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Games Entertainment

How Do Games Grow Up? 248

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-with-wheaties dept.
Gamasutra is running a piece by game designer Brice Morrison questioning the lack of games for grown-ups — or, more accurately, the lack of an intellectual progression in games like that which exists for books, movies, and other creative works. "While my interests in other media grew substantially more adult — from Nickelodeon to CNN, from Dr. Seuss to George Orwell — games did not seem to have a more intelligent counterpart for me to move on to. As I entered college, I became less interested in mindless entertainment and more interested in encountering new ideas. I didn't want to kill time; I wanted to take advantage of it. I wanted to challenge myself with profound concepts, to learn of new paradigms, processes, and possibilities. ... So what exactly are the barriers of entry for great thinkers (or groups of thinkers) to leave their mark on games? What must happen for games — or interactive entertainment, if you will, to mature as a medium?"
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How Do Games Grow Up?

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  • by ciderVisor (1318765) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:13AM (#25658599)

    I didn't want to kill time; I wanted to take advantage of it. I wanted to challenge myself with profound concepts, to learn of new paradigms, processes, and possibilities.

    That's your problem right there. Games only kill time. The skills you acquire as you progress in a game, generally speaking, can only be used in progressing within the game's framework.

    However, learning a slightly more challenging real-life task gives you more skills with long-term usefulness; My youngest daughter is learning piano, and we view each new challenging piece she has to learn as a 'boss level' - no matter how impossible it seems initially, we know from previous examples that eventually she'll conquer it and ultimately will be able to play it on demand without thinking.

    So my advice is - don't look for more 'grown up' games - challenge yourself with something much more rewarding and useful in the long term.

    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:45AM (#25658783) Homepage

      Yeah but real life has a completely messed up difficultly curve.

      The boss level of 'getting up in the morning' comes first, and then it's much easier after that.

      • I know what you mean. It looks impossible to defeat the boss in this area.

        • by Salgak1 (20136)
          And you're CONSTANTLY worried about other players spawn-camping the boss and generally ganking you. . . . Unless, of course, you have a sugar-daddy to powerlevel you. . .
          • by TheLink (130905)
            That wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the main problem.

            The main problem with real life, is it appears you can't restore from a save game and the respawning lag really sucks.

            Many of the manuals seem to hint that by the time you respawn the game is practically over.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It really depends on the game. Action games do improve hand-eye coordination and reflexes. Strategy games improve planning and leadership abilities. RPGs are basically like long books and carry their own rewards in the form of their stories (unless you hate books also).

      Playing piano is great and all for novelty, but it's not really a useful skill. It won't be needed often, if ever and it's not something that is noticeable unless you are one of the best. I don't mean to put down your daughter, but I doubt sh

      • by ciderVisor (1318765) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:25AM (#25659005)

        Playing piano is great and all for novelty, but it's not really a useful skill. It won't be needed often, if ever and it's not something that is noticeable unless you are one of the best.

        I take it you've never spent time in a pub band, or even writing songs with your mates in a garage band. Being able to play a musical instrument is very rewarding even without 'being noticed'.

        I don't mean to put down your daughter, but I doubt she will ever reach that "level".

        I'm pretty sure she'll never be a concert pianist, either, but claiming that the ability to play a musical instrument is something that will not be used often or ever just sounds ridiculous. Or maybe I've just been trolled...

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by aliquis (678370)

          I take it you've never spent time in a pub band, or even writing songs with your mates in a garage band. Being able to play a musical instrument is very rewarding even without 'being noticed'.

          Probably not, this is news for nerds after all, not news for musicians ;D

    • by kisak (524062) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:03AM (#25658873) Homepage Journal
      I talked to someone in a research group working with optical tweezers [wikipedia.org] on biological cells, and they asked potential PhD students if they played games since it actually gave them a head-start when operating these equipments. It was of course not the sole criteria for accepting a PhD student in their group, but they had empirical evidence gaming was a benifit. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by wisty (1335733)
      "Don't look for 'grown up' games"? Um, what about guitar hero? You mentioned learning piano; surely learning guitar would also be an intellectual pursuit.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ciderVisor (1318765)
        Being good at Guitar Hero won't give you much benefit when you actually try to play a real guitar. In fact, the immediate good results you get from GH could actually discourage you from going through the basics of learning how to play the real thing properly.
        • by Gewalt (1200451)

          There is one tangible benefit from GH tho, and all the other rhythm simulators. They teach rhythm. They accidentally teach how to keep time.

