June 2007 LSAT, II, #9

Onward through the June 2007 LSAT. Take a look at the argument about video game sales that's presented in Section two, Question nine.  Stop before you get to the answer choices.  Now, tell me what you think about the argument.  This is a test, by the way.  Your opinion of the argument will indicate whether you're good at this or not.

If you thought the argument sucked, then you did it right.  If you found yourself nodding along as you read this argument, agreeing with the speaker, then you did it wrong.  It's as simple as that.

This question should fall right into your wheelhouse if you've adopted the hypercritical, chip-on-your-shoulder, "This argument is bullshit because _____________" approach that I've been advocating.  If you're not arguing with the speaker on a question like this, then I have a question for you:  Do you really want to be a lawyer?  Because what lawyers do is argue.  To do well on the LSAT, you need to be able to read this argument and come up with at least one--and preferably a half dozen--reasons why the argument sucks.  Let me show you what I mean:

The conclusion of the argument is that video game sales are going to go down.  The evidence is:

--Steady increase in sales over the past three years (hmm... that doesn't seem to help the argument, does it?)

--Historically, 75% of games purchased by people 13 to 16 years old

--Number of people in 13 to 16 age group expected to decline

Okay, now let me tell you why this argument sucks.  It sucks so many ways that it's hard for me to even get started.  Here goes:

First, it sucks because it seems to simultaneously predict that past trends WILL continue (most games will continue to be purchased by people 13 to 16 years old) and past trends will NOT continue (sales will stop steadily increasing).  It's a strange argument that picks and chooses what past trends it believes will continue.

Second, it sucks because it seems to assume, and doesn't explain, why 13 to 16 year olds are going to suddenly stop buying games when they turn 17.  Video games are still relatively new.  Yeah, maybe kids have mostly bought them in the past.  But don't those kids get hooked on games and continue buying games when they get older?  That's definitely what happened to me, personally.

Third, it sucks because it seems to think that if you have one segment of the population that has been buying your product in the past, you will forever rely on that segment.  Can't 10-year-olds start buying games?  Can't 80-year-olds?

I could probably go on, but I have a feeling that somewhere in that rant I've already answered the question.  Let's see what we're actually asked:

Which one of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the argument?

Okay, no problem.  I've already been arguing, so identifying a weakener should easy.

A)  I don't see how this would weaken the argument.  Actually, I can only read it as a strengthener.  (If most old people have never bought games, then maybe most old people never will buy games.)  So this is out.

B)  I really don't think video game rentals are relevant.  The argument was about sales.  I suppose if I really wanted this to be a strengthener, I would say "the declining rentals are a sign that sales will decline soon."  But on the other hand, if I wanted it to be a weakener I would say "the decline in rentals is a sign that people want to buy games, not rent games, so sales will continue going up."  If I can make this answer be both a strengthener and a weakener, then it's probably not the correct answer.  Let's keep looking.

C)  I think I can only read this one as a strengthener as well. (New entertainment options will replace video games.)  So this is out.

D)  I really don't think the "number of different types of games" can possibly be relevant here.  It's possible to sell a lot (or a little) of just one type of game, and it's also possible to sell a lot (or a little) of many types of games.  This answer doesn't do anything at all to the argument.

E)  Okay, this is the best one of the bunch.  If this is true, then it takes one of the premises (Historically, over three quarters of video games have been purchased by 13 to 16 year olds) and says "Yeah, but, in recent history that has changed... older people are now buying games too."  This is kinda similar to my rant above, isn't it?  Our answer is E.