Games For Adults

Whenever a controversy around video game censorship arises, the main argument advanced by the anti-censorship side is that video games simply aren't for kids anymore -- as the hobby has matured, M-rated games are becoming more common, and more "adult" games that deal with serious themes are coming out.

But to a certain extent, this argument rings a little hollow. While it's true that the average gamer is getting older, and that the bulk of games now are designed for and marketed to adults, the fact remains that the vast majority of video game experiences -- regardless of whom they're targeted to -- appeal to kids. "Dante's Inferno" and "Modern Warfare" are games made for adults, but nothing about them would turn off a 13- to 15-year-old. Indeed, the very fact that these games deal with "forbidden" topics may make them more appealing to kids below the age restrictions for these titles.

This is not a problem that other artistic media suffer from. While there are a wide variety of R-rated movies that kids might sneak into, there are quite a few films that are made to appeal only to adults. You don't find many 15-year-olds sneaking into "The Reader" or "Capote."

But developer Quantic Dream may be on the road to changing that. Its latest release, "Heavy Rain," is a psychological drama where a significant amount of gameplay time is taken up with relatively mundane situations. The game opens with one of the main characters getting out of bed and spending a Saturday morning in a very normal fashion -- cleaning up, taking care of his kid, having breakfast, doing a bit of work, watching some TV. The point of it all is to set up some dramatic tension, showing the character in his happy family life before things get shaken up. But it is not a gaming experience that the average teen will appreciate as much as he'd appreciate something more visceral.

Games like "Heavy Rain" are a sure sign of the medium's maturation. It's certainly not the first game to be designed for, and appeal to, adults exclusively, but as we see more games that eschew action-oriented thrills in favor of more cerebral ones, we'll really begin to see what this medium is capable of.

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