          Coincidently, since I am pure white boy with no rhythm to speak of at all, I cannot possible play any rhythm simulators at all. Which is a sad reflection of the reality that I was not destined to ever play a musical instrument well, no matter how much I like practicing. /sigh

    • The Victorians mailed in a letter. They want their parlor room piano back.

      If I understand you properly, you are saying that the skill of "Piano" carries more value long term than any particular game which now has a short lifespan.

      Thing is, "Piano" playing itself is already starting to be passed by, except for the modern ofshoot of playing Keyboard in a small band. Then the grownup game is arguing with band members with "creative differences".

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:33AM (#25659051) Journal

      That's your problem right there. Games only kill time. The skills you acquire as you progress in a game, generally speaking, can only be used in progressing within the game's framework.

      I hope you do realize that the same applies to most of the RL skills waved around as "yeah, but look what _my_ hobby teaches me" proof that someone's pet hobby is better than gaming.

      E.g., yes, your daughter's piano skills. (God knows how many kids have been tortured with _that_.) Unless her goal in life is an underpaid job in an orchestra that skill is useful for exactly one thing: more playing the piano. Usefulness for any other RL activity: zero.

      And yes, you could say that she's going to be a great pianist and earn teh big bucks by being some concert's super-star. Guess what? His chances are about as good to make money as a gaming superstar. Or rather, your daughter's chances are just as bad. Not everyone gets to be Fatal1ty and not everyone gets to be a superstar musician. There are 1000 times more people wanting such a job, than people who actually get one.

      But at any rate, the same chances apply to making living out of gaming. He can theoretically end up making a living out of being a top gamer, same as your daughter can theoretically end up a legendary pianist. Your daughter can end up a composer instead, and he can end up a game programmer with that experience. Your daughter can end up scraping by on a minimum wage playing in some orchestra or some unknown band in a bar, he can end up a minimum-wage game tester.

      More likely, for most children who went through that, the only result is, ta-da, that they killed some time with it.

      So remind me, exactly what do you base that snottiness on, when you look down upon his hobby? No, seriously.

      But let's move on, let's see more poster children for "look at what a cool RL hobby I have" idiocies that get waved around all the time:

      - mountaineering, camping, and other excuses to go out in the wild. Exactly what skills do people learn there, and when will they apply them IRL? Because it seems to me that the only times when you'll apply any of them, is... next time you go do that hobby. That's it. E.g., exactly when will you have to find north by the moss on the trees... in a city? If you want the actual useful version of that, get a GPS navigation system. No, let's make no bullshit pretenses, it's just a way to kill time.

      - fishing. The chances you'll ever feed and clothe your family with a fishing pole, are practically nil. You'll never catch enough fish to sell them and, say, pay for your kid's clothes and education with it, because fish are freaking cheap. You'll never get a job to sit near a lake with a fishing pole, either. The way it's done nowadays is with big boats and nets, not with a fishing rod. And even, let's say, in a post-apocalyptic Fallout-type scenario, where are you going to fish? There just aren't enough rivers around to support even the most minimum population that way. Most have been depleted already, and you may notice that the fishing hobbyists go to some fish farm actually, where fish are artifficially fed and raised for that. So again, chance to ever get any other use out of that skill: zero. It's just a way to kill some time, and any skill you get there will only ever be used when you next go fishing.

      - messing with one's car. I hate to break it to some people, but _very_ few even save any money there. Yes, everyone has some anecdote of that time they fixed the car themselves and saved a fortune. But almost everyone forgets those other times when they just made it worse and had to pay more to get it fixed, or the money spent on all those extra bits and pieces and tools that never actually got used enough to pay for themselves. And usually what they save is not worth the time spent there. There are people who practically live in the garage. Even if you saved $100 once (and you won't save more, unless you also smelt and forge your components too), if you spent 20 hours in

      • by mog007 (677810)

        I'd have to disagree about your car fixing situation. My father has only owned one new car in his whole life, and he sold it years ago. The only reason he performs maintenance on his cars is to keep them running, not because he enjoys it. It was a hobby for him when he was a teenager, but it's not a hobby for him anymore. He does it now to save money, not to have a good time.

        Fixing up a junker into a cherry newish car would definitely be a hobby, and it would probably be more expensive than buying a new

        • I agree with your point. Not only that, but to learning how to fix cars can actually foster some understanding, however limited, of basic to intermediate level mechanics and electronics, depending on the vehicle. Sure, you probably won't understand engine harmonics and such, but that's what engineering classes are for.

