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sunandshadow

Games for adults - adult-focused themes and topics

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Recently an English major writing a paper on the topic of cliche asked for my opinion on the definition of cliche and some examples of what was cliche in different genres. I looked at fantasy in both novel and RPG form, and talked about the heroic journey myth, coming-of-age stories, apotheosis (becoming godly), male-pov romance with a princess as reward for the hero's effort. One of the points I made was how this cliche (or staple, or archetypal, if you want a more positive word) core of the fantasy genre appealed strongly to teenagers. After I sent off my response, I got to thinking about what sort of cliches/archetypes existed in other genres which mainly appealed to adults and not teenagers, and whether a video game built around these sort of themes would be regarded as mature, boring, or just wtf by the gaming community. Anyway the first thing that came to my mind, because I was playing with it as a story idea recently, is the theme of the "second chance". The main character would be an adult who was going through a sort of midlife crisis where they were realizing their youth was gone, and although they were proud of some things they had accomplished, or at least felt that they had mostly done the best they could, they regretted where they had failed, and mourned dreams that had never come to fruition. Then through some sort of magic or technology they are given the chance to start over, retaining their memories and the spiritual injuries of a tough life, but given a new young blank body which would become individualized over time by their own actions, told they had a new magic or sfnal skill to develop, placed in a school with some actual teenagers to show the contrast between living a life for the first time or having to start over. Perhaps this second chance life would also come with an expectation of becoming a soldier, and the main character would have to decide whether they wanted to do that or whether they preferred to be a civilian despite the cost of rebelling. So, two questions for you all, forum goers: 1. Would you find a game or other type of entertainment (anime, novel) with this theme interesting and appealing? Along with your answer please note your age and gender, so I can tell if the idea appeals more to a certain age group. [smile] 2. Is there some other adult-focused theme you would like to see developed in a game or other type of entertainment? Perhaps one you already enjoy in a different genre but haven't seen done in a game?

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1. Would you find a game or other type of entertainment (anime, novel) with this theme interesting and appealing? Along with your answer please note your age and gender, so I can tell if the idea appeals more to a certain age group.


Assuming it was well done, yes. I may not be the best to answer though, since I'm a bit unusual in my tastes compared to the typical 24 year old male. I'd actually find it interesting; since there's a few times even at my age I wish I could call for a mulligan. We all have regrets, things we wish we could have done or not done. You just have more the older you get.

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2. Is there some other adult-focused theme you would like to see developed in a game or other type of entertainment? Perhaps one you already enjoy in a different genre but haven't seen done in a game?


I can't really think of any off the top of my head that would specifically be "adult".

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Original post by sunandshadow
2. Is there some other adult-focused theme you would like to see developed in a game or other type of entertainment? Perhaps one you already enjoy in a different genre but haven't seen done in a game?


Politics,
and I mean global politics, not the american definition thats more of a personality contest.

It makes the world that the story's set in more interesting and realistic and allow for a story centred around grand scale conflict without cliche good vs evil character motivation.

Most of the series in the gundam franchise use this though it can also make the story a bit depressing when likable charters are conflicted against other likable charters.

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1) Definitely - 26, male. Bring on the next gen games - when games are actually aimed at the next generation up!

2) Silly Question really, anything that either guides or reminds us or both.

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1. Would you find a game or other type of entertainment (anime, novel) with this theme interesting and appealing? Along with your answer please note your age and gender, so I can tell if the idea appeals more to a certain age group.


As a 35 year old male, I would find anime or a novel with that theme interesting, but for a game doesn't seem like there's enough important things to change to go back relive a "normal" person's life.

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2. Is there some other adult-focused theme you would like to see developed in a game or other type of entertainment? Perhaps one you already enjoy in a different genre but haven't seen done in a game?


The thing that turns me off of many game is that the situations and game mechanics are "dumbed down" for people of all ages. I would like to play more games where the details are there in all their glory. The only examples that come to mind right are World of Warcraft as a game being "dumbed down" and EVE-Online as a game that is not.

Another type of game that would appeal to me is game in the style of the "Groundhog's Day". Where you have to solve a puzzle of some sort while repeating the day or a couple of days over until you get it right.

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Heh, mentioning EvE Online mdae me think about how much I like and hate that game. I find that the most "grown up" parts of it are the ones that feel most like work. Running the corporation, politics with other player groups, commodity trading on the market, etc. If you can stare at a spreadsheet and fill out forms for two hours and call that "playing a game", then I guess EvE's for you.

But S&S was talking story, and I'm having a hard time coming up with an example. GTA IV has a pretty "grown up" story, if a bit meandering, and it tells a tale of remorse, redemption and self-discovery. It tells it in the context of an unending string of fetch missions and fights, with the entertainment value of traveling and fighting pretty much carrying the game. I'm never motivated to advance the plot or learn what comes next, I just find the individual assignments interesting and fun enough to do them.

The only thing I could think of when I read the OP was the japanese dating sims. That's what I'm afraid such an idea would turn into. You get a checklist like "Don't get fat after graduation," and "Marry Lisa Simmons; don't knock Jen Wheeler up," and "Buy Google stock." Then you spend every day going to the gym, buying flowers and condoms, and doing odd jobs to save up for that muscle car you always regretted to buying and fixing up.

Maybe I'm underestimating the importance of writing to a game, but with the exception of The Indigo Prophecy (Fahrenheit for you Euro-types) I've never seen gameplay take a back seat to storytelling, or even let it get much of the spotlight.

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25, male.

I somewhat object to the idea that the themes you listed are necessarily favored by teenagers. It's perhaps a cliche example, but LotR (novel or movie, take your pick) is a heroic journey myth with aspects of coming-of-age and male-pov romance that I've known men and women first coming to it at different ages to enjoy. I can't say if I would've enjoyed it in my teens, but I know I didn't like it around 13 (I first tried reading it in middle school) and I know I liked it around 19 (I tried again after graduating high school).

1) I might enjoy it. I like the themes of redemption and second chances that are involved, but I'm worried that there's too much and not enough at the same time. Too much in that you're proposing to deal with both the adult in a child's body problem and problem of what it means to do it better the second time. Too little in that it may be a bit too much like a reset button since our protagonist is relieved of the burden of his past.

I don't know how well it'd do in a game, either. You could make the player replay the same scenario many times, but unless there's some gameplay connection between the different run throughs, it's just like any other game where you practice to get better. Or you could have it as the (back?) story of an RPG, but then you either are just telling a story or you, again, have trouble differentiating from just playing through Fallout a couple times. In fact, I think one of the main difficulties in making a game out of this (the other being brought up by egwenejs) is that all games already tell this particular story.

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24, male.

1. Yes. Even if it's not so well-made, I think I will still find it to be interesting enough.

2. A warrior who try his best to stay true to "the way of warrior", even after he's been through so many painful events, like betrayal by his own leader, death of beloved ones (which put him in a dilemma of whether he's going to follow the law or seeking revenge his own way), and such.

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Maybe this is generalising too much, but I would say that a lot of games have this kind of theme. A player controls a character with a given history (usually traumatic), but this act of control effectively makes the character a blank slate anyway, because players can project whatever morality they wish upon the character.

I'm interested in your thoughts on archetypes and genres. I was at an AI planning conference a while back, and in several cases researchers were using the tropes of fairy-tales, or other well-established genres, to inform rules in narrative planning systems, so new, unique, stories could be generated within those genres. The planning systems could also change the narrative dynamically, allowing for player interaction within those narratives.

It's not a new idea, but its use in games is fairly limited (Fahrenheit did something similar but more limited). It would definitely be handy in something like Infinity, for example (procedural quest generation?).

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