For a while, I have been waiting for truly "adult" games to hit the market. And before our 3 female readers revolt, I'm talking about more than just "borking" in ME2, or the advent of sexy photorealistic ladies. After all, leisure suit larry was already chasing pixellated tail "way" back in the early nineties.
Games have long been associated with children, and since we young-ish adults have grown up with videogames, games have sort of grown up with us. I say sort-of, because game technology, graphics, and gameplay have evolved. But most games are still targeted at tweens and teens, no matter what their ESRB rating claims.
So where are the games with truly adult themes? I'm talking about the breadth of human emotion here. Something more than just saving the princess or killing space marines. Mainstream cinema has no problem producing stimulating dramatic stories which balance artistic integrity, depth of plot, and mass market appeal. Yes, Transformers 2 still makes tons of money, but we still see Avatar and The Hurt Locker on the big screen. And moves like Precious or District 9 get made, even though they won't sell millions of bags of popcorn or action figures.
Network TV has embraced the least common denominator with it's plethora of reality shows. But American Idol and Biggest Loser are still balanced by The Wire, Mad Men, Lost, and 30 Rock et al.
I understand that console and handheld game markets are dominated by children, and many buying decisions are made by parents. However, adult game purchasers are a large and ever-growing demographic, so it seems obvious to me that game developers should be targeting adults with adult games.
I accept that PG-rated "sex scenes" are a step towards mature themes in games, but i don't understand why more developers aren't targeting truly adult audience. The obvious argument is that development dollars will cater to the largest demographics, so as to increase game studio profits. But where are the "independent" yet well-financed game studios that can rival "indie" film studios? 20 years ago "sex lies and videotape" defined the low budget crossover indie movie. Now "independent" movies can command a large production budget and can expect a modest return on investment. So why aren't there more game studios coming out with Shadow of the Colossus, Braid, and Heavy Rain?