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Submitted by edsmith1990 1102d ago | opinion piece

Computer Games Aren't for Adults

Ed Smith of IBTimes UK writes: "When I think of something like The Handmaid's Tale or 2001: A Space Odyssey, I can put them into the context of eighties social feminism or the Space Race. When I think of Final Fantasy VII, held aloft as one of the great works of videogame fantasy, I don't see what it says about the mid-nineties, or youth, or anything like that.

"Aside from a few vague sentiments like 'it's tough growing up' or 'young people often struggle with their identity', I don't think it says anything." (Culture, PS3, Xbox 360)

nrvalleytime  +   1102d ago
This guy's understanding of video games may be a bit flawed, but I do see his point. Games tend to be more about the experience and less about a message, which is unfortunate.

"In the way that they can make fantasy worlds seem all the more real, I think games have the power to make our own world better understood. It's a pity there aren't more games that look outward. Hopefully, time will change that."

I actually agree with this statement, and truly hope that our medium evolves into a genre that allows for a grand experience to exist alongside social commentary. Perhaps it'll take grounding in worlds like Bioshock Infinite, where the setting is just as important as the story or gameplay. But we do need to keep striving towards that maturity.
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Hellsvacancy  +   1102d ago
Why does everything have to have some sort of an explanation? why cant things just be what they are

I read most of the article, I stopped reading when it occurred to me that I simply dont care

I dont play games to "explore wider social issues"

I play games mostly to escape the social issues the world over has, I dont want to be reminded of them
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3-4-5  +   1102d ago
I love how people are so stupid they can't figure things out for themselves so they need it explained to them all the time.

The problem with adults and games is that Most Adults aren't as smart as they think they are.

They think because they have aged, it grants them wisdom or some BS like that.

Too many People are out of touch with true reality and by into whatever is "hot"
Septic  +   1102d ago

Well said. I agree completely especially about your sentiments regarding the setting being as important as the narrative.

I think its a case of 'when' as opposed to 'if' as far as as the medium attaining the kind of maturity you alluded to is concerned.

With the advent of the next generation of consoles, we will be that one step closer to achieving that hopefully.
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Hicken  +   1102d ago
I definitely don't agree with his thinking that video games should be more about real-life. For better or worse, games seem to be the only entertainment medium that still does its intended job: providing escape.

To be sure, there ARE games out there that tackle real-world issues. It just so happens that they're either overlooked- like the entire visual novel genre- or they don't set things EXACTLY like real life and thus the connection is missed(by people like the author, at least).

Additionally, video games are still VERY young; no medium tackled social commentary early on. Those things came with time. IF video games are given that time, they could reach a point where such messages are- for a while, at least- the norm in the industry.

Really, I think he wants too much too soon, and doesn't seem to either understand or accept enough.

Edit: Compared to movies, music, or books, 40 years is nothing. The next youngest is the movie industry, which is about three times as old. And if you wanna get technical(since they're "motion pictures," after all), since it's an evolution of the photograph, which is an evolution of paintings, it's the oldest of the bunch. That's not even including plays and dances, which are likely even older.

The point is: everything else has had plenty of time to create these arenas for social commentary and such. Movies were close to a hundred years old by the time games came out, and it was really only a decade or two before that they were looked at as more than entertainment; or rather, that they could reflect life in more ways than just indulging the viewer in a fantasy.

And it's not like there are no games that do so already.
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Freeball  +   1102d ago
How is a 40 year old industry VERY young? You may not have been gaming since the 70s, but tons of people have.
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rainslacker  +   1102d ago
It's use of story generally isn't really that old. Sure there were the RPG's of old, but for the most part gaming didn't really being story-centric until the PS1 days, particularly after FF7 released. Nowadays every game seems to need a story even when a game in the same series one generation prior didn't require one...take Ninja Gaiden, or any fighting game for example.

