TACK N°7 : Is video game consumption determined by age?

by Bastien Silty and translated by Maia Sefton

No one consumes video games the same way. If today, I choose to focus on the emotions involved, the depth of the story and the characters, it wasn’t always the case.Today I’m going to find out if there are different ways to consume video games? I remember the first big game my father got me. He’d bought it for the PS2, I must have been around 7 or 8 years old. It was a pinball simulator (Ultimate Pro Pinball). He seemed very pleased with this game since it reminded him of his youth and when he would play on an actual pinball machine with strangers in bars. The pinball machine’s moment in the spotlight started in 1965 and, despite it’s electronification around 1976, it was replaced by arcades and memorable games such as Pong (1972) and Pac-Man (1980). It should be noted that the arrival and democratization of these games in the European market was much later than in the American or Japanese markets. So when my father in 2005, joystick in hand, rediscovered similar feelings to those two trigger buttons on his student pinball machine: he was happy .At first there was the pleasure and thrill that comes with new technology but there was also the pleasure of the old and finding something you once thought was gone. We find this same phenomenon in much more contemporary games.

In LSD’s « Video games are life » , the documentary series by France Culture, we meet Marie-Jo Anduz Faris who is a huge fan of the Zelda game series and who is now 76 years old. She got her hands on Zelda Breath Of The Wild (2017) and she plays it quite often: “I spend a minimum of 1 hour a day playing and sometimes until 8 oclock . ” She then goes on to explain that this feeling of travel and discovery is due to the magnificent open-world and its intelligent sound design. It’s debut was made for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1992 with the game Zelda Link To The Past (1991 for Japan, and 1992 for Europe and North America.) Maybe we should also be asking ourselves what makes a kids game appropriate for kids and what doesn’t?

For example for 7-12 year olds, other than a few educational games such as « Dora the Explorer ”, I don’t know much about the subject and frankly I’m not that interested in it either. . But I know enough to say that the ruling classes understand this and have already appropriated this media themselves. The PEGI (Pan European Game Information) classification is used to advise parents on what is a good game for their children. But this system has a few mistakes since it’s based solely on the presence of verbal and physical violence as well as the scary / disturbing effect of the game. In short, the storyline of the game and its history is not mentioned. I prefer to use the differentiation that science-fiction writer Alain Damasio would use : « empowering » and “powerless ». If we use my example, during my whole my childhood I played two games almost exclusively: Sly 3: Honor among thieves (2005 in Europe and USA on PS2) and the Professor Layton series starting with the first opus Professor Layton and the Strange Village (2007 Japan and 2008 USA and Europe). The two have forged my personality: I resemble Sly Cooper with his confident side and his sarcastic /snarky side. But I also resemble Luke Triton, who kept his will to always want to do better and live by the rules of the gentleman who marvels at each cat that passes by, while also being quite panicked as soon as he is thrown into an unforeseen situation. Which could mean that parents shouldn’t base their judgement of games based on the PEGI mark, but rather the values ​​advocated by the games. For example Mario teaches players to persevere even if the goal seems unattainable. Always remember that your princess is probably hidden in another castle. As for the values presented in video games, I feel as if they are just as poignant as any animated film. We know that stories and fables can create a great number of values ​​but also fears in children.

These two games have been beneficial to me, thanks to walking down the streets of Venice (Sly 3, world 1), I have developed a good sense of direction since I was forced to remember the path taken in order to turn back. And the many Layton puzzles have allowed me to develop a logical mind and the ability to rethink every situation. This argument has been used many times to promote the game of chess that is now taught in quite a few preschools. I find this argument less powerful when used in this context since it’s not an interaction between two people. Moreover, this comparison can only be made because in both situations there is one goal : gain the upper hand over your opponent thanks to a series of well thought out movements made by pieces. So much pressure caused by the simple desire to dominate.

For 12 to 18 year olds, there are more violent games, with violence no longer being suggested for these kids. We’re going to have a look at games from middle school smash
bros to high school Tekken. Those were also the first weapon games: today there are Battle Royales such as PlayerUnknown’sBattlegrounds, before the deathmatches between buddies on Call Of Duty. There was this desire for virtual freedom or just to annoy people simply because I can. Whether it’s via the Far Cry series or Grand theft Auto. In brief at this charmiere? It is no longer a time where we are simply sitting in front of our PC’s, there is a need for adrenaline, even vertigo, we need everything to be fast paced, with more images,enemies and action etc… Some will get bored of it while others will stay. It’s at the end of high school that we notice a big number of players define their favorite genre.

It seems to me that the way we consume video games depends on one’s age and values. If during our first years of life we see our parents control alot of our decisions, it’s at this moment where we get our first values. And soon after we will feel the need to mix everything up and move on to something else since we are entering into the phase where we question everything. Find out who you are, and what you like. We follow the marketing that is aimed at us and the peer pressure of our friends all the while trying in vain to improve our aim (in FPS) or our look in FIFA. Then arrives the moment where groups grow apart and everyone is forced to think about what defines them. It’s easier to do when you’ve tested quite a few different things. Gamers that are older than 20 tend to keep playing the same genre of games that they’re used to. After reaching their thirties, marketing tends to focus more on nostalgia as a selling point. So then come all the remakes, and you can now replay your old favorite pokemon game and reconnect with our first sensations while playing Mario. This movement is accentuated as we get older which surely explains the comparison marketing and the famous “ this game is the Dark Souls of it’s genre” gimmick.

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