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Are Games Growing Up?


steven_poole
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What about Vice City?

Adult themed? Hardly. Vice City is just a way let us do exactly the same things we did with Matchbox cars and a quilt cover when we were kids, and feel a little less 'childish' at the same time. The 80's soundtrack just further cements the illusion that we're back in our childhoods whilst doing this.

(insert something about men not actually growing up).

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There is not something I "want to hear", I am asking questions. That is why I put question marks at the end of the sentences.

The games you mention from the 8-bit era were fine products but not "adult-themed" in the way I am talking about. My mention of BG&E was frivolous.

You can stop assuming you know the way I write now.

The Eidolon drew its influences from HG Wells and psychology literature, both heavily prevalent in the game and its accompanying artwork. Theatre Europe set out to show that a nuclear war couldn't be won. Vice City lets you run people down in a car. I genuinely thought I was highlighting that this is not a new concept unless you chose to ignore what had gone before, and not just obscure 80s titles either but high profile big sellers.

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IMHO games have "grown up" simply due to financial considerations, and nothing at all to do with any deliberate attempt to make the industry more complete in its coverage of mature topic. It is a well known fact that the 16-25 year old demographic is

(i)The largest game buying demographic

(ii)The demographic with the most disposable income

So what do you do? You specifically target games at that particular audience. Games like Need for Speed underground would not exist were it not for "the fast & the furious" and its success with 16-25 year olds.

Early in gamings history, the target demographic was, I would suggest, a little lower in terms of age than it is today. It was very much a young persons hobby, with nowhere near the market penetration it has now. You are just as likely, if not more so, to find a thirtysomething that has never touched a videogame, as you are to find a rabid enthusiast. Could you say the same of your average 16 year old today?

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I do think that games have matured a bit but I'm not talking about dark themes or risque dialogue. Instead game companies have wisened up and realised that gamers aren't going to stick with a game if it's too hard. Tutorial modes are the norm now and hand-holding is rife.

I picked up Prince of Persia the other day on rental and have enjoyed what I've played so far. Before every major platforming challenge, the camera pans around to show where the goal or next area is. In the old days we would have had to simply work it out ourselves with whatever number of lives we had to spare. Gaming has become much more about exploration and than the old 3 lives, one hit mentality.

That probably wasn't that relevant to your question, but I do think that games have grown up in realising that the core market of 18-26 yr olds dont have as much time as they used to.

Finally, I think the themes have gotten darker but in general, the execution of these themes dont often deliver. Maybe because what makes a good script, doesn't make a good game or maybe it's because games were made to be played not watched.

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"Adult Themed" isn't "Grown Up". Benny Hill could be said to be Adult Themed, but it's more childish than say, The Powerpuff Girls.

So, in answer to your thread title, no I don't think games are growing up. I think there have always been some grown up games, like the 8-bit titles mentioned by Linkster, but also things like Majora's Mask and Ico, which deal with themes of loss, love, guilt etc, all wrapped in an apparently "Non-Adult" theme.

If the question was "Are there more and more games which appear to be adult due to their violent content, but are in fact childish?" then I think the answer would be "Yes".

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Steve :

There is an RPG for the PS2 called Xenosaga : Der Wille zur Macht, which is completely built on Nietzsche's theory. The sequel Xenosaga Episode 2 : Jenseits von Gut und Bose (Beyond Good and Evil) is also based on another of his theories.

Xenosaga is a really intriguing game that I suggest might be good for some research - it references Wagner, Shakespeare and even has a rather clever french pun at one point. Although it's set in space, every piece of technobabble is actually related to a existing real-world theory, and more research can be gleaned from reading the in-game Dictionary (which explains it all). I'm not particularly articulate at explaining the game, the people at www.zenosaga.com would be much better (also, I believe GameFAQs has a text transcript of the Dictionary, so you can see the sort of things they're referencing).

It's also unbelievably brilliant, mature and definitely thought-provoking. Certainly the deepest "universe" that's been created for a game.

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A game should, above all else, be fun to play. So maturity doesn't really come into it. Themes such as media manipulation in BG+E and loneliness as expressed in Ico are interesting but without a solid backbone of good, fun or taxingly enjoyable gameplay behind them they are nothing more than empty shells. And then we have the confusion behind the asumption that Forbidden Siren or Silent Hill 3 are mature games when what is really meant is that they contain graphic images of horror not suitable for young folk. No one would ever argue that a film like The Dentist is mature because it contains graphic violence, yet the same argument seems to be ok when involved with games.

