I kinda feel a little self conscious writing this because it seems a bit self-referential, but whatever. I knew the question would come out wrong on Podtoid, so allow me to clarify. The question I asked boiled down to:
When or how will there be a videogame equivalent of The Godfather?
I wasn't trying to make a point about meaningful story. What I was trying to say is that developers aren't really gearing games towards adults. They're making them for kids or teens. You can see a world of difference between the audiences that go to see films like Power Rangers and Hotel Rwanda. Compare Halo to Half Life 2 however, and there's no immediate difference between the intended audiences of each game. Adults can still enjoy games made or marketed for/at kids, that’s one of the many strengths of the medium. The problem is that the divide between a kiddie experience and a real iconic mature game is almost negligible. I’m sorry to make the comparison; I really am, because I don’t think games should be “like films”. I’m trying to highlight a possible problem that might have gone unnoticed. We all talk about story and meaning and immersion in games, but I think real mature intellect is something that is mostly overlooked.
Beyond Good & Evil, my personal Best Game Evar is a gaming masterpiece in terms of cinematic quality, but there is no doubting that the story is childishly simple. Mass Effect has an excellent complexity in its characters, scripting such varied emotions such as self doubt, assertiveness, apathy, excitement, discomfort, playfulness, hopelessness, distaste and unease, but it all goes to waste on the senseless and clichéd ending. Even Bioshock had a forgettable, almost cowardly ending, like the developers wimped out of making a powerful or memorable point because it would alienate everyone but the 3 non-teens for whom the game was marketed at.
I could have chosen any number of varied films for comparison, but my example was The Godfather. At the risk of sounding like a pretentious bastard, here’s why. This is the opening scene of The Godfather Part II:
This scene shows the funeral procession for the murdered father of Vito Andolini, the boy who would grow up to become The Godfather; Vito Corleone. What should be a solemn and peaceful scene is interrupted but a gunshot. The eldest son (the brother of Vito) is murdered there and then to prevent him from taking revenge. The petrified mother, who has already lost two of the most important people in her life, begs the Don of the local town to not murder her youngest son. He kills her.
Years later and after much character development, Vito returns to this place to get his revenge, to get the revenge that the audience wants him to have. But after all this time, Don Ciccio is an old man - senile, barely capable of hearing, let alone responding to the bewildering queries of foreign men. He barely remembers the man who is going to kill him. It almost feels like cheating.
This is the kind of maturity I would like to see, not just in video game story writing, but in overall design. I want to see a game that doesn’t play like a baby toy, a game that isn’t designed with a teen demographic in mind - in other words, a game that could make me feel all smart because a teenager wouldn’t get it.
But then again, I am only 20. And a pretentious git. Maybe I should go to bed.