Grow Up

"The Average Age Of Videogame Players"

Is a statistic thrown around with such wild recklessness that it's significance as a credible argument in any given situation has dwindled. I last remember the number hovering somewhere about the 33 mark, though that was a while back and I expect these days the average videogamer is going through their mid-life crisis.

It's easy to shuffle out that number as a knee-jerk reaction to any accusation of videogame related immaturity, pointing out with a smug smile that "Actually, I think you'll find" the average age of people playing videogames is 94. Or 328. Or, let's face it, any number higher than your current age. If needed you can probably find an article on IGN or Kotaku to validate your claims. Isn't that what those websites are for?

And, for the most part, we were all getting along fine and dandy

In relative denial that the majority of games we play are actually immature male-oriented power fantasies with a severe lack of innovation, writing ability and variation. But you play them because, hell, it's fun shooting zombies in the face. Who doesn't like shooting zombies in the face? Nobody I want to know about.

Until some inconsiderate bastard speaks up and points out that, regardless of whatever statistic you can dig up online, no matter how articulately you can defend your favourite addiction, videogames are childish. Someone with a transparently thoughtful and reflective approach to videogame design points out that videogames aren't mature enough for adults. We react accordingly; people have been saying this shit for years, it's easy to dismiss it. Your parents have been saying this for your entire life, what's difference will one more hater make?

But then there's those of us who actually agree. I don't know if that's a common opinion or not. I assumed it wasn't, as the article was originally sold as sensationalist flame-bait (Though to be fair it was free-range flame-bait from a legitimate source). To hear that and to think "This guy not only has a point, but has repeatedly demonstrated that this medium has the potential for creative growth" is very refreshing and something that I want to support as much as possible. That's why I finally got the fuck off my lazy arse and wrote this blog. Let's do this, videogame people. Let's grow the fuck up.

Jenova Chen: I salute you.

Thanks for reading

Love Sweep

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Edited by Sweep

"The Average Age Of Videogame Players"

Is a statistic thrown around with such wild recklessness that it's significance as a credible argument in any given situation has dwindled. I last remember the number hovering somewhere about the 33 mark, though that was a while back and I expect these days the average videogamer is going through their mid-life crisis.

It's easy to shuffle out that number as a knee-jerk reaction to any accusation of videogame related immaturity, pointing out with a smug smile that "Actually, I think you'll find" the average age of people playing videogames is 94. Or 328. Or, let's face it, any number higher than your current age. If needed you can probably find an article on IGN or Kotaku to validate your claims. Isn't that what those websites are for?

And, for the most part, we were all getting along fine and dandy

In relative denial that the majority of games we play are actually immature male-oriented power fantasies with a severe lack of innovation, writing ability and variation. But you play them because, hell, it's fun shooting zombies in the face. Who doesn't like shooting zombies in the face? Nobody I want to know about.

Until some inconsiderate bastard speaks up and points out that, regardless of whatever statistic you can dig up online, no matter how articulately you can defend your favourite addiction, videogames are childish. Someone with a transparently thoughtful and reflective approach to videogame design points out that videogames aren't mature enough for adults. We react accordingly; people have been saying this shit for years, it's easy to dismiss it. Your parents have been saying this for your entire life, what's difference will one more hater make?

But then there's those of us who actually agree. I don't know if that's a common opinion or not. I assumed it wasn't, as the article was originally sold as sensationalist flame-bait (Though to be fair it was free-range flame-bait from a legitimate source). To hear that and to think "This guy not only has a point, but has repeatedly demonstrated that this medium has the potential for creative growth" is very refreshing and something that I want to support as much as possible. That's why I finally got the fuck off my lazy arse and wrote this blog. Let's do this, videogame people. Let's grow the fuck up.

Jenova Chen: I salute you.

Thanks for reading

Love Sweep

Moderator
Posted by Hailinel

Video games aren't just for kids, though. I am an adult. I play games targeted at both my age range and those that are meant for wider audiences. There's nothing to debate about that because it's the truth.

