By Superharman 0 Comments
While reading the various news stories on Double Fine's upcoming Sesame Street title, I couldn't help but think of other industries and what all ages means in those formats. Looking at a few forum posts, it was clear that some people were only interested in this if they were younger or had kids. Before I get into detail though, it is great to see that companies with licences are taking on projects from smaller studios. First we had the Universal deal with Back to the Future and Jurassic Park, now this.
Games have always had some difficulty balancing the all ages thing. You have games that are designed for kids that are a little too technically complex which appeal to older games from a technical stand point, they leave the gamer wanting on the story side of things though. You also have games for the same audience that are too simple in both story and gameplay turning off the older gamer. Nintendo seem to generally find a solid balance with this, Kirby's Epic Yarn comes to mind, while its story is rather simple, it pulls it off because of its charm. The thing about the term all ages though is that as a rule, it should appeal to all ages. Fiction for example has a number of novels designed to appeal to both children and adults, comic books are the same. The best example of this though, is film and the rise of Pixar. What Pixar manage to do is capture the imagination of adults that helps them to enjoy the film they are taking their kids to. They do this either through nostalga or tapping into complex emotions which speak to everyone, not just the child.
So is this what Double Fine are trying to do here? Are they designing a product that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults? One of the hurdles here is the licence, Sesame Street as opposed to an original IP is firmly lodged in childhood. At the same time, the level of nostalga for Sesame Steet characters is rather strong, the licence is used for adult clothing after all. Put is simply, there are people over the age of thirty who have fond memories of Sesame Street and at the moment, seemingly as a means of escapism, older people seem to be clinging to nostalga as a way of recapturing their youth. The second part of what they are doing is using Kinect, a device that has been strongly targeted at all ages, specifically families. Having used the hardware a little recently, it is solid but the wait for better and varied experiences seems to be the main call of a lot of gamers. This could be the type of game to do that.
While I don't think that this Sesame Street game will break any new ground, I've personally been waiting for a solid Kinect adventure game, the tech lends itself to the genre. Double Fine are known for their creativity and their ability to take fairly common game experiences in new directions. Personally, I have faith in them, I just hope the licence isn't what holds them back. What I mean by that is that I simply have a hard time imagining myself alone in my bedroom playing this game. Ah who am I kidding? All Double Fine games end up in my collection eventually. However, as I see other complex all ages works in other industries such as the comic book series Owly (which a number of older readers buy) and of course Pixar, we can only hope that the complete experience of an all ages game hits soon be it Sesame Street or not.