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What does "mature" mean, anyway?

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I have been mulling over this topic for a few days, and I agree with the video for the most part.  I agree that realism, more often than not, is more mature than most "hero's journey" stories.  However, there are times where I feel the "realistic" stories step back over to immature.  I will just say before I go into any detail that I like the author of the video in question and his other works.  I particularly love his look on ME3's ending and the prequel star wars movies. 

 

The Witcher series, although very good, has some sections that are incredibly mature and others that are not.  I particularly enjoyed the Moril story early on in the Witcher 2 for its maturity.  Not going to go into detail on it, but I felt for the character after all that transpired.  However, the Witcher really trivializes sex, and although I have no issue with it morally, I do see it as fairly immature at times because of how it is handled.  It is like a game within the game:  Who can I bang?  The Witcher is still doing more good than harm IMHO.  It at least is trying to bring players to a more mature form of story telling by retaining some of those immature things that many players might enjoy.

 

Many Bioware titles do this as well these days.  I think the romances have become 'Leisure Suit Larry' in many respects, and are no longer tasteful.  I think Tali's romance (ME2) was the last one that was well done, and prior to ME and DAO they had many decent to good romances that were more interesting.  I believe completing Kotor with a romance between the player and Bastilla felt more mature than almost anything since.  It wasn't the best story romance ever, but it was definitely handled in a mature way.  Anyway, sex and violence (to the extreme) just to do them is immature in my eyes.  Sex to the vast majority of audiences is the penultimate of a relationship, and that is because they haven't truly loved someone and haven't truly understood the power of telling someone "I love you" and what kind of vulnerability that creates.  However, people enjoy sex and violence, they have always and most likely will always enjoy it, and who am I to discount that.  I have actually never expressed this opinion on a forum, and if you do enjoy these things then more power to you.  I am not here to judge. 

 

My 2 cents is that gaming for the most part is just out to make blockbusters with mediocre stories.  Some will be very mature, some won't.  Some will tell the Hero's Journey in a mature way, and others won't.  Some will show realism in a mature way, and others won't.  With the indie scene, and kickstarter, I expect we will start to finally get some indies to start telling truly Mature stories like the film industry has to offset their blockbusters.  We will see.

 

On the note of LOTR...  Tolkien was writing what he knew and he was a linguist, a fan of history, and a soldier in WWI.  So all of those traits come out in the story.  You see aspects of Germanic tales, and a fictional history for ancient Europe.  You see languages that are created for some of the different races and groups.  You also have a WWI theme under all of it because WWI greatly affected Tolkien.  I see those books as very mature, and would say the movies are as a repercussion although much less so ( some of the changes IMHO make it less mature).  You can call them cliche, but they weren't when they released.  Tolkien followed the world building style of Robert E. Howard (Conan) and H.P. Lovecraft while putting his own spin on things.  Since then many lesser authors have copied and pasted Tolkien's themes into lesser stories or just retold his story with slight differences, and have since made the genre less 'mature' as a repercussion.  There are a few authors that do well in the genre, but there is much more garbage out there than there is gold IMHO.

 

In the end, maturity isn't something that I would put a label on.  There is no "Mature" genre, but there are "Mature" games within most genres.  The ESRB label of Mature has always struck me with a little bit of irony. 

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that fantasy is in tension with maturity.

?

Fantasy is a tool as much as you could use sci-fi to tell stories. Using it to have chainmail bikinis, huge non-sensic swords or Jar Jar Binks, is a choice by some authors. A red dragon armor is fantasy yet can be done to look "realistic" if desired, or you could create some kind of red dragon hide bikini... If you are crafting pure scapist stories, anything goes. And you can always mix, of course.

 

Maturity from my point of view would mean treating everything in the game as if it was real. Even if some of the stuff used doesn't exist in our reality, you give it some adult logic and avoid stuff "because it's cool". Mature themes would be stuff that children would not really worry/care about, and given proper treatment. It can be meaning of life stuff. How some people face their own mortality. Or what would you be ready to do to defend what you believe in. As in sci-fi, you can pick any of our mundane worries/situations and make a fantasy equivalent to ponder about. The presence of things like love/sex , humor or other stuff, is more defined by what the story is about but they are stuff that adults care/worry about. That they are treated with seriousness is another thing.

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Let's be controversial:

 

I say the Lord of the Rings films are mature. A dark, but not overly desparate setting. Evil and cruel villains, but no explicit-violence- porn. Fantastic, but believable, 'realistic' clothes and equipment (and architecture).

 

LotR is a "polite society compatible" re-telling of the original Germanic fairy tales, myths, and legends.

 

Not really. It's a retelling of World War I.

 

It was inspired by both.

