What adults want from games

Less hand-holding

We don’t think this has anything to do with catering to children, because when we played games in our childhood, games were stupidly difficult and didn’t tell you shit. We could blame the influx of “casual” gamers, but that would be mean and besides they aren’t the problem. The problem is that developers think that casual gamers are stupid. This is indicative of entertainment as a whole losing more and more faith in the intelligence of the average human. If you look at movies from the seventies on back, on average the writing and directing was a lot more subtle. Movies today spell everything out for us because Hollywood is terrified dumb people will get confused. What Hollywood doesn’t realize is that it’s making its audience dumber. By lowering the bar further and further, it’s training the audience to want to put in less and less intellectual effort to digest the material.

Above: Enslaved had many great qualities, but wow was the climbing dumbed-down. It literally provided glowing ledges that also were the only possible route to travel, and you couldn't fall - it might as well have been automated

The same thing holds for games. We don’t need a tutorial to tell us what the crouch button is – give us a hole we can’t walk through and we’ll press buttons until we figure it out. Do they really think we’re so dumb and easily frustrated that we’ll frantically press three buttons and throw the controller down, sell the game, and never buy another title made by that company? With all this handholding, we might just turn into that moron. Discovery is fun – let us discover things and figure things out. Hell, that’s what gaming is about!

Reduction of time wasters

This ties into handholding, because an overly lengthy and redundant tutorial is a waste of our time. We’re adults, which means our free time is extremely limited. For god’s sake, we’re games journalists and we hardly have time to play games! When we were young we happily grinded 200 hours killing the same damn monsters over and over again in Phantasy Star. That shit don’t fly anymore. We need to be able to play games in short bursts and we need that time to be quality, real gameplay.

Above: LA Noire's option to skip combat satisfies more than one of our demands: if you don't like it then it doesn't waste your time and it also allows you to experience a non-combat game focused on other things like investigation and interrogation

We have a laundry list of things that just need to go away, right now: unskippable cutscenes, cutscenes you can’t pause, poorly placed checkpoints or the lack of “save anywhere,” bullshit backtracking sections, grinding/random battles, and shit-eating quick-time events (there’s a reason we wrote an entire article about notable exceptions to the rule that QTEs are an annoying waste of time).

Above: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed had a boss right here, followed by a difficult-to-judge jumping puzzle, and if you died trying to make a jump, the checkpoint took you back to before the boss. There are no words

More co-op designed for one gamer and one non-gamer

Look, we don’t want to marginalize the kid gamers or the non-serious adult gamers. Most of us have families, which means we end up gaming in a household alongside non-gaming spouses or really young kids. We’d like to be able to include them in our gaming. What we need is more asymmetrical co-op modes where one player is the “main” gamer and the second player is the “helper” player. Super Mario Galaxy inspired this idea: one player controls Mario while the other has a cursor that can shoot and grab enemies and objects. The second player can’t die and has no real pressure to perform well. Yet it draws them into the experience. It’s the perfect solution to integrating the adult gamer’s hobby into the family so that dad/mom doesn’t have to seem “tuned out” when playing games.

Make it a package experience

What would be super awesome (game devs take note – this idea is GOLD) is an option in the main menu of a game to turn on “mature” mode. Think of it like a difficulty select, except it changes parameters all over the game to suit an adult’s tastes. So with the tap of a toggle, the game suddenly gets: quick matching online that only searches for 18+ servers, sex scenes without clothing, toned-down and more diverse female character models, reduced hand-holding measures, and reduced time wasters (see above for specifics). Ideally each setting could be adjusted individually (you know, in case you really need huge breasts everywhere). This way there could be games that are inclusive to the mature and the immature. Yes, we know that once again this would not be simple to implement and that it wouldn’t be appropriate or necessary for every game, but in an ideal industry it would be pretty darn awesome, wouldn’t it?

We'd sure like it if videogames didn't usually feel like this:


May 27, 2011


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  • Flakeman - April 5, 2012 3:14 p.m.

    You also play FIFA 12 for cash? You want to win as much as the best? Learn everything here
  • Ghiby - July 2, 2011 1:28 a.m.

    Great article... I fully agree with all the key points and I hope the game developers will pay attention to this constructive feedback... fact, we the "M" ones have the purchasing power to keep buying - or not - those "M" rated games...
  • fortheroflz - June 2, 2011 4:12 a.m.

