Jump to content
IGNORED

Are Games Growing Up?


steven_poole
 Share

Recommended Posts

Personally I dont want games to grow up, and I dont want games to simulate something I can do as an adult, I want games to take me back to the wonder of childhood and let me do things I could never do in real life like fly or fight giant bunny rabbit robot monsters.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most of the game is spent trying to help and protect Yorda, and his leads to an unusual degree of emotional investment in the characters which is beautifully exploited towards the end of the game.

But is it though? Whilst I fully agree that the mature emotional involvement is excellently merged with the gameplay (and commendably so, too), how does it evolve the idea in gameplay terms? You still do the same thing throughout, no matter what happens. The story evolves and moves on as you find out new things, but the gameplay remains much the same, apart from more frequent enemy attacks. Perhaps it needed more areas where you were seperated, forcing you into tricky decision-making about when to leave her and when to stay...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But is it though? Whilst I fully agree that the mature emotional involvement is excellently merged with the gameplay (and commendably so, too), how does it evolve the idea in gameplay terms? You still do the same thing throughout, no matter what happens. The story evolves and moves on as you find out new things, but the gameplay remains much the same, apart from more frequent enemy attacks. Perhaps it needed more areas where you were seperated, forcing you into tricky decision-making about when to leave her and when to stay...

It can't do everything at once Spritey, it's only one game, with one period of time to be developed in.

I think it achieved it's aims. Further steps are for others to make (or the sequel).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't mind games growing up in the way as has been suggested, but I find mastering the strategy of a deep fighting game, reaction jediness of a 2D shmup or the chess-mapped-to-GBA tactics of Advance Wars all far more mature than so called 'mature' (read: 'cinematic') games.

edit: Yes, even ICO - which I do absolutely adore.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What constitutes maturity in a film or book? It's the content, isn't it? The Godfather is a mature film and book, Memento is a mature film, The Shining is a mature book. Finding Nemo isn't mature, nor is Spot's Big Day Out.

So too in games, and remember that games involve interaction and that needs to be taken into account. You can't isolate the themes, because the gameplay can often be crude and childish (the original GTA, for example), and you can't isolate the gameplay because the central theme could be primitive (Street Fighter 2).

So you look at the whole picture. If you want some quantifiable output, look at the emotions you experience in playing. Do you get sucked in (Civ 2)? Do you feel something for the characters (Ico)? Do you feel in control when playing it?

Mature games have been around for ages, when you think about it. The original Civilization, 13 years old, is mature. Elite, 20 years old, is mature. Laser Squad, 16 years old, is mature. They're around now too. You just need to remember that games are an interactive form of entertainment and so you need to look for maturity on an interactive basis, not just on the themes of the game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You still do the same thing throughout, no matter what happens.

MAJOR ICO SPOILERS AHEAD.

No you don't. When you are separated from Yorda, it is so shocking and unexpected, because it completely changes the game. Your objective is no longer to help and protect Yorda, but merely to get out alive. The gameplay actually loses a layer of complexity. As a player there is a very real sense of loss -- you can feel the absence of Yorda for the remainder of the game.

For me, this has got to be one of the best gaming moments of the last few years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agre with Fry above: if we're talking about "maturity" in games then it seems reasonable to equate it with "maturity" in films.

What makes a film mature is hard to define. It emphatically isn't simply "does it contains sex/violence/drugs? If yes, it's mature" though. It's more a case of whether it's intelligent or thought provoking IMO. It may, of course, contain sex/violence/drugs as themes, but it's the treatment of those themes that decide whether it's mature or not.

For example, I'd distiguish between Elephant (Gus Van Sant's new film inspired by the Columbine shootings) and Commando. Though (broadly) both of them are about people getting shot, one is intended to be a thought provoking film, and the other is intended to provide 90 minutes or so of pure entertainment.

By which definition, I'd suggest that no, games haven't really matured. Increasing numbers of them use themes that are unsuitable for children, but all that does is make the game, well - unsuitable for children. It doesn't automatically mean the game is "mature". There's an important distinction between "mature" and "adult only" IMO.

Perhaps what would be needed for games to be "mature" would be for them to be more realistic; for the player to be confronted by the moral implications of their actions, for example. The problem with that, though, is that the more realistic games become, the less attraction there may well be for people to play them. Games are - generally - about escapism.

