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Mature games... yet again.

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same old topic. What makes a mature game? Is it violence sex swearing and nudity? Or do these just make games for underage- teenagers to play and go whoa cool "he just said ---- " or wow sexy pixellated boobiez. Can games be made which feature these things in a non-exploitative / gratuitous manner?

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Off the top of my head comes the idea of sensuality.
Most nudity and/or sexual material done in games these days really is a ''OMG 2500 poly titties!'' for all the teenagers. But you don''t necessarily see any real attempt on the developer''s part to take their ERSB-rating bending and use it for some development. I think we might see a bit better reaction to nudity in games if it was used to some purpose or in a way of enhancing a particular plot point. I can''t think of an in-game example right now, but I see it as being the difference between watching The Lover compared to some cheap porno.

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One or two other quick points, don''t want to smother this thread.

Gameplay<--->story, the two are closely linked, for example consider Max Payne, which is probably the most mature game I''ve played with Guns in it. kinda. It tells a story of a man haunted by the death of his wife and seeking some payback. He has to kill lots of thugs. The thing is that the comic-book sections are really well done and help to make it ''believable'', the gameplay involves killing hundreds of enemies (which makes it less believable). If it were 15-20 men it would be just about ''believable'' (kinda). But it would be a trade-off, lots of fun gameplay.. or a well done story?

So maybe games that hope to be mature should be set in a fictional environment that makes the gameplay link into the story.. like a nightmare (which explains why you can kill so many characters).

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I''d argue that gameplay and story are very rarely connected but thats one my beefs with the gaming industry, besides I don''t want to side track this thread with that.

What makes a game mature is not sex, drugs, violonce, it theme. If you can have a very muture game with out those, you could have the game be a grim film noir tale of deception, murder and betrayal. Where the main character is haunted by memories of there past and caught in a dire situation of their own making.



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Once you have to print "mature situations: 18+" on your product, you may as well go crazy with the nipples. It might be really worthwhile to use that sort of content in an appropriate and relevant way, but you pay the same price in rating and target demographic for a tasteful and appropriate use of nudity in connection with some african tribe that you do for sudsy babes washing pickup trucks in the buff. Who would choose the appropriate over the gratuitous, all else being equal?

For my part, I think that certain mores should be relaxed so that actual artists don''t have to stick fig leaves on their works, but I can see that relaxing those standards would open floodgates of low-quality porn. Look at Newgrounds.com for an example. Anyone that can make two circles with Flash has put a pair of titties on that site.

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quote:
Original post by Ketchaval
same old topic.

What makes a mature game? Is it violence sex swearing and nudity? Or do these just make games for underage- teenagers to play and go whoa cool "he just said ---- " or wow sexy pixellated boobiez.

Can games be made which feature these things in a non-exploitative / gratuitous manner?



In the "ratings board" sense of the word, probably yes. In my personal design philosophy, I suggest mature means how much ingenuity, intelligence and discovery a player would need to employ to overcome and pass a given challenge design.

Possibly, but it would have to be tastefully done. In more subdued (read:conservative) literature, the nudity and sex don''t usally appear, and even then briefly, after a long pre courting, obstacle overcoming, get to know you arguing and disagreement, and then a big realization the two characters in the love interest do indeed love each other and fall down swooning.

Payoff is payoff, and sometimes instant gratification is not as good as waiting for a good thing. Lots of women seem to think so, and they run circles around men, romantically speaking.

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Another thing I''ve written about from time to time in these topics is that it''s also deeply about presentation. Every ''Mature'' game has enough blood and gore to satisfy most people, but it''s in a gratuitous and almost comic sense. Use the same amounts of blood & gore in a much more refined manner and you''d probably disturb at least a portion of the same ''Mature'' audience.

References: Resident Evil->Silent Hill. Same basic gameplay style, but the latter series, IMHO, is much much more disturbing and mature.