Posted by BulletproofMonk

why

Posted by Sweep

@Hailinel: You know what, actually you are right. I need to rephrase that sentence.

Moderator
Posted by Village_Guy

Sure... I think, I have no idea what point you are trying to bring across?

I feel like I am missing something, some context or?

Posted by TwoLines

Yo, a good idea would be to post a link to the article you're talkin' about.

Posted by MegaMetaTurtle

The one thing that annoys me about the 'video games are for kids' argument is that people seem to confuse 'immature' and 'for kids'.

For example; Saints Row is pretty immature, but it's not really for kids.

I played through Journey a few times and really enjoyed it, and it appears a lot of other people did too, so it's not like there isn't an audience for his 'mature' games.

As long as you're enjoying what you're playing, who really cares.


But I guess that's just my opinion. :/

Edited by Make_Me_Mad

Is anyone arguing that most video games aren't, in fact, for kids? I mean, of course they are. Kids are the ones who are going to convince their parents to buy the next overpriced console and a litany of games that promise a lot and fail to meet expectations. Kids are pretty much always going to love video games, and it would feel incredibly wrong to me if the majority of games weren't aimed at them.

Still, that doesn't mean they all are, or that they all should be. That'd be equally disappointing to me. For every game that sells itself as being grown-up by including ridiculous gore, nudity, and crude humor, there are a few handfuls of games out there that tackle some really interesting topics with maturity and care. There are a number of games that really get into you, that focus and dig in and make you think long after they finish. Games that make you feel something, that can change the way you look at things if you're willing to engage them on an intellectual level.

Absolutely none of those games involve controlling the wind to make flowers bloom, unless there was a sidequest like that in Nier that I am forgetting. I doubt it.

Online
Posted by Brodehouse

Video games cost money to make. If you're telling people who make indie games to make more adult fare, I'm sure they'll decide for themselves what they want to make. If you're telling people that make big budget games that they need to lose money for the good of everyone, I guess you can go ahead. If you can find a way to make The King's Speech more fun to play than Borderlands, video games will grow up.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@Sweep said:

It's easy to shuffle out that number as a knee-jerk reaction to any accusation of videogame related immaturity, pointing out with a smug smile that "Actually, I think you'll find" the average age of people playing videogames is 94. Or 328.

My bad, guys. Didn't mean to throw off the average so horribly.

Posted by BeachThunder

I'm 112 and what is this?

Edited by believer258

Eh. I don't give a flying fuck if it's the most mature, most intellectual thing on the planet or the stupidest, most sophomoric thing on Earth. The question I ask is "Am I glad I'm playing this or do I want to be doing something else right now?"

Posted by Anwar

“Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

C.S. Lewis

That's all I have to say about childish things or whatever.

Edited by MikkaQ

Eh, I look at all the movies this year and feel the same way. Popular culture is too stupid for adults, I find. I can't really relate to anyone who enjoys movies like Battleship or Transformers.

A least with a big dumb game there is an interactive element that keeps me engaged. With hollywopd schlock It's just a series of explosions and gun fights I'm completely disconnected to.

Whatever happened to characterisation in action movies? I could relate to a guy like John McClane, a working man's hero with more problems than just the terrorists who stand in his way. I look at a game like Max Payne 3 and I see a lot of that style of hero in him. Yes, there are power fantasy elements to jumping through the air in slow motion and shooting dudes, but I feel like there's more to the player motivation than just that. You don't want to "be" Max Payne, he's too fucked up. You as the player just want to get Max Payne though another shitty day, very much like a Die Hard movie.

Pop culture feels like it's in some kind of general depression to me. Too much immaturity across the board. I wouldn't blame games exclusively, we live in a dumb culture.

Posted by Winternet

So, how is this about Jenova Chen?

Oh, right, so it can appear on the forums ;)

Posted by Fallen189

This seems incredibly passive agressive. Just call whatever it is out, we won't hate you for it.

I think games are FOR kids, but it doesn't mean that there are not a LOT of games for adults. They don't have to be one or the other

Posted by MooseyMcMan

But I like that most video games are ridiculous, dumb, and (you could say) childish. Yeah, there are "mature" games (I don't mean the rating), and those are all fine and dandy, but sometimes I just want to shoot dumb and blow stuff up.