Is there a market for "mature" games out there? Probably not a big enough one to sustain their production, I'd imagine. Going back to films again, something like Elephant was never going to pull in the big bucks that Spiderman or Lord of the Rings did. However, something like Elephant can be made for peanuts by a small team of people (perhaps even just one person) and a steadycam.

I'm not sure there's an equivalent of the steadycam in the games industry. In many ways, maturity is going to *add* to the difficulties of production; but are companies really going to throw huge dev teams behind production of a game which is going to appeal to a pretty limited audience? I doubt it very much.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The issue is: Are Games (Finally) Growing Up? Japanese postmodern horror in Forbidden Siren, an apparently non-sniggering approach to romance and sex in Flirt Up Your Life, appealing to the 80s-retro demographic in Vice City, a game named after a book by Nietzsche (Beyond Good and Evil) (well, okay...). It might seem that games increasingly have content that doesn't assume we are children only interested in cartoon furry animals. Do you welcome this? Have you often felt patronised by games that assume you are 12? (Assuming you are not actually 12.) Would you welcome more maturity of theme or do you not really care so long as the game is good?

My masters want the voices of "real gamers" proffering their opinions in this piece, so reply here with your thoughts and you might be quoted.

I have to say that I don't believe that games are growing up in the slightest, and are infact becoming less and less mature, whilst outwardly appearing to be mature simply because of the higher and/or more realistic levels of violence and various other 'adult' situations. In other words, the target audience is changing, but the games themselves are not - instead they are relying purely on cosmetics in order to sell to this new audience.

Most of the titles suggested as examples of games 'growing up' are no more special than the games that went before them.

Forbidden Siren is yet another survival horror with a twist - just as Eternal Darkness was before it, and Disaster Report before that. It has been executed extremely well, of that there is no doubt, but any more mature than other survival horror? Not really. When it boils down to it, you're still trying to avoid being killed by zombies, something that games have been offering as a game experience for years.

Vice City can be seen as a cynical rehash of its hugely successful predecessor - realising that GTA III was popular amongst 20-30-something gamers, the producers obviously realised that they could cash in on this audience by re-releasing the game with updates and a new, 80's setting. The game itself was no more mature than GTA III, which itself was, when it boils down to it, no more mature than its two predecessors but for the more realistic graphics.

As for Flirt Up Your Life, while it may apparently be offering a serious look at romance and sex, the simple fact that this is a game based purely around such a premise would suggest that it isn't all that mature after all. Even the title makes it appear to be geared towards giggling teenagers and lonely adults - the same audience to which men's magazines and pornography are geared.

Ironically for the title which is least obviously geared towards an adult audience - containing as it does anthropomorphic animals and fantastical landscapes - Beyond Good and Evil is actually the most mature title of the bunch. Despite its cartoony appearance it features some surprisingly mature themes, mostly centring around corruption in government and the importance of the freedom of the press. It mixing varous gaming disciplines as have many recent platformers, but it refuses to dumb-down for its audience, featuring some particularly clever (and nasty) puzzles along with its action elements. In this respect we can see similarities to the intellectually stimulating but now almost defunct genre of adventure gaming - indeed, perhaps this points towards the true evolution of the adventure genre - the creation of true action-adventure games.

Indeed, there are games with mature elements being produced nowadays - games like BG&E - but no more than had been produced prior to now: over the past ten years there have always been games with mature elements - games like Republic: The Revolution, Ico, The Longest Journey, Deus Ex, Shenmue, The Nomad Soul, Little Big Adventure, and Syndicate, but none of them could truly be classed as 'mature' titles, as can no recent titles, as they all feature relatively simplistic dynamics, plots or gameplay. They have been truly excellent titles, and worthy of being appreciated by people of all ages, but nontheless they are not 'mature' titles, and neither are they 'immature'. They are just games.

The most mature titles I have ever encountered have actually been non-commercial titles, of a kind which can often be seen as being as much literature as they are entertainment - I refer to the genre of interactive fiction. Two titles in particular spring to mind - Galatea and Photopia. The former is certainly the most 'interactive' of the two, as it places the user in a small room with a statue in it. All the user can do is leave, or interact with the statue and the surroundings. This relatively simple idea is turned on its head by the simple fact that the statue has a mind of its own, and will respond to your actions. While the parser remains relatively simple, and your actions are limited, the responses are so well thought out that the title proves to be a triumph of design, as we get to actually feel for the statue. The user is made to believe that this statue is actually real, and it is one of the few games that, through simple force of character development, has the ability to make the player truly consider their actions and the results they've had. The amount of remorse I felt after successfully destroying the statue (one of many possible outcomes) has been unmatched in any other title. Thanks to its ability to evoke such an emotional response from the player without ever resorting to more typical gaming techniques or ever displaying a single image of the statue, I would deem this to be one of the most mature titles I have played. After all, what is maturity? Maturity is the point one reaches when they are willing to accept responsibility for their actions and for the results of these actions - something which Galatea imposes upon the player by its detailed exploration of the effect one person can have upon the life of another.

