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Rant: videogames are so childish

Rant: videogames are so childish
« on: August 16, 2010, 12:15:12 pm »

Warning: contains spoilers.

Yesterday, Sunday, I did the following in sequence:


Watched Moderato Cantabile, a film from 1960 with Jeanne Moreau and Jean-Paul Belmondo, based on a novel by Marguerite Duras.


Watched Chloe, a 2009 film by Canadian director Atom Egoyan.


Played Assassin's Creed 2, a Playstation videogame by Ubisoft Montreal from 2009.

And suddenly it struck me how utterly childish videogames are. I have been enjoying Assassin's Creed 2 quite a bit. I liked walking around in ancient Florence and Venice. And most of the gameplay and story did not get in the way from that enjoyment (though some of it did, a lot). But after these two films, films clearly made for adults, I couldn't bear to look at Assassin's Creed anymore.

I had enjoyed Duras' novel more than the film. Because I like how her language leaves things more open. And somehow I find that more moving than simply showing two people who fall in (forbidden) love. But still, Peter Brook's Moderato Cantabile was an enjoyable film. If only because there's not a lot of things in this world that can beat staring at Jeanne Moreau for more than an hour. She has a fascinating presence. There is a murder at the beginning of this story, a crime passionel. It's what triggers the main characters to meet. Their relationship develops around their fantasies about what drove the man to kill the woman.

I found Chloe a little bit disappointing. It's a story about a married couple going through a difficult moment in their relationship, as a result of which an awkward half-imaginary love triangle happens. It touches upon very interesting themes like falling in and out of love, prostitution, mid-life crisis, married life, adolescence, parenting, etc. Sadly, the film's resolution doesn't do the rest of it credit. It's one of those films of which you wish it had been made with a smaller budget, so that they didn't feel the need to include a silly Hollywood-type story arc. Still: a mature film, both in content and in form, that touches on many complex themes and leaves one with many memories to ponder. Nobody is murdered in the film but one person dies, in the end, by her own hand.

And then we turned on the Playstation. To continue playing Assassin's Creed 2. The first thing I noticed was the way the main character walks. He's a young Italian noble man and he walks like a teenage metal fan, or a football player, or something. His head swings left and right and he is sort of bent over, in what's supposed to be a threatening aggressive posture. Then my attention switches to his clothes. What is he wearing? He has six undefined layers of fabric, covered by separate pieces of shining armour. He's armed to the teeth and hooded like a gangsta. This is the kind of dude that every young boy wants to be! His current mission consists of -you guessed it- assassinating some people, after dropping his little gang of helpers off at different locations in town to cause a distraction. So the quarter is turned into a battle field of crossed swords and screams. Which ends with me killing the two evil leaders simultaneously with my hidden blades. After that, there is a cut scene in which Ezzio talks with a young woman who is obviously interested in him. But as soon as there is mention of some enemy entering the harbour, Ezzio runs off again. Which is where I start controlling him again.
Why can't I explore my relationship with this woman? Why can't I wear something more comfortable, more fitting my age? Why do I need to fight and run all the time? Because these are the preferences of young boys.

The main character in Moderato Cantabile, Anne Debaresdes, the wife of the director of the factory of the small town in which the story takes place, has a son, 6 years old perhaps. She takes him to piano lessons with Madame Giraud. This is where she hears the scream of the murdered woman.
When she visits the café to talk with the working man whom she later falls in love with, she sends her son to play outside. He enjoys watching the boats in the harbour and kicking against rocks, pretending to fence with imaginary enemies, and so on.

When playing Assassin's Creed, I was reminded of him. This is the role I was playing. Not the bourgeoise who falls in love, not the silent man who rejects her, not even the strict piano teacher or the disapproving bartender. No, I was made to playing the little boy, sent outside so he wouldn't bother the grown-ups, where I could throw rocks at seagulls without every being able to hit them.

And I realized that virtually all videogames are like this.  Cry
« Last Edit: August 16, 2010, 12:32:43 pm by Michaël Samyn »
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2010, 04:03:22 pm »

Makes you wonder why grown-ups indulge in culture, social interaction, sensory experiences or simply unwind on their vacation, while they could be playing tag at Piazza San Marco just like their children.

Something seems off indeed Tongue
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2010, 10:28:40 pm »

I really noticed this today as I entered "Stalker" into YouTube's search field. Did I get clips from the masterpiece by Tarkovsky? No! I got trailers and clips from a game based on it... It involved gun-wielding zombies, constant gunfires and military helicopters. Have you really no respect for the source material whatsoever?