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I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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Methinks that's when you stopped reading the damn books!

 

Aragorn and Arwen not fantasy nonsense romance?

 

An entire species  - gobblins and orcs - who exist only to hurt stuff?

 

An entire species - elves - who are only good and never evil?

 

It's funny that you react so angrily, because no matter how much you dislike me, or the LotR books, or Tolkien in general, and no matter how much you question my ability to read and comprehend them, you a) indeed did not read my post very carefully because I b) never talked about the books in the first place. My example was the films.

 

And no matter how much the films may deviate from Tolkiens work, visually they "[t]ake reality as a baseline" in a considerably large degree; as I originally said, the swords, armour, &ct. seen there may be at times a bit outlandish in appearance, but they do not look outright ridiculous, or unwieldable for the most part.

 

You are free to disagree with me, but at least I am among those who have concrete examples for what they consider mature in a fictional setting.

 

Also, there is a good reason why orcs are (apparently) always evil, but that doesn't belong in this discussion.

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Have read through this a few times, and have been mulling it over for a few days now.  
 
The big problem is that there's a split between what makes something "mature" in a literary sense (e.g. Tolkien) and in an "other entertainment" sense.
 
Movies and games generally get "mature" when there's blood and gore and whatnot.
Books (while not having a "mature" rating) will generally make it to the "teen" or "young adult" section for this -- granted, since they're literary and not visual, apparently huge fights, etc. are suitable for a 13 year old.
 
Anyway, with PoE, I think Obsidian is going to try taking it the route of "literary mature" rather than "Movies" in that they're trying to tell a story with the dark overtones and have something a little stronger than " May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language." as with a "Teen" rating.  In other words, Obsidian doesn't want to gimp their storytelling/atmosphere because of the limitations imposed by trying to get a lower rating.

 

This has happened in film as well -- in 1981 when Raiders came out, Speilberg had to change some scenes, because the MPAA would have otherwise given it an 'R' rating (or equivalent, as there was no 'PG-13' until '84).  Most notable one I can remember is after the Germans opened the Ark, and all died -- guy whose head explodes had more flames added post-production to cover it up a bit.

Edited by neo6874

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Mature can mean so many things, the best way to know it is to play the game. :)

 

I mean some games are rated mature because of the violence in the game. Others games are mature because of the kind of decisions you have to make (like the walking dead video game). The choices in the game aren't the easiest ones to make.

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Methinks that's when you stopped reading the damn books!

 

Aragorn and Arwen not fantasy nonsense romance?

 

An entire species  - gobblins and orcs - who exist only to hurt stuff?

 

An entire species - elves - who are only good and never evil?

 

There's nothing nonsense about the relationship between Aragorn and Arwen. Aragorn grew up in her father's house, they fell in love. He had to get his **** together before settling down and getting married. (which is a pretty mature story arc imo) 

Your interpretation of elves and orcs is incredibly shallow and ignorant. There is no binary division of inherent "good" and "evil" between elves and orcs, orcs are a species created from elves by dark magic and enslaved to fight for a conquering tyrant god. Orcs are **** and logically tend to do "evil", but elves can be incredible **** at times too, doing their own share of very very evil and cruel ****.

 

Tolkien's world (contrary to popular belief) does not have a simple black and white view of morality, it's not "good white guys against evil black guys". It's a tired argument born of ignorance of the material, very similar to idiots still claiming Tolkien was a racist and a sexist.

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I almost replied to Walsingham meself but didn't bother. Still, some specifics: check out the story of Fëanor and his sons, the Kinslaying, and the exile of the Noldor. That's some very serious elven dickishness there, and it's so fundamental to the mythos that without it there wouldn't have been a Ring.

 

As to the racism and sexism bit... by modern standards, Tolkien certainly was, but by the standards of his time, no more than most and a good deal less than many. A great many of his contemporaries -- also in England, don't forget -- were raging antisemites, for example; he was not and said so. He was a raging Luddite and reactionary though, and it shows in his fiction.

 

That said, like it or not, there is a pretty conspicuous undercurrent in the LotR especially which resonates with the "Eurabia" crowd. The Orcs are rather conspicuous stand-ins for Turks/Mongols/Arabs. Tolkien even said more or less as much in one of his letters. FWIW my wife's of Middle Eastern origin and she picks up on it, which detracts from her enjoyment of the book and films somewhat.

 

But that was par for course for the time, too.

 

My take? I don't see any problem with enjoying something while acknowledging its sometimes problematic aspects. I'm a massive fan of Wagner's operas, despite some rather poisonous undercurrents there too (not to mention that ol' Richard was a right old **** himself).


I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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Good grief, he was not "a man of his time". Dude, what are the modern standards you're judging him on? I keep hearing this vague pseudo criticism from progressive types all the time and they never explain.