    I'm 15 and i agree with this article, even though it says stuff about people my age, i really never talk with people that aren't from my school, but the retarded 12 year old gamers that constantly cuss and through insults for no reason piss me off. besides that, when i play a rated m game and it has the an awkward sex thing like in heavy rain, just creepy looking. if i want to see stuff like that i use google. and i also hate games like mgs or borderlands were the tutorial guy pops up out of nowhere and gives you advice that you already knew 23 levels ago.
  • Shforteenteen14 - May 31, 2011 11:10 p.m.

    I find it odd that you complain about video games not having proffesional writers and then put in a picture of GoW 3 as an example...
  • ThePgtipsmonkey - May 31, 2011 10:47 p.m.

    i agree with most of this apart from children being the problem as i normally get called a wide variety names all because i cant quick scope by alot of people over the age of 18. the best point to prove this is when a 37 year old man shouted at my 9 year old brother who only wanted to play 1 online game of COD to see what it was like. my brother didnt use a headset and i sat with him as he play, unfortunately for him he was called a " immature , f..king adopted piece of s..t" because he was the last death and my brothers recations werent as good as the other not saying that i dont get sworn at by children because lets face it there is always the childish 14 year old who just discovered swear words for the first time. the attitude that it is just children/teenager fault is almost as immature as some of the children you are against especially when adults are also to blame for an aggressive and immature online community.
  • mattschroeder - May 31, 2011 10:17 p.m.

    I have to agree with tutorials in games. There should at the very least be an option to turn off tutorials, let me figure it out or read the instruction manual that comes with the game. Why else is it there? I like and agree with most of these points, but 18+ servers and forums don't stop adults from acting younger and just as dumb. I switched off my XBL chat from hearing anyone that isn't on my friends list. Just as quick, and easier to implement.
  • CitizenThom - May 31, 2011 5:08 p.m.

    Red Dead Redemption was great, most of the people you ran into had multiple motivations, some good some bad... and you're right the humor was great too. The game really is in just about every way what I as an adult would like out of the games I play, I encountered no bugs, I got pulled into the story, I cared about the main character and his friends and family, and I hated hated hated the people who were complicating the main character's life. That being said, the one thing I'd change is the single instance of the nudity in the game was kind of random. It had already been implied that that character was a sleazy pig, so the extra measure of it imo wasn't needed. Nudity's fine, but in my opinion, if it's only occuring once in a game, it shouldn't be occuring in a throw away scene in my opinion.
  • Matt785LuvsG4 - May 31, 2011 5:01 p.m.

    I hate when little kids get on Xbox Live and play GTA IV because they are NOT Mature Enough! the parents I wish I could slap for letting their 5 year old play these games! THE SCREAMING! THE SINGING! AND GOD FORBID THEY JOIN YOUR XBOX LIVE PARTY CHAT!! The ones who do that are the worst cause they will follow you from game chat to your party unless you set it to invite only! it sucks so bad! and then you'll occasionally get the "stuck up little spoiled brat" who got this game cause "daddy buys me everything" or the "I Just learned a swear word" kid, or "mommy's little racist" or even the "Cool kid" who has numerous friends playing in the same game with him and they all suck but they win cause they gang up on ya. but I used to be "The Whiny Kid" But I grew out of it.
  • bamit11 - May 31, 2011 4:32 p.m.

    I think RDR worked for multi-dimensioned characters and wit. I was Legitamately sad when John got shot to death and it did have some funny jokes that weren't toilet humor.
  • crumbdunky - May 31, 2011 2:54 p.m.

    The Other M point ,makes me think of about a billion(possibly more!) arguments I've had abut the portrayal of Samus in the game. started off with a lot of fans of the games(and only the Samus from the games) being very upset that the badass of Prime and 2D Metroid had turned into this uncharismatic whine factory with daddy issues who needed to ask a man if she could even pee. Then came the massive fans who devoured the comics and manga adaptations and their idea of this portrayal being more CANON than the usual in game Samus. Be that as it may-and I bow toptheir greater knowledge for sure- it still doesn't FIT with the game Samus in any real way. this Samus seems incapable of the acts of the other games as she'd have no man to as for guidance or approval. I agree entirely with GR that Other M was ruined entirely by this version of Samus infecting games as it watered down everything strong and feminine about her and left her seeming a mere shadow of her former self with more daddy issues than anyone else in history. It was a bleak day for women in games when they went for this Samus. So, sure, say it's accurate to the manga if you must, I don't doubt that but would then say that Samus in the Manga SEX compared to the bitchin', silent badass we all got used to and admired for so long. Even those who, rightly, point out the zero suit and bikini blackspots of titillation can sod off as I'd cut most of that out of the games myself too-even if she does look good in the zero suit it's unneeded and detracts from the focus of Samus as an attractive, self confident woman in charge of hers and everyone else's destinies! Yes, there needs to be a glimpse of vulnerability about all our characters but Other M took entirely the wrong and ott approach to doing so and left one of gaming's best females characters a laughing stock from a feminist perspective and, again, if that's the manga Samus the Manga Samus can stay in the effin Manga and out of my favourite series. I don't see why people defend it on the basis that it's the way she is in some comics when it plainly doesn't work based on the canon as per the games. Best left there where i'm guessing people are more pleased with subordinate women without self worth.
  • celticsfan645 - May 31, 2011 1:33 a.m.

