Sunday, February 8, 2009

Games are for kids

I can't believe I have let this topic wait this long. And I will start it off with a confession. I am a gamer. I will define gamer as a person who spends a good portion of his or her free time and resources playing video games. I will also define kid, anyone under the age of 12. That being out of the way, I will also state that I won't touch only games but cartoons and animes as well. But let's get on to the topic.

Video Games
I've heard this a million times and it seems that even though the computer games industry is growing as well as the number of people playing video games, a lot of the people out there are under the mindset that computer games are for kids. I came to wonder how this statement stands these days. I mean, the clearest proof of the fact that there is no high end age limit to playing games, is the fact that there are non porn 18+ (or Mature) video games out there. That being said... how can kids, if you will allow me this time to lump in teenagers of all ages with kids, play that specific game.

I'll point out simulators first. Technology has advanced to the point where, with a bit of resources (meaning a joystick and/or steering wheel) you could get to having a pretty realistic experience. So how would you say that flying a plane or driving a car is kid's play when you have the realism to maximum? That argument falls right there. The best example for the simulation genre is Ubisoft's Silent Hunter series, in which you are given command of a World War 2 submarine on either axis or allied side. The part of it that's amazing is that in later games ( 3rd and 4th installment of the series are the ones that I had the pleasure of playing ) you could set the detail level so high, that you actually had to identify the ship yourself and calculate torpedo trajectory while taking care not to be detected. You can't honestly believe that this sort of things appeal to kids.

Again working the technology point, there are real-time / turn-based strategy games out there that are complex enough in both political maneuvers and military maneuvers that require a lot of high level planning and foresight. How can you tell me with a straight face that an average 11 year old is capable of such feats? Sure trial and error may reap the desire result after a while but only if said kid has to. There are really a few number of them out there that have the patience and forethought necessary to like such a thing. We all know kids want instant gratification, so this sort of game cannot be appealing to them, now can it?

After writing this first part I don't see that much of a strong case, but I hope that by the end you will get the meaning of my message.

Cartoons and Animes.
Moving on from the gaming industry to the movie industry, why are cartoons generally attributed to children? Sure, there is the mega-corporation named Disney that made cartoons since gods know when, but really now, how can so many people believe that a medium such as a drawing (which in effect is the basis behind the cartoon) be given such a disqualifying audience as that. Yes yes, children are the miracles of our world bullshit, but there is so much more to it than that. The cartoon industry can be so much greater, and I will take the opportunity to make a reference towards Japanese culture and their animes.

First of all I will argue that not all cartoons are targeted at children. I don't really realize how, anyone can say that The Flintstones or The Jetsons are cartoons targeted at children. Sure, they are funny and presented in an odd way, but if you think about it... most of the jokes are adult jokes. How can children relate to Wilma's doubt's that Fred is cheating on her, or the wives spending of the men's little money. How can children get those jokes? Those jokes are targeted at adults, because only after you passed through life a bit, can you get stereotypes like that embedded into your head. Only after you got the basics of adult life and adult doubts and problems can you understand why Fred and George still went to work even if they hated it, why Wilma had her doubts, why Fred and Barney always got pissed at how the women spent their money, why Wilma and Betty always complained that their husbands never took them out or the tragedy that Barney and Betty couldn't have a child. Don't tell me children can get the full meaning of those actions.

Sure, I will give out the fact that there are children's cartoons out there, and they are many more than the adult targeted ones mostly because of the success that Disney had and many other people wanted in on the money train. There was a niche to be had and people jumped at it. But most of them neglected the wider audience that is the adult market, and rightly so. There would be a huge market for adult cartoon industry (and I'm not talking about porn) if adults were going to lower their comfortable "cartoons are for kids" reason and actually watch a proper animated movie. Think of the money they would save on special effects, stunt people, locations, boats and so on, because with cartoons, all you need is animators and a few voice actors. Writers would not be constrained by the human body and possibilities. Their imaginations could run wild. Such stories could be written and portrayed. Alas, that won't happen in the near future. Sure it's begun, with things like Kung-Fu Panda... but it's too little.