Here's a paper with sources, quotes and stuff. Admittedly, it's written from a Christian's perspective (which I don't share), but it covers pretty much all of the points I see raised very well. (I can add a few rebuttals he missed)

 

http://www.lib.washington.edu/subject/History/BI/honors251c/tol.pdf

 

The conclusion, if anyone's looking for a TL;DR, is that Tolkien was quite "progressive" (as much as I hate that word), not a friggin' "man of his time".

 

I apologize for continuing the off topic, but this just gets me all riled up.


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So do I actually have to BE mature to experience the matureness of the game or can I fake it? :no:

 

(sorry I am an old man with poor memory and I had to post something to see what my Order of Obsidian title was... :facepalm:


Nomadic Wayfarer of the Obsidian Order


 

Not all those that wander are lost...

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If a white Western European today wrote an epic about white Western European-types defending the West against Eastern hordes of dark, scimitar-wielding masses of pure evil, speaking a guttural language phonetically similar to Turkish, and included a poignant scene where one of the heroes wonders if their dead brown-skinned elephant-riding allies were born evil or just deluded, wouldn't you find it just a tiny bit racist?

Edited by PrimeJunta
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Eh, dunno. My problem with Tolkien isn't really that he was racist or misogynist, but if anyone wants to read about those tendencies of his, I can suggest looking at this and this. The comments also offer some interesting insights.

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"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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If a white Western European today wrote an epic about white Western European-types defending the West against Eastern hordes of dark, scimitar-wielding masses of pure evil, speaking a guttural language phonetically similar to Turkish, and included a poignant scene where one of the heroes wonders if their dead brown-skinned elephant-riding allies were born evil or just deluded, wouldn't you find it just a tiny bit racist?

No.  They are right to not trust the elephant people, elephants are plotting to take over the world after all.

 

That said, the "elephant people" get mentioned like what?  Twice in the lord of the rings?  They certainly are never actually seen or heard from in the books.  People need to stop over analyzing Tolkien's books, they were written when they were written.  They were not written last tuesday and they don't need the "modern" perspective being forced on them.

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I don't actually have a problem with Tolkien at all. I've read LotR dozens of times (not exaggerating; I'm on my third set of copies because the previous two just fell to bits), The Silmarillion maybe a dozen times, and pretty much everything else except a few volumes of the increasingly tedious History of Middle Earth, most of it more than once. I love the hell out of Tolkien.

 

Which doesn't change the fact that there are plenty of at least somewhat ugly undercurrents there. Eugenics. Racist and sexist stereotypes. Extreme conservatism in political ideas. That sort of thing. Still IMO in its own class as far as invented fantasy worlds go.

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They were not written last tuesday and they don't need the "modern" perspective being forced on them.

I agree 100%.

 

That said, I do find it useful to acknowledge nasty undercurrents where they're present, rather than trying to prove they're not there just because you like something.

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Which doesn't change the fact that there are plenty of at least somewhat ugly undercurrents there. Eugenics. Racist and sexist stereotypes. Extreme conservatism in political ideas. That sort of thing. Still IMO in its own class as far as invented fantasy worlds go.

I gotta call bulldoody..... yes doody.  Tolkein wasn't trying to make any political statement.  You want to read a fantasy series trying to make a political statement read "The Sword of Truth"  books.  Even though I "mostly" agree with the politics behind them those books get so heavy handed at one point even I was like it is time to take a step back and tone down the grandstanding.

Edited by Karkarov
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@Karkarov, of course he wasn't trying to make a political statement. However to argue that his political, racial, sexual, religious etc. attitudes somehow miraculously left no trace whatsoever in his work strikes me as frankly absurd. How could they not?


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I don't actually have a problem with Tolkien at all. I've read LotR dozens of times (not exaggerating; I'm on my third set of copies because the previous two just fell to bits), The Silmarillion maybe a dozen times, and pretty much everything else except a few volumes of the increasingly tedious History of Middle Earth, most of it more than once. I love the hell out of Tolkien.

 

 

I'm kind of on the fence about him. I've read The Silmarillion many times, I loved LotR as a child, and I still think The Hobbit is one of the best books written for children, ever. On the other hand, he's a pretty terrible writer (both his prose and dialogues are rather wooden), and his worldbuilding, while exceedingly detailed, simply lacks both the outlandish flair of, say, Miéville or Moor**** or Wolfe and the effortless wit of Susanna Clarke.


"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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True, dat. However it makes up for it in depth and breadth. All of his peoples have histories and fully fleshed-out languages, literatures, and mythologies. The world feels lived-in in a way that no other fantasy world I've read quite manages. IMO that's really the crux of it; he gets away with wooden writing, awful plot holes, and terrible pacing just because the world it all happens in is so vividly imagined in such depth and detail. It's almost like reading a ho-hum writer describe a place he's actually lived in and extensively studied.

