bit-gamer.net

What Makes A Mature Game?

Posted on 8th Feb 2010 at 13:57 by Joe Martin with 16 comments

Joe Martin
When I first joined bit-tech a few years ago I was fairly new to the journalism game and naïve in my responses to many things. Since then I’ve learned a lot more about the industry and one of the things I’ve been watching lately is the way that developers rush to label their games as ‘adult’ or ‘mature’ experiences.

We really delved into the story with Game X,” you might hear a developer say. “We really wanted to explore the fiction and make it as mature as possible.

It sounds good in theory and maybe I’m just being jaded and grumpy, but every time I hear someone label their title as having “a really mature story” or somesuch then alarm bells in my head start to ring. All too often the phrase is just a mask and the reality is that the game is, rather than being actually mature, tangibly immature.

When PRs and developers label a game as ‘mature’ what they really mean more often than not is that they’ve added swearing, boobs and gore beyond what the story and gameplay strictly require. Usually it’s part of an effort to appeal to a pubescent, sweaty-palmed audience too and the game is appealing more to adolescent lust rather than the wisdom that goes with maturity.

What Makes A Mature Game?
Mature?

An excellent example of this is Dante’s Inferno, which based much of the marketing and promotional work around the developers themselves talking about how seriously they were treating the poem on which the game is loosely based. They talked at length about the levels and how they were meant to reflect specific sins, they orated about Dante’s character as a tragic, betrayed soldier and his epic struggle to redemption. They were desperate to persuade listeners that, while Dante’s Inferno was obviously a game that would be heavily based on chopping things up (and there’s nothing wrong with that), it also had merit as an interpretation of the poem and for it’s mature story.

The reality however was that the characters were built of little more than grimace and grizzle, the ‘maturity’ consisted of needless nudity and the level just had a lot of lava in it. The game had more tits that sense, subtlety or story. The developers had confused the inclusion of elements suitable only for mature audiences for a design that was approached with maturity. Dante’s Inferno was very much an adolescent game, not an adult one.

What Makes A Mature Game?
Mature

An adult game is one such as Mass Effect 2, which still has swearing and sex and violence to some degree, but it uses those things as a means, not an end. The fact that Beatrice is always naked doesn’t tell us anything about the character or the situation, whereas the fact that Subject Zero prefers to wear tattoos and a shoelace rather than armour says a lot about her fatalism, psychopathy and reliance on her biotics. When you hear someone swear in Mass Effect 2 then it tells you something about the importance of the situation or the nature of the character, but in Dante’s Inferno it’s usually just because of a stereotype.

The most mature game (in the good way) that I’ve ever played is one which helped my first understand the difference between these two concepts; Vampire: Bloodlines. Set in the seedy streets of mid-night LA, Bloodlines isn’t bashful about the use of sex and swearing and players can even indulge their sadistic side by addicting a human to their blood and then manipulating her as they wish. The world of Bloodlines is an intoxicatingly dirty one, but it’s a consistent and useful one that stays a shade away from sheer pornography and extrapolates these elements into something that defines the game as a whole. It’s never gratuitous and that’s what sets it apart from most other ‘mature games’, the type of which I’m frankly starting to get rather embarrassed about every time I have to try and justify the rest of the medium in spite of their childishness.

16 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
proxess 8th February 2010, 15:37 Quote
[puberty]Boobies![/puberty]


If you want 'Mature' as in really maturity and mature people, you should play Ultima Online on a mature role-playing shard. The reason for this is that the other players are looking for the same thing.
memeroot 8th February 2010, 16:07 Quote
crossword training, sodoku training, brain training, continence training

the only mature games that matter
kenco_uk 8th February 2010, 16:36 Quote
One of the glyph puzzles in AC2 I did last night mentioned some opera lass having a game of hide the sausage (in not so many words). Took me by surprise - not something you expect the slurred speech of subject 16 to come out with.
Gunsmith 8th February 2010, 16:38 Quote
one that doesnt patronise you every 30 seconds
salesman 8th February 2010, 17:10 Quote
Games like Dante's Inferno are at the top of the pyramid of shotty mature labeled games, and I don't mean the rating ether. If you were to look at the bottom of the pyramid, to me, you would find games like Fallout and Duke Nukem. Two successful franchises that are built on mature theme, and good game play. To me it is just developers trying to one up games that came before them that makes for games like Dante's Inferno where you have mediocre game-play, with mixed greens, a common story-line, and boobies. The game doesn't draw my interest.
Manu_Otaku 8th February 2010, 20:00 Quote
I think we are going to get a a mature story/game in heavy rain, i cannot wait for this game and L.A. Noire.
WildThing 8th February 2010, 20:04 Quote
I've been thinking about getting Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, as I know you have mentioned it before and said it was good. It's on steam, but does the community patch work on steam?

On topic: I'm just curious Joe, what did you think of The Witcher? That was pretty damn mature, it had loads swearing and sexual innuendo and at times I thought it went a little over the line. I mean I really don't think a game for adults needs all that for it to be considered mature.
Farfalho 8th February 2010, 21:46 Quote
It reminds of a video on youtube of a guy faping to his elven female character in Wow... [Irony]Does that make it mature?![/Irony]
Elton 8th February 2010, 22:41 Quote
A game is mature when it can handle it's content well. GTA has been known to be a bit over the top, but it manages to incorporate that in the world at least somewhat well, as did the Elderscolls series and Fallout.

