For a really long time, I’ve been totally neglecting board games, and only concentrated on computer games – starting even before the infamous World of Warcraft, that is, the Discworld MUD and Jedi Academy were my doom even before that (I can’t believe that’s only 5 years ago).
I had always played computer games, the first game I remember playing is Digger (and it was rather new back then), but most of the time of my life also board and card games beside. And before getting into online gaming like that, I might have played somewhat obsessively and was visiting LAN parties and whatnot, but I played nowhere near as much as what must have been 2002-2007.
But in the last months, a certain gaming fatigue set in and I got back to board games. No game recently could capture my attention for longer than a few weeks, I wonder what my situation with L4D (that I just blogged about) will be a month after release. It might well be because I essentially agree with Brice Morrison
While my interests in other media grew substantially more adult – from Nickelodeon to CNN, from Dr. Seuss to George Orwell – [computer] games did not seem to have a more intelligent counterpart for me to move on to.
The piece Why a Game Designer Outgrew Video Games, which I found via Senior Gamer (German, worth a read on its own), does have a point: Games that are more than pure entertainment are rare. Stuff like Gears of War has a target audience that is clearly not me – tag lines it motivates like “are you man enough?” (and console controller optimization) clearly show that. Shooting stars like World of Goo are great and have some socially critical undertones, but even this gem doesn’t try to do much more than what it does best: Be fun.
The conclusion however that this is just the way it is and that there are no mature games is just as easy as it is wrong:
- Yes, we can do something about it. Particularly a game designer can, and thus it’s odd to believe that a game designer can possibly outgrow video games due to video games not being what he thinks they should be.
- There are titles that clearly target a less adolescent audience – The Witcher for example (which I still haven’t played), arguably Left 4 Dead (being so cooperative and all – the few teenies I met weren’t pleasant to play with), the Sam & Max series in all its retro glory.
When that article says that “To many people, games are only allowed to exist for pure entertainment”, it’s certainly right. But that doesn’t mean that those many people can suppress the others. (Indy) Games, unlike the comic books that the article compares them to, can set themselves free of traditional distribution methods, and a game sold via internet can reach its target audience even if it is in the minority. It won’t be an AAA title, nor have the budget for it, but graphics aren’t everything, right? Indy games are to AAA games what webcomics are to comic books; an alternative and a stepping stone.
Einen ganz wichtigen Punkt für meine Liste “Was muss ein Spiel für Erwachsene enthalten?” habe ich nun gefunden, respektive bestätigt.
Games that want to capture me have to be charming. Some might be mere distractions, but they have to be aware of that, can’t take themselves too seriously, and have to be good at distracting. Others might want to make me think, then they have to be good at that. Essence counts.
That perfectly explains why I had an Everybody’s Golf 2 spree, too: The characters are so adorably cute, their unlocks add a huge level of customization, while levelling they grow to your heart, the golf courses show that the designers spent a lot of sweat and effort into making them both unique in theme and offering distinct challenges each, and they spent a lot of time working around the PSPs limitations in ways that make the game look great despite not being utterly high-tech.
One last thing: Keep in mind that nowhere in this post did I talk about red pixels. It’s not depictions of blood that make a game mature. I do want to throw in however that if a game has a theme where blood does fit in, I find it silly to have more severe constraints than, say, on TV shows and movies. Games can be morbidly charming, but don’t have to be charming just because they have splatters of blood – for some, quite the opposite is true. I could write more about silly kinds of censorship but won’t, at least not now.