Monday, May 24, 2010

There's no place like home...

There was a very good article in this months Game Informer (crazy, I know!) about the bizarre video games legislation in Australia. Just in case anyone doesn't know what it is, there is no rating for 18+ for games there. If a game is deemed worse than 15+ it just doesn't come out, and people who actually are adults are driven to piracy or importing to play undiluted games. I have no problem with rating content. On the contrary I think it is a requirement that there is an easy way for a person to look at a game's box and decide who it is appropriate for. What is insulting about what Australia has done is that they are basically saying that no one over the age of fifteen actually wants to play games aimed at them. The message is clear: games are kid's stuff.

It is easy to blame this on the generation(s) gap between the people making the laws and the people who have to live under them, but I really think there is more to it than that. It is very true that an entire generation of people are mostly unexposed to games beyond the tripe that PopCap puts out, but their opinions cannot simply be dismissed. To do so feeds into their 'get the damn kids off my lawn' attitude. Intelligent, respected people like Roger Ebert are at the forefront, at least in this country, and he has had very few nice things to say about gaming. In a nutshell, he says that they are not art and that they cannot be art (thankfully neither he nor anyone else has made a serious move on actually baning games with adult content, but keep an eye on the religious right, they're crazy). To a certain extent, I agree, but I have to add the word 'yet.' It is easy to forget how new gaming really is. Just a few days ago Pac-Man had its twentieth anniversary, and look how it compares to what we have now. If you compare games to movies, one of their closest cousins, games are still in their infancy; they just have bigger and better toys to play with at twenty years than movies did. Gaming has to pay its dues, survive for a few more decades, outlive its critics and have more history to its credit before it will be seen as much more than a child's activity to people from the outside. I have no doubt that it will make it and I look forward to what the next fifty years of gaming has to offer. And while I do not agree with the people who dismiss games as a waste of time, I do not dismiss their opinions, because I am sure that there will be something that I too will bitch about when I am old and grey.

Plus, eventually, they will all die.

Lost Planet 2's ending consisted of about two dozen guys shooting rockets at a giant glowing amoeba, as if to remind anyone who had forgotten that yes, this game is Japanese in origin. I'm not saying it was a bad ending; it did a very good job of building empathy for the faceless teams that I had been playing, but it was definitely rather odd.

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