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Old 12-06-2006, 11:39 AM   #27
Intrepid Homoludens
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Originally Posted by Kurufinwe View Post
As a matter of fact, I'm not sure the terms of the problem are really clear in this discussion. There's a huge difference between "deep and serious" (what "mature" should really mean) and "violent and/or full of sex" (what "mature" tends to mean now because of those dumb ratings). I'm not really interested in seeing more of the latter in games just for the sake of seeing more -- but I'm not against it if it's actually justified by the depth and seriousness of the game.
I think there's plenty of room for different kinds of maturity. In a game like Gears of War or Still Life, for example, graphic violence is used for visual - and visceral - dramatic impact. It's really one of the (and I mean to say this in a most non-judgmental way) necessary elements in this kind of game, I can't imagine these games being successful without it, just as I can't imagine the movie Kill Bill without any of its graphic violence.

As much as some of you may disagree with me, graphic violence does have its aesthetic value in media, whether it be in film, games, literature, and plays. It has a lineage - ancient Greek tragedies featured it, as well as Shakespeare's works. I imagine that for him and for Homer, violence, whether shown or implied, had its necessary place.

So in that sense it seems to require a certain level of maturity from its audience to keep it firmly in such context, and not stray off into the juvenile 'Oh cool, flying body parts!!' territory.

As to depth itself, I'd be glad to see more of it in games, but it requires some actual writing talent, and a real capacity for saying relevant things -- something I've yet to see much of in this industry.
That, I believe, is one of the big problems. So far, with the exception of a very scant number of talented writers, the games industry is stuck in a level of immaturity, and to make it worse, tons of money involved seem to ensure that it stay this way for a while. Gratuitous violence and sex are great commodities here, and many times we're left wondering what exactly a game's intent is when it shows something that looks mature. Again there's the graphic violence, for example. Is it to sell more games by appealing to the lowest common denominator in people? Another new game about serial killer if only to catch gamers' attention away from the other cartoon style games or Egyptian/Atlantis/Templar clones? In some ways it's rather refreshing, but it still makes me wonder how much exploration the game's writers have done into such themes and to what ends.

Furthermore, I don't believe being serious and relevant necessarily means having to tackle everyday, real-world problems. As a matter of fact, I tend to believe that the more you stick to the news of the day, the more you risk missing fundamental ideas and the more you tend to get irrelevant after a few years. So I can't see why fantasy, or SF (by which I mean "real" SF, not just today's world + flying cars * la Tornquist) couldn't deal very appropriately with deep and serious matters.
I think it depends on the intent of the writer/game designer. They could be exploring relevant themes through contemporary real world dilemmas. And that could go both ways - some people miscontrue it as fashion, others could see beyond the concurrence and apply the abstracts to other situations, historical or not.

When I was playing the sci-fi RPG Knights of The Old Republic I immediately understood the message implied when I was early in the game on the planet Taris. There was a big rift between the humans living in the more posh upper levels of the planet's cities and the struggling alien races trying to survive in the ghettos of the lower levels. It was racism, pure and simple, and it was presented quite well, I think.

And finally, whatever your subject matter, a game always has to be entertaining, one way or another. Too many people equate making boring movies or books with doing something relevant, and confuse incomprehensibility with genius -- and just end up producing pretentious, irrelevant hogwash. I hope we'll never see that happen to games.
I totally agree. Who the hell ever said that entertainment and profundity or something like social relevance must be mutually exclusive? However, it seems very challenging to find an elegant balance between the two, and that's always been the case in all media, from films to books to games. I'm curious to see how future games writers can handle this.

Originally Posted by samsie View Post
Fun is where it's at, but: I'd like to see some more games that dig deeper beneath video gaming's shiny surface, for example a World War II game that doesn't put you in the role of a grunt, special soldier or special agent or whatever. At least ONCE, please. Yet, as has been said before, I'm too not at all convinced there are many people working on games who could actually handle more sophisticated subjects. Let's be honest here.
Again I think most people in the games industry, whether or not they want to tackle it, may lack the necessary drive and/or experience to do so. And yes, much of it is tied into money. Will a great adventure game with a deep and meaningful theme sell? And that of course is in relation to everyone's perception and knowledge of what games are, who they're for, and why they would be in a position to warrant exploration of such themes.
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