Today video games have now become part of the broad media market after so long under the shadow of their previous image of an industry aimed at children. Game corporations have made many great lengths to make them more mature to represent a broader audience. Thus the image of the video games industry has been literally screaming society that videogames are not just for children anymore (although they are still the crucial target audience). Indeed the Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival changed its name to remove any connection that it involves videogames. Also the number of mature rated video games has tripled due to the ever increasing appeal since the average gamer is aged between 20 and 35. However, have modern videogames been able to shake away the stereotypical image of the nerdy teen playing in their bedrooms with no lights on like some sort of Gollum creature and made them mature?
The problem with the debate that videogames have matured is what classes as a videogame to be one? Modern videogames now have a wide range of game types and ways that psychologically involve the player more; as such it is hard to justify something that makes games mature. Is having a videogame with an 18 certificate rating slapped on the front cover make it mature? Or is having better graphics, better character building and better narratives that may even involve world issues make them mature?
Before video games had anything that resembled a person you could actually see properly society saw videogames as nothing but mindless pixels causing seizures to kids. Than as the technology began to improve so did the many things that videogames could show. Games such as Alone in the Dark, Grand Theft Auto and Doom began to show just how videogames had improved by trying to appeal to a mature audience. Thus it seemed that videogames had become mature by having gore splattered across the screen and wider interactions with an improved pixilated environment (well sort of) that you can actually do whatever you wanted to do. Even today videogames with an 18 certificate rating are being certified more times than kids putting money into their favorite arcade machine.
So can a videogame with an 18 certificate be classed as mature? Not really. Although they are rated for a mature audience it doesn’t mean that the game is. For example games like Left 4 Dead 2, Grand Theft Auto 4 and Madworld have 18 certificates but despite of this they still have features that can’t be mature; as such using gore and killing people which can’t be shown in a children’s game are still seen by today’s society as nothing more than mindless actions that just appeal to a teenager. Even the community that play the games know that they aren’t considered mature but play them for the voyeuristic pleasures of beating up and shooting people just for the fun of it.
Most of today’s video games have abandoned the novelty of producing a game for its game play and are now turning their attention to the film industry for inspirations. Using the faculties of script writing, art design and computer wizardry videogame narratives and characters are now so complex and thought out that people can get fully immersed into them. Even the inspirations of videogames are now being made into films to show just how developed they have become in terms of artistry and complex storylines. For example games such as Mass Effect, Bioshock, Assassins Creed 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 all use character interactions and an engaging plotline that need more thought into playing them and rather than just running around and shooting people for no reason. Even Hideo Kojima the famous games director and founder of the Metal Gear franchise got his inspiration from movies to inspire cinematic techniques for his cut scenes; as such they have been highly praised by both the game and film industry for immersive and character driven stories with world issues of war and the negatives of it.
However, could using better narratives and characters make a game mature? No. Even if a video game has a good story or better characters there is one thing that all games need to use: Game play. Without the game play a video game is not considered a videogame and so the game play is the major integrity of having a player move from one level to the other to continue on with the story. The games mentioned before seem to make player’s believe that they are mature but in fact are not since they use still use simple actions and voyeuristic pleasures of beating up and shooting people. Even the tasks given can’t be seen as mature since collecting something or solving an issue with quick time events or bashing people in the head are plain simple and childish. One major controversy that has been seen as a step backwards is the notorious mission in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The mission “No Russian” sets the player in an airport where you have to forcefully gun down innocent people for no reason whatsoever. Talk about trying to be mature eh?
So you may be asking what makes a video game mature? Puzzle elements. That’s right those minigames involving puzzle elements you play in video games are what make games mature. After all solving a puzzle with the power of your noggin whether it would be from putting shapes into manageable blocks or putting objects into the right order is educative and indeed encouraging. This can be seen by Nintendo's Brain Training where the player can learn to read better to working out math problems. The game is so popular that it is played not just for children but for people of all ages. This is what made Ninetendo DS and the Wii popular as the games encourage people to lose weight with the balancing board or the new feature in Pokémon where it encourages people to walk on the go; enabling the Pokewalker device to check on you and your Pokémon’s progress.
Any game doesn’t have to be a puzzle game itself as it can feature elements of puzzle solving to be thoughtful and proactive. Real time strategy games involve players to be mindful of what resources they have and how many units they can produce. First person shooters enable players to pick a strategy and be observant of their surroundings. Research has found that first person games give players’ better observation and hand-eye coordination as the level of concentration and thought process of tackling a situation requires a lot of
mental stability. Then there are simulation games where a videogame can teach people to fly different types of planes or how to drive a car. Carmageddon might not be a good example but driving simulations such as Gran Turismo 5 can teach players how to drive by learning of hazards such as turning corners on a
slippery road or when it’s the right time to change gears can help people remember when in a real situation. Thus you don't need a game with a good story or an 18 certificate to make it mature but having something that uses your brain.
However, even if Videogames may not seem to be mature they can still give the delights that people want which is to escape the dull routines of life. Whether if it's engaging in battles, talking to fantasy creatures or racing in
an imaginary car the joy of doing these things makes the experience all the better. Just like films and novels before it videogames can provide all the entertainment that you need and can easily suck you in. If other media
entertainment has no restrictions on what to show than surely videogames can as well. So what if they will never be accepted by society for not being mature. After all everyone who interacts with some form of media who wants an experience that maybe seen by others to be childish still has a child in them. Well I'm
not worried I'm having fun. Are you?