PGC's graphic designer Josh Haworth pimp slaps the conservative parent groups and confused administrators who think gaming is a past time left only for kids.
Like many of the people who contribute to Planet GameCube, I am an adult and I enjoy video games. I’m not a “hardcore” gamer and I usually restrict my game playing to Perfect Dark (and now Conker) but still feel pretty passionate about the medium. That said, I definitely wish that there were more games that appealed to me and made me want to play more of the games that are released each year. However, the majority of titles available seem geared for a younger audience and even the older titles that are out are compromised by the need to fit within the context of an entertainment medium that is dominated by children—or at least hold that reputation.
It doesn’t matter how many older gamers there are out there, it’s all about the children. Ever see that episode of the Simpsons where Reverand Lovejoy’s wife starts shaking her fists and starts screaming: “Think of the children!” (Which episode w/Rev. Lovejoy’s wife? All of them.) Her character embodies practically every concerned parents’ group who morally crusade for the future of our kids. This is certainly all well and good but where does that leave older gamers like me who want to play something with a bit more grit? Who’s going to crusade for my rights?
Lately there have been so many organizations trying to blame video games
for the impact on society mainly teen violence. I won’t waste time denouncing such beliefs but these organizations have been fueled by recent claims that game makers deliberately market mature–themed games to children to promote sales. While this might be true to an extent, I think it is more due to many people not realizing the potential game market for adults. Consequently, the current video game market does not adequately support the needs of an aging user group.
The exception is PC games, though these are often more complex and involved in my eyes as my gaming is limited as is and so I don’t have time to mess with PC titles. I like to keep my computer reserved for working and my game systems for gaming. PC games might be more mature in content overall though the complexity in installation, system requirements and even game controls seem to serve as a “child proof cap” blocking the way for the younger crowd.
The gaming industry as a whole should work to side step accusations of pandering to youth by enhancing the genre of adult based video games it allows you to remove part of society's stigma of video games away from children/teens and also moves video games to go the next level as far as their content. The best and most obvious parallel I can draw is to Hollywood movies. Sure, there has also been some growing concern regarding movies being aimed at younger audiences but the distinction of what material is intended for children and what material is intended for adults is a distinction much more established and enforced. There is a ratings system in place for games but it doesn’t seem that this is effectively separate “kiddie games” from the adult-fare.
Unfortunately, unlike with movies, game ratings are not noticed or enforced as much because the industry is still drawing heat. Shouldn’t a video games rating system allow for games of all types? Even X-Rated titles? Presumably, yes. Are there many such games to choose from? No. There are plenty of violent titles but these are often singled-out by parent groups no matter what kind of warning or rating they have.
The best games for a company are the ones that appeal to the most players. The best games for a player are the ones that appeal the most to that specific person. So, limiting your audience with gore and mature themes might be seen as focusing on your audience as well. Perhaps kids are the core-audience but as the population of “gamers” continues to grow, one would think that their needs would be taken into account.
I recently heard about a game called Illbleed, in which your character is escorted through an type of “horror amusement park” where you are exposed to scenes of violence and teror with buckets upon buckets of blood are spilled. Does this make the game any more exciting or enticing or is this just shock value? If you’ve seen Fatbabies lately, you might have caught the report that Bloody Roar 3 there are hidden modes that apparently allow you to put female characters in poses like this.
I doubt that this “feature” will reach the U.S. but if they did it would likely guarantee it a mature rating. Then people buying it for the nudie feature wouldn’t be buying it for the game would they but by removing the feature are U.S. publishers censoring the artists’ original intentions? It’s an interesting dilemma, although a game with “hidden” adult content may not be the best example… Either way, this clearly doesn’t seem to be as big an issue in Japan. I’ve heard that in Japan that this type of “adult” material isn’t too uncommon but then again they also have tentacle rape cartoons and no one really seems to complain about that. At the same time, not too many people are shooting each other all the time either, or making a fuss about game content.
Maybe there’s just something in American water that makes us over concerned and crazy. But at least we’re thinking of the children right? It’s time game developers thought of adults more. Conker’s Bad Fur Day is a great example of a game that is both engaging and maturely themed. Let’s hope it’s the first of many.