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The Eidolon drew its influences from HG Wells and psychology literature, both heavily prevalent in the game and its accompanying artwork. Theatre Europe set out to show that a nuclear war couldn't be won. Vice City lets you run people down in a car. I genuinely thought I was highlighting that this is not a new concept unless you chose to ignore what had gone before, and not just obscure 80s titles either but high profile big sellers.

The Eidolon was a mazes-n-monsters RPG. Yes, it was a high-concept mazes-n-monsters RPG, but it was a mazes-n-monsters RPG nevertheless.

I'm not saying that no games ever before were not intelligent and well-designed games that were accessible to adults who wanted to play games. That, of course, would be ridiculous.

Is it any clearer now?

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Why do I get the feeling that people are arguing on behalf of their own definition of 'mature'?

because I'm confused now - who is making the case for 'ico' mature and who for 'manhunt' mature, and could someone decide which one everyone is supposed to be talking about?

Based on the original post, I'm arguing that a game containing fluffy animals can be more "Adult" than a game based on "Adult Themes". A cinematic parrallel would be "Watership Down".

When the games industry realises this, instead of just assuming games are "Adult" because they contain Guns/Cars/Sex, it will have grown up.

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Adult themed? Hardly. Vice City is just a way let us do exactly the same things we did with Matchbox cars and a quilt cover when we were kids, and feel a little less 'childish' at the same time. The 80's soundtrack just further cements the illusion that we're back in our childhoods whilst doing this.

(insert something about men not actually growing up).

Sure, but for those reasons it's clearly aimed at grown-up kids rather than (or just as much as) kid kids. That's part of what I'm talking about.

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would you want your 12 year old kid to see Casino or Reservoir dogs? Would you consider them explotative becayse they have some fair sadistic scenes in them?

Well, the difference as I see it is in the intent.

Games (at least the games under discussion here, including Manhunt) contain violence to 'thrill'.

Films (can) depict violence that is justified by the story, in Casino's case more to repulse than to thrill. (Res. Dogs is an odd choice, seeing as it can be read as an exploitation piece, or an ironic one, etc.)

I would have no problem with a 12 year old watching either of these films (although possibly in the presence of an adult), by the way.

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Based on the original post, I'm arguing that a game containing fluffy animals can be more "Adult" than a game based on "Adult Themes". A cinematic parrallel would be "Watership Down".

When the games industry realises this, instead of just assuming games are "Adult" because they contain Guns/Cars/Sex, it will have grown up.

I don't doubt that. What really gets my goat is that publishers will get accused of making an exploitative game that'll only kids are interested in buying regardless of the audience they're targeting.

Someone said earlier that you thought Manhunt was being marketed at kds. Where is the proof? Why can it not be the case that this was made for adults, by adults? Is it becuase gamers are of the same mindset as the rest of the world in thinking that games are still just for kids?

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I don't doubt that. What really gets my goat is that publishers will get accused of making an exploitative game that'll only kids are interested in buying regardless of the audience they're targeting.

Someone said earlier that you thought Manhunt was being marketed at kds. Where is the proof? Why can it not be the case that this was made for adults, by adults? Is it becuase gamers are of the same mindset as the rest of the world in thinking that games are still just for kids?

I said it, and linkster has pretty much said what I was going to say in reply. Games magazines aimed at a younger audience were highlighting Manhunt as *the* game to buy.

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I really don't care as long as it plays good. I think that FFCC is the most homosexual child like game in the world and probably gets bummed every night but I still enjoy playing it. The only games I find hard to swollow are the ones that are targeted towards the american teenager demographic. I love playing Tony Hawk games but the jackass humor and stupid gang plot in Underground really turned me off.

This post is quite erotic when you thing about it.

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I know what you mean (in that "playing" is something children do), but then there have always been plenty of Mature games - Chess, Snooker, Poker...

Yeah, games which are 'aimed' at adults, so they can be play at being 'kids' then...

If you think about it, all videogames merely pander to our 'inner children'. Current society still has the trace Victorian-era notion that play is the sole preserve of the child, and publishers have realised that by dressing these games up as 'adult only' experiences they can sell to a new demographic (or an old grown-up one) without the consumer feeling guilty or 'childish'.

