The Industry Should Make Games For Adults

No, I don’t mean porn games, so get your mind out of the gutter.

I found this article from this years Game Developers Conference in San Francisco very interesting indeed. It’s a fact that games are very much escapist fantasies, but eventually one gets bored of all the jumping, explosions, shooting, running, climbing, etc. It gets even more depressing when you consider that the majority of modern games are nothing more than variations of titles that have gone before, and more often than not the story is simply there to justify “cool” graphics and the ability to take someone out with a precisely thrown paperclip.

Will the industry change because of David Cage’s speech? It’s doubtful as game developers and studios are in the habit of making money – they’re businesses after all. It would be nice though, if some of them stopped for a moment and thought about all of us adults who have played pretty much every type of game enough times to get bored with them.

That doesn’t mean I want an interactive movie like Final Fantasy XIII though. I just want something that has a deep enough storyline to keep me interested, or is different and challenging enough to make me want to play it. I don’t want Modern Warfare 57: Santa’s Naughty List, Final Fantasy DCLXXI: Attack of the Girly-Boys, FIFA 2086: Revenge of the Beckhams, Resident Evil 82: We Ran Out Of Ideas A Long Time Ago, or other such nonsense.

Why not entice adult audiences with more original content, a more thoughtful plot, a different perception on something deeply entrenched. A different way of looking at the world.

Why not simply give us, the adults (and the ones who actually have the cash), what we really want, instead of what you think we want?

Is that really too much to ask?

Anyway, here’s the article in question. The comments section makes for interesting reading too.


A Plea For Games To Grow Up

Source – Kotaku

6 thoughts on “The Industry Should Make Games For Adults”

  1. Archaeon says:

    It all depends on what you define as “fun”. Yes, games are for entertainment, but rather than asking what people actually like and want to play, the industry continues to push what they think the consumer wants, and this is usually based on sales figures from other games.

    It’s a bit like that canned laughter that you hate so much. Personally, I don’t like being told what I should like or find entertaining, especially when it comes to games, and I’m just one example of a market that is already big, and is only going to get larger as the years go by.

    The one question that rarely gets asked is how many people over the age of 25 bought this or that type of game? Say, for example, a title sold 1000 units in a given store, how many of those would have been purchased by or for children? 50%? 60%? On average it’s probably closer to 70-75% in most stores.

    Is this an accurate reflection of the mature gamers market?

    Maybe I should rephrase the question. Instead I’ll ask why sales of games to adults over 25 begin to steadily drop depending on the age group. How many gamers are there over the age of 35? If games are supposed to be a viable form of entertainment like movies, then why on earth is the industry ignoring:

    a. the people who actually have the money to buy their highly priced goods.

    b. the majority of the human lifespan – we live a lot longer than 25 years after all.

    One thing that I think will highlight my point is Nintendo.

    Instead of doing what Sony and Microsoft were doing, they went after family entertainment, and while the Wii may not be considered a “gamers” console, it does something that none of its rivals even thought of by offering games specifically tailored to coax adults into “playing”.

    What was the secret behind Nintendo’s phenomenal success?

    To be honest, I think the Wii gave adult gamers an excuse to “come out of the closet” and play games with the family, then if they went off to play WoW, EVE, or something else, nobody would really bat an eyelid. The Wii is probably the adult gamers best friend in that respect as owning one conveys the sense that you aren’t a hardcore gamer (unless you have it on display in the middle of all of your other consoles).

    That was Nintendo’s moment of genius – persuading the world that gamers weren’t addicts with no lives, but could be anybody with a Wii and a sense of fun.

    Yes, games are for entertainment, but like I said before I want more than a few hours of “fun” from a game that costs the equivalent of a week’s food, and I demand my money’s worth when it comes to content. There are plenty of over 30s like me who would have no problem complaining to whoever we needed to if we felt that we we short changed on a game, or has everyone forgotten CoD: BlOps and Trading Standards?

  2. Rob Simpson says:

    You’ve kind of answered you’re own question in this. Games aren’t more adult because people want to escape their lives and not be reminded of it by adult games.

    The same adult games that are usually an awful trade off for story over gameplay. The likes of David Cage seem to forget that Games are for fun, people dont play them to delve into the depth of the human soul, societal issues, politicals or whatever, people play them to put a smile on their face.

  3. Archaeon says:

    “Adult” is synonymous with porn simply because movies of that type are still called “adult films”. The entertainment industries further reinforced the idea that all things sexual fell under the “adult” tag, with the worst culprity being Hollywood.

    Mature is a separate thing from adult as while the latter is a reflection of one’s age. the former is a reflection of their state of mind.

    To be honest, the story is important, but only so far. Here’s two examples of what I mean when I say that the games industry habitually approaches games and their target market, and before you ask, yes, these are my ideas of what I would like to play.

    EVE Online may be very good and have lots of mature fans, but Star Trek Online, a franchise that really has the cake, failed to do anything with it. We now know that the cake is a lie. EVE lacks two things that would make it a truly brilliant game – intergalactic diplomacy and first contact with alien races. Neither of those scenarios are written into EVE’s story though, but they’re core principles of Star Trek. Unfortunately STO failed to capitalise on many aspects of the franchise, so gamers still lack the ability to jump in a ship and go exploring, and the sense of adventure disappears.

