Perception of Maturity in Games

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In the article “Videogames of the Opressed,” (http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/firstperson/Boalian) Gonzalo Frasca says of the Sims: “The fact that the best-selling game of the year 2000 was about people is a clear sign that videogames are on their way towards maturity.” He goes on to repeatedly make the connection between humanity and maturity in games. This intrigued me for a couple reasons. First, I wondered why humans were the factor that made a game mature. Secondly, I wondered why videogames had been in need of maturing prior to the Sims.

For the former, I’ve been thinking that videogames, especially when they were a newer and more unfamiliar concept, were hard to make appealing to casual consumers. Skeptical people who didn’t know games well most likely wondered why they should purchase and play fictitious games on a screen. Games with subjects and characters like monsters, animals and inanimate objects had an even greater challenge in proving themselves to such consumers. These subjects are far outside middle-class consumers’ experiences as humans on Earth, going to work or school everyday, interacting with family and peers, and taking care of their most basic needs. Such a disconnect makes it easier to dismiss a game as irrelevant or inconsequential. As a result, a game like the Sims with human subjects may be better able to reach a wider audience who previously considered games as silly, because it deals with matters that are easily recognizable and relatable. The similarities between the game and the user’s life demand the user’s attention or respect. In that way, centering humans could have made the masses view games as relatively matured.

For the latter, the need to be matured could be considered in two ways. First, games are constantly changing with new technology and concepts being paired together in creative ways. So, it would make sense to say that games have to constantly grow and mature for their own sake in order to create great games. Secondly, games have consistently faced the challenge of being labeled “low culture” and struggled to be accepted as valid forms of art, or as subjects worthy of serious study and consideration. As a result, it seems like this state of immaturity and the need to change in order to be mature comes from expectations and assumptions imposed upon games by those who are unlikely to ever respect games.

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One thought on “Perception of Maturity in Games

  1. I find it very interesting that the article you quoted claims that the presence of people is a sign of maturity in video games. However, I feel that there are many games that can be considered much more mature than the Sims (in that they deal with serious topics) that do not necessarily contain human characters. Not only may they deal with serious topics, one can also empathize with the characters even if they are of a completely different species. I completely agree with you that the main reason behind the author of the article’s way of thinking is most likely because seeing human characters may cause those unfamiliar with games to assume that the game must be serious if humans are involved. I do find it interesting however that Sims, and not some other game involving humans, became a sign of maturity to many people simply because of the mundane, everyday tasks you are given in the game.

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