Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mature Themed Wii Games - Developers Take Note

video game babe

Today, while nosing around to see what was out there for my Wii system I stumbled upon an article over at G4tv called "Is There A Future For Mature Games on the Wii?" posted back in October of '09.

It was a pretty interesting article discussing why adult titles for the Wii have not done at all well, despite the huge reach of the console. Most of the comments followed the same train of thought:

The majority of Wii owners are kids, so i would have to say no.

The gamers who enjoy "Mature" games, are more likely to own the systems that cater towards them (360 & PS3), and use the Wii for the Nintendo titles that they may have grown up with (Mario, Zelda, Metroid, etc.).

The other systems are affordable now, and the Wii pumps out nothing but fitness and pet handling games. No real gamer is going to go pick up a Wii, no one I know that owns one plays it more than an hour a week. They need to go back to their roots and try again.

After a lengthy discourse on all the "Mature" titles that failed on the Wii, mostly sophomoric blood and guts shooters, the article finally nailed it:

But what if Wii owners are really just adults who wanted to be treated as such? Interactive experiences aimed at adults aren't required to incorporate dismembering limbs and tossing grenades. They can (and it's certainly a facet of games that isn't going away), but perhaps the adult experiences offered up so far by video game publishers for Wii has toed the party line and, as a result, been passed by with a cynical eye.

Toed the party line, exactly. The industry is using an outdated definition of "mature" that isn't a great fit for Wii gamers.

Take me for example: I'm a 38 year old man, married with two kids, own my home, business owner, money in my IRA, etc. I'm a grown up. Back in the day, when my "hardcore gamer" friends were learning the perfect combination of button mashing to achieve a fatality in Mortal Kombat, I was hanging out with my girlfriend. Whenever I did hang out and play games, I'd go home with a sore thumb.

I guess I'm not a "real gamer", but clue into this gaming industry, my first console was an Atari 2600, and I've owned many others since and bought a pile of games. I have money to spend and will buy games I think I'll enjoy, but none of the titles mentioned in the article sounded the least bit appealing. Why should I be titillated by bad language and buckets of blood splashing across the screen? I'm not 17...

I haven't had the Wii long, but so far, Outdoor Challenge is my favorite title. It's fun, the games are challenging and I love the fact that I'm exhausted and dripping in sweat after an hour of gameplay! And my thumb doesn't hurt in the least... Would Outdoor Challenge work without the physical activity? No. It'd be a so so game at best, but combine a so so game with a serious workout and it's a winner.

Does this mean the Wii can only support sports games, leaving it utterly one dimensional? No, but know your audience. Personally, I want to get up and sweat and be involved in the game, same with my wife, same with my mother who also went out and bought a Wii.

Okay, I need to get back on point. This post is about mature games for the Wii after all, but maybe sports would be the right place for the industry to start as the Wii eases into more mature gameplay. I'm happy to go for a run or a bike ride in a game and break a sweat, but rather than dogs and plastic looking Mii characters, I have to wonder; where are all the hot roller blader and jogger chicks? They're one of the attractions of real world running, so why not put them in the game? I might run a little faster or a little longer if I was sharing the trail/beach/path with young, fit coeds...

Whatever the genre, the controls are important. I want to walk, run, climb, kick, scratch, crawl my way through the game. I absolutely do not want to sit on the couch and mash buttons. The controls aren't just a gimmick, they're part of the immersive quality of play. Embrace them.

One of the most interesting sounding mature titles headed for the Wii is called Sadness by Nibris. I don't know much about it, but it sounds like much more intelligent horror than has been tried so far. I like the idea of walking through my environment, getting the crap scared out of me and fighting back with whatever I can pick up, not for more cheeseball blood and guts, but hopefully for real fear coming from being utterly immersed in the game experience.

Give me sex, give me violence, give me action and give me terror, but give them to me with some sophistication and package them into a good game where I can get up off the couch and I'm sold. I'm not breaking out my wallet for more of the same old same old.

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