    The sci-fi space games could really do with a cross between EVE and Star Trek, and a game that had all the benefits of EVE, PLUS the ability to have your name recorded as the first person to meet a specific alien race, be a galactic diplomat (and spy maybe?), make alliances with other human groups or with aliens, enslave certain races, free others, etc, etc. Such a game would be truly groundbreaking, especially if there were ships that couldn’t go anywhere without a certain number of people online. The problem with many space faring games is that one player is often able to control ships the size of the Death Star, so adding an element that made team work necessary at the most basic level would be very interesting, especially in fleets.

    But not as stupendous as a zombie survival horror MMO that played like Dead Rising but allowed you to work with groups of others, form teams and alliances, establish patrols/foraging groups/lookouts/etc, interact with other players, and basically look out for each other at the end of the world (the safe house environment would be especially interesting). It would still be a hack ‘n’ slash, but it would also have that missing social element that would attract the adult audience. Like the space faring games there could also be certain tasks that could only be done with a certain number of people, one example being a rescue mission for another player. The team would form with the swiftest and most agile characters acting as evasion and diversion scouts, the “tanks” forming the main battle party, and others who would be lookouts and long range comms. It would be akin to a military operation, but with characters who don’t actually fight so the onus isn’t simply on killing zombies, but also protecting your noncombatant allies as without them you’ll be dead in short order.

    [And any developers who read this comment, these are my ideas so ask me nicely if you can use them. I get narky about impoliteness and violation of intellectual property]

    If companies start making games that have more depth to their play as well as the story, and that are focused on a more mature set up and environment than the standard fare, then adults would be more willing to get involved. We want games that we can keep playing for months, partly because we want some escapism, but mainly because we want our money’s worth. We’re not paying £40 for a game we’ll finish in two weeks and then never touch again.

  4. TRazor says:

    Why is it that “adult” is synonymous with porn? Adult is supposed to mean mature themes, which don’t necessarily have to involve sex. Say, horror games. They definitely aren’t meant for kids, so does that mean they are games that will attract adult audiences? Most likely not. The mindframe of an adult gamer is hard to figure out, because we all have different priorities and have different tastes.

    Another interesting point you made was about pick-up and play games. To be honest, that was my initial assumption too. Because of their stress and lack of time, they would look for probably and hour or so a week of some mindless video gaming, right? Apparently not.

    Games with story, character and depth are what transcend age and make any person entertained, but more importantly interested on the long run. Playing CoD is entertaining for an hour or maybe two, but not more than that. THere’s only so many times you can kill enemy soldiers only for them to respawn them. Intelligent games are what are necessary for a satisfying gaming experience.

    I’ve never played EVE, but that’s probably because I don’t have a credit card and can’t afford to pay each month. No rentals, so…

    By stuck in the past, do you mean that the industry is failing to innovate? I would have to agree and disagree on that. While there are some very fresh games that came out in the past cople of years (World of Goo, Braid, Crayola Deluxe and other little PC-DOWNLOAD games), the amount of titles which bring something new to the table is very less. Ultimately, this is what is causing even die-hard gamers to, well, die.

    BTW I’m working on cutting down on the commas. Does it work? Didn’t try reading aloud yet.

  5. Archaeon says:

    Not quite. The Sims is a bit like Second Life, only without the virtual “abilities”, and in that respect it was pretty tame, which is why variations on the theme were produced in an effort to win over adult audiences (games like Singles, Playboy Mansion, etc).

    The problem doesn’t actually lie with sports games either, as they appeal to the idea that we, the fans, can do better, and that’s a universal trait, regardless of age.

    No, the problem lies in the constant stream of FPS, hack & slash and RPG pap that we’re being served at the moment. Games like Dead Rising 2 are entertaining, but how long does the fun last when you’re killing zombies? Call of Duty’s all well and good, but after a while you get tired of all the whining. Yes, graphics do play a part, but after you’ve played a game for an hour you tend to forget about how good something looks.

    Every game has a time limit to its entertainment value, especially for adults. Yes, we have busier lives so pick up and play looks like it’s more suited to our lifestyles, but that’s an assumption made by the industry.

    A prime example of this is actually EVE Online. Where World of Warcraft appeals to a certain juvenile sensibility, EVE, is basically more like hard work, and is dependent on how good you are rather than your “level”. Because of that, it appeals to more mature gamers who are tired of all the crap that’s floating around right now.

    There are people who play EVE who, after a hard days work, don’t go online looking for a fight. Instead they mine asteroids for a couple of hours, and they find that satisfying and relaxing. That doesn’t mean they’re boring though. It just means that what they want from a game is very different to what the industry assumes.

    At the end of the day, people grow up and their priorities change. Adults don’t simply want to hack zombies to death or score for their favourite team. The average person wants a social factor as well, either real or in game, and therein lies the rub, as historically gaming has usually been a solitary or small group activity, and the mindset of the industry has been stuck there for a long time.

    Thankfully, things are changing slowly, but it will probably be another few years before we see games that are specifically aimed at adults appearing on store shelves, and even then there won’t be many.

    Like the anime and manga industries, the games industry is stuck in the past, and no matter how technologically advanced games and consoles become, if the content doesn’t change, then it’s nothing more than a rehash of old ideas.

  6. TRazor says:

    So, you’re saying that games like SIMS are adult games because of their more mature concept and (to an extent) realistic setting?

    But sports-sim games should, theorotically, entertain even adults. They do not contain any out-of-the-world elements and fans of the sport should have a good time picking and playing their favorite players.

    I tend to notice that most adults are wowed by graphics and don’t really pay much attention to gameplay.

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