Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Adolescence of Videogames

Many people talk about how immature videogames are. How they still use violence and sex to sell themselves and how the writing is still the fruit of juvenile fantasies. Many say that videogames can never be truly mature and tell us how after decades of videogames being made we still are far from have the same maturity levels movies and books have. But you know what this argument fail to take account of?

The fact that a media doesn't mature like people.

The fact is that media don't become mature just because it turned out 21. Like comics who only start to become mature with books like The Dark Knight and Watchmen, made after decades of comics, we will not see videogames becoming mature because the media is old. The maturity of a media only reflects the maturity of its consumers.

See, despite videogames being decades old, most people only played them as children and let it go. The industry itself never tried to sell games for adults during its beginnings, partly because the tech didn't allowed to games to tell mature stories. It was all about high scores during the Atari 2600 and NES era. The cartridges barely could contain more than five books of text.

The problem started to change with the 16bit era of games. With bigger cartridges, we finally start to have games whose main objective was not getting high scores, but to follow someone's tale. Games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy finally tried to deliver story. It was pretty juvenile at the time, but again, nobody really thought about people other than children and young teenagers playing games. The next generation, though, changed that.

The PlayStation 1 and Sony recognized that gamers were getting older but didn't wanted to just give up games because of age. Also, the older teenagers wanted games more in line with what they like. We finally started to receive games who dealt (superficially) with more mature themes and imagery. Sure it was pretty juvenile, but it reflected the gamers playing them. The majority of gamers changed from children to teenagers, and the games reflected the change.

And now, after decades, the majority of gamers are changing from children and teenagers to an even more mature audience, the young adults. And that is why we finally have talks about how certain things are portrayed in games. That is why we discuss violence, sexism and other mature themes in the internet. because we want more mature themes in games. And the industry is not deaf about it.

We are finally getting some games who are mature because of its themes, not because of its imagery. Games like Catherine and Heavy Rain (not saying they succeeded or not, but they attempt to) are games that were made with the young adults in mind. Many developers already talked about making more mature games. Because there is an audience who don't think that blood and boobies are mature.

During decades, seeing lots of blood and virtual boobies were the coolest thing a game could do. Now, gamers are finally discussing if they want that. If they cannot have things better done and deal it with. If all this blood and sex we were feed with is really a good thing. Gamers are becoming mature, and games will follow with time.

Of course, it does not mean we need to get rid of children games or juvenile games. If you are an adult today, you may remember how much you loved those juvenile games back them. it is part of growing up. So, what we need are not that all games become mature, but to have more games who are mature so people who got tired of the same juvenile games teenagers are attracted with can have an option to themselves.

The fact that the industry and gamers are having those kind of discussions show that the videogame scene is maturing. We are still far to have the same maturity of movies and books (and, by the way, there is lots of immature books and movies to. Just because mature ones exist doesn't mean that there aren't space for immature ones) but just the fact we are talking about it show we are in the right way.

It may not happen in the next decade, and there is no way to make it happen faster because we want to. But it will happen, in the due time. as long as we want it to happen.

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