Edit: Weltschmerz.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2010, 10:46:03 pm by Chainsawkitten »
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2010, 06:22:34 pm »

True, but it's probably to do with the fact that comparatively few adults play videogames, so they're just targeting their main audience.

Even if videogames weren't as childish, I don't think that would necessarily change, because a lot of adults are very uncomfortable with computers (and consoles) and only really learn how to do certain tasks on them, e.g. write a word document, use internet explorer, and they have no interest in learning to use them for anything else. On the other hand, the youth of today has generally grown up with computers and videogames being the norm, and if they (we) desire to keep playing after growing up somewhat, there could perhaps finally be a larger demand for games that are more targeted at adults and these might get made. Maybe.
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2010, 06:38:43 pm »

I know many adults who know computers very well (programmers etc.) but don't play games. I don't think video games are a result of the main audience as much as the main audience is a result of video games.
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2010, 07:01:38 pm »

I like that concept, having to play the role of the boy who is pretend sword-fighting.

QXD I see what you're saying, but keep in mind (according to the ESA) the average game player's age is 34: http://www.theesa.com/facts/index.asp

Another important stat: 33% of gamers are women over 18, as opposed to 20% of gamers being men under 18.
Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2010, 07:13:27 pm »

I stand corrected. I was just going on personal knowledge. I guess the reason may be more interesting than I thought.
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2010, 07:51:51 pm »

It depends on what you mean by "gamer." I think you might be right regarding the people who spend the most time playing videogames.  The more hours per week you define as "gamer," the younger you'll probably get.

I'd be interested to know the average age of a FarmVille player.
Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #8 on: September 04, 2010, 10:08:20 pm »

Those stats are a little misleading because they are about playing games. In my own estimate 100% of all females plays games, disregarding their age. And 100% of old men do too. Etcetera. When they have computers, there's a good chance that they play games on computers. It's what people do. It's generally recognized as being partly silly and childish. But that's why people like them.

Videogames, on the other hand, are something entirely different! For better and for worse, they could become the medium of the new century, the medium that supersedes cinema, like cinema superseded literature. Despite of this ambition, these videogames are often implicitly targeted at young male children. Probably because these videogames require high end technology that seems to be something boys are more attracted to than girls or adults.

I think that the percentage of young males playing these videogames would still be significantly higher than the number of girls or adults, if the games industry would have the courage to separate games console figures from iPhones and Facebook. The demographic is most likely shifting at the moment, if only because gamers are growing up and videogames are not considered as nerdy anymore as they used to be. But that doesn't mean that the game designers follow this evolution immediately. And it becomes a bit of a chicken or the egg problem: boys are attracted to technology so developers make games for boys which girls and adult don't want to play so they don't see the point of buying the technology, which would motivate the developers to make games for them too.
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2010, 08:30:39 pm »

Those stats are referring to videogames specifically.  But yes, I'm sure some platforms have much different demographics.

Still though, if there are a significant number of adults and females playing videogames on Facebook, that seems like the place where you'd want to bring your videogame "that supersedes cinema."
Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2010, 09:58:33 am »

Still though, if there are a significant number of adults and females playing videogames on Facebook, that seems like the place where you'd want to bring your videogame "that supersedes cinema."

Then we might as well use cardboard and plastic. Because there's many people who play board games. Or we might use potatoes and carrots as a medium. Because many people eat food.
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #11 on: September 11, 2010, 11:20:30 am »

Well, not so much just move to Facebook as a medium but perhaps do something for it to find the audience and get them to know more about us and our goals. I'm not saying we should compromise our artistic values, but if you're doing a project that might fit for Facebook, then why not look into releaseing a version of it there, as well?

That's not that different from eg. making a web version of Vanitas.
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #12 on: September 11, 2010, 10:11:40 pm »

True. Maybe I'm underestimating the technical capacity of Facebook games. I literally have no idea. Can you do full 3D games on there?
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2010, 11:13:51 pm »

I've looked at the Facebook API a bit and generally, you can do anything you can do in HTML/PHP, including Flash and Java. So, yes, 3D is possible. (At least, that's what I got from it.)

However, to integrate well with Facebook, it should probably have some kind of social aspect. Like, in a game wherein you walk around and explore a world, you could "Share this location with a friend", or something.

Technically, you don't really have to include any social aspect at all, but that kind of defeats the purpose of a Facebook game. (And something that shows up on an user's wall is bound to attract more viewers Wink )
« Last Edit: September 11, 2010, 11:22:11 pm by Chainsawkitten »
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Re: Rant: videogames are so childish
« Reply #14 on: September 11, 2010, 11:37:21 pm »

As I understand it, you basically just frame a web page in there. So you could probably even do 3D Unity games on Facebook.
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