Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why are people so childish about video games?


How many times have you heard people saying the guys play games into adulthood are somehow defective? As you can see the folks on this panel mean you can add three more. Chris Pereira (the writer of the article I got that clip from) notes that those folks can barely make it through the question before they lay into the laughing. They seem to buy into the idea that there is something wrong with a man that plays video games into his 30s (well they allow for men in their 30s that are playing with their own kids). I'm wondering what they think is so funny.

While it is true that video games have been the realm of children in the past it looks like the critics and teasers have failed to noticed that video games have upped the ante a lot since the days of popping quarters into Pac Man machines. From calling video games "Fat Kids Sports", to making them a staple of "losers that won't grow up" type characters in movies, to stereotyping gamers as fat pasty pale shut ins that just sit in their mother's basement people seem to really enjoy ragging on us. Such a shame they aren't paying attention to video games.

Exhibit A: Silent Hill

The Silent Hill series broke ground in the fact that it brought psychological horror to the mainstream. Not to be confused with action horror titles where you can fight your way out of any situation as long as you have the right ammunition and enough of it (like Resident Evil) Silent Hill didn't give you that luxury. Weapons were simple, few and far between, and ammo was to be used sparingly. To make matters more interesting enemies in Silent Hill aren't in the form of seemingly endless hordes of scary monsters with generic faces intent on killing you. No these creatures were themed, came out rarely, and were more meant to scare you than actually kill you. If you're up for it go read a plot of the first game in the series (I'll leave a link so as not to spoil). Do you think that's kiddie stuff? Oh and watch out for the walls that melt into blood.

The stuff in these games are not too different from what you'd see in a horror movie, but I don't hear people saying that horror movie fans over 30 need to grow up.

Exhibit B : Heavy Rain

If you recall about a month or two ago I talked about the game Heavy Rain. In short that game plays out like a movie. One thing to note here is that unlike many other video games is character death. You play as four different characters throughout the game, but when one of them dies instead of getting a game over you might just move on to the next part of the game, having that character's death altering the ending. That's why each character has multiple endings and some of them actually depend on whether or not some of the other characters died or not. That plus the mood and setting (and music) of this game is why I'm willing to put it up against the majority of what passes for a movie these days.

And besides when's the last time you heard someone saying that fans of murder mysteries need to grow up?

Exhibit C: Alan Wake

I'm currently watching this game in the form of Let's Play videos on youtube. And its great. The story starts off with the title character, writer Alan Wake, bringing his car to a halt after hitting someone. Alan gets out of the car to check on the man he hit. But then suddenly the victim vanishes. Alan walks into the distance, slightly disoriented. He turns back and mysterious man shaped shadow is standing next to his car, then gets closer. We learn that Alan is under attack by they darkness itself, a darkness so evil that even guns won't defeat it. Alan's true weapon against the dark is the light. And I meant that. If you have a flashlight and no gun you can at least stun enemies (called The Taken) and run until you get to safety or ammo. If you have a gun and no flashlight you're fucked.

Seriously when is the last time you've played a game that actually made you prioritize batteries for your flashlight over ammo for your shotgun? Not only that but the town where the game takes place, Bright Falls, reminds me a lot of Twin Peaks. Interesting characters from the brothers who think they are Norse gods, the old woman that stockpiles weapons and leaves them in cache boxes (which by the way save your ass in this game), to the hotheaded FBI agent that has no problem endangering innocent civilians to catch criminals. And the presentation is just brilliant.

The game is divided into chapters that are called episodes (six to be exact). Episodes have cliffhanger endings, ending theme music, and 2-6 actually start off with Alan's voice actor explaining, "Last episode...", giving a run down of the story so far. The episodes play out almost like a miniseries based off of a Stephen King novel (which BTW King and his material are heavily referenced in this game. And how can you not like it when Alan gets to a checkpoint and there is actually a drum roll? If you're up to it take a look at the opening sequence of the game.

Yet and still suspense fans are not the a designated group to rag on like gamers.

Mind you these games are not perfect (such as the absence of people of color) but frankly what form of entertainment media is these days? But somehow gamers are the ones that get picked on if we're still playing after 30. Watching tv shows that are basically popularity contests (all the while pretending that they represent reality) is fine yet playing a game where you actually perform songs and dance steps is childish (frankly I'd rather play Rock Band than watch American Idol). Watching imaginary characters fighting to save the world is fine while controlling imaginary characters fighting to save the world is the sign of a loser (reading Lord of the Rings is cool and playing Lord of the Rings is immature I guess)? Reading a book that will deliver the same ending every single time is considered sophisticated but playing through an interactive story where your actions actually alter the ending means you need to grow up (The Time Machine only has one ending, Silent Hill 1 has 5)? Please.

Mind you don't take this to mean that I think video games are the ultimate entertainment nor am I trying to say that there are no people that really do fit the stereotype of the person that plays video games to the point of it actually taking over their lives. I'm just saying that the next time you want to put down guys over 30 who still play games you might want to take a bit more time to see what he's all about.

Oh and women play video games too.


Angel H. said...

So many video games are so gorgeous (plot- and graphicswise) that they could be shown in museums.

Oh, wait:

Danny said...

Ah thanks for linking to that Angel. I had seen that link a few days ago but then I lost it (I bet its in my email somewhere).

Clarissa said...

My sister and I are both married to men who love video games. One of them is 35 and another one is 40. They are both highly educated, professional, successful and mature men who are involved in happy long-term relationship with women. Which is why I have always found this stereotype of gamers as immature, creepy or silly to be completely ridiculous.

Danny said...

Right on Clarrisa.