      • More likely, for most children who went through that, the only result is, ta-da, that they killed some time with it.

        So remind me, exactly what do you base that snottiness on, when you look down upon his hobby? No, seriously.

        Seriously ? Having an introduction the beautiful, engaging world of playing and creating music.

        Besides, it sounds to me like the original author is the one who's 'looking down upon his hobby', not me.

        • by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @09:43AM (#25660085) Journal

          And I was introduced via gaming to:

          - the wonderful world of logic

          - the worderful world of algorithmic thinking, and splitting a problem into (semi-)self-contained, manageable parts

          - the wonderful world of painting (a texture) or storytelling and creative writing (e.g., a new quest arc)

          - the wonderful world of taking decisions in split seconds, and of accepting that you don't always have the data or time for the perfect choice

          And a few others.

          Games aren't just about playing and achieving a high score, but also about trying to make your own (back when you could realistically make a ZX-81 game in a day or two) or modding (the more sane alternative nowadays.) I was programming assembly within a year of being exposed to my parents' ZX-81, for example. It's skills I still apply at work every day.

          Which is also why I'll call it "looking down upon it", if your best answer is along the lines "gaming is only for killing time, and you should do some RL stuff instead." You don't have to give up gaming to start using your head and getting RL skills. You might, however start taking them a part a bit too, not just playing them. And if you're going to say it's still something done instead of gaming, well, not quite, it's more like complimentary. Unless you know what the game does and/or don't like it enough in the first place, you won't start modding it.

          But even that might not be truly needed. There are games where you apply logic within the game, and I even remember two where they had a programming language integrated right into the game. And I don't mean for modding, but you could actually program the character's cybernetic implant to do something else and help you in some way while you run and gun.

      • by clare-ents (153285) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @09:38AM (#25660045) Homepage

        E.g., yes, your daughter's piano skills. (God knows how many kids have been tortured with _that_.) Unless her goal in life is an underpaid job in an orchestra that skill is useful for exactly one thing: more playing the piano. Usefulness for any other RL activity: zero.

        I play, and recently played at a close friends wedding. Not only did I get to give a unique, personal and priceless present whilst receive the adoration of hundreds of guests. I later carried an impromptu post-reception party with a smaller number of the guests at the hotel for several hours after the reception finished.

        I didn't make any money, but I made a lot of people happy. If you think that's useless in real life then accountancy is the profession for you.

        • by TheLink (130905)
          There was also a guy who flew an RC helicopter to deliver the wedding ring. Was kind of stressful for him since it was at night, and in open air.

          To me much of what we do can be seen as a waste of time, posting on slashdot, writing code, even making money.

          After all once you are dead what good are your money making skills?

          What adds value is people.

          And that is more so if you believe there is an afterlife, that at least some people do get to live forever. If that is true then logically people matter more.

          Imagin
        • by Nursie (632944)

          Yeah, I've been to weddings where members of the bride or grooms family play music for the guests.

          Torture would be a mild word for it.

        • Actually... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Moraelin (679338)

          1. When I take my holy-spec raiding in WoW, I make 24 people very happy too. Used to be 39 >;)

          2. Actually, the point was that we should stop measuring it all by utility, money, investment, etc. We do things because they're _fun_. And that goes for both my gaming and your playing an instrument.

          You probably didn't put years into it, just so one day you can make those people happy at that wedding. You did it because you _liked_ doing it, right? The utility came incidentally, but what kept you doing it was t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by uncledrax (112438)

        Your daughter can end up scraping by on a minimum wage playing in some orchestra or some unknown band in a bar, he can end up a minimum-wage game tester.

        Apparently the fringe benefit of becoming a Minimum wage game tester is a free sex change. :]
        (I joke.. I myself am a fairly horrible spelling/grammar person)

        In general, I can agree with your abstract level of thought.. however I still disagree with the principles.

        I think the problem may arise that, at least to me, a significant majority of the games out there teach no true auxiliary skills.

        Yes; shooters/reaction games can in fact heighten your reaction time. Strategy games can improve critical thinking, etc

      • But let's move on, let's see more poster children for "look at what a cool RL hobby I have" idiocies that get waved around all the time:

        - mountaineering, camping, and other excuses to go out in the wild. Exactly what skills do people learn there, and when will they apply them IRL? Because it seems to me that the only times when you'll apply any of them, is... next time you go do that hobby. That's it. E.g., exactly when will you have to find north by the moss on the trees... in a city? If you want the actual useful version of that, get a GPS navigation system. No, let's make no bullshit pretenses, it's just a way to kill time.