Photopia on the other hand is almost entirely fiction, with very little interaction and only one possible ending, and also no possible 'mistakes'. This title reaches maturity due once more to its ability to make the player think - several short-stories played out from a first-person perspective, which all eventually turn out to be linked in what has to be one of the most evocative short works of fiction I have encountered, inside or outside the gaming world. The fact that it places the character inside the minds and situations of all these seperate, yet connected characters and lets them understand how and why everything has happened the way it has makes this, once more, an extremely mature title.

And the most recent of these two titles (Galatea) was last updated in August 2000 - in short, games have not become more mature in recent times, but the public's perception of them has changed to realise there is more to them than just - as initially stated - cartoon furry animals. This is almost entirely due to the capability of modern systems to display much more realistic imagery than before, and due to the money now being spent on advertising designed to show a less childish side to games. In other words, games are now designed to be less childish than before, and yet remain just as immature as they have always been.

[Meh, that probably makes no sense and almost certainly reads badly... I might tidy it up a little later. Still, that's my opinion on the matter, such as it is :(]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyone played Shadow of Memories? It was kind of clunky, but as I remember the storyline was intriguing. Are we willing to forgive the limitations of "interactive narrative" if the script is thoughtful enough?

Shadow of Memories is one of my favourite all-time games, even though it has the gameplay of a dog. It was the execution of the genuinely intriguing narrative and the wildly varying different endings that did it for me. I have a friend who is a writer and loves Japanese RPGs as much as I do, but he can't help but sit and scoff at the poor writing that most games spit at us. Shadow of Memories was one of the very few games that absolutely mesmerised and fascinated him, in that it never failed to throw curve-ball after curve-ball at the player.

At the time, the director called it her first "Interactive Novel" and there were reports that, even before SoM was released over here, she was already working on a second "IN". Unfortunately, it never materialized (most likely due to poor sales), although it's odd that Konami have ported SoM to so many platforms, all at wildly different times (PS2, PC, Xbox).

I remember some magazine like PSM2 saying it was "the ideal game to play with a cup of Horlicks", and I can kinda see what they meant. With refinement of the concept I feel it could be the sort of game that interests non-traditional demographics. And when that happens, I'll consider gaming truly "mature" - although to not commend people like Konami for at least trying unusual concepts would be slightly foolish, I feel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MAJOR ICO SPOILERS AHEAD.

No you don't. When you are separated from Yorda, it is so shocking and unexpected, because it completely changes the game. Your objective is no longer to help and protect Yorda, but merely to get out alive. The gameplay actually loses a layer of complexity. As a player there is a very real sense of loss -- you can feel the absence of Yorda for the remainder of the game.

For me, this has got to be one of the best gaming moments of the last few years.

Oh yeah, there was that whole ending section, but apart from that the remainder of the game is entirely the same throughout-... you know what, I should've picked a better game for an example, shouldn't I? :(

Me too.... aren't games just supposed to be fun?

Yes.

However 'fun' for some people is 'mature themes'. Colourful, Bouncy, Happy and Fluffy don't necessarily share a house with Fun.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The issue is: Are Games (Finally) Growing Up?

One of the things I don't like is a time limit. Sometimes I just like to explore.

Take JSR. They create these beautiful environments and then slap on a time limit, forgetting that some of us don't care about scores or beating the clock - we just like to play and enjoy the scenery.

If I remember the Edge review correctly, the sequel did away with the time limit. If so, that was a smart move.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hear, hear. I fully see where you're coming from and agree entirely. In fact, I'm now quite intrigued by those games you mentoned too. Well done!

:)

Cheers, nice to know that what I wrote wasn't complete rubbish :(

[Assuming that wasn't sarcasm... *crosses fingers*]

Edit: hey, footle liked it too.