 

Miéville, Moorcöck, Felix Gilman, Steven Erickson etc. are brilliant but pretty thin by comparison. (I have an especial soft spot for Miéville actually; I wish he'd get back to the Bas-Lag books though as that world has a lot of still untapped promise IMO.) Erickson at his best has something of the same quality, but even so I can't help feeling that he's making it up as he goes along, as it were.


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So do I actually have to BE mature to experience the matureness of the game or can I fake it? :no:

 

(sorry I am an old man with poor memory and I had to post something to see what my Order of Obsidian title was... :facepalm:

 

I actually find this a really interesting question. I think both. Personal maturity will help you to more fully appreciate a mature game, yet you don't necessarily need to be mature to have a better experience from a mature game than an immature or shallow one. Yet I'd suggest that if someone is faking maturity (ie not being honest with themselves in terms of their nous), then they will have a diminished chance to appreciate a game's maturity. I can't really back this up with an actual argument off the top of my head, it is more an instinctive and educated assumption based on my observation that closed-minded people who think they know it all have a harder time grasping/accepting new concepts that challenge their world-view.

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Erickson at his best has something of the same quality, but even so I can't help feeling that he's making it up as he goes along, as it were.

 

Dunno, I've always found Erikson to be actually worse than Tolkien. Big T's dialogues are simply boring and wooden, while Erikson's are sometimes so bad, I recall actually flinching while reading it. His positively ridiculous plotlines don't help either (I mean seriously, just by the end of the third book no less than three supposedly extinct ancient races came back to life as a baffling plot twist; this is further aggravated by the fact that the plot of every. single. book. I've read by him was basically "huge powerful supposedly-invincible ancient menace awakens and tries to destroy the world, but then EVEN MORE POWERFUL SUPPOSEDLY-INVINCIBLE MENACE* turns out to be either one of the good guys in disguise/gives its power to one of the good guys/appears as a complete ass-pull, but in the ending, we learn that even the EVEN MORE POWERFUL SUPPOSEDLY-INVINCIBLE MENACE is totally helpless and blindsided by the EVEN-MORE-POWERFUL-AND-INVINCIBLE-THAN-THE-LAST-ONE MENACE that just happened to awake right now.)

Still, it's somewhat mitigated by the fact that mages are basically miners in a dead god's veins. That was a nice touch.

 

*caps to show how much more powerful and invincible it is.


"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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Heh, yeah, I actually gave up on the series at Toll the Hounds; I just skimmed through Dust of Dreams and The Crippled God to find out what happened to everybody. I think he just ran out of epic somewhere along the line.

 

(Or, seriously... he got too successful and stopped listening to his editor. Plus he stupidly stuck with that "every volume has to be more epic than the previous one" thing.)

 

That said, I prefer to judge authors by their best work rather than their worst, and at his best IMO he's very good. The story about the rise and fall of Rhulad Sengar was top-notch IMO.

 

Edit: and also, I was mostly thinking of his world-building. His world feels lived-in in a way that most other fantasy worlds don't, including Miéville's and Moorcöck's, but Tolkien's does. I'm not sure I could even break down exactly where that feeling comes from, but he has it. Felix Gilman's Half-Made World, strangely, has it too, even though it really oughtn't.

Edited by PrimeJunta

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I think TUN confuses realism and maturity in his video, which undermines the coherence of his argument and leaves me wondering what his point is, beyond expressing his desire for more maturity and novel story arcs in games.

 

Realism and maturity are two completely different things, though they are related. The world as it is, is real, yet we would not describe it as mature. However, a person may grow over time to develop a mature way to relate to the world. You could describe maturity as the ability one develops to relate to reality in an appropriately intelligent way, accounting for the nuance and complexity that life entails. Too often the term maturity is used merely to refer to things we find difficult to deal with, eg sex and violence, rather than the manner in which we deal with them.

 

So yeah, the witcher games may be more realistic than some other games, but this in itself doesn't make much of a case that they are also mature. Neither does simply diverging from the classic monomyth hero's tale by itself equal maturity. To make the argument for maturity in the witcher, he would need to talk more about the development and interaction of the characters, the complexity of the setting and the treatment of the themes in the game. I liked his video and agree that maturity in video games is good, but I didn't think he actually said much. What exactly is it he wants to see in other games?

 

I hope Pillars of Eternity will be mature by treating its themes bravely and with enough depth to make me think and question my beliefs, telling a rich story that I co-create for a personal journey, and that it will present believable, complex settings and characters to inform this story