprise to me that it gets dropped like a hot rock.


No, they don’t.
But it also applies to more modern aspects of aviation.
When I grew up, the coolest job you could have was

  1. Military pilot.
  2. Civilian pilot.

At least amongst young boys.

This is simply not the case anymore.
Modern kids want different things.

So, if ED quit doing what they do…why should anyone pick up where they left?
ED is not my only supplier of entertainment.
But when I want to pretend I’m a Fighter Pilot and delve deep into the aircraft systems, there is no substitute. Not for me, anyway.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t find entertainment in other sims or games, because I sure can! :slight_smile:

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So, what, 365 new players every year…? :wink:

Look, I’m not saying DCS doesn’t have a customer base. Clearly it does.
But not compared to Fortnite or Minecraft.
And that means, as a game developer, flightsims is not the genre you get into to make the really big bucks.

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eh. The Fortnite clones cost a lot to build, and servers and marketing. And then they all flop, because the kids are playing… Fortnite.

It’s a high-risk, high-return business. DCS on the other hand is steadily growing.

Both Nick Grey and Matt Wagner have communicated they are seeing great numbers, both in users and in return customers. It’s a smaller, but far steadier market. Sure they aren’t wallowing in hookers & blow like the World of Tanks guys did, but everybody’s eating and rents are being paid. What more do we/they need?

In fact, were I a game developer, I’d rather work on something smaller but steadier such as DCS than on something big that will flop big and the big paychecks suddenly stop and you’re on the street again. Frak that jazz!

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Yeah, the USD 2.4 billion kind of return…
Point is that this kind of money attracts other developers.

Have you ever met an accountant? :wink:

Sorry, but I just had to.
It’s just that the fact that nobody else tries to copy DCS kind of says it all…

I can say that were ED to quit, I’d probably be looking to develop my own Longbow or Comanche 3/Gold clone. Not as extreme as what we have in DCS, but not as light as Ace Combat.

That’s because you have the big players behind Fortnite and Minecraft. Epic’s success with Fortnite has more to do with their raw market muscle (and Tencent money); likewise Minecraft having Microsoft’s backing – the same reason why MSFS2020 is going where it is.

PUBG, which might as well be Fortnite, was a tiny little thing that got lucky and went big. It’s not the norm and Fortnite could’ve easily fallen apart had anything been slightly different. Look at DayZ for another example here and that one fell apart real quick after the initial success.

Which easily could’ve flopped. Epic had to put a lot of money into it and there was no guarantee at the time that they’d get it back.

Honestly, even Fortnite, PUBG, whatever the latest craze is, all pale in comparison to the mobile game market. So if you want a steady money maker, look for gacha games on phones – low investment, low risk, high potential return.

Well, today’s kids compared to kids “back then” have been raised differently.

The cultural importance given to science and engineering has kind of changed with time. When I was a kid, most of what I was watching was the History Channel and science shows. The History Channel back then was very much about black & white documentaries and shows about History that were very much geared towards education. I did see the horrific changes the History Channel and TV went through in the early 2000’s… where all you get are reality TV shows that are means of entertainment more than anything. Why? Because that’s the only way these channels could get any kind of viewership at all, which is a crying shame if you ask me.

Frank Zappa did a number of riveting interviews and warned us about the death of musical culture with the MTV days, where music/entertainment was being manufactured as a product to the detriment of everything else. I think it’s very much what’s happening today. The entertainment industry does everything in its power to make sure kids aren’t “bored”… I mean, there’s a reason why I haven’t watched cable TV in 10 years. All I have is Netflix and the once-in-a-blue-moon 1-month subscription for a show I really want to watch. Cable TV is dying everywhere nowadays because there’s been a cultural shift that they could simply not follow.

I think kids today can find interest in hobbies like Flight Sims but a lot of them are turned off due to:

  • The lack of accessible training material (compare the original Falcon 4.0 manuals with the Il-2 Great Battles documentation… you’ll see what I mean) likely due to budgetary constraints
  • The fact that many parents I know today tend to raise their kids by deciding for them what’s good to learn (i.e. a friend of mine spends literally ALL his spare time driving his son to piano lessons, hockey lessons, swimming lessons, soccer lessons, mathematics lessons, guitar lessons, etc.),
  • Many flight simmers actively discourage new players because of “E-Peen” issues
  • There’s an “instantaneity” with today’s life (not specific to kids, mind you) that makes people unwilling to spend time to learn by themselves. “If an answer can’t be found in 30 seconds with google, it’s probably too complicated.” is an argument I often hear.
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Ok. If that’s what it takes to prove the same point. :slight_smile:

Of course other game genres have their challenges.
But the point is that the possibility of a high revenue makes other developers try, at least.
We don’t see this in flightsims. Not on the same scale, at least.
If the money was there, developers would fight for it.
But nobody can make a flightsim and hope to make USD billion figures, yearly.
Maybe a slugger like MS may be able to change this. We’ll see…

Sure, there are many reasons why, but the end result is less interest in aviation and flightsims.
Less interest=less money.
I doubt Top Gun 2 will have the same effect the original did, but perhaps it wil plant the bug in some feeble minds :wink:

The Cold War probably had a lot to do with it.


Cold War, rocky 4, top gun, gi joe, gulf war, kids these days are missing out.