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Its entirely possible to have "mature" and "adult" themes without gratuitous sexuality. For example, watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force on cartoon network''s Adult Swim. While you''re at it, watch Cowboy Bebop.

Personally, "mature" and "adult" to a degree means loss of innocense. Unfortunately, depravity and perversion is included in this loss of innocense, but it also includes a shreading of one''s beliefs through a cold and unforgiving world. This is why movies like Platoon (which I think has almost no sexuality in it) was given the same MPAA rating as the latest data-a-pornstar teen movies.

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Some stories in a few anime OAV I''ve seen are on par with Greek tragedies, IMHO. I read the Kenshin manga, which is rather upbeat and funny. Then I watched the "prequel" OAV Kenshin, and was absolutely flabbergasted by the maturity and sheer dramatic tone of the story.

I remember watching the old Hokuto no Ken anime when I was a kid and thinking that if it werent for the uber crap dubbing (in French), that series would really have been more for adults than the young kids audience who was actually watching it.

Sex is easy to no use and still have a mature game/story.
No violence and no sex ?
Well, I guess you could still make something "mature" out of it, but I dont really see how you could make a *game* out of it.

Something deeply philosophical ? Maybe a detective story a la Name of the Rose (without the sex scene) ? With lots of political background intrigue that teaches you something while you play. With your choices making a difference in that background intrigue (sorry if you dont know the movie or the book).

I think, as Run_The_Shadows so nicely shown with his example, that the question of maturity is more in the tone and expected reaction of your target audience, than in the contents themselves.
If I show a naked woman in my mature story, it''s because I think it fits in the story, and makes sense. I dont expect my public to go "OOoooh check it Out !!!1 Nak3d Chick !!!1 LOL".
Now of course if she ended up naked for a totally ludicrous reason, I would only have myself to blame.

But say, when in Interview with Vampire, the young girl is offered in sacrifice in the theatre in front of the audience. You are not looking at the girl''s tits, you are (well, I was) sympathising with the victim, which is what I would expect from a mature audience.

I dont think there is an easy answer there. You ll always get the jerk that isnt mature enough to appreciate what you are doing, the type of guy that will crack jokes in the middle of a dramatic scene in the cinema because *they* cant handle the maturity of the subject...


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I can''t help but think of Gabriel Knight III. Over the past two games the relationship between the two main characters, Grace and Gabriel, has been developing. Now they find themselves having to share a hotel room with only one bed. Gabe takes the couch and Grace takes the bed. After a day or two of the story getting stranger and more complex (vampires and stuff), they have sex. But it''s not a titty fest or anything; you don''t really even see it (it happens in a cinimatic, and it''s over as soon as Grace awakens and sees Gabe climbing into bed). As soon as the gameplay begins, you see Grace thinking stuff like "Woah, I can''t believe what happened!" Later, when Gabe awakes, he reaches out from the bed with his foot to slide his underwear across the floor so he can put it on. Then we get inside his head too and see what he''s thinking (sort of the same thing as Grace, if anyone''s curious).

It didn''t really have anything to do with the gameplay; it was completely for the sake of the story and character development. I haven''t seen that kind of mature storytelling before or since in a game.

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It''s interesting how there''re levels and levels of maturity. I write fanfiction, which is generally given a movie-style rating by the author: G, PG, PG-13, PG-15/R, NC-17. So one of the things I had to do was learn how to determine what rating each story should be given. So far in this thread we seem to be mostly discussing R-level elements: swearwords, nudity, sex, violence/death, and "adult themes", such as homosexuality, drugs, gangs, insanity, slavery (hmm, you know I can''t offhand think of a single game that had slavery in it...). There is also the NC-17 level of elements to consider: rape, torture, and other forms of abuse, suicide, BDSM and other assorted kinks, explicit sex. Games seem to be mostly stuck in the pg-13 and under category like comics were in the old days of McCarthyism and the Comic Code (Ick). American comics have emerged from the shadow of the code and you can now find a decent selection at every rating level, but American computer games seem to be a bit more stuck, barely breaking into the R level. (Of course you can find Japanese computer games at every level if you don''t mind hentai, but most of them never get translated into English.) This is because the american audience for computer games is percieved to be mostly under 18 - and this perception is probably correct. It''s kind of a chicken-and-egg problem - you have to have a mature audience to monetarily support the production of mature games, but you have to have mature games to attract a mature audience and get them into the habit of looking for mature games to buy.

