All Grown Up?

Nothing wrong with starting early, although perhaps GTA IV was the wrong choice!

I’m a gamer. That’s what I am. I may not be a great gamer, I may not have ‘l33t skillz’, but I am nonetheless someone who chooses to spend large chunks of their leisure time sat in front of a television, pad in hands, feverishly trying to save the world/kill people online/drive cars fast etc.

But there is a great contradiction in gaming at the moment – a dichotomy (thank you word of the day toilet paper) of potentially mind melting proportions, if you were but to allow your Halo-addled synapses to rest on it for but a moment. See, we are told as gamers that the medium has come so far in the last few years. It has become so much more sophisticated, and therefore able more and more to deal with mature, thoughtful content in the same way as ‘other artforms’ such as literature, cinema and painting. We are informed that gaming is now much more socially acceptable as an adult hobby, with less and less stigma attached to adults such as myself who choose the way of the controller.

I have a few questions….

1. When we say ‘more sophisticated’, do we mean with more depth and fidelity of artistic vision? Or do we mean that it’s shinier and with better looking graphics? To illustrate my point, lets look at a few ‘mature’ games. GTAIV – it was a mammoth achievement no doubt – we all remember the first time we saw the initial teaser trailer, that ‘wow’ factor as you drank in what was unmistakably GTA only a million times prettier. But that’s kinda the point. Just because a game has Ricky Gervais in it along with swearing and guns doesn’t mean that its the video game equivalent of Citizen Kane. Gears of War 2 – a game that I myself adore but, lets face it, the 18 certificate is there because of the fact that the game contains more gore than all four Rambo films rolled into one. You could conceivably sum up the plot on a postage stamp. And of course, lets not forget Modern Whorefare – you know, with THAT level in it, the one that was all mature and shit because it showed an undercover US military agent inexplicably help a bunch of Russian terrorists kill hundreds of innocent people for precisely no legitimate reason at all…

GTAIV - a mammoth achievement with a little caveman mentality thrown in for good measure

2. More worryingly, if gaming is moving into its new rightful place as a mature art form, why is it that all manufacturers at the moment seem intent on making games which are LESS sophisticated? The Wii as at least a fairly decent idea and has produced some clever twists, but natal and this infamous bloody wand? Essentially it seems like all three manufacturers are now engaged in a race to see who can make the most far fetched peripherals/ control schemes for their bloody machines. How exactly is it art to make a device for playing games by waving your arms around like a madman? What possible application to the advancement of the medium in an artistic fashion can these implements have? It’s Eyetoy all over again as far as I can see.

3. If there is no social stigma attaced to being an ‘adult gamer’, can someone please tell that to all the people that look down their nose at me like I smell of dog poo whenever I mention that one of my hobbies is video games? The sad fact of the matter is that we are the generation that grew up with video games as kids, and all the ‘nerdy’ kids like us (you know it’s true, stop with the huffs at the back) turned into nerdy adults who continue to play videogames because we still enjoy them. And if we’re really honest we spend far too much time and money on them because we can and because we remember well the time when we couldn’t.

It has always been the way... the nerds being ridiculed by "the others". There are cave paintings which show a tribe clubbing another tribesman to death with his own pocket protector

Personally, I don’t see that games will ever carry the same intellectual or artistic merit or weight as books and films can, simply because its not apt to the form, and don’t see why people try and force the issue – I don’t know any football nuts who try and say that football is an art – they accept that it’s a game, a pastime, a hobby. Why can’t gamers as a community do the same? Are we that terrified of society’s judgement that we must try and ‘legitimise’ our pastime by claiming it to be art?

I don’t want to grow up. I want to play games. Yes, games can be more serious (a la Fallout 3) but when I play a game I do it to escape, to have a laugh and to be entertained. I don’t do it to try and expand my artistic senses. Nor do I do it to flail desperately around the place wheezing like a forty-a-day man.

Besides, I wasn’t even here – I was dead at the time, I was on the Moon… with Steve… ;)

Last five articles by Greg



  1. Jase says:

    There are plenty of games that are artistic and mature there called indie games and they florish on the pc. Problem is nobody plays them, as such no sites cover them and they scarcly make much money.

    Now I’m not going to say these indie games are all super fun because usually if you want to do something mature that isn’t a adolesent power fantasy then it’s not much fun but those games exist. They have their neiche while shootman 5000 takes millions of pounds.