    Well, it appears i am just "Minor colatteral damage"
  • Uberjuju - May 31, 2011 12:50 a.m.

    >>> " Comedy, despite what some hacks might tell you, can’t be taught. You either are naturally funny, or you will never be funny." Great article except for that one bit. When I was in high school, I wanted to be the funny guy that made everyone laugh, but I had no knack for humor. In my senior year, I began to deconstruct any comedy that I encountered to figure out what makes it tick. In college, I watched humorous people carefully. If I became friends, I'd flat out ask them how they do it. A few were able to describe fairly well how they look at things in a different but deliberate manner to arrive at their humor. Eventually, I became the guy who can make most people laugh. Humor can be an innate talent much like music or art, but also like those latter two it can be a *learned* skill. I'll never be good enough to become known for comedy, but I can scribble out a funny story or get a few improvised laughs at a gathering. That's all I was after.
  • Eyeofthestorm - May 30, 2011 11:54 p.m.

    Being 14,I know that I may be "Immature"(yes I admit it,don't pretend to even believe you are mature fellow teens.)But,I do not want to be chained to a server with 10-15 year olds cussing and spewing nonsensical racial and derogatory terms.
  • gilgamesh310 - May 30, 2011 11:33 p.m.

    Aletheon, yeah I agree. The grizzled nature of the characters suits the mood of a game like Gears of War. It wouldn't make sense if they were given deaper personalities. I thought the Dom/wife thing in GeoW 2 was fairly tacked on and unnecessary. I agree on the sexism thing too. Faith in Mirror's Edge may be realistically proportioned but hardly anything that she does in the game is anyway realistic and she still has a generic tough girl attitude.
  • Darkwun - May 30, 2011 10:40 p.m.

    screw u bitch! i dont wanna be your friend! nah im kidding... PLEASE LIKE ME!
  • JakeyBaby - May 30, 2011 10:26 p.m.

    Great article. I actually thought Sam Gideon from Vanquish one of the more 3 dimensional characters in recent games too. He appears as the tough guy, when actually he's seeking friendship and approval... Like the rest of us :P
  • QWERTYCommander - May 30, 2011 8:44 p.m.

    "Look, we have nothing against kids and teenagers in principle." "'kids should be seen and not heard' (and preferably not seen either)" "In current forums, the moment we find out someone is under eighteen we ignore them because their opinions are stupid" Contradiction much? Also, you do know that old people have the same condition, right? Where they have an inflated sense of superiority that makes them think they're better than teenagers and young adults? Which is exactly what you're showing here? I'm not saying that I don't sometimes act like a little shit in online games. Because I do. But that's why I'm never going to buy a headset, so no one will hear me rage over how some stupid cunt stole my kill in an FPS and that he should burn in hell. Also, how do these sentences look? They're the same as your sentence above, but with some key differences: "The moment we find out someone is black we ignore them because their opinions are stupid" "The moment we find out someone is religious we ignore them because their opinions are stupid" "The moment we find out someone is female we ignore them because their opinions are stupid" How do those sentences sound to you? Do you think that's discriminatory? If so, then so is discrediting someone's opinion because they're under 18. Also, I'm 15. Oh crap, now you're going to completely ignore me because apparently, "my opinions are stupid".
  • FamousMortimer - May 30, 2011 8:05 p.m.

    F'n A.
  • Aletheon - May 30, 2011 6:10 p.m.

    Thanks iPad. To OVERCOME not commit.
  • Aletheon - May 30, 2011 6:08 p.m.

    Metroid Other M wasn't offensive at all. To show emotion and fear temporarily and then overcommit is to be MORE human, not less. The attack on Other M are unwarranted and immature. Grizzled works for some games. Not every game needs "deep" characters. Sexism? Please. This tired old argument is always brought up by limp wristed pansies that don't understand reality and the world they are living in. A female being portrayed as a flat chested boy looking girl doesn't make that character automatically better than a female that has curves. Get over yourselves. Life includes all kinds, and it's equally discriminatory and "sexist" to single out women that actually look like women as being offensive.

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