Tina K. Russell

September 13, 2007

Rated “M” for Big Sales

Filed under: games, ratings — Tina Russell @ 12:40 am

GamePolitics tells us: a new study shows that, while M-rated games are a fraction of total games released, they generally are rated higher and sell better than their less-rated cousins. I think what gets ignored in the knee-jerk analysis (OMG games are making kids into killers) is that there’s actually a much smaller market for M-rated games and that, if you are going to release one, you are generally going to make it very, very good. Also, if you can afford to allow a game to get an M rating it is also probably an established franchise–one you would be willing to risk such a rating on–and that helps sales along. A final reason is probably simply that first-person shooter titles are simply in vogue, and it’s hard to do one convincingly–that is to say, one that doesn’t seem cheerily insensitive to the horror of violence– and stay in T territory. When first-person shooters fall out of the market’s favor, they’ll fall out of prominence in sales charts, along with M-rated games in general… and I don’t believe that FPS games are popular simply because “the market likes gore,” considering the amount of control and, by extension, empowerment one gains from controlling one’s aim and one’s body movement separately. It allows for a much wider gamut of difficulty and choice than, say, “do I jump on the Goomba, or over it?”

Anyway, that’s what I think. What do you think? Incidentally, I’m not a big first-person shooter fan… I just like Halo a lot, because it has a good story, and the suits of armor sort of soothe my squeamish soul (Halo keeps the fantasy alive enough so that I don’t feel bad about shooting at alien hordes in single-player or my armor-suited buddies in multiplayer, whereas I would feel awful if I, say, eviscerated a human being with a chainsaw in Gears of War).

(I know I shouldn’t feel such antipathy for aliens if they ever visited Earth, but Halo is such an outlandish scenario and is steeped in such mythology that the gameplay doesn’t make me feel bad, whereas taking somebody’s head off with a sniper bullet really would… as would beating somebody to death in GTA with a baseball bat. Actually, that’s the real reason I wish GTA games were rated AO… I feel like giving Halo and GTA the same rating is kind of an insult to Halo and the sort of dramatic dignity it has, as opposed to the comical revelling in heinous violence in GTA. I know it’s parody, but you know, the game is aimed at adults… only…)

(I’d link to a specific Cubetoons comic right there, but the site is broken, so, maybe later.)

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