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Mature games, truly "meant for adults" games are generally bad sellres. Why? Because demographics would like to say, or at least corporate logic would like to say, that kids play games. The problem might be akin to the movie industry, in at least one sense:

There is no ''middle'' rating. Back in the day, we had G, PG, R. Then Indiana Jones came along and they literally created the PG-13 rating to accommodate it.

Right now I see the same basic lack of rating flexibility in games.
E, T, M. And the T is what a good majority of developers will shoot for, because there are often only a FEW elements that need to be removed from most M games to get the higher-selling rating.

Medal of Honor: Allied Assault being a good show of capitalistic greed in gaming. They managed to cut out ''mature'' things like Blood effects and in the process, dropped their rating to T so they could hook the younger gamers.

The ESRB rating system is skewed out of proportion. A kid can go watch a movie like Temple of Doom which features some pretty gorey realistic imagery, but not be able to pick up a game like Quake3 which features lighter imagery in a much more ''comic'' sense. In fact, comparing the film ratings to ESRB ratings is almost comedic when you look at what a teenager can legally see being acted out by real people, then look at what a teenager can''t legally PLAY involving polygonal models.

The only game I''ve played that comes to mind in the past few years that truly, without question, DESERVED a ''Mature'' rating is Max Payne 2. Nudity, sexuality, Gore, Verbal Profanity, the game had it all and it really made the game stick out in my mind. Every time I play through it and I hear a character shout "YOU CAN''T FUCKING GET AWAY YOU STUPID FUCK" at me, I almost get shot because I''m so shocked at hearing that coming from a game.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Recently the most mature section of an ''adult themed'' game that I''ve seen recently is the abattoir section in Max Payne from the cut-scene, the clever use of the comic strip, and the realism of the ''use'' of the building.

Some very good points are being raised here (ps. did you know that the writer / creator of the Gabriel Knight series is a woman?)

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Havnt read all the posts, so I may be repeating.

I would say that mature games are no different from mature movies. You can release a movie that is just blood, guts, and titties without any underlying plot, but chances are its not going to appeal to many people. I would class mature movies as something like Training day. It still has blood, guts, and titties, but thier not the main focus, they just help add to the seriousness of the setting.
Same as games, I do not class ''panty raider 2'' or ''Bmx-xxx'' as mature games. I do class games such as (as mentioned) Max Payne 2 as mature, or to some limited extent the Silent Hill games as mature, since they dicuss TOPICS that are mature.

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quote:
Original post by Ketchaval
I wonder if the adventure game genre would be a good choice for making a mature game that didn''t feature ludicrous violence?


Oh Larry, why are they re-viving then destroying your legacy? My memories of you are so fond.

- It''s a life''s work

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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
(hmm, you know I can''t offhand think of a single game that had slavery in it...).


In RPGs, at least Fallout 2, Planescape:Torment and Morrowind had it in a fairly in-your-face manner. Fallout 2 you could even become a slaver yourself. I want to say there''s slavery in EverQuest as well, but it''s been a long time since I''ve played. Sometimes in RPGs, slavery is just background noise, such as Arcanum. Slavery only really contributes to the maturity level of a game when it become a litmus test for the ethical behaviour of the character. Torment was really good/bad about that. Seriously, I just didn''t have it in me to select some options in that game even with save/reload at my fingertips.

On the less personal front, empire management sims often have slavery; Civilization, for example. Every American Civil War sim implicitly involves slavery in some way. Slavery in this context usually wouldn''t contribute to the maturity level of a game. It''s usually just matter of fact; this is what things were like back then.

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