Cold Coffee

This article was published on 12/21/2007.

Grand Theft Auto is a kiddy game, designed specifically to appeal to children and immature adults. No, this isn't an article that focuses on Grand Theft Auto's offensive content. Instead, this article is about why most adults are insecure, hollow minded individuals who think their absolutely bland taste in video games entitles them to denounce anything with bright colors and cute things as "kiddy." Sometimes the people who use these terms aren't even adults, and only pretend to be on Internet forums. If you can't admit that Super Mario Galaxy is a man's game by the end of this article, then I'd advise you to grow up.

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Most mature adults don't play Grand Theft Auto for its immature content; they play it to admire the attempt at a true sandbox game, an adventure with more freedom than most others. Kids have other matters of interest, however. Children desperately seek admission into the "cool crowd," a group of people who are supposedly hip. The definition of what's "cool" and what isn't changes with the times, so it's always something different. It's generally whatever it is that adults can do and children are prohibited from doing. These kids think that doing what only adults are allowed to do will make them seem more mature than their peers. Mental maturity is often sought by those who lack it. There's an inherent allure to breaking the rules, which makes kids feel rebellious. Whatever the case, the almost juvenile immaturity present in Grand Theft Auto lends itself fairly well to the average mind of a younger audience who take up smoking to fit in with a particular crowd.

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One good example that illustrates this point is the Mortal Kombat fiasco from the 1990's, back when companies like Nintendo and Sega were top dog. Mortal Kombat was a popular fighting game with combat intense enough to warrant swapping the C with a K. During this time, there were substantially fewer adults playing video games. Nintendo decided to censor the first Mortal Kombat game released on the Super Nintendo. This decision made Nintendo suffer major losses, because the blood was the major draw to Mortal Kombat. Blood inside video games was a big deal back then. Kids wanted this game badly, and it had little to do with the game play itself. That's not to say that Mortal Kombat lacked quality game play, but it can't be denied that the blood is what most kids were interested in. These kids could go to school and boast to their friends about how they own a game with blood in it. Nintendo eventually realized this and decided to allow the future Mortal Kombat games to be released on their system fully uncensored. Everything was a-okay after that, except for the fact that kids were exposed to lots of blood, much to the chagrin of parents everywhere. Offensive content like this primarily draws in a younger audience, and the Mortal Kombat situation proves it.

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These days, blood isn't enough to impress a kid. Blood merely earns a game the T for teen rating. No sir, they have their eyes set on M rated games. M standing for what these kids lack: maturity. These two ratings are the equivalents for PG13 and R, respectively. It takes a lot more potentially offensive content to impress a kid these days. All media in society has been upping the ante of what's considered acceptable, so content that was considered offensive in the past is now fair game. Blood, drugs, sex, and all kinds of things are now easily accessed by children at a moment's notice. Kids are now bored of that stuff and they seek greater thrills. The greater thrills are games like Grand Theft Auto, which is the Mortal Kombat of our time. I mean that metaphorically, of course. There's nothing wrong with games like Mortal Kombat or Grand Theft Auto. These two franchises have countless of quality entries. The reasons why many people enjoy these games is what's wrong. If you're into it purely for the objectionable content, then you're doing it wrong.

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Mario games are designed to appeal to both children and adults who have reached a certain level of maturity. I suppose you must feel insulted, as you're an adult and you think Mario games are "kiddy," best reserved for children while you take a sip of some Heineken. You're an idiot, of course, and I'm about to prove it. Mario games, and a large majority of Nintendo games, derive an enormous amount of success from the adult market. Many adults who grew up with Nintendo games as kids continue to buy them in their adulthood. Part of this is the nostalgia factor, but it's also the rich game play that only Mario games can provide. The younger audiences might not understand what makes Mario good, because they haven't played the previous ones. All these kids can see is that Mario looks "kiddy," and they avoid it like the plague. Nintendo would see far less income if they decided to ignore the desires of older audiences. Another reason why Nintendo's games will find a home in the hearts of some adult gamers is their genius. Not everyone can look at Super Mario Galaxy and realize the subtle brilliance behind such impeccable game design. Masters such as Shigeru Miyamoto and the talented people he works with continue to bring innovation to video games in ways that benefit the entire industry. It takes a sophisticated soul to appreciate such things, not unlike savoring the taste of fine wines.

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In the words of C.S. Lewis: "Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." Truly informed adults enjoy games like Super Mario Galaxy as well as Grand Theft Auto. Those with maturity won't dismiss any game due to its childish appearance. It's important to remember that looks can be deceiving. If you're one of those people who gave up on Mario due to the childlike qualities of his games, I implore you to give those games a second chance. It shouldn't embarrass any adult to admit they still enjoy a good Mario game. I certainly don't feel ashamed.

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