There's also the fine line between a mature game, and one where it tries too hard to be mature.
Burdman27911 9th February 2010, 02:54 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
All too often the phrase is just a mask and the reality is that the game is, rather than being actually mature, tangibly immature
Joe, have you been reading my mind? I was actually thinking about this for a good portion of the day yesterday. I'm starting to get sick of developers talking about how "mature" their game is, when they just tacked on nudity and swear words to a hollow shell of storyline. That approach reminds me of the 13 yr old kids trying to act they are mature by doing silly inappropriate things - really it just shows how far from being mature you really are.

So what if you are jaded and grumpy! It's about time someone else joined me, and hopefully more developers start to do the same.
Xir 9th February 2010, 07:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildThing
I've been thinking about getting Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, as I know you have mentioned it before and said it was good. It's on steam, but does the community patch work on steam?

Well don't know what the "community" patch really does, but with the last official patch, the game gave me no trouble.
And I really enjoyed it. ;)
CardJoe 9th February 2010, 08:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildThing
I've been thinking about getting Vampire The Masquerade: Bloodlines, as I know you have mentioned it before and said it was good. It's on steam, but does the community patch work on steam?

On topic: I'm just curious Joe, what did you think of The Witcher? That was pretty damn mature, it had loads swearing and sexual innuendo and at times I thought it went a little over the line. I mean I really don't think a game for adults needs all that for it to be considered mature.

The patches should work with Steam fairly easily and the latest ones do more than just fix bugs, they also restore cut content and items.

http://www.patches-scrolls.de/vampire_bloodlines.php

I'd very much recommend Bloodlines to anyone, really. Some of the later battles are quite annoying and the sewer level in the middle of the game is downright terrible, but it's a very good game regardless. Newcomers would be best off avoiding the two most interesting clans, the Malkavian and Nosferatu, for a bit though. Ventrue and Gangrel are the best first clans to try.

The Witcher, I thought was a pretty mature game. Gameplay and story quibbles aside, I thought that the characters were pretty consistent throughout and the designers played some good tricks when it came to showing you the consequences of your actions. Early on you'd do something because immature just because the game seemed to encourage you, only to realise later it was setting you up for a fall.

That said, the nude playing cards were completely gratuitous.
Elton 9th February 2010, 11:01 Quote
Quote:
That said, the nude playing cards were completely gratuitous.

You have to admit, they were a hilarious addition.
thEcat 9th February 2010, 14:28 Quote
Most companies will use whatever tricks they can to appeal to their target market, it's always a matter of cutting through the bull to discover if, and what the product actually delivers.

The games industry appears especially fond of adopting, perverting and diluting genres and group classifications to suit its own ends. Witness 'RPG (elements)', 'RTS (style)', along with the 'Adult nature' you mentioned. Even if the definitions of various genres were cast in stone the industry would still find ways to wiggle a way to have a certain group classification appear on the box art or in media reviews.

This is where you Joe provide an invaluable service to your readership, you and the rest of the honest, thinking man's gaming review media. If a game fails to live up the hype, if a game plays only lip service to some proclaimed genre then you are our first line of defence. And with the possible exception of mentioning ME2 (excellent game overall) and RPG (I'll take a lot of convincing on this) in the same review I'd say you do a fine job.

It's interesting that you mention Bloodlines, it's also perhaps a little sad that I still remember the day I bought this game.

Experience dictates that most mainline products using the depiction of a seductive female as a major element of packaging art are poor products using titillation to sell. It's also of worth to note one of the devs expressed in an interview his dismay that the amount of 'material' used in the female costumes was inversely proportional to the protection the costume provided. At least in part the game was marketed on the very titillation you object to. Still, Bloodlines is an exception to the rules, the game offers much, much more of an adult experience than the superficial presentation suggests. Even if the art had featured the porn studio or the blow job around the side of Confession, it would miss the point; it is unapologetic in its portrayal of a dirty, seedy, manipulative world, even the humour is cynical.

Edit:
<sorry, I can't let this go>

ME2: Travel the vastness of the entire galaxy in this epic adventure, an adventure in which you chose to be good or bad :p

... and that could be straight from Bloodines radio
Sifter3000 9th February 2010, 18:54 Quote
No discussion of mature games is complete without a mention of BMX XXX. No, that link is not safe for work. Or for the mature.
Xir 10th February 2010, 19:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sifter3000
No discussion of mature games is complete without a mention of BMX XXX. No, that link is not safe for work. Or for the mature.

Yes very mature:D

For the wild Japanese style: Tsuki-posession, or Shukketsubo...and I'm not posting a link
Personally I find them mostly boring, but I'm no Japanese;)
Log in

You are not logged in, please login with your forum account below. If you don't already have an account please register to start contributing.



Discuss in the forums
CM Storm Resonar Review

CM Storm Resonar Review

22nd October 2014

Asus Z97i-Plus Review

Asus Z97i-Plus Review

20th October 2014