        Seriously, what going out into potentially dangerous places without backup gives you is experience of dealing with risk; assessing it, coping with it, surviving the consequences when it goes wrong, taking responsibility. These are important life skills which too many young people just simply don't have. I think kids have a basic human right to take fatal risks; more than that, I don't think you can grow up as a fully adult human being without exposure to fatal risk. This super-safe, molly-coddled, over-prot

        • I don't think you can grow up as a fully adult human being without exposure to fatal risk

          Of course, often people who are exposed to fatal risk as children also don't grow into a fully adult human being...

          • I don't think you can grow up as a fully adult human being without exposure to fatal risk

            Of course, often people who are exposed to fatal risk as children also don't grow into a fully adult human being...

            Well, as they say, duh. No, of course not. But at least they were given the chance. You cannot succeed if there is no risk of failure.

      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @10:52AM (#25660937)

        Unless her goal in life is an underpaid job in an orchestra that skill is useful for exactly one thing: more playing the piano. Usefulness for any other RL activity: zero.

        You also learn music theory and music appreciation. Your world grows a little. Piano lessons as a kid might translate into guitar playing as a teen or becoming a professional musician. Honestly, I hate the attitude of "if it isnt making money then its stupid to do." Why go to college when you can just go to trade school? There's an argument that its worth educating people even if it doesnt translate into dollars.

        I'm just saying that essentially games are the _same

        Compared to learning a musical instrument or car repair? No way. Not even close.

        Lastly, I do some car repair. Ive never "had to take it in because it was worse." Being educated about cars means lots of savings. A better maintained car is a longer running car. Inflated tires is better mpg. Being able to talk to a mechanic with knowledge on your side is power. Replacing worn parts beats paying for the tow and downtime. Heck, knowing whats wrong with a car means I can do the labor most of the time and I can shop around for the best price on parts, even if I cant install it.

      • by Hierarch (466609)

        That's your problem right there. Games only kill time. The skills you acquire as you progress in a game, generally speaking, can only be used in progressing within the game's framework.

        I hope you do realize that the same applies to most of the RL skills waved around as "yeah, but look what _my_ hobby teaches me" proof that someone's pet hobby is better than gaming.

        Plenty of good points here, and I generally agree with you. However, there's a few things you have neglected, and I'm curious to see your though

    • Yeah because being able to play random song on the piano is so much more useful than most frags in quake or top ranking on the wc3 ladder?

      "My interest is so much better than yours!"

    • They said the same for Cinematography, Photography , Theater and even written books, starting from Plato.
    • That's your problem right there. Games only kill time.

      I disagree. There is no reason that other media, such as books and movies, is somehow more capable of offering more productivity than games. The only real difference is games offer some sort of interaction.

      Games can be used to discuss serious topics and conceptually challenge the player. Consider Deus Ex and it's discussion of the way information and technology is blending in with humanity - literally. It's discussion of government and freedoms (and terrorism).

      The problem is that few games genuine

    • by discord5 (798235)

      My youngest daughter is learning piano, and we view each new challenging piece she has to learn as a 'boss level'

      Mozart is easy, just circle-strafe for victory. ;)

      So my advice is - don't look for more 'grown up' games - challenge yourself with something much more rewarding and useful in the long term.

      As much as I agree with this, everyone needs to unwind every now and then. I can really enjoy gaming, even really stupid games, and I prefer it a lot more than watching most movies or tv-series since it keeps me busy instead of pondering about some problem that needs solving. Having said that, I recently picked up playing the guitar (yes, the instrument, not the plastic guitar hero controller) because I wanted something fulfilling to do with my spare time.

    • by Fred_A (10934)

      However, learning a slightly more challenging real-life task gives you more skills with long-term usefulness; My youngest daughter is learning piano, and we view each new challenging piece she has to learn as a 'boss level' - no matter how impossible it seems initially, we know from previous examples that eventually she'll conquer it and ultimately will be able to play it on demand without thinking.

      Piano isn't that difficult, all you have to do is press the right key at the right time. It's like that console guitar game.

      *ducks*

    • I'll give you that games aren't particularly useful, but they're entertainment they don't have to be useful. But why do you assume they're not rewarding? The challenge and enjoyment I get out of playing and beating an immensely difficult game, like Radiant Silvergun or Nethack, I can't find in any other type of entertainment.