What I'm saying is that while I like serious-ass stuff, Saints Row the Third.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@BeachThunder said:

I'm 112 and what is this?

Eh? How?

Posted by TwoLines

@Make_Me_Mad: Hmm, it seems like the biggest games are aimed at teens. So, if by kids you mean teens, and by kid games you mean immature games, such as God of War and such, then yes, I agree.

But let us think about the big blockbuster movies, it's the same thing there. More and more movies are aiming at that teen rating. So, I'd say both movies and games aim at the lowest common denominator to earn money. lots of guns, explosions, chicks in swimsuits and a horrible, predictible script.

If in the future we will have more ways in which to interact with video games (and I think that will be the case), then we will see a crapload of cheap romantic "games", comedy "games", and a whole bunch of shit that makes easy money.

You're as capable of finding mature games now, as you will when video games will "grow up". That's how I see things.

Also, is Tetris mature? I don't know... Are sports mature? Do games need to have a deeper meaning? Isn't that more of a... interactive media thing?

Games usually have goals and a ruleset, will they have to loose that to grow up? Maybe they won't be even called "games" in the future.

I'm this close (---) to deleting all of this, and replacing it with: Dunno, games are okay I guess.

Posted by Brodehouse
@MikkaQ It's been that way since forever. Remember that until Die Hard came out, 80s action movies were just muscled men shooting terrorists and being angry. There were some great, thrilling Westerns and then there was schlock. There were great swords-and-sandals movies and there was schlock. Before torture porn horror there was slasher horror, before that it was supernatural horror, before that it was monsters.

There's nothing new under the sun. Our 'culture' hasn't declined, it's just changed. And it'll change again, and people will pine for the greatness of 2012 remembering the classics of this age and forgetting the dreck.
Posted by nintendoeats

Let me try to rephrase the thesis: at present video games are only designed to satiate our baser desires, but we do occasionally see potential for them to enrich us more deeply and make us better people.

If that is what we are discussing here, then I think that we are going to get there eventually. More primal game design techniques can be co-opted to create more thoughtful experiences, and to provide players with deeper meaning. We just don't understand those techniques well enough yet to do so.

I miss the days when sitting around discussing philosophy in coffee shops wasn't considered pretentious >_<

Edited by Turambar
@Sweep: Neither you, nor Jenova Chen, have presented a convincing argument of why the current state of largely immature fantasies is in fact not okay.  There is a wide berth to be bridged between saying "games can provide a profound message" and "games have to provide a profound message." 
Posted by JasonR86

I don't really care what a developer or publisher says as they only way we 'communicate' with one another is through the games that are released. So the only thing I want to hear from a developer or publisher, honestly, is "this is the game we've made..." and then I'll decide if it is worth buying or not. Everything else that is said is meaningless because it has no actual effect on me as a person or my day to day life. So, Jenova or any other game industry person, say whatever you want. But realize that I don't care what you say rather I only care about what you make.

Posted by Ravenlight

Dude's name is Jenova. This can only end up with Aerith dead by the end of the disc.

Edited by MikkaQ

@Brodehouse said:

@MikkaQ It's been that way since forever. Remember that until Die Hard came out, 80s action movies were just muscled men shooting terrorists and being angry. There were some great, thrilling Westerns and then there was schlock. There were great swords-and-sandals movies and there was schlock. Before torture porn horror there was slasher horror, before that it was supernatural horror, before that it was monsters. There's nothing new under the sun. Our 'culture' hasn't declined, it's just changed. And it'll change again, and people will pine for the greatness of 2012 remembering the classics of this age and forgetting the dreck.

