Zero1Gaming writer Kimo looks at if in the rush to be 'mature' are gamers missing out on great games with gentler art styles.
It was subverted along with many other gaming "hallmarks" with the advent of casual gaming in 2005, specifically the 14-30 casual demographic Microsoft brought in with the 360, Halo and Call or Duty. That demographic became very influential, which is why so many developers are so very conservative with their game design (both visual and mechanical). This is further hampered by this notion many developers insist on clinging to simply because it has driven game development for so many decades--that realism = improvement = better. Now that graphics have reached that plateau, designers are looking elsewhere for "realism." Assassin's Creed is an excellent example of this, as they strive for realistic accuracy (to a point) in terms of visual design, artificial intelligence, game design, combat, animation and storytelling. As for the more whimsical games of yesteryear... they're still around. Mainly on Nintendo consoles, which cater to that OTHER big casual market, and on Nintendo handhelds, which are cheap enough to produce games for that small studios can be more ambitious with what they do. The (fairly) recent Ghost Trick and Infinite Space, for example.
Ni No Kuni hoarded it all and will be jamming it down our open gullets in a few months. Can't wait.
They're mostly on the PC and Nintendo's platforms due to lower development costs and a better chance at profitability. That's why they tend to come out regularly. Sony has whimsical games despite largely catering to the same 15-to-29 male demographic as Microsoft.
Apparently, if it's not horrific, full of blood, shooting, cutting, nudity, or bland color pallets that continually fail to look 'real', it's not mature. It would be nice if gamers actually cared enough about the challenge of games moreso than the superficial theme. But that's what happens when games with adult themes are played in huge numbers by children who constantly need to try and prove how 'adult' they are. Bleh...
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