All Ages Games
Think back to the first game you can remember playing. If your parents weren’t normal, it may have been a game like Mortal Kombat or Duke Nukem 64. But I’m willing to bet a large portion of readers can remember their first game was specifically a children’s game or at very least an all age type game.
Fast forward to today. If someone were to bad mouth Mario Kart or Banjo Kazooie to me, I’d slap them right in their ignorant mouth. Luckily, most people my age won’t say anything against a game like that because they too remember playing those amazing games in their youth and we all, to this day, still absolutely cherish those classics. Unfortunately, from the older generation of gamers who grew up in the age of the SNES, N64, Dreamcast, Sega Megadrive and PS1, we have a very low tolerance to all age games.
So why is there this animosity? Recently, a friend came over to my house and saw me playing a game. It involved Batman and Lego. He was very quickly able to put two and two together and work out I was playing Lego Batman 2. His first words?
“Oh God. Why?”
This really stuck me as a surprise, as this particular friend of mine can quickly rattle off a list of reasons as to why Donkey Kong Country and Crash Bandicoot are some of the best games ever. Strangely, seeing me play an all ages game as an adult made him feel that he had to ridicule me for enjoying something so childish.
Take a moment and think of your video game collection and about the ratings they have. What is the spread of MA15+ and M games to PG and G? Now take out of that G/PG list any racing simulators such as Forza or Gran Turismo. How many are you left with? It is perfectly normal as we mature for our taste in games to mature too. Many people nowadays just don’t like to play games anymore if it doesn’t contain any blood and violence. Some just outright refuse to play games outside of a certain genre.
I work in a video game store, and every shift I get people who come in asking for a new game to play. I will ask “What type of game do you play?” and about 80% will always answer with a single genre. When I rattle off a list of possible games, all of which they usually own, I am left to offer games outside of their comfort zone. For shooter fans, I always try and suggest Portal 2. It’s a shooter in a way, but less on the violence and more on the brain thinking. I know thinking is an uncommon idea to many gamers who nowadays only play Battlefield of Duty in between rounds of Fifa, but on the off chance I offer to expand their gaming tastes, I am treated like I don’t know anything about games. That’s all from a mere suggestion. God forbid I should ever suggest a game that children play.
But let’s face it. Nowadays, kids play everything. Half the people who play COD online are 14 year olds who are amazingly skilled at seducing my mother. There really aren’t many children specific games anymore unless you think of games like Learn to Count with Dora the Explorer or Sesame Street Teaches Swag. Kids really are growing up so fast.
I mentioned the 80% with a narrow minded approach to games, but what about the other 20%? These are the people who will always claim they play anything. When I ask what games they have in their collection, there usually tends to be an even spread of RPG, Shooters and other game genres. But when I suggest games like any of the Lego games, Mario games or even Viva Pinata, I get the same reaction as the first group. It saddens me when I see fellow gamers who have such a narrow minded approach to their games. That they not only won’t open themselves up to a new experience, but think less of me as a gamer BECAUSE I like these games. That’s made worse when I know that deep down, they will still love their cherished childhood games. There really isn’t much of a difference between those games, and all age games today.
I think now is the best time for me to admit that I think Skylanders is one of the greatest games in the last 10 years. Not only have the evil masterminds over at Activision figured out how to squeeze out every dollar from the already depleted wallets of gamer parents, they have honestly made one of the most entertaining games I can recall playing in recent memory. When I have kids coming up to purchase Skylanders and I start to talk to them about who they have and where they are up to in the game, I get weird looks. From everyone. Parents. Other customers. And incredibly, the kids themselves. Who would expect this grown up to love a kids game? Just because it’s marketed at a different audience doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy it. Bacon isn’t marketed at Jews but I can’t look at a pig without drooling and wanting to suplex that hog straight onto a plate of pancakes and maple syrup.
I have collected every single Skylander and every one of the items and expansion levels. Don’t ask how much it all cost, I lost track at the $300 mark. But you know who judges me the most? My friends. However, I have made just about every single friend who has come to my house play Skylanders with me, and afterwards, not a single one said they thought it was a stupid game. They said they couldn’t justify spending that much money on a game (which is understandable), but they enjoyed an all ages game for the first time in many years which was initially my goal the whole time.
We all enjoy these all ages games. I think I could safely say that approx. 1075% of all smart devices have Angry Birds on them (my math may be off by a bit). Angry Birds is a simple game that has the most diverse age spectrum of 2 year olds to 92 year olds. It is a colourful and fun game with a steadily increasing difficulty curve to pick off the simpler gamers and prove a challenge to the more skilled players. What happens when they finish it? They start all over again. People will constantly play through until the next Angry Birds game is released. When it comes out, they will instantly download and play that one to death too, like the good casual gamers they are.
But when an adult asks for a game they can play with their kids, they will take COD over Lego, because they don’t think they would enjoy a kids game. I have sold a copy of Borderlands to a parent wanting a game to play with their kid, who had also purchased a plush Angry Birds figure. I shit you not.
If you are to take anything away from this article, let it just be to open yourself to the concept of playing games that you could see as a kids game. So many of my friends who I have gotten to play any of the all age games that I own have not once been disappointed. It’s at the point where many of my friends now have gone out and purchased several of these games for themselves.
Just about all of my friends have a copy of Rayman Origins now, all from us having spent whole evenings playing it whilst eating beer and drinking pizza. I don’t really care if you don’t go out and purchase an all age game. At the very least I would ask that you don’t scoff at the mere thought of one of these games. Any one of the many all age titles could instantly bring you back to the memory of first playing a simple and fun game as a child. We all have an inner child that we neglect as we get older, and video games are the perfect medium to indulge that side of us. So, instead of saying “Oh God! Why?”, pick up some sticks and give it a shot. You might just enjoy it.