Mature games are the ones you’d like to share with family and friends without being embarassed about it. The current equivalent of mature content in gaming is porn and splatter movies. It isn’t satire, it isn’t grindhouse. It’s less mature content period. It’s desparation to justify the own work as more than just a toy. “Look! Naked chicks with huge racks get rescued by space marines saving the world or vice versa. Isn’t that mature?” No it’s maturity like a 13 year old would illustrate it. No 18+ rating turns it into valuable mature content. It’s dumb fun and it may even be unique but it’s not a mature content yet. Not even close. Even games wich target a mature audience, still lack years of experience how to craft and stage a piece of fiction for the rumored 30+ audience. Either that or this demographic never read or saw a genuine piece of fiction.
The best analogy to use here is Comic fiction. It took decades until we got Watchmen and a new term – graphic novel – until the medium could be read without feeling embarassed when outgrown the core audience. I’m all for dumb fun entertainment. I’m all for less serious content but i can not stand current games anymore, that try to sell themselves as high fiction for mature players and the first thing you do is blowing someones head off, throwing cheesy one-liners to your virtual female companion, whose clothes are already shredded, allowing to view her special assets. P-lease?!
One of the main issues about this is the creation process. You do not have one creative authority. Even worse: many experienced creators quit the industry way before being old enough to think outside the box. What’s called Game Designer today many times is about juggling numbers in complex systems. It’s not about delivering fiction and outside expertise still is an exception. The medium grew on programmers doing the writing. We should be way past this point, but we aren’t. Technology still sucks the most of the financial and creative ressources. A film starts with a script. A game starts with a document and or protoype demoing the mechanics of the game. The fiction gets ductaped onto when the project gets greenlit.
There’s light at the end of the tunnel. We now witness the market to break into many new fragments. Game budgets plateaued and technology is losing focus. Games can be created by very small teams again and they are. This is where we do see real progress. On the other side i also believe that the single human being still gains importance and the rockstar developer image will lead future progress in mainstream productions, especially when those guys are parents and maybe start to think about the smut that is polluting their children. Digital distribution is a key factor too. Publishers lose power again and studios may be able to create their Watchmen instead of the X-Men their publisher wants. Don’t get me wrong, i love me some smut once in a while but it’s not going to be my bread & butter for gaming content anymore. I wish there would be more and better alternatives. There’s exceptions to the fomula of course, but your average mature game still offers a very immature experience.