      I object to this portrayal of games as not-adult too. Why is it that only children are supposed to have fun? If I want to do something useful, I'll go to work. But I want to enjo

  • The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?
  • but..but.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thermian (1267986) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:35AM (#25658725)

    Sometimes gamers don't *want* their games to become more complex as they mature.

    Take for example the Caesar 3/Zeus/Cleopatra games of Impression Studio's. They decided it was time to go more mature and produced Children of the Nile', which was more complex in many ways, and altered the gameplay to make the game 'more challenging'. However the result was a game which differed so much from the core attraction of the previous titles that it bombed, going onto the bargain shelves really quickly. So then they took a step back and released Caesar 4. A bit too high on the system spec requirements, but nice looking, a decent evolution of their core game, and really good fun. In many respects its similar to games they were producing five years previously, and this was a good thing.

    And what about that other great failure of progression when they decided Worms need to be 3D? Talk about New Coke...

    I've been playing games for the last (counts on wrinkles and old person skin blemishes..) 24 years, so I'm well aware of the evolution of the industry. Some evolutions have been great, better AI, improvements in graphics, more depth in games, stuff like that, but others, like 'customer as potential criminal suspect', not so much.

    New types of game have appeared which I really enjoy, though I have to say, very few groundbreaking games, which is surprising. Instead I've also noticed a tendency for games companies to pound a franchise to death with endless tiny iterations until it gets to the point that the only new thing in some new releases are new skins, a few extra effects and some more items.

    A good game should evolve, true, but each iteration should be an obvious advance, enhancing the core elements that make that game fun to begin with. What it shouldn't do is catch 'New Coke' disease, or pretend to be a new version worth a whole new purchase when the content changes are less than some decent games companies (Id, Valve, Egosoft to name a few) release as free content updates.

    • by Nursie (632944)

      "Sometimes gamers don't *want* their games to become more complex as they mature."

      Well, and sometimes people don't want their tv to mature either.

      I still watch Nickelodeon more than CNN.

      Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

      • by Emb3rz (1210286)
        Spongebob Squarepants, obviously. However, I do not see how that relates to your point!</hehe>
    • by Catil (1063380) *
      You are probably right but TFA is not really about the complexity of games. It doesn't matter how difficult a game is - if it is a mindless timekiller on 'easy,' it is still a mindless timekiller on 'ultra-violence' mode.
      The gaming equivalent to books like 'Brave New World' is not Chess. Chess doesn't make you think about life or reflect on past decisions and historical events or make you look at things from another perspective. 'Brave New World' certainly does that; it even has the potential to change you
    • Gameplay complexity != Intellectual maturity

  • Grown up games (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TBoon (1381891) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:35AM (#25658727)
    Plenty of "games" for grown ups that are challenging...
    - Programming
    - 3D modelling
    - Spreadsheets
    - Online banking
    - and so on...
  • by White Flame (1074973) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:44AM (#25658779)

    Usually the "adult" label is used not for actual weighty content geared for an adult audience with mature tastes, but just a repository for those things that traditionally children shouldn't be exposed to. Sorry, that doesn't make it adult-oriented, that just makes it non-kid-friendly, and typically can be best described as adolescent (boobs, explosions, gore, swearing, "gritty", "edgy", etc) content that would make Beavis and Butthead proud.

    In my case, I've left all the AAA titles and tended towards puzzle games, where at least I'm challenged to expand my thought processes and puzzle solving abilities. There are some plot-heavy RPGs and FPSes nowadays with some challenging concepts or unexpected twists, but they still tend to be buried in adolescence to make them marketable, ignoring the amount of >30yo and female gamers who are no longer enticed by such or are even turned off by it.

    I do commend Nintendo for putting a lot of focus on basic fun, party, family-enjoyable games which have been explosively popular without the adolescent slant, but they still do leave the adult-minded player wishing to be challenged at a more cerebral level.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      That's exactly one of the problems with games nowadays. I want to play an RPG being a middle age man with experience, not a youngster who cannot think or control his hormones.

      I want to choose over different moral dilemmas and face the consequences. A game where I could relate to the main character and not wanting to strangle him/her because their inept social or observational skills.

      I want a game for adults, not an adult's game (read: boobies).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by aadvancedGIR (959466)

        That kind of thing exists to a certain extend, for example in The Witcher (the non-humans are persecuted by the humans and have opted for guerilla warfare, while guarding crates of weapons, you are faced with a small group of them who pretend your boss is OK with them (but he didn't mention any expeted visit when describing the job), would you let them take a few crates or kill them?) or Fable II (OK, the second example has a too obvious good/evil dichotomy, but it's fun to play according to the moral value

    • Thank you. Well put.

