There is a lot of talk about the maturity of games but what are the aspects that make modern games more mature and are they really something one could call mature?
As by my heading you might notice that I don't think that modern games are more mature, I am more of the option that the opposite is the case.
Let me clarify my thoughts:
What are the alleged aspects that make games more mature?
First of all there is the violence, then we have the sex and oh, there is even more violence around the corner.
I won't deny that sex is a strictly mature subject but does the addition of sex to a game make it more mature?
No, I don't think so. The same goes for extreme violence.
Both aspects are clearly not for minors but their inclusion makes a game not more mature.
The extremity of violence in computer games and films for that matter is quite shocking and frankly disturbing.
If there is not much else to a game then violence, it makes the game not more mature, it makes it rather dumb and not really engaging. So to spice it up sex is thrown in the mix and now it is much more mature. No, maybe from the view of a young adolescent but not for the target group. A game that feature both aspects on the side of an engaging story might be more mature but such a game is not published by now. In modern games sex is used to catch the attention of the adolescent audience that are not even supposed to play them.
The kind of game that sells today is something that features sexed up females and androgynous males who run around half naked killing everything around them and if they are not killing others they have sex like you wouldn't even see in a low budget porno flick. As I see it the interaction with a game world should be interesting according to the genre. Oh, yes, in a shooter the interaction is shooting things but there is always some kind of purpose behind the killing, as far as I know. Running around shooting things without a purpose and any sense makes for a quite boring game imo.
Ok, making accusations without some evidence is not good practice, so let's have a look at some recent games I played and some I saw game play footage that is there to attract attention.
The first game I want to comment on is The Witcher. It is set in a dark fantasy world where monsters roam the streets at night and the Witcher has to find and kill them. The interaction with the world is by dialogue and by hacking monsters down. The witcher's life is a hard one, he is an outsider, cursed to hunt monsters, but to balance out the hardship the witcher, Geralt, has to have a little fun at the side. So the player has the ability to to "court" women and have sex with them (without seeing the act). As a reminder of the encounter there is a picture of the half naked lady added to the journal. At first glance that looks not too bad at all but in the course of the game you kind of collect these pictures, the whole act is cheapened and women are shown as sex objects rather than normal people.
The next game is Dragon Age: Origins where the player can have relationships with women and men that even result in seeing the act itself. That was a bold move by BioWare and the game was rated M for its sexual and violent content. The bad thing about the game is the fact that the violence is omnipresent, the blood splatter animations are over the top, leaving the combatants covered in dark red paint after every small encounter and the hard work to woe a companion is cheapened by the fact that after having sex with one of them you can dump them and woe another one. There is even an achievement for having sex with more than one partner. If the act of wooing is too tedious there is also a brothel with various options to choose from, it is a little on the expensive side but money is not rare. The animations for the brothel are all the same with different partners but the companions get their own set of sex scenes. All of the animations look awkward and they are full of clipping issues. The game has not much variety in character models so the models of same gender and race are essentially the same. There are underwear models but having them preform sex in that underwear just looks ridiculous. There was an outcry that you are able to have homosexual relations but that is one of the positive aspects IMO. The game was advertised as a mature game in a mature world but it fell short because of over the top and sometimes awkward animations and the fact that too many interactions with npcs consisted of killing them.
Dragon Age 2 saw the opportunity to expand on all those aspects and the result is even more ridiculous than in Origins. The combat animations are even more over the top and totally unrealistic in relations to the one used in Origins that for the most part looked believable. The sex in DA2 is even more laughable because there are no underwear models for some of the companions so they jump each other in full clothing (with weapons on the backs as well). There are no animations for the act as in Origins, thankfully.
The characters are designed to be every teenagers wet dream like Isabella running around without pants and most other women with a back breaking cub size. The male counterparts are moody and attractive like the ones you could see in Twilight but equally shallow as well.
There is another game that comes to mind, I haven't played it and frankly I don't want to. That game is BulletStorm, the new slay and splatter festival for all the "mature" gamers out there. The game is a shooter but not an ordinary one, no, you get points and achievements for mutilation of enemy bodies. The game play I saw in videos looked a lot like Serious Sam but unlike that game it will be taken seriously and show the future of gaming, damn, what a dark future that is...
We are now "blessed" with these fine examples of "mature" game and can only hope that some of the designers might wake up and make real mature games which deserve it to be called as such. But with a side glance to the trends in comedy and action films coming out lately I seriously doubt that any time soon.