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Let's Talk Video Games

Who Moved My Cheese?


If you have a few mates around to watch a film, what do you put on?

A horror film? An adult comedy? Some dude-bro action? A bit of nerd-fest sci-fi?

More importantly: would any one of those films be anything less that a 15? Granted, you might scoop to the odd 12, such as The Dark Knight Rises, but I reckon you’d be playing it safe and pitching for a 15 or 18. I know that I would. In fact, when you’re on your own, isn’t it pretty much the same deal? Don’t you feel compelled to immerse yourself in adult content?

Wow. That came out all wrong. But you catch my drift. Ahem…

Now, forget we’re talking about films for a moment and replace the topic with games.

If I look through my collection, it’s by-and-large filled with 15 and 18 rated games. I say by-and-large; I mean entirely. I have a separate wallet for my kids, which is where all of the Sonic and Lego games end-up, but when they’re in bed and it’s my time to play, their wallet is the last place that I look.

Why?

Why am I forcing myself to play mature games? Why has my taste in games gone in one direction over these long years? Why does the thought of playing something that doesn’t feature blood, guns and zombies seem like an anathema? Why wouldn’t I put Finding Nemo on for me and the guys to watch over a few beers? Because I’d get a swift punch to the mangina, is why. And why don’t I watch The Incredibles when I’m on my own? Because I’d probably find a way to punch myself in the exact same place before beating my chest in an attempt to man-the-f**k-up.

We're watching WHAT?!

We’re watching WHAT?!

At VoxelArcade, we’ve recently been talking a lot about variations on a theme: losing our faith in games. Yet if you read between the lines, you’ll see quite clearly that the passion’s far from gone.

So what’s the problem?

Maybe it’s just that we’re looking in the wrong places? Maybe we’re just playing the games that we think we should be playing as opposed to the ones that would make us genuinely happy? Maybe our score-obsessed industry has driven us into this mentality? Maybe we’ve become so used to going to the same places to look for our cheese, that we failed to notice the stockpile running low and forgot the fact that sometimes you need to go out and look for more in the most unlikely of places?

Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just time to play a game?

And so as I thumbed through my wallet of death and destruction, I breathed a heavy sigh and resigned myself to the apparently mundane routine of adult gaming. My boys, on the other hand, clearly had different plans for me. Having left their wallet out next to the PS3, I happened to glance through, suddenly experiencing a whiff of excitement as I noticed Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed. I’d seen them play this many times – even played with them a bit when I was offered the chance – but the thought of sitting down on my own over a Guinness to play it when everyone else was asleep? What a mad, crazy idea that was…or was it?

The old rebellious streak in me reared its beautifully ugly head – and I’m more than a little glad that it did.

Put the shotgun down and step into the vehicle ...

Put the shotgun and the zombie down, sir, and step into the vehicle.

Playing Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed, on my own, late at night, was one of the most welcome breaths of fresh air that I’ve experienced in a long, long while. Somewhat tired and jaded by the ways in which Mario has monopolised the kart-racing genre; it’s one that I have long-since ignored. Somewhat numbed and desensitised by years of brutal violence and explosions; ‘kids’ games in general are something that I have largely ignored. And yet there I was, slipping and sliding around stunningly beautiful, insanely designed, rip-roaring roller-coaster-styled tracks with my car morphing into a boat one minute and a jet the next.

It was as though someone had surgically removed all of the amazing memories I had of Zoids, Thundercats, He-Man, Going Live!, Tiswas and Scooby Doo and distilled them into a fluorescent-blue fluid before injecting it into my eyeballs. With laughing gas. And sugar.

To clarify: I’m sat, on my own, approaching forty, playing a kids game, drinking beer – and grinning like a Cheshire cat.

So: did games get tired, boring and predictable – or did we?

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Husband. Parent. Gamer. Go figure.

Latest posts by Luke Martin (see all)

9 Comments

  1. Very good article. I think you’re onto something here Luke. As I said in my first article about my diminishing love of gaming, we never used to have reviews and the such. We simply had to buy the game and test it our for ourselves. The only alternative was to go to a friends/family members house and try it out there. 
    As for kids games. I still think I am a kid at the core. I am a huge fan of Japanese animation and manga, even though they are sort of targeted for older audiences.
    BUT I haven’t ever thought to myself ‘lets play a game such as Toy Story 3.’ Why not? I absolutely loved the film, so why not play the game? Is it because I automatically assumed that it was going to be a bad game? Most probably.

    • Sam Hewitthttp://voxelarcade.com/guilty-pleasures/guilty-pleasures-toy-story-3/ 🙂

      • Luke Martin VA Sam Hewitt Hahaha what were the chances of that?! I honestly picked that game at complete random. Actually that might be a bit of a lie as my son feel asleep watching the film.

        • Sam Hewitt Luke Martin VA Mine have played that more than an other. Awesome game.

        • Luke Martin VA Sam Hewitt I may just give it a go. My son would happily watch me play as well.

  2. I think its more about letting go. I enjoy Pixar films the same way I enjoy 18 rated movies – perhaps even more so. The same goes for games, for me, Super Mario Galaxy and Dark Souls were the greatest games of this generation. 
    All this ‘mature’ gaming is absolute nonsense- think back to the days of the Megadrive and SNES- no-one was calling Sonic, Mario or any other ‘cartoony’ game childish or ‘for kids’, the same way that nobody really thought that Mortal Kombat was ‘mature’. Everyone just enjoyed each game based on how good it was, not on whether it was designed for kids or grown ups.
    For me, people thinking that Sonic, Lego, Mario, Crash Bandicoot or whatever, are ‘for kids’ is just another sign that Microsoft etc are winning their war to fragment and turn the industry into something more like the movie industry. These games are for you, but these games are for kids.
    The first thing Microsoft and Sony did was to try and associate cartoony games with ‘kids’ games, the first shot in making Sega and Nintendo games seem like they were designed just for kids. Remember the Sony exec when, upon launching the PSone, he said ‘our games are aimed at over 16’s’?
    The first time I noticed this was when showing Mario Kart 64 to a friend. He said, isn’t this just a kids game? I was shocked, I had never heard the term before.
    If it had always been like this, then nobody would have played Jet Set Willy – kids game! Super Mario Bros. – kids game! Megaman – kids game!
    Saddens me, it really does. I feel an article coming on.

    • Simon Burns I don’t think it’s all down to the big companies. I think that the natural evolution of medium in terms of the graphical fidelity has enabled mature games to become all the more gripping and shocking, thereby creating a greater sense of divide between them and the more cartoon-like, child-friendly ones. Back in the day, there was only so much maturity you could put into blocky pixels! 
      By definition, Sonic Racing IS a kids game. It’s bright, brash, colourful, mindless age-appropriate fun. Sure, adults can enjoy it as well, it’s just that most of us have gone along with the hyper-reality bandwagon somewhat unwittingly.

      • Luke Martin VA Simon Burns I actually really like my ‘cartoony’ games. For me it makes it feel more like a game than the ‘realistic’ direction most games are heading towards. That’s just my preference though.

    • Simon Burns I have personally never considered games like Sonic, Super Mario, Crash Bandicoot and most definitely not Megaman, to be childish games. I just look at them to full under the ‘games for everyone’ category.

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