Casual gamers and other tales

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Woo, GTA IV is on shelves! Jack Thomson has already slated it so it is now welcomed into the renowned gang of games commonly known as the Rockstar games. Welcome to the world GTA IV. Now, sitting on a bus this morning, watching people get excited over it, I suddenly got hit across the face by a realisation. Well two.

Firstly, the douchebag Jack Thomson may have a point. While I don’t agree in the slightest that video games are the devil in disc form, come to reap the souls of anyone who touches them, watching kids aged from 12-15 get excited over an 18 rated game, I have to say I was slightly appalled. Although I don’t think age ratings are the be all and end all, surely they’re there for a reason? I mean, there’s got to be a point where we say; ‘No, kids who aren’t even old enough to get on a bus by themselves shouldn’t be able to play this.’

I know technically those kids aren’t and shouldn’t be allowed to play violent 18 rated games, but they still do. Everyone knows it. Including Rockstar. And they also know that the vast majoritory of their sales are going to go to underaged kids who’ve duped their parents into buying the latest kill-fest. I don’t know about everyone else, but that seems a little wrong to me.

Which brings me on to my next point. It seems that these days, all a game has to do to succeed with the ‘hardcore’ market is be the most violent, sex filled, drugged up affair ever written in code. The hype and guaruntee of a bloodbath is enough to draw in the masses. And in some ways, isn’t this the evolution of the term ‘casual gamer’? Rather than being the parent who occasionally dabbled in some Mario Kart, or the sister who every so often tried the Eye Toy, it seems the true casual gamer nowadays is the impressionable 12-25 year olds who’re just looking for the latest fashionable game to talk to their friends about.

And this is where the largest chunk of games like GTA IV’s sales come from. Generally they get about 40% sales from underage kids, 40% from the new casual gamer and only around 20% from the true hardcore gamer who is not picking it up for the hype or the kill factor, but because they know they’re actually getting a quality game. And while that is a sad pie chart, we cannot really do anything to change it. Violent games will still sell. Just for being the latest 18 rated title in stock.

When he’s not out loitering,
Alasdair likes to write his random thoughts down.
He’s told it’s called a ‘Blog’.