      That being said, do you know of any good RPGs or FPSes, or anything with a storyline for that matter, that do manage to transcend adolescence? I would really like to play through a more "serious" game.

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>That being said, do you know of any good RPGs or FPSes, or anything with a storyline for that matter, that do manage to transcend adolescence? I would really like to play through a more "serious" game.

        Bioshock is an easy answer. If you've ever read Ayn Rand, the game is highly amusing, as it portrays a Randian society after it went sour.

        Mass Effect certainly wasn't geared for adolescents, but I found the game to be a bit boring, though it had a decent storyline.

        If you're willing to go back in time a

    • Excellent point, last night I finished the fan translation of Mother 3 (the sequel to Earthbound that was never released in the US). I was expecting this game to be lighthearted but it had a pretty serious storyline at times. Without spoiling too much, the game focuses on a small family, and there's a lot of tragedy going on. I considered it a pretty mature game in all honesty, and not because of violence or sex.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @06:47AM (#25658791) Journal

    The claims that games don't provide a challenge, no depth. The game he uses as an example, and the only example? Mario.

    This is like saying TV provides no depth, after you spend all time studying the shopping channel.

    There are other games. Games that have tried to go beyond a simple platformer. Wether they succeed is up for question but when I see someone talk about the lack of depth of games and his example if a simple platform console game I get visions of a large lumbering stone creature that lives under bridges.

    So his mother was never intrested in playing Mario. So what? My mother was never intrested in reading the adventures of "Spot" either.

    Somebody give this guy a PC and some decent games. Hell, even consoles have the occasional title that pushes the envelope a bit (so, I am PC snob, sue me) but if he never played more the mario then the problem is not the game industry but his own lousy taste.

    Complaing that Mario not anything more then a mindless (if fun) time waster is like saying Popcorn doesn't have enough nutritional benefits, however true it is, it is retarded observation. Mario and Popcorn are light fluf, devoid of meaning or value except. That is their goal.

    But we get the post true intentions. Apparently the future of gaming is weight loss gaming. WHEE! Because a program that tracks your weight becomes a game just because it is on a console? If this is the example of growing up, of challenging your mind, taking you new places, then I take Mario any time (and I hate Mario since I suck at platforms ergo platforms are stupid).

    Perhaps this developer needs to grow up and realize that not everything has to be liked by everyone. I had a grandfather who never ever had a telephone. Never needed it, never wanted it. Does that mean telephones are without value to those who use them? That the telephone companies needed to worry about this "lost" customer?

  • I do find that most commerical games are just repetition of previous games. Same game mechanics, adjusted story lines, with a few innovation here and there. The games that actually challenges me ? Free flash puzzle games, and there are plenty of them on the web.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by wisty (1335733)
      mod -1: inconvenient truth.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Keyper7 (1160079)

      Indeed [xkcd.com]...

      Seriously speaking, though, the popularity of flash games has also much to do with the fact that they're right there, easy to access. You receive an e-mail from a friend with a link to a new one, click it and can immediately start playing.

      The current video-games now have online content and easy network access, but you still have to change medias and spend time and money. That makes a lot of difference.

      • by cowscows (103644)

        You're right, but I think there's one more important aspect to add. Along with that easy availability, you get the benefit of the "great internet filter", meaning that it's easy for lots of people to try lots of games, and share only the good ones with people who have similar tastes.

        Flash games certainly aren't a giant buffet table where everything is perfectly cooked and delicious. It's actually very similar to the tradition games industry, with a few masterpieces floating in a sea of mediocre choices. But

  • Games today IMHO can be compared to blockbuster movies: Lots of special effects and mass market. If you have a brand (GTA) or a star (Lara Croft, Mario) you repeat the concept - with better special effects and a larger budget - as long as you have a ROI, sometimes (always?) sacrificing artistic ambitions for the bottom line. But some Hollywood studios (and most publishers for that matter) use some of the blockbuster cash to subsidize experiments for smaller audiences and there also is a rather large inde
  • If you're bored of simply running about enjoying other people's content and not creating anything worthwhile, why don't you start making your own stuff? Become a programmer or a modder today!
    • If you're bored of simply running about enjoying other people's content and not creating anything worthwhile, why don't you start making your own stuff?

