We’re not kids anymore, folks.
We’re grownups, we have responsibilities! You know, when we were four, we dreamed of growing up to become a firetruck. Then, shortly after realizing that becoming a Transformer/Megazord is slightly out of our range of career options, we decided on something slightly less awesome. And we slowly but surely worked our way through being picked on, then puberty (oh god), then all that great stuff that happens after, like getting a job and going to college. And none of that has to do with video games. But you remember when you were __ (insert your appropriate age here) and Poke’mon Blue came out? You flipped your frickin’ lid. You saw a video game cartridge that was BLUE. It was blue, folks. And you had to have it. You pestered your _______ (insert appropriate family member or figure with money here) so much that he or she took you to Toys’R’Us and just bought you the damn thing. Score one for kid you!
But… we’re grownups now. Is Poke’mon still cool? Heck yes. Should we still play it? Absolutely. Should we still enjoy it? 100%. Does society think we should still enjoy it?
Uh-oh, we have a problem. You plop your rear end down on a bus or lightrail, pull out your DS, load up Poke’mon, and see what happens. People will give you funny looks. The crazy lady with the parrot will be so freaked out that she will WILLINGLY go sit next to the annoying guy playing his rap music really loud. Point is, you’re weird all of a sudden. Because you’re carrying your handheld console around in a public place, you somehow put yourself in an anti-social, near-murderous-psychopath category. Congratulations! Because we as a society label those with handheld games as clinging to their juvenile past, while refusing to grow up. We should probably be reading the biography of a famous Latvian politician or doing the New York Times Crossword.
So what gives? I’m a sociopath because I like Poke’mon? I don’t see it, and neither does anyone else who plays handheld games as an adult. They’re fun! And while the majority of games are marketed to kids, there are games like Professor Layton and such that certainly are geared more towards those with developed critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Like, you know… ADULTS. Or at least teenagers. Hah, who am I kidding, teenagers don’t know jack. But even Poke’mon has gotten some upgrades over the years. Sorry to keep coming back to this, but I think everyone agrees that as a gamer, those lovable little monsters defined much of our childhood gaming experience. It’s like the gateway drug of gaming. In Blue Version, you caught your Poke’mon, you beat up on your annoying rival (usually with a name like Douche or YouSuck), and you took the championship, winning fame and glory and probably cute girls. But then came Emerald version. If you’ve played through it, it’s a struggle between Team Aqua and Team Magma. One thinks that the world should be covered in ocean… god knows why. The other thinks that the world should be covered in land, to give everyone a place to build their homes and live. Or so I remember. The point is, they both release superpowerful Poke’mon that wreak havoc on the world, nearly destroying it. And who’s the guy who has to unravel the mess (conveniently by way of Poke’mon battle)? You! Yay! It’s a little heavier stuff than “Beat YouSuck into submission.” Same thing with White version, which I’m working through now. There’s a lot of dialogue about whether or not keeping Poke’mon is morally correct, and if they are truly happy fighting our battles. Are we treating them humanely? Sounds like an ad for PETA.
Okay, super off-topic here. Point is, handheld games aren’t purely juvenile. Now, here’s something else for your undeveloped, sociopathic handheld-game-playing brain to chew on: console games are backwards! They’re for “adults.” Many XBOX games involve a gratuitous amount of violence. Chopping heads off, dismembering ninjas, beating prostitutes, running pedestrians over, strangling mob members with piano wire, blasting aliens into blue-green pulp… and that’s just Madden 2012! (ha ha, it’s a joke.) But we kill a lot of crap on our XBOX’s, and games like Mass Effect are pretty heavy stuff sometimes. A lot of reading, a lot of plot. It’s absolutely geared towards adults. And so that’s what we’re supposed to play! We’re supposed to sit at home (that’s pronounced “mom’s basement”) with our buddies and drink lots of beer, eat lots of chips, and have a Call of Duty marathon!! Wooh! Just kidding, that makes you weird too. But even games like World of Warcraft are much more acceptable to play when you’re an adult. Working people who play WoW don’t have this stigma, mainly because the people who know that you play also work 40 hours a week with you. Tough to tell you to get a job when that’s the case.
So, to bring things back, why the stigma? Is it because adults are aware that these games are often geared towards children, or know children who play the same games? Is it because they think that part of growing up is finding more intellectually stimulating ways of entertaining oneself? Luddites! Philistines! Hypocrites! Put down your Kindle and fight me like a man! Games are meant for those who enjoy them. If I want to play Cooking Mama, then by god, I’m going to play Cooking Mama! We need to get past the idea that games are meant for age groups. Games don’t stop being fun once you become an adult. So, the next time you see some dude on the bus with a DS, wailing away at some Poke’mon trainer, tell the annoying guy in the back to turn his rap music off, and go play a match or two with Mr. Poke’mon. I think the ESRB rating system says it perfectly: when you see a rating, here’s what it says: ages 8 *and up*.
Posted on May 14, 2012, in Classic Games, Miscellaneous and tagged Children, Cooking Mama, DS, Gaming, Kids, Latvia, mass effect, Nintendo, PETA, Pokemon, Video Games, Violence. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.