I think there is a downward trend. Thinking about a lot of stupider movies from those times, they could be a lot worse. Things were subtler back then. Rambo 1 has 1 kill in it, and is more about how we've been treating our returning shell-shocked veterans than the action itself. Rambo 4 has over 200 kills and is a very hamfisted attempt at social commentary that has nothing to do with Rambo as a character. I think the subdued nature of older action movies actually made them MORE thrilling because the stakes seemed a little more realistic. I can kinda buy one disgruntled cop killing like 10 or so terrorists in an office building. Crazier things have happened. I find it harder to believe that same cop can run atop a jet plane and leap onto a collapsing bridge while chasing an 18 wheeler full of hackers. That kind of action pulls me right out, and I get that disconnected feeling, it becomes a mere series of expensive images to me.

Maybe games should try the same. Even something like LA Noire had a high kill count, and even though I think Max Payne's story and character were very well done, especially for a game, I still had to kill 2000+ people to see it. I look forward to something like The Last of Us, where each combat encounter is supposed to be meaningful and believable. That could lend the "maturity" to games that some people are looking for.

Edited by Beforet

Maybe it's the sleep deprivation sleep speaking, but god damn I do NOT care about how mature my stupid hobby is. Thank you.

Posted by Sweep

@Bocam: The creative process behind them was mature, the thought that went into manipulating how a player acts and the way a player feels was far more reflective than much of what else is available.

@nintendoeats said:

Let me try to rephrase the thesis: at present video games are only designed to satiate our baser desires, but we do occasionally see potential for them to enrich us more deeply and make us better people.

If that is what we are discussing here, then I think that we are going to get there eventually. More primal game design techniques can be co-opted to create more thoughtful experiences, and to provide players with deeper meaning. We just don't understand those techniques well enough yet to do so.

Pretty much this, yeah. The first step has always been to acknowledge that there is a problem, and that's why I wrote this blog. I'm not pushing any particular agenda here, I just wanted to, in a ridiculously convoluted way, express my support for this notion that there is still a great deal of work to be done.

Moderator
Posted by Beforet

Maybe it's just the sleep deprivation talking, but I legit think I'm going to jail now, . And I'm usually the one who hates those jokes.

Posted by Anwar

@MikkaQ said:

@Brodehouse said:

@MikkaQ It's been that way since forever. Remember that until Die Hard came out, 80s action movies were just muscled men shooting terrorists and being angry. There were some great, thrilling Westerns and then there was schlock. There were great swords-and-sandals movies and there was schlock. Before torture porn horror there was slasher horror, before that it was supernatural horror, before that it was monsters. There's nothing new under the sun. Our 'culture' hasn't declined, it's just changed. And it'll change again, and people will pine for the greatness of 2012 remembering the classics of this age and forgetting the dreck.

I think there is a downward trend. Thinking about a lot of stupider movies from those times, they could be a lot worse. Things were subtler back then. Rambo 1 has 1 kill in it, and is more about how we've been treating our returning shell-shocked veterans than the action itself. Rambo 4 has over 200 kills and is a very hamfisted attempt at social commentary that has nothing to do with Rambo as a character. I think the subdued nature of older action movies actually made them MORE thrilling because the stakes seemed a little more realistic. I can kinda buy one disgruntled cop killing like 10 or so terrorists in an office building. Crazier things have happened. I find it harder to believe that same cop can run atop a jet plane and leap onto a collapsing bridge while chasing an 18 wheeler full of hackers. That kind of action pulls me right out, and I get that disconnected feeling, it becomes a mere series of expensive images to me.

Maybe games should try the same. Even something like LA Noire had a high kill count, and even though I think Max Payne's story and character were very well done, especially for a game, I still had to kill 2000+ people to see it. I look forward to something like The Last of Us, where each combat encounter is supposed to be meaningful and believable. That could lend the "maturity" to games that some people are looking for.

Wait, your example for a stupid movie from the past is the first Rambo?

Posted by JasonR86

@Bocam:

Fucking creepy weird ass anime.

Posted by FluxWaveZ

Child porn.

Posted by MikkaQ

@Anwar: It's kind of a stupid movie at times. The final shootout where he trashes the town with the M249 was a little silly, though I loved the actual final confrontation. Been a while though, maybe it's worth watching again.