Moving on to anime, I have a bit of a bone to pick with most of what's west and east of Japan. There's a preconception out there that anime equals, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon and Sailor Moon. Well... I'm sorry but I will have to burst that bubble. Anime, unlike cartoons for the western people, have gone over their "anime ar for kids" and targeted the whole of the population with their works. I'm not saying that many Japanese adults watch anime, I can't really say that for sure, since I haven't had a chance to talk to one in person, but I will say that there are animes out there targeted towards adults who are willing to drop their arrogance. Only one example is needed for this and it's called Ghost Hunt. By watching all of it's 24 episodes, I am convinced that it is by far, the best horror thing out there in the industry of viewing. But that's just a minor example really. There are really many many more good animes out there in a wide palette of genres, ranging from dama, fantasy, action, adventure, you name it. I dare to say it is as varied as the film industry, with a lot less known titles. Mostly because to the western world... animes are weird or for kids.

In conclusion
I know it's another long post but I will end it with a rant. Why is it derogatory for an adult to play games or, watch cartoons or animes? Sure, they are different than the mainstream of movies and tv series but when you draw the bottom line... what is the point of the "entertainment business"? Let me tell you. The point of the entertainment business - and I will lump here reading a book, watching a movie, playing a video game, watching an anime or cartoon, going to the theater, etc - is to provide us with an escape from our reality. An escape in which, for the few hours we can spare, we can watch or imagine our favorite characters going out and doing things we only can dream about. Watching situations that are most definitely never going to happen to us and for the most part, live with them. That is the purpose of the entertainment business. We all want a bit of time out of our lives to be able not to think about our own taxes, mortgage, work, money, boss, school, girlfriend, politics etc. And games, books, plays, movies, cartoons, animes... all of these serve the same purpose. To provide that escape we all need, and hopefully... bring a new viewpoint into our own lives.

I have unlocked the sands of time, conquered the world at the throne of Dacia (reference, Romanian history BC), survived a couple of world war 2s, commanded a submarine, piloted an F22 and a MIG 29, survived a zombie infestation more than once.

I have also been next to Romeo when he killed himself, I've helped Tyler Durden blow up buildings and rescued Victor Mancini from self induced choking and I've been held captive with Aleksandr Petrovich Goryanchikov in a Siberian prison camp.

And that's only off the top of my mind. What have you done?


  1. kotor ftw , hellsing ftw. (PS : concluSion)

  2. Maybe you're right, maybe most adults treat cartoons (and I'm talking only about them because it's the subject I know best and the only one I'm actually interested in) as a thing specific for kids, but I seem to meet less and less people who think this way. Maybe it's because most of the adults I know grew up with me (I do include my highschool friends in this category) and, like you, never regarded cartoons as childish. But I also look at my parents. And my friends' parents. They would enjoy Shrek on a Saturday night just as much as The Pianist, or I don't know what adult movie (as you said, I'm not thinking about porn here). And I for one believe that the people who make cartoons so famous or appreciated are the adults, coz it's them who take their kids to the cinema, it's them who choose and in the end, it's them who also watch. So I would tend to say that there is no longer such stuff as cartoons for kids. But that's just me

  3. If things were going as well as you claim they are, we would at least see some "serious" cartoons rather than only cartoons or animations we would take "our" kids to. Why isn't there a cartoon like Matrix, or The pianist, or Choke presented in a way the movies are presented? That was the point of my rant. Because people wouldn't consider those cartoons targeted at them.

  4. For the cartoons bit, i think one only needs mentioning The Simpsons or Family Guy. These cartoons are definitely not intended for kids ;).

  5. Still they are satirical. I'm preaching for variety :P

  6. Maybe the sort of things that movies like the pianist or matrix talk about are better portraid with people, and not cartoons. It's like genres for movies, you can talk about WW2 in a comedy, like Mash, but in most cases it's gonna be a drama.