I sort of get it.
But also... it's one of those concepts I have an issue with. I think it's only partially true. I mean, I've had plenty of bad bosses, who seemed completely out of their depth, but also some good bosses. Though, also, I suppose, everyone has their own definition of a good and bad boss. Some people need a boss who micromanages. I prefer one who trusts my ability to get something done, hates meetings, and lets me go home at 3pm.
Back when I had "proper" jobs, I displayed such a wilful lack of ambition, such utter disrespect for authority and disdain for anyone with a thirst for promotion, that I was only once promoted to any sort of management position, more or less by accident.
I hated it. I hated the responsibility. I hated the sense that I was somehow implicitly better than some people I worked with. I hated having to tell people when they weren't doing their job properly.
In fact, around that time I had an anxiety dream about disciplining one of the two members of staff I was responsible for, in which I recommended to my line manager that we should "Throw him out by the rear skin flap".
I don't know what that meant, but my sleeping brain found it so funny that I woke myself up by laughing. Which pretty much sums up my entire career.
Anyway, get this: I'm going to look really smart and clever now, because I've realised that The Peter Principle also applies to another type of boss: the video game boss.
Wha... wha... whaaaaaaa?!?
In the past week, because I'm such a super-skilly cool dude gamer person, I have completed not one but two video games; Yoshi's Crafted World and Pikuniku. Admittedly, neither of them are particularly challenging, and yet I probably enjoyed my time with them more than I have many other recent games.
Both are relatively traditional platformers - albeit imbued with a ton of original ideas and loads of character - and both featured boss battles. And I generally hate boss battles, and I don't understand why they are still a thing in 2019.
Here comes my brilliant re-application of The Peter principle: because of bosses, I generally only play a video game up to my level of incompetence.
Do you see?
I've lost count of the number of games that I've never completed, because I got frustrated by boss battles. It's not even difficulty that will end my time with a game, but the repetition, and the sudden leap in challenge.
So many games have a gentle difficulty curve - where the challenge increases in direct correlation to your mastery of the skills and abilities you collect over the course of the game... and yet occasionally they'll still force you to suffer these spikes that feel like they've been ripped from a completely different game.
It's like having a lovely conversation with somebody on a park bench, but every now and then they'll jump to their feet and start screaming, and ripping grass out of the ground, and throwing clumps of mud into the sky.
The reason why I don't mind the bosses in Yoshi's Crafted World and Pikuniku is because the boss battles are stupidly easy and brief. I mean, I still groaned slightly when presented with them, but not to the point where I gave up.
Bosses, to me, often feel like a holdover from gaming's arcade origins - a vestigial nub of a tail, that hasn't quite yet evolved away completely... the gaming equivalent of a coccyx.
We're a diverse bunch, us human beings, so I realise there are plenty of masochists among gamers who love a good boss battle.
I mean, Destiny and Dark Souls felt, to me, like an almost endless parade of damage sponge boss-style grinding - the gaming equivalent of those animatronic tails that furries wear - which might be why I never got along with them.
Other games - the Devil May Cry series, God of War... even the recent Spider-Man et al - insist on interrupting the flow of their gameplay with those abrupt shifts in play style.
For me, a boss battle is a chore, an immersion-breaking burden that will either be something I suffer through, or the point at which I give up on a game. It feels like a fake way to increase a game's level of difficulty, akin to the sudden introduction of a dance competition as the fourth question in a maths exam.
Whatever arguments exist for bosses - whether they're there as a degree of extra challenge, a bit of additional spectacle, or as a way to add some variety - I can't help but feel they've had their time, that all the things which could be argued in favour of bosses can be better integrated into the main body of a game. Much like the dated concept of "lives" - the gaming equivalent of wisdom teeth - now that we evolved out of the arcades, it's time for the boss battle to evolve too.
If we are going to have them, can't we at least do better than the usual learn-the-pattern/shoot-the-glowing-thing/repeat-three-times formula?