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Old 12-05-2006, 01:37 PM   #1
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Default Is 'gamedom' mature enough to handle certain subject matter?


Left to right - 3rd World Farmer, Silent Hill 2, Still Life.

I wanted to post this topic in Adventure Games because I think that as a 'genre' in which stories play a very prominent role (if not the prominent role), the adventure game seems most poised to tackle particular subject matter. Seems that certain issues could be dealt with through narrative, and especially through character exposition, and explored that way to the point where it may transcend the game's initial 'entertainment value'.

Whether it's touching on the subject of child abuse (like in Silent Hill), raising awareness of world hunger (3rd World Farmer), or telling the story of the hunt for a serial killer (Still Life), adventure games today seem ready to explore ever deepening issues about the nature of the world and of ourselves.

What's your perspective on this? I know that many of you prefer to play your adventure games purely as entertainment, but you could also say the same about movies. In recent films such has been dealt with, like Shindler's List, where there is deeper meaning and you leave the theatre with many thoughts on your mind. A computer game could provoke the same responses, where you quit the game and ponder what you've just experienced.

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Old 12-05-2006, 03:27 PM   #2
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I think that the rise of high tech pocket consoles will bring more people to adventure games, so maybe more thinkers and book readers will become adventure players.
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Old 12-05-2006, 03:34 PM   #3
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I'd rather not deal with nastiness or violence in games that I play for fun. I'm the same way with movies and books. These things are my entertainment; my getaway from the real world. I am to the point where that content would be enough to stop me from buying a game.
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Old 12-05-2006, 03:40 PM   #4
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I'm certainly all for deep, controversial subject matter in games, and support the existence of serious, mature games wholeheartedly. Whether I'd play such a game myself, however, depends on what kind of mood I'm in. As with movies and books, sometimes I want to be entertained, sometimes I want to be made to think, and sometimes I want a bit of both.
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Old 12-05-2006, 03:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nautilus View Post
I think that the rise of high tech pocket consoles will bring more people to adventure games, so maybe more thinkers and book readers will become adventure players.
Maybe, but from a practical point of view I must say that I, for one, would find it difficult to engross myself in a deep, meaningful adventure game on a handheld device, such as a pocket PC. These are much more suited for a quick, funny game to kill the time.

Back on topic, I think the genre certainly has the potential to explore deeper issues, like Trep is describing, and I would welcome it. I find it amazing what a movie can do with me, and I'm curious if a game could unleash something in me as well.

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Old 12-05-2006, 03:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erwin_Br View Post
Maybe, but from a practical point of view I must say that I, for one, would find it difficult to engross myself in a deep, meaningful adventure game on a handheld device, such as a pocket PC. These are much more suited for a quick, funny game to kill the time.
Personally, I find playing adventure games on, say, the Nintendo DS to be an experience akin to reading a book, where you can play curled up on a couch or lying in bed - certainly a lot more comfortable than sitting staring at a computer screen for hours at a time. And I was pretty damn engrossed in Phoenix Wright and Trace Memory...
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Old 12-05-2006, 03:55 PM   #7
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Hmm, I don't. To me it's like watching a movie on the plane. I need a comfy chair, a big screen, nobody around me, and dimmed lights. Okay, that's perhaps a bit exaggerated.

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Old 12-05-2006, 04:00 PM   #8
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I like the idea of a more complex story but I don't like it when they start marketing it as such (i.e. play such and such a game - our story is profound and meaningful, etc.). I think it's important to present your game and story and let the player take it in and decide what it means to her/him.]\

Edit: I should also say I'm more like Colpet. I can deal with some seriousness but if it's too real and too reflective of today's society, I'll tend to stay away from it.

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Old 12-05-2006, 04:06 PM   #9
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>> A computer game could provoke the same responses, where you quit the game and ponder what you've just experienced.

I agree. I was watching "Quiz Show" tonight, written by Paul Attanasio and directed by Robert Redford. Imagine a game where you the player are offered the chance to cheat as part of the game story. I'm much more interested in those gray areas of human... interactivity... than I am "Let's kill the evil dead before they rise again."

First though I think game developers need to consciously move away from cliched stories and stereotyped characters and towards characters and situations that move us and cause us to ponder with the same intensity we find in other media.

And I don't think this need be accomplished necessarily at the expense of entertainment or even fun. Does it make more work for designers and developers and publishers? Sure, but I say bring it on.

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Old 12-05-2006, 04:35 PM   #10
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I'm all in favour of dealing with "mature" subjects, but I don't think that every developer should start attempting to be "mature" just for the sake of it; deep thought is not the be-all and end-all of these things. It's like in other mediums: it's very easy to stray into being pretentious. There's always going to be a market for purely entertaining games, and I don't think that the presence of one must mean an absence of the other.

That and I suspect that it's very hard to sustain all the factors that go into such an attempt over the increased length of the game. I've yet to see a game in which this "maturity" is anything other than a passing nod.

Finally, I'm not convinced that the adventure game is necessarily the best placed genre to deal with some of these themes. Particularly if the aim is to design a risk-free game for the player; to me, investigating a series of grisly murders doesn't work as well when there's no risk to my character.
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Old 12-05-2006, 06:11 PM   #11
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I'm all for mature subjects. There is a current stigma that adventure games are for women only. I think that is one of the main reasons they don't sell and that "shoot-em-ups" are so popular.
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Old 12-05-2006, 07:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legolas813 View Post
I'm all for mature subjects. There is a current stigma that adventure games are for women only. I think that is one of the main reasons they don't sell and that "shoot-em-ups" are so popular.
Whaaat? Women are immature?
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:04 PM   #13
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You know what I mean. Violent or mature games are considered more masculine.
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:14 PM   #14
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I definitely think that adventure games, as a genre, can handle mature themes and subjects. Look at games like The Longest Journey and Gabriel Knight 3, for example. Both are games with serious subject matter, take their stories seriously(for the most part), and don't sacrifice the "adventure feel" in the process. But I also agree with the point made, that a game can't hit the player over the head with the subject matter, or it comes off as awkward and unnecessary.
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legolas813 View Post
You know what I mean. Violent or mature games are considered more masculine.
I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean. We're talking about maturity, not about violence. Though violence can figure into the equation, the two terms are not necessarily synonymous.
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:20 PM   #16
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I know. I just said violent because of Silent Hill and Still Life in the original post. But yes, mature can and does mean other things.
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Old 12-05-2006, 08:25 PM   #17
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I always prefer dramatic games (with serious or non-serious issues explored) to comedic "easy entertainment" games, without exception.
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:03 PM   #18
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I find it ironic that often games rated M are quite durn immature. Graphic nudity? Squarely aimed at immature teenage boys. Gore purely for shock value is the same.
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Old 12-05-2006, 09:32 PM   #19
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I find it ironic that often games rated M are quite durn immature. Graphic nudity? Squarely aimed at immature teenage boys. Gore purely for shock value is the same.
I agree.
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Old 12-05-2006, 10:47 PM   #20
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^ Seconded.

For that matter, I can't see how Still Life could be construed as "mature", at least not in the positive sense of the word. It's just a standard detective game, just gorier than usual.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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