Games themselves have evolved to the point where they can deliver a story on the level of movies, and some do them exceedingly well. However much of the point is lost in the fact that gaming is about the game play, and not really about trying to bring about intellectual thought on an issue. David Cage for instance focuses heavily on story, however his game play suffers because of it. Doesn't make his games bad or wrong, just different.
Tzuno  +   1102d ago
Adults :)))) what a word, you can have 40 years and still be a but-hole.
rmal8  +   1102d ago
One of the major issues with this writers idea of displaying social commentaries within video games, is attention span of our society. The development of a game from idea to completion and distribution takes a long time, often 2-3 years. Our current culture has an extremely small attention spam, even for the most serious of events.

Beyond just the practicality of the issue, is that many gamers are not interested in these themes. I personally, do not want to be reminded on a daily basis of the harm and disfunction of our world. That does not mean I do not want adult themes in games, but I honestly don't game to be reminded of genocide. Games are certainly moving towards those ideas with more emphasis on realistic adult relationships ect.
rainslacker  +   1102d ago
Unfortunately most of the ones that truly attempt to be more realistic, like say adult relationships, tend to come up very short. Mass Effect for instance was not what I would consider real adult relationships to be like. It was a feature, and not a main story telling device used to drive the plot or increase the impact of the message being delivered. Some of it's general relationship stuff, ie..comrades in arms...was very well done, particularly with Mordin.

Other games also tend to try to beat their message over your head thinking you won't get it. They tend to deliver their message in the least subtle way possible, which doesn't give credit to the viewers. It was the one story flaw I had with the Xenosaga series in general. FF6-9 were actually a lot more subtle in this regard, but as the author of this article states, still pretty broad and not truly indicative of quality writing as it didn't explore deeper issues.

Quality story telling doesn't have to be about recent events, but more about how people feel in a situation. This is one reason why Shakespeare's work is still relevant today. He explored the human condition more than the events surrounding them. That's something current games...and most movies...simply don't do.
edsmith1990  +   1102d ago
I wrote this. All the while I read, 'games should be this' or 'adult themes and social commentary and sex aren't what games are for.' Why aren't games for that? Why decide on and limit what games can and should do? Who says games can only do so much?
TopDudeMan  +   1102d ago
Batman. Play batman. Batman. You get plenty of message in batman. Batman. Did I mention batman.
rainslacker  +   1102d ago
So...Spider-Man? :)
palaeomerus  +   1102d ago
FF VII has themes about millennial angst, bio-ethics, nature vs. nurture, urban despair, corporatism, environmentalism vs. industry, poor vs. powerful, youth vs. tradition, spirituality, and extinction.

Sorry such a smart, well read, "adult" missed out on such obvious stuff.

Bioshock was an intellectually dishonest but heartfelt attempt to shake down objectivism (as glimpsed in Atlas Shrugged) as a grotesque sci-fi dystopia where the strong prey on the week or use them like cogs in a great machine.

Bioshock Infinite seems to be about racism and jingoistic myths of rational or national purity as espoused by the "Know Nothings" of the early 20th century. Sure it's dressed up in lots of Jules verne steam/diesel punk stuff and rather unfairly tied to modern political groups opposed to illegal immigration (usually stronger in border states) as seen in 2010-to early 2012. But it's trying to be relevant to contemporary political and societal movements.
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edsmith1990  +   1102d ago
Perhaps it does, but it explores those themes - which I think are poorly written into the game - via giant swords and lasers and monsters. I think the unfortunate end of my argument would be an end to all fantasy and imagination, which I certainly don't want. I think the problem is more that games like FFVII can have those themes but gamify, or pulp them. Explore high ideas through base entertainment forms.

Like say, The Last of Us, which has this wonderful emotive centre of the relationship between two people, and how that grows as they rely on one another in hostile circumstances. But it's set in a post apocalyptic, zombie infested, comic book US. I think that emotionally dynamic would be better explore in a story about, say, a mother carrying her daughter across a war torn third world country.
edsmith1990  +   1102d ago
Apologies for spelling mistakes up there, I'm writing this on my phone :)

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