*warm, happy feeling*

Oh, and its nice to see I'm not the only person who's heard of Photopia :)

[And a pleasant surprise to see there's an online version of Galatea, I hadn't realised that :D]

[Oh, and if anyone wants direct links, you can find Galatea on this fine website, and Photopia here. Enjoy :D]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Contrary to their obvious intentions, games like Manhunt and Vice City (although certainly enjoyable) haven't offered me grown up experiences. Hanging about to perform a red execution made me feel like a little boy pulling the legs off daddy long legs. It was a guilty pleasure, but not a mature one.

I've found that the games that strike me most as adult are those in which the action is far more intense. Recent examples include Amplitude, Ikaruga, Wario Ware and Robotron 2084 (courtesy of Midway Arcade Treasures). These are the games that make me feel grown up. These are the games that make me feel like the daddy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Slowly, but surely, yes. We've had games inspired by Kandinski and stuff someone's seen in his garden, games about the morality of war, games with ecological themes that aren't crap/annoying (Metroid Prime!), etc. etc. There's far more varied thematic content than "let's send this blob down this hill" and "how about shooting some zombies?" these days (although such rich genres are still alive and well). We've even had the Eyetoy, which was pretty much unprecedented in making a wide variety of people feel at home playing with a computer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

IMO, games have grown up and that is why so many people are losing their interest in it.

Most people who owned a SNES still heart and play it while the current generation doesn’t hardly offer anything new or innovative.

As a child you explore as an adult you just live along.

Games have reached the final frontier (I think the music industry has exactly the same problem) and people do need something new.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

<_<

Cheers, nice to know that what I wrote wasn't complete rubbish :unsure:

[Assuming that wasn't sarcasm... *crosses fingers*]

Edit: hey, footle liked it too.

*warm, happy feeling*

Oh, and its nice to see I'm not the only person who's heard of Photopia <_<

[And a pleasant surprise to see there's an online version of Galatea, I hadn't realised that :D]

[Oh, and if anyone wants direct links, you can find Galatea on this fine website, and Photopia here. Enjoy :ph34r:]

Once you'd broken up what you were saying into paragraphs, I was finally able to read it <_<

Seriously though - good post that man. And cheers for the links.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When speaking of maturity in videogames, one must first break the matter of the aforementioned videogames into a few categories, namely content and gameplay

In terms of content, I think it'd be hard to argue that games aren't getting more mature. One must look no further than the likes of Manhunt, Soldier of Fortune, Max Payne, the Silent Hill series and their ilk to find evidence of increasing maturity in videogame content. By content, it must be noted, I am speaking of the levels of violence and general graphic and (and I hate to use the word) "adult" themes, such as the obvious (and arguably gratuitous) violence of titles such as Manhunt and Soldier of Fortune, giving them an undoubtable surplus of maturity over the titles of long ago, where a few red pixels were as far as violence could be represented by the restrictive hardware.

The sad fact of the matter is, "cute and cuddly" games just don't cut it with the youth market of today (a market of which I am a member), and all talk in the school canteen is of games such as the Grand Theft Auto series and Max Payne, and whenever conversation turns to titles like Zelda, or Mario, it is almost exclusively amongst those who have been gaming since their early youth, and raised on a healthy diet of Nintendo and Sega's 16-bit consoles.

For evidence of this decreased interest in "kiddie" (unfortunately a word which has become synonymous with the once mighty Nintendo) games, one must only look at the chart domination of more adult-oriented titles, and the ailing Nintendo GameCube, when viewed against Sony's thriving sales of both consoles and games. And there's no skirting around the fact that children below the age of 18 will purchase the likes of Grand Theft Auto.

Storyline, also, would fit under this "content" heading. In this department, there has also been a noticeable maturing. We have now progressed from the days of the simple "damsel in distress" type of games like Mario, Zelda, and other titles from that era. Nowadays, while there is also a smattering of the now clichéd "damsel in distress" scenarios, we are more often presented with convoluted, Hollywood-esque plotlines, such as the government conspiracy story of Metal Gear Solid 2, the political tensions of Splinter Cell, and the labyrinthine, Illuminati-inspired narrative of Deus Ex. It should be noted that this extra "maturity" is occasionally to the game's detriment, as consummately displayed in the plot-heavy Metal Gear Solid 2, which often favoured it's (thankfully impeccably directed) theatrics to it's gameplay, and the hands-on experience was far too often punctuated by frequently excessive cut-scenes (particularly the ludicrous 40-minute long penultimate sequence).