It's just a great example of an iconic franchise that got more and more nonsensical as it had to contend with modern action movie stylings. Like Die Hard.

Edited by oraknabo

I'm over 35 and I've spent my whole life studying art and reading real literature like Joyce and Nabakov but I still love video games. When I watch movies I can love a movie like Evil Dead 2 as much as I love Tarkovsky's Zerkalo. I'm a big fan of balancing high and low culture in life, but the fact that games have come of age in such a marketing saturated culture that there is little motivation for people to make games that aren't made to appeal to a lowest common denominator level of taste and mentality.

Another problem is that it seems like most of my generation is so infected with nostalgia of their formative years that they seem to think that He-Man, GI Joe and Transformers are still all they need in life. I still play original NES games all the time, but there is way more out there in life. I'm not saying everyone should give up dumb fun and only read Dostoyevsky, but dumb fun is like junk food. If your whole life consists of eating junk, playing plotless shooters, reading Dan Brown or Harry Potter and watching movies with the Rock in them, that's pretty unhealthy.

With that said, I think there are a lot of really brilliant people working in games right now and many games work fine as they are. What's wrong with adults liking Tetris? How about most of Will Wright and Sid Mier's games? I don't see anything wrong with adults playing most of the main Nintendo catalog-- in fact, I don't think I want to see Mario, Zelda or Metroid get any deeper with subtext. I hated FPS games for most of the 90s. Once Doom hit big, the PC games industry seemed like an endless stream of crappy shoot-eveything-that-moves FPSs. But we started to see stuff like Half-Life, System Shock, Thief & Deus Ex crawl out of that mess. More recently games like Half Life 2 & Bioshock & STALKER are nothing to be ashamed of playing as an adult. Hell, I love Gears of War s much as anything Jenova Chen has done.

I welcome more high-art, literary games anytime people want to make them, but i think it's pretty dumb to worry what age any game is targeted at. Let's just celebrate great games for being great and not waste as much times with the bad ones.

Posted by Cloudenvy

@JasonR86 said:

@Bocam:

Fucking creepy weird ass anime.

But also the best!

Posted by Demoskinos
@Cloudenvy

@JasonR86 said:

@Bocam:

Fucking creepy weird ass anime.

But also the best!

What is that? At first I thought it was Dance in the Vampire Bund but that obviously isn't Mina Tepes.
Edited by thedj93

i was playing crysis 2 today and at first it was no fun, but then as i found the flow of the game i had fun. 
 
i ignored the atrocious voice acting because it didn't affect the way the game felt if i barely listened. 
 
i feel like the intelligence of a game like crysis lies not with the metaphysical life statements it makes but with the way it builds momentum when you approach an encounter with the right kind of calculated confidence. 
 
but when I play crysis you would more often find me smacking  a metal fence with a phone because my superstrength makes pretty sparks fly then actually playing the game as intended by the designers. 

so my opinion is probably flawed

Posted by drag

i'd settle with not being patronised to death as a first step. you know that old tip 'show, don't tell'? still generally a good idea. just show me what is going on, or better yet let me experience it myself. we don't need to get everyone to stand around in a circle or get their boss on the phone afterwards for 'exposition hourly.'

Posted by Cloudenvy

@Demoskinos said:

@Cloudenvy

@JasonR86 said:

@Bocam:

Fucking creepy weird ass anime.

But also the best!

What is that? At first I thought it was Dance in the Vampire Bund but that obviously isn't Mina Tepes.

It's from Nisemonogatari.

Posted by Hizang

Love you too Sweep.

Edited by MattyFTM

I think Jenova Chen wants all games to be deep, meaningful experiences - games that evoke emotions and make you sit back and think. And while I certainly wish more games did that - there is nothing wrong with with a good dumb shooter. I like Die Hard, and I like the Shawshank Redemption. I like Of Mice and Men and I also like the Mass Effect novels. Not everything I watch, read or play has to be a deep, thought provoking experience. Dumb action movies and quick, trashy reads are fun. So are dumb, mindless shooters.