  2. Lorna Lorna says:

    Very enjoyable Piece, Greg. You make some great points about the Wii and Natal…while they are ‘future tech’ in a way they are also rather childish when you think about it and waving your arms around like a windmill or making wanking motions to paddle a canoe isn’t really pinky-finger sophistication on the face of it.

    I think films and games have always whored after one another…pretty graphics and immersive (or otherwise) stories are common to both forms, as is good or bad acting/production etc, so it is no surprise that some folk seem determined to merge them by trying to make games more filmic and for the film folk to keep trying to catch that elusive firefly of a good game movie. If everyone just picked up their jumpers, scooped up their punctured football and headed home, calling it a day, we could all breathe a sigh of relief.

    Still…in spite of it all, at the moment at least, we still have games worth playing….for now ;)

  3. Adam Adam says:

    Funny how the Stigma still goes on despite roaring success of the industry. I seem to remember reading an article recently that Modern Warfare 2 took more money than Avatar did over the Christmas period. Considering that MW2 cost ‘X’ to produce and Avatar likely cost ‘X’ to the power of 10 to make (Over nearly two decades), its amazing that we still face the poo smelling, down the nose glance you mention in the article.

    Theres never been a successful arguement for us as gamers that ever truly convinced anyone that its good for you, growing up. You can’t convince anyone that the video game (offline) is the same as an anti-social book:

    “But you can discuss a book, it’s character and underlying themes”
    “I can discuss video games, it’s character and it’s underlying themes, just not with you”

    Growing up, I’m sure my folks would have wanted me to spend more time AFK. Contrasting that was a friends parent who said:

    “I’d rather you were playing games, at least that way I know where you are and that you’re not down the park doing drugs/drinking and stabbing people”

    There’s no convincing the Public of the worth in Video Games as a hobby. I personally won’t give up the cause, I won’t just sit back and take the media frenzy because they won’t see it any other way. I’ll gladly, openly encourage others to get involved and see things how we do without getting accusational or judgemental, I just wish that others would do the same.

    (And that’s just Video Games, try being a UK Scenario Paintballer -I’ll never win many over to that one)

  4. Mark R MarkuzR says:

    Funny you should mention that Adam… when I was 10 years old, sitting in the house with my computers tinkering away, I’d get grief from my dad telling me that I should be “out there” learning to be social and having fun, playing with the other kids and growing up “normal”, but I never did. Those people he was encouraging me to play with all went through stages of getting drunk by conning passers by into buying them bottles of Vodka from Spar, smoked themselves into a wheezing oblivion (sadly, not the GOOD Oblivion or I’d have been there with bells on) and most of them ended up on drugs or having ten kids with whatever local slapper was giving line-ups in the telephone box that week.

    I avoided all that, and it’s mostly down to my need to “remain indoors” and play with my computers. Sure, I was mostly fiddling around with light pens, speech synthesisers and programming bits here and there… but I also played the Level 9 text adventure games to death, which also confused the father monster. Mum wasn’t so bad, she was the one that ‘phoned around all over the place to track down a copy of The Hobbit for me and was the one who actually introduced me to the Level 9 series in the first place.

    As a member of GWA (Graphic Whores Anonymous) I have to confess that I love realism in games. Not necessarily realism in the aesthetics, but realism in that the consequences are more realistic and actually mean something to the game and the world therein. The first draw, for me, is always how pretty it looks and if there’s any substance below then I’ll give it a whirl. That is the fundamental reason for my hatred of the Wii. If I wanted to plug something into my TV that was being blown up four times the size to fit the screen, had badly pixelated graphics, crap sound and no attention to detail… I’d have stuck with my Colecovision.

  5. Adam Adam says:

    I think if you smoke yourself into Cyrodil, you’re smoking some more potent stuff.

    Probably not wise to try and cast Shocking Burst at oncoming traffic, thinking it’s a Spriggan…

  6. Lorna Lorna says:

    Smoking into Cyrodil and smacked up in Skingrad…that is a hell of an evening…no more inhaling burnt oven glove for me…

  7. Adam Adam says:

    There are somethings you never thought you’d say in life are there not L?

  8. Lorna Lorna says:

    Yes Adam, mainly ‘no, I couldn’t possibly eat another Ferrero Rocher’.

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