In general, however, I feel that the world of videogames has no doubt benefitted from these distinctly more "real-world" situations, as they often result in the enhanced immersion of the player, due to the far more believable circumstances it plunges them into.

But looking at contemporary videogames from a purely gameplay perspective, I would argue that the maturity of games has scarcely changed in the few decades since the introduction of the medium into the home market. A prominent example of this non-evolution is the recent Manhunt, which, although mature in graphical content, and admirably atmospheric, was somewhat rudimentary and uninspiring in terms of gameplay, particularly in the early sections, which simply consisted of you guiding your on-screen avatar towards un unsuspecting "enemy", and holding circle for as long as you can without being discovered, so you can dispatch of said "enemy" in as brutal a way as possible, having no input during the actual killing. And that was it. No more complex than any other title of the 8 and 16-bit eras. Hardly Sun Tzu, now is it?

On the other side of the coin, the perceptibly "childish" Viewtiful Joe, with it's "kiddie" cartoon stylings, provided an utterly engrossing a robustly complex experience, handing the player an epic ballet of colour and fluidity with which to weave a web of time-control and attacks which often required logical thinking on the part of the player (if I slow everything down, that platform's propeller will slow down, making it drop). This was a game that was far more mature in gameplay than Manhunt.

On reflection, I would be adamant that gameplay has not matured, as complex games can be found as long ago as the age of Elite and other similarly engrossing games. On the other side of the coin, games as inoffensively unfussy as Manhunt could also be obtained, such as the early Mario games and it's early 90's compatriots.

Do I care about this "maturity", I hear you ask? In short, no. Gameplay is, and always has been at the forefront of my gaming desires. Which is why my game collection contains both "mature" and "childish" games, such as Grand Theft Auto 3, and Zelda: The Wind Waker. The common bind between these two titles? Oh yes! They've both got superb gameplay. Developers can keep churning out gameplay-lite tosh until the cows come home, but as long as a choice selection of titles emerge in the faecal muddle that is modern game consumerism, which have gameplay that catches my attention and is worthy to sit on my shelf alongside games like Ico, Rez and Super Monkey Ball, then I'm a happy man.

What worries me is that it's possible that some developers care no more about the gameplay, and merely want to get as many copies of their games to fly off the shelves into the sweaty hands of the uneducated masses, financing yet more similarly cringeworthy titles. I noticed this when my attention was grabbed by the fact that I find myself turning more and more frequently to reissued titles on my GBA, which houses such inimitable classics of yesteryear such as Zelda: Link's Awakening, and Super Mario World, along with modern classics of gameplay at it's purest in the form of Wario Ware and Metroid Fusion. It is probably for reasons similar to this that I also rely heavily on emulation of long deceased consoles for my enjoyable gameplay fix. A worrying state of affairs, indeed.

God, I hope that made sense. Should have put a bit of planning into that.

Yours, a 17-year old aspiring journalist. :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Once you'd broken up what you were saying into paragraphs, I was finally able to read it :unsure:

Seriously though - good post that man. And cheers for the links.

<_<

Actually, it was always paragraphed - I just changed the single-line drops to double-line drops, so it was more obviously so <_<

Oh, and that was a very well written article there Dazza, while obviously we have slightly different opinions on the matter I believe that yours was both succinct and put its ideas across far better than mine.

[PS, when you're a famous journalist, don't forget your old buddy here, eh? :ph34r:]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Should a game 'tell a story' or 'be a story'?    If only we had some suitable jargon to cover this issue.

This is the thing I wonder. Xenosaga - whilst definitely mature in terms of constructing a compelling, intelligent storyline that doesn't need to "dumb itself down" - is a bit lame as a game. The game and the cutscenes are completely divided, and although I loved the cutscenes, I did wonder if having 60-minute long ones was a bit over-the-top. Should it have just been an anime series? Shadow of Memories, too - but at least that pulled it off a bit better (being more of a point-and-click style thing. Just without pointing and clicking).

I guess the answer is that there's room for both, and that there will be people that despise one and love the other - just look at the stick Kojima got for MGS2. I think it's this widening of experiences that will truly make gaming "mature".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess the answer is that there's room for both,"

Yup.

From my point of view, as someone interested in game design I see it as a sliding scale from a non-interactive movie to a pure video game. My primary interest is in the latter end of that scale but there's room for games ALMOST anywhere in between. But as 'games' move toward the movie end of the spectrum I feel they get less interesting, and I question whether the creators are really interested in video games and perhaps they are really frustrated film makers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.