Video Games are certainly leaning far more towards the dumb mindless angle than most other mediums, but that's to be expected. It's a far newer medium than the others. But we'll get there. Video games will grow and evolve and we'll get more impactful, grown up experiences. It will happen. But it won't happen overnight. It takes time.

Moderator
Posted by JasonR86

@MattyFTM said:

I think Jenova Chen wants all games to be deep, meaningful experiences - games that evoke emotions and make you sit back and think. And while I certainly wish more games did that - there is nothing wrong with with a good dumb shooter. I like Die Hard, and I like the Shawshank Redemption. I like Of Mice and Men and I also like the Mass Effect novels. Not everything I watch, read or play has to be a deep, thought provoking experience. Dumb action movies and quick, trashy reads are fun. So are dumb, mindless shooters.

Video Games are certainly leaning far more towards the dumb mindless angle than most other mediums, but that's to be expected. It's a far newer medium than the others. But we'll get there. Video games will grow and evolve and we'll get more impactful, grown up experiences. It will happen. But it won't happen overnight. It takes time.

What makes people like Jenova look bad is that liking high-emotion games and making high-emotion games are different from demanding high-emotion games. The former is reasonable. Liking and making specific games is a fine thing to do and, most notably, is noninvasive. Demanding high-emotion games, though, is very...well, I guess the closest word is preachy but with a tinge of arrogance and exceptionalism. It screams "I'm above those other games and the peasants who play them thus I demand high-concept games for my more evolved, extraordinary peers!". That's why I personally get a little irritated by developers like Jenova who don't just feel it is their place to make high-emotion games (which, again, I think is great) but also to defame other developers who don't make those games and to belittle the audience who enjoy the defamed developers' games. Most important of all is that comments like what Jenova said serve only to make him look bad to people like me and won't lead to changes in how games are developed. Leading by example and showing that there is an audience for those high-emotion games will lead to an actual change in the game industry.

Posted by MacEG

I don't like shooting zombies in the face...

I LOVE shooting zombies in the face.

Posted by IAmNotBatman

I just read 'Rise of the videogame Zinesters' that Patrick pointed out recently and this blog seems to resonate with it so. Maybe it's just coincidence...

Online
Posted by Phatmac

@nintendoeats said:

Let me try to rephrase the thesis: at present video games are only designed to satiate our baser desires, but we do occasionally see potential for them to enrich us more deeply and make us better people.

If that is what we are discussing here, then I think that we are going to get there eventually. More primal game design techniques can be co-opted to create more thoughtful experiences, and to provide players with deeper meaning. We just don't understand those techniques well enough yet to do so.

I miss the days when sitting around discussing philosophy in coffee shops wasn't considered pretentious >_<

lol nurd.

Posted by Pop

But I like shooting zombies in the face.

Posted by Harkat

I agree to some extent, but still think Jenova Chen is a bit condescending (regardless of how good Journey is).

I'd like more serious games - Braid is among my all-time favorites - but I'm pretty happy playing pulpy miltary/fantasy/sci-fi stuff as well.

All in all, calm down people.

Posted by Harkat

@MikkaQ: Sure, those specific franchises have declined, as franchises tend to do. But then again, look at something like Drive. Not to mention Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - a film that did very well in a lot of countries (you could say it's based on an old book, but since when has that stopped Hollywood from dumbing things down?).

Yes, there are a lot of stupid movies these days. I think it's because fancy CG has made special effects so much cheaper. You couldn't pull a Transformers and fill a 2.5 hour movie with explosions and collapsing buildings in the 80's, so I guess it forced bigtime directors had to be a bit more creative with story. But eh, I have more than enough brilliant movies to watch nowadays.

Posted by TheHumanDove

The pretentious response from someone I imagined would be pretentious. So what's mature? Lets look at action movies. How many middle aged men go and see those? Lots. I hate how some developers need to make video games an art form instead of a form of entertainment. I'm not saying it doesnt have a place at all, but neither would I say current videogames are designed for the mentality of a child. His little rant has convinced me I don't want to support his indie need to be different, so I guess since I didn't experience his masterpiece, I'm still a manchild. Oh well

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