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Devil's Daily: Mature MMORPGs

04. July, 2013Tags: News

Mature MMORPGs. What does that phrase conjure up for you? Probably the same sorts of things that the word 'mature' inspires in everybody, when linked with video games: boobs and violence. Oh, and hints of rape.

You can keep your dark story in which millions are slaughtered. You can keep your exposed cleavage and knee length bosom. You can even keep your gratuitous violence. These aren't the sorts of things that give credence a certain game being mature or not. They're adult, but they're not mature.

This had actually been on my mind all day, when the editor for DevilsMMO happened to mention the same topic.  Only this morning I saw an article on another site asking if games were going to continue to grow up. My answer, simply, is that they need to start to grow up before we can tackle the really hard issues.

Let me just clarify before we continue. I'm not saying that there's anything intrinsically wrong with running around shooting people, or even with a bit of bare leg/highly unsuitable armour. Gaming is, after all, escapism more than anything, and developers have a duty to provide titles that most effectively help those that who want to escape do so. 

My problem is with the attempts at making the industry grow up. Nobody wants to play over the top, Tom and Jerry arena shooters any longer. They want to feel they're either enjoying something of a summer blockbuster - something that appeals to their sense of heroism - or they want something that's deep. The same applies to the MMO genre, although not to the same extent.

On the one hand, we have a large group of people who love anime-inspired MMORPGs that allow you to dress up your character in frilly Japanese-inspired clothing. On the other, we have groups that grew up playing World of Warcraft and now want to go for something a little more, that word again, mature. 

Mature MMORPGs involve being able to cut off the enemies head with your sword. Mature MMORPGs allow you to by DLC that undresses the all-female cast (thanks Scarlet Blade). They don't want anything more than that. They don't want to have to be plunged into a world filled with actual issues. They don't want to have to deal with problems.

That's what maturity is about. It's not having a satisfying squelch sound when you hit an opponent over the back of the head. It's not skirting around rape or making jokes about incest. It's finding yourself in a situation, having to react to that situation and then dealing with the consequences of that decision. Too few games, especially MMORPGs, actually manage this.

Final Thought

TV shows don't have this problem. The Sopranos had a rape and the camera sat there, uncomfortably watching as it happened. It was one of the most horrifying moments on TV, but it was also shockingly effective. You watched the situation, you watched the characters react to that situation and then you saw the consequences.

How many games can you think of where the consequence for the attacker is death, and the reward for the main character is revenge? How many MMORPG games can you think of where there isn't even a situation for the character to react to, or where the consequences are just ignored?

The answer to both questions, I'm afraid, is "too many."

What do you think?

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