Games made for adult sensibilities

No, I'm not talking about “sexy” games, necessarily. But what games feel like they were made for mature, discerning adults?

Some games feel like they're made for the whole family. Nintendo games spring to mind, of course, and a sterling example is Clubhouse Games: 51 Worldwide Classics on the Switch.

Other games feel like they're obviously made for kids. You could argue that licensed games fall into this category, but that's hopefully only true of kids with clueless parents or gift-givers. Maybe a better example would be the best Kirby games (again, Nintendo, I know), which are gently challenging, but still mostly forgiving.

Way too many games have historically felt like they're designed for white or Japanese teenage boys, though thankfully, this trend seems to be going away.

Anyway, now that I'm an old (35) man with two little kids, I find myself appreciating games that feel as though they've been tailored to someone with my declining appetite for intensity. I am very nearly Outside of the Target Demographic, and enjoying it! I'm not at the point where new music sounds like "just noise" to me, but I do listen to a lot of new stuff and think, "well, I hope the kids enjoy it, but it's not for me."

Recently, I've been getting into **Gran Turismo Sport** (Spec II), and it's what inspired me to talk about this topic. It feels less like a "video game" and more like an expertly-crafted "consumer experience." The menus are slick and navigable. The in-game text reads like it was written for a sensible human being, and not someone who's spent years (or decades) internalizing what an R3 button is. The soundtrack is a lot of smooth jazz and easy-listening (with some edgier stuff thrown in occasionally). But above all, it feels expensive and luxurious.

If Super Mario Odyssey is a tropical fruit smoothie, then Gran Turismo Sport is aged Macallan Sherry Oak whisky.

Gran Turismo Sport feels like it was made for the kind of person who'd gladly spend hundreds of dollars on a copy of the game, a PS4 Pro, maybe a steering wheel controller, and be satisfied never purchasing another game.

What other games feel like they were made for grown-ups?

Well, probably not in the way you meant but I remember a survey for the “Tales Of” series a few years ago that revealed the average Japanese fan’s age for the series being around 45 years old. In fact, a lot of Japanese game series have this demographic issue.

To follow up on your examples, in the case of Tales Of, I take it that new titles are not meant to target this older audience specifically and instead try to renew their audience but is seems so far this has not worked out as planned. Maybe with the next one!

@chazumaru#5815 That's a really interesting example! Thanks, @chazumaru

I can imagine that, from an industry perspective, it's a problem when older game likers are content to buy only one or two games a year. They probably don't "engage" with them on social platforms either!

I‘ve always heard that’s who dragon quest was aimed at as well, the “salaryman audience.” Even though it sure looks like it's for kids!

Anyway I'd say disco elysium was created with adults firmly in mind. other western RPGs or visual novels sort of toe the line between who they're going for, but disco elysium kind of relies on the idea that you've done a job before and gone outside on your own.

I also feel like Firewatch and games in that ilk are adilt-oriented.

On the other hand FF7R feels (story-wise) like it was made for 12 year olds and I can barely stand to interact with it.

@exodus#5853 yeah I played FF7R right after finishing Read Dead Redemption 2 and boy was that a sharp contrast. If the script for FF7R was in an anime it would be some no-name show buried on Crunchy Roll.

I guess RDR2 could count as more of an adult game if you're there more for the "death of the wild west" experience. The giant shootouts always felt out of place compared to just being a romanticized cowboy wandering from town to town.

yeah, that's a good description of the FF7R characterization. I keep feeling like I “should” finish it but I just hate being around these characters, these are all people I would avoid in real life.

There is no need to finish it, I can tell you with specific confidence, regarding this game in particular.

But there is also, as you well know, no need to finish any game you dislike! Unless somebody is paying you to. Maybe.

i feel like horror, in both movies and games, often gets relegated to just being mostly schlock with little thematic content to chew on, but it can actually be used to talk about some interesting stuff!

SOMA - while the previous games from Frictional boil down to just being somewhat typical b-horror plots, SOMA's plot actually talks a lot about consciousness, bodies, and the ethics of technology? it's nothing that several movies and books haven't already discussed, but it's handled a lot better than how other games have tried to handle similar, "heavy" themes (like Bioshock Infinite lol). i still stand by that the best way to play this game with mods to remove the monsters!

Silent Hill 2 - one of the only "big" games i can think of that handles the topic of sex responsibly? there's probably been about 100 essays written about this game already, so i won't write any more here lol.

Kentucky Route Zero really fits the description.

For whatever reason, the first game that springs to my mind is Flower, Sun & Rain.

Arkane’s _Prey_ also feels to me like it was designed for mature, patient science fiction enthusiasts and not just teenagers looking to blast stuff.

It‘s interesting (for me) to note that apart from Gran Turismo, the other game I’m spending the most time with lately is Disco Elysium, and I think it helped me start thinking about this topic in the first place. I've been working my way through it slowly, playing in 30ish-minute chunks on my lunch breaks. Earlier this year, I also played through Kentucky Route Zero, and yes, it definitely fits.

I'll have to look into Prey, and SOMA. As for Silent Hill 2, I've never been able to get far enough into it to make an informed opinion, because it's just too darn scary. Granted, the last time I tried was nearly a decade ago, when I was living alone in a drafty old two-story house in the middle of nowhere.

I guess one of the big themes we're hitting on in this thread is the idea of a game being patient with its audience, and therefore confident in its decisions, and its pacing. Kentucky Route Zero and Disco Elysium both allow the player to take as much or as little time as they like, with the only "rewards" being more context provided to the player in the form of plot-related details. But you can save whenever you want, come and go as you please, like reading a novel. If you're going to make a game for adults, you've got to respect their time. I haven't played the FF7 Remake (though I have played the demo), but that game seems to take the opposite approach: throwing as much of everything at the player as possible at all times, desperate to show off how flashy it is, and not wanting to lose the player's attention for even a second. It gives you no time to think or reflect on what's actually happening. Maybe because nothing is actually happening.

When I think “games for adults”, I think about the weird position that mainstream games have put themselves in over the last decade. Blockbuster games, in their efforts to attain the artistic credibility they perceive in more established media, have been modeling themselves after prestige television, and trying to appeal more to adults in the process. Yet at the same time they‘ve made no real effort to let go of a decades-old framework that was designed to and continues to appeal mainly to teenagers and young adults: combat, skill trees, an overall emphasis on the skillful domination of others through violence. Maybe the protagonist will pout every now and then and lament the all too necessary violence he regularly performs, but it’s still a far way from the sort of nuanced set of ideas that would actually appeal to adult players.

Anyway, as for where to find games specifically made for adults, I've found the trend is you have to look outside commercial spaces to really find those games. There's Itch.io, obviously, but I'm also thinking about games you'd find for PCs in the late 80s through the 90s. I guess the common trend here is that because these platforms weren't/aren't as subject to the kinds of market pressures that are built into consoles, they didn't have to worry as much about alienating their players, resulting in their being more able to challenge players (aesthetically, thematically, etc.) and speak to them on levels commercial games never could.