      Because of a market failure. As of the 2000s, computing devices that

      1. are sold in North American[1] retail stores,
      2. have controls designed for playing video games, and
      3. either display on a TV or fit in the user's hand,

      require all games to have been published by an established company, and use digital signatures to enforce this requirement. Home theater PCs and gaming PDAs, which are capable of running amateur games, haven't become widespread enough.

      Become a programmer or a modder today!

      So who will be the businessman to pitch the product to the co

  • profound concepts, to learn of new paradigms, processes, and possibilities ... So what exactly are the barriers of entry for great thinkers (or groups of thinkers) to leave their mark on games?

    Just the way this is worded sounds awfully pedantic and is borderline shoddy intellectuliasm. Video games are meant to be played, yes, like children playing with their toys. I'm sorry if the analogy is unbearable for some adults who look back with contempt at their childhood's leisures but the aim of games is to provi

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:37AM (#25659081) Homepage Journal
    when you mix in the actual gameplay. If I'm watching a movie or reading a book, other than "real life" interruptions, there is nothing to stop me from finishing the whole thing without pause. Games however have to break up the narrative to allow your character to do things.
    For example, I'm sure the Tactics Ogre games had a great story, but I didn't really follow it after playing the games for a few hours. They would have cutscenes that introduce some characters, plot points etc. then you would have to battle for about 20 minutes, followed by another cutscene, followed by more battle etc. The battles were fun(or else I wouldn't have played the game), but it certainly was time consuming, so when you mix in the fact that I had other responsibilities, the whole thing became very hard to follow. Eventually I just skipped through the plot and went straight into the gameplay.

    IMO the best game stories are the ones that give you a connection to your character and motivation for achieving the objectives. Thats it. If you want a book, read a book.....
    • In any game which is both attempting to tell a story and be an 'adult' (as in intellectual/emotional maturity, not 18+ content) game, the gameplay should be *part* of the narrative.

      Games which have to put the narrative on pause are really just short stories laid on top of game mechanics that, as you say, would do just as well without.

      • Can you give examples of recent games that merge the narritive with gameplay?
        • Halflife 2
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Ifandbut (1328775)

          Deus Ex. Might not be as recent as you want but it certainly had a great mix of narrative and gameplay.

          Something more recent but not as good, Assassin's Creed and the Halo Saga.

          • by Fallingcow (213461) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @02:24PM (#25664367) Homepage

            Another nod to Deus Ex here. My favorite games provide "literary" qualities alongside good gameplay, and Deus Ex is a perfect example of that, exploring political and individual philosophy in surprisingly great depth.

            Bits of Chesterton's The Man who was Thursday are scattered around the game. Moral choices are made. Free will and the nature of humanity is examined. The final decision in the game is essentially picking which of Aristotle's "good" governments you'd prefer (democratic city-states (Tong), aristocracy (Illuminati), or Philosopher-King (merge with AI)). Very deep, especially for a game that's primarily an FPS.

  • by Dr. Hellno (1159307) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @07:37AM (#25659083)
    this thing sucks because it is not some other thing [penny-arcade.com].

    You can have something which is completely utilitarian, which is not a game. These programs exist: Iraqi culture simulations, reflex training programs, etc.
    You can also have something which has a sense of whimsy and fun. This is a game, and some of them have the potential to make you think or to awe you with their beauty.
    I don't know what the author is bitching about. He wants games without the fun, it would seem; games which take themselves as seriously as he does. Those just aren't games.
    He thinks games are a medium on the level of television. This is wrong. The computer is the medium. Games are merely a flavor of program, much as game-shows are flavor of television. Do you expect your game-shows to "progress intellectually" as you age?
    Fucking games journalists. Enough pretentious, bullshit opinion pieces. Get back to your fucking jobs.
    • by mikael_j (106439)

      I got the impression that the question that was really asked could have been phrased "What if I want something that is both fun and mentally challenging?" (No, lightning-fast reflexes and being skilled at getting headshots is not mentally challenging).

      Perhaps I'm biased as I'm one of those people who love RTS games yet hate most of them since the best tactic tends to just be "build enough structures to be able to quickly crank out one or two specfic types of unit and then pound away at your enemy until one

  • I know what you mean. There are books, music, movies, ... that range from "for three-year-olds" to conceptual challenges suitable for a mature adult (not dirty, but with a more depth and breadth) mind, but no games AFAIK.

