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Daily Reaction: What Will it Take for the Games Industry to Grow Up?

September 10, 2012 Written by Dan Oravasaari

Daily Reaction is a PSLS exclusive feature where Sebastian Moss & Dan Oravasaari discuss today’s most hard-hitting topics every single weekday.

Video games as a whole have been considered by many people over the years as an outlet for children play and fantasize. This stigma has been a topic that has plagued the industry as a whole, causing countless arguments, and could be potentially industry changing. With gamers around the world playing titles that are progressively becoming more intricate in story and graphics, we discuss what it will take for the media and the world to consider video games as more than a toy.

Dan: The biggest hurdle in stopping all of the negative publicity that the games industry seems to receive is get the actual industry and its audience to mentally mature. As much as some people do not want to hear it, the biggest problem we face as an industry, is us. Games that have women with abnormally sized breasts, and cartoonish figures are only offset by the Greek god figured heroes that protect them. This overtly masculine and feminine use of stereotypes keeps the portrayal that we are focused more on the physical attributes of something, than we are of its content. This mentality is widely considered to be something that is associated with immaturity, as the lack of appreciation for somethings depth is a sign of ones own shallowness. This is not to say that there are no games out there that do not offer things more than cosmetic appeal, as there are games that have gripping stories, and memorable characters – it is to say that those games rarely get as much of a public presence than the ones with generic archetypes that show little depth.

Seb: Yeah, but really you’re unfairly tarring games with an immature brush as if it’s a unique thing. Take all the big Hollywood movies – it’s all explosions, breasts and abs – pretty much just like games. Even books are tarnished by ‘best sellers’ like 50 Shades of Shit, which is just porn without the interesting pictures. Could games do with more mature themes, normal breasted woman and plots that are interesting and coherent? Absolutely, and it seems like we are slowly moving in the right direction with Beyond: Two Souls, Journey or Passage. But the fault doesn’t lie with CoD and Battlefield, those kinds of entertainment will always exist in any medium. The fault lies simply in public perception, and that’s something that’ll only change over time, just how people wanted to ban Rock music and now it’s old fashioned and laughed at on X Factor. As much as gamers love to bash Angry Birds and FarmVille, it is bringing people into the medium, mainstreaming it and allowing for people to realize that this is actually a diverse and varied place to have fun, or even be moved.

Dan: Do not get me wrong on what I am saying the problem is. The issue that I am noticing is that, the general population outside of gaming is inundated with two major types of games. Games like CoD or Battlefield and things like Mario and Angry Birds, one consists of killing hundreds of people, while the other is family friendly and easily accessible to people’s children. Now, when a parent sees their child with a Mario or Angry Birds title, they can only assume that they will eventually move to the only other option – bloodshed. This is simply due to a perception problem, and we are the ones giving it.

If most of our purchases as gamers are mostly split between either casual titles or mature shooter titles, we limit the presence of countless titles that offer so much more. This is only exacerbated by media outlets that capitalize on peoples fears and ignorance, to increase their ratings. Yet we do little to combat false claims as we show only our flashiest and child friendly titles, and not titles that could show we will eventually have our own Great Gatsby or Schindler’s List. The reason why titles like 50 Cent’s of Grey are able to exist without undermining the literature industry, is namely because there are generations of titles that are considered profound and classic – much the same is now being said for the film and music industries. The problem with gaming is that we so late to this modern world that we do not have the established history, we are supposed to be developing now. Granted, we are only seeing the tip of our ability to tell legitimate stories, but we need to not lead by simply feeding into ignorance, we need to also show our strengths.

Seb: The general population is retarded, and they’ll see those games because that’s what they want to see, and that’s what the general press reports about, something that has happened in every ‘edgy, new’ medium dating back to the dawn of man – even Socrates and Plato lamented the youth and how things were getting worse.

The last Rambo had 2.59 kills per minute, but people don’t use it as an example of why the entire film industry is a puerile, blood-hungry, adolescent, basement dwelling pile of crap because movies have permeated the entire cultural zeitgeist. It’s normal to watch movies and know that there is a wide spread of films. But go back a hundred years? You’ll see people complaining that a slap on film may spark violence in real life, or that a bit too much ankle could be raunchy. All we can do is give it time, and as more people become gamers, it’ll become less ostracized as a ‘child’s pastime’ and more accepted a mature medium.

And yes, there are still too many games that devalue women, still use Russians as the bad guys (what is this, the ‘80s?) or think that waves of human bullet collectors equals a fully fledged story. These are issues we must address, we must demand fuller stories that push us more, less sexualization, less pointless, arbitrary violence and more uniqueness that doesn’t simply try and copy Hollywood but rather takes advantage of the most immersive medium of all. But I don’t want these changes to be made to appear ‘more mature in the eyes of the general populace’, I simply want them because they’ll mean games will be better, and that the added maturity will open up new and unparalleled levels of entertainment.

Where do you stand on the maturity of the gaming industry as a whole? Are games not meant to be more than a tool to escape to our youth, or are we just on the brink of a new era of games? Make sure to leave a comment below and let Seb and Dan know if you’re of age on findaman.com.