Gaming hasn't 'grown up' - it's merely manged to target those who have.

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I know what you mean (in that "playing" is something children do), but then there have always been plenty of Mature games - Chess, Snooker, Poker...

I'll accede chess, but snooker and poker... The only thing that makes them more mature is the culture that surrounds them. In and of themselves they are little more than a childish card game and an advanced form of marbles.

But hey, that's a tangent. I kinda 90% agree with what JPickford has written in this thread. "Mature" is just a tag line to target a certain audience fooled into thinking that what they are playing is inherently different to playing the latest Mario game.

As for Mature themes, I'll still stand by the fact that the theme isn't worth anything without a good game to wrap it round.

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Were they really given the 'world's first exclusive play'? or did they just splash EXCLUSIVE over the front cover? because I wouoldn't be surprised if it was as exclusive as C&VG's Sin City news.

A fair point, and I don't know the answer, other than as a subscriber to all Future's mags at the time it was the first magazine to have any real detail on the game.

I'll add I still don't really know where this discussion is headed other than down well-trodden (for us) paths. The very concept of maturity in gaming to me makes no sense. I don't agree with John's comments about controller input being a barrier, other than to say that arguably consoles have made 1st and 3rd person games more popular for designers than any other kind of interface given the absence of a default keyboard.

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I consider KOTOR to be quite a mature game in the same way that Deus Ex was too. I could make moral decisions that affected the gameplay/universe to a large extent.

Part of maturity is that we as adults should not only understand right and wrong but also consequences. I mean, any kid can tell you what's considered right or wrong, but only after a certain age can they really understand consequences. I guess my points that more games now will let you experience consequences for your actions not just throwaway choices.

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I'll accede chess, but snooker and poker... The only thing that makes them more mature is the culture that surrounds them. In and of themselves they are little more than a childish card game and an advanced form of marbles.

But hey, that's a tangent. I kinda 90% agree with what JPickford has written in this thread. "Mature" is just a tag line to target a certain audience fooled into thinking that what they are playing is inherently different to playing the latest Mario game.

As for Mature themes, I'll still stand by the fact that the theme isn't worth anything without a good game to wrap it round.

But playing Manhunt is different from playing the latest Mario game, isn't it?

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I said it, and linkster has pretty much said what I was going to say in reply. Games magazines aimed at a younger audience were highlighting Manhunt as *the* game to buy.

Right, so the fact that 99% of magazines out there are tailored for early to late teens is Rockstar's problem - how? It's as suitable as covering the aforementioned Casino in Smash Hits as 'THE film to watch'. It's the magazine that's at fault.

yes, you can be cynical and say that 'that's what Rockstar want though', but I just don't believe that to be the case.

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I think the closest that gaming ever came close to producing so called "mature" gaming was with the old point'n'click adventures. As they relied more on thought than reflexes, while managing to incorporate interesting and often humorous stories.

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But playing Manhunt is different from playing the latest Mario game, isn't it?

Perhaps it's different from Mario, but if you looked at it from above, is it any different from Pac-Man or 3D Monster Maze or any other game where you have to avoid the bad guys and get to the end of the maze to progress to the next level?

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But playing Manhunt is different from playing the latest Mario game, isn't it?

It certainly was. Manhunt was incredibly boring for the hours I played it. I'm only going to buy the Xbox version because I like the headset audio idea and because I trust the opinions of people on this forum who've convinced me to try it again. So does maturity mean that you have to spend hours doing something dull before you earn the right to enjoy it ... ?

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Perhaps it's different from Mario, but if you looked at it from above, is it any different from Pac-Man or 3D Monster Maze or any other game where you have to avoid the bad guys and get to the end of the maze to progress to the next level?

But its nasty pseudo-realistic 3D mode of representation is part of what makes it what it is. If it was top-down sprites the experience would be different.

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But playing Manhunt is different from playing the latest Mario game, isn't it?

Remember though, Mario and his ilk were born out of technological limitations - bright, simple characters were the order of the day when 16 pixel sprites ruled the earth. It's only technology and increased graphical capabilities that has allowed more diverse kinds of characters/worlds/games.

I've no doubt that games like 'Manhunt' would have existed during the Atari VCS days had the systems had the kind of power we play with today.

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