Warren Spector is Right: Games Need to Grow Up

Warren Spector is a guy that is mostly known for his last job at Disney/Junction Point where he designed the Epic Mickey games of late, but he’s been around the gaming world for quite a while now and is one of the few guys that if you were to listen to someone, you’d listen to him. At least you should listen to him. Spector was selected as this year’s DICE 2013 Keynote Speaker, which was bound to deliver fireworks especially in the wake of what happened with Junction Point of late and in a way, it did deliver those fireworks. I’m not sure that what he said was what a lot of people in the gaming world really wanted to hear, but it might be the kind of speech that we needed to hear.

Spector brought up the fact that gamers are aging, which is bound to happen. We are living in a world where there is a generation of adults who grew up gaming or interested in gaming and have yet to give it up. The reality is, most people who are still playing games won’t give it up any time soon and age catches up with us all. I actually turned 30 a little over two weeks ago and I seriously gave some thought into the fact that wow, I am still an avid game addict and that it probably won’t end any time soon. Spector’s point is that games need to stop aiming for just trying to appeal to teenagers and expand their audiences.

For me, I know that this is something that I’ve found myself thinking about and discussing as little as a week ago with you, the dear readers of Explosion.com. Gaming is not going anywhere and while the Call of Duties and Halos of this gaming world will always have a place and always be top-sellers, at some point gaming needs to grow up. We are already seeing developers like Spector as well as a guy like Cliff Bleszinski looking to leave a more mature and lasting footprint on the gaming world than just muscled-up space marines to inspire teenage boys to doodle blood and guts on their notebooks while not paying attention in history class.

I think that some of the high praise and universal acceptance that we’ve seen for games like Heavy Rain, The Walking Dead and Journey speaks volumes that while there is still a huge market for the blockbuster, the introspective does and always will have a place in gaming. It might not be making the most money and make younger audiences excited, but at some point there has to be something that appeals to other, untapped markets. Making games that can take the mundane and make it fun and meaningful seems like a challenge that we’ve yet to see touched yet and it might be time for that to happen.

Anyone can take something that is action-oriented and find a way to suck people in, but telling a compelling, thoughtful story in a game seems like the next frontier and one that I’m greatly looking forward to.