    The producers of Fable II have been touting that it allows you to explore as either a "good" or "bad" guy and shades between. I don't have a copy, but the reviews seem to bear this out. While you're still exploring someone else's idea of good/bad in how they plotted the game, even in boo

  • Puzzle/Adventure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aussersterne (212916) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @08:36AM (#25659475) Homepage

    Certain games in the Myst/Riven series, for example, have been challenging in an intellectually stimulating way, most notably Riven and Uru.

    Many strategy games, particularly turn-based strategy games, also fit the bill.

    I don't think games will ever become "educational" at the adult level, because in large part pedagogical concerns are part of the world of work for adults (stuff you have to learn for work, stuff you have to learn for this project or that one, etc.) and the point of gaming is to escape the world of work... unless we begin to transition to a society in which regular user interfaces for work-style tasks are constructed with game-like interfaces and metaphors, but I dont' see that happening.

    The point for an "adult" game is to keep it from being utterly mindless and/or adolescent, to provide intellectual stimulation by requiring the juxtaposition and analytical processing of facts and information, even if these are fictional and appear in the context of a game.

    To that end, my vote goes to the best of the puzzle/adventure games (the good ones with "puzzles" the scale of the entire game stretchign across contexts, not the shitty ones which have tended to be truly horrible an mind-numbing) and the turn-based strategy games.

  • by mk2mark (1144731)
    My dad plays card games and tetris. I think as we get older, a) our imagination becomes stifled by greater experience of a world that is real and b) the time an average adult has and is willing to invest in games diminishes.

    For these reasons I'd suggest as games mature they become less fantastical, and simpler in concept - or more or less the opposite of what you may imagine as a game maturing.
  • I think the reason is partly technical. Games are by definition interactive. Interactivity requires logical rules that can be expressed in programming. But there aren't any good programming solutions for social or intellectual interaction. Gaming AI is still in its infancy, even if people are working to change that. Right now it's much easier to model objects colliding than people being social or intelligent.

    Games' focus on guns, cars and jumping can surely be attributed to a range of reasons, including tra

  • by TuringTest (533084) on Thursday November 06, 2008 @09:08AM (#25659753) Journal

    How come nobody has yet mentioned IF Archive? [ifarchive.org] The most innovative, thought provoking and literary games are not on your regular console.

    Text adventures come in several flavours, many are typically puzzle-based, while others are just a sequential narrative. These have all the advantages of a novel in terms of profound concepts, possibilities and adult themes. But the active involvement that they require to keep the action going makes them a different experience compared to passive uncovering of the plot: they make you think about the storyline, step by step, and get involved in it in first person.

    Also there are an annual competition that regularly provides new material, free to play. Some of these beasts provide the most original and interesting gameplays I've seen in a long while; see Galatea [wurb.com] as an example (you can play it online) [setonhill.edu].

  • Seriously, games grew up years ago:
    .

    The_Prisoner_(computer_game) [wikipedia.org]

    A Mind Forever Voyaging [wikipedia.org]

    Bureaucracy [wikipedia.org]

    Trinity [wikipedia.org]

    Also, the System Shock series, Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines, Bioshock, Fallout series....

    Oh, and a lot more.... Of course, if you are looking for CNN the game, I can't help you...

  • Well... it used to be that I had plenty of time for games. I loved the really complex ones, especially strategy, with me sitting 12h in front of the PC.

    These days - well, I come home from work and want something fast and brainless, where half an hour is okay. Something like the "Painkiller" FPS, for example. While I do have Civ, GalCiv and the like, I really hardly play them anymore. ...besides, programming your own games is actually more fun, even if you do need some brain time for it ;)

  • Hmmm, sometimes you are learning in a game and you don't even know it...

    I was playing Civ IV a lot, and they had some world leaders of some of the civilizations I had not heard of, as well as some world wonders and buildings.

    There was some information in the civilpedia, which isn't perfect, but it made me think.

    And the next thing you know, I'm taking a history course at a local college just for the heck of it.

  • Play a few good adventure games, like The Longest Journey, Dreamfall, and many others. Here [adventuregamers.com] you can learn all about them, read reviews etc. Disclaimer: I am in no way connected to the AdventureGamers' staff. I just like the website a lot.

  • It was a terrific game! Some guys I know had been playing it for YEARS.

    Recently, a whole bunch of AOL newbies have joined the gaming scene though and fucked it up for everybody.

  • Aren't most game developers people who surrounded themselves with games then evolved to developers? Maybe the process is to mature from gamer to game maker. Surely the math, sociology, psychology, and politics involved in the game creation world would be able to stimulate you.

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