Today I’m 56. I can remember my aunts. I had 6 aunts. They were having a laugh about using hair spray to dry the distributor cap in the car. I was a child and they were early 20s. They broke down in the rain. The oldest (25 maybe) changed the points. The others were told by helpful woman about the hairspray. They came home laughing about it. I was maybe 8…so…1972?
Try that w the new crowd. We live in the “put gas in it and go” Generation. Its all about instant gratification. I applaud people who take the time to teach young people that good things are worth working hard for.


Kids are being perfectly rational in their dulled view of flying. If you are 16 and researching a future flight slot in one of the services, you will quickly discover that the chances of flying something interesting is the lowest it has been in the history of aviation. Far more likely, you’ll be in a trailer directing a drone. If you are lucky enough to fly, it will be in something with an “E-“, “H-“, “C-“ or “KC-“. Of course there is nothing wrong with any of those slots. But as jobs, they are dream-worthy for a very limited number of future aviators. A similar thing is happening in the civilian world. Drones aren’t actually replacing airline or helicopter pilots yet. And it looks less likely that such replacements will happen anytime soon. But the AI revolution is firmly embedded in the minds of kids today as they consider their futures.

There has not been an hour of my life where I would not have gladly permanently given up sex for flight. But if I were a kid today, even before COVID, I don’t think I would have chosen this path. And without the dream of that path in my future, it’s hard to imagine having much interest in flight sims.


After all, putting up front 100K Canadian Bucks for a commercial is also kind of prohibitively expensive.


Also: Kids these days can look up all that stuff and know in advance what they are getting themselves into.
It is hard to keep up interest in unrealistic dreams if you know that they are unrealistic.

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There are ways to do it without that kind of financial burden. I know it is quite a few years ago now, but when I did my training in the US the most I got into debt was $5K. I just took it one step at a time at my local FBO, where I worked line service.

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In 1972 you COULD do that in a car.

With the modern computers and tight manufacturing tolerances, there really isn’t as much for the average end-user to do.

When I was young, my dad showed me oil changes with his 1978 Corolla, my 1985 Sentra, and our 1983 Chevy conversion van (THAT was a nightmare). I did them myself as a teenager.

My first new car was a 1997 Camry. It just wasn’t worthwhile to do it anymore, especially as you’re forbidden from doing car maintenance in apartment parking lots for obvious reasons.

So I could pay someone $20 to do to it in 30 minutes and handle all the mess and disposal, or save a few dollars, spend a few hours of my precious down time, and likely ruin shirt, pants, or both that would cost far more than the savings. It became a no-brainer.

It’s no longer cost-effective to maintain the average car. They are built to be used up and disposed of after 10 years so they can sell you another one, which is where the money is. Companies care only about pleasing those shareholders.
Especially now that so many of us have basically been enslaved by our jobs. We gave you a cellphone, so you have to answer it any time of day or night we might call. You’re salaried–there’s no overtime, you work when we say you do. If you don’t, we will find someone else. We will still fire you in a second if our investors think doing so will make our stock price climb 2%.

You don’t get a pension, you get a tiny price-match for 401k. You have to pay for your health insurance, we will cover SOME of it. We don’t care how long you’ve worked for us, or your age. If you’re 5 years from retirement we’ll still can you even though you can’t afford to retire yet and no one wants to hire someone that old because they think you WILL retire soon enough and it’s not worth the investment in time.

Publicly-owned corporations destroyed this country. The privately owned ones are the ones to work for, as long as you get along with the owners. They usually are happy as long as there is a profit. The public ones will lay off thousands despite making a profit because a bunch of analysts said they SHOULD have made more profit than they did.


Everything you say is true. My Camaro SS is a good example of that. In Qatar I pay 200 USD a year for insurance. In USA I would not even own that car. I cant do any maintenance myself. Its nuts.

Heh, my wife is in the property insurance market, I could tell you some stories!
Basically–litigation and fraud. I think other countries have stricter limits preventing the abuses we have here.

I agree that with aviation now being more about drones, fewer films and TV programs focusing on pilots, and an explosion of alternative interests using technology without the restrictions of military discipline like phones, computers, etc, the number of young people entering with the mentality of “I want to do X!” are dropping compared with those who do it for transactional reasons.
Enter, get college tuition, get free healthcare, boarding and food, and when you’re done you get a leg up on gov’t and contractor job prospects (that are weighted towards hiring ex military)…yeah that’s a pretty good deal.

Perhaps too good. Are we seeing too MANY who are in only for the benefits they receive when their time is up? Anyone know how the percentage of “lifers” to the 4 yr only types has changed over the past few decades? Of course, even if you stay in for 20 you’re in your early 40s when you get out and ready for another 20 year career somewhere else for a double retirement deal. I’m sure the number who stay in past 20 is even smaller.

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Don’t forget lots of people get out before 20 not to milk the benefits but because they have been gone too long and seen enough. I did 8 years during the height of the GWOT. 4 years of that time was away from my family (not all at once but broken up into deployments). Was that separation self inflicted? Absolutely. Warfighting is a single mans game. Do I regret 1 second of it? Nope. None of my friends from my time in retired. Thats why they say beware an old man in a profession where men die young…

To the initial derailment about kids and flight, I think its still there. But in my situation, neither of my kids got bit by aviation like I did. It was said above, but that’s all that was on TV when I was growing up. Some of the first cable shows I watched were Wings on Discovery channel. I remember buying Gulf War trading cards that had different planes and tanks on them from the war. The A-10 was my favorite plane from a very young age. I wasn’t really into the Maverick type, but I did appreciate the Tomcat. I also feel like flight games had a much larger share of the PC game library in the early 90’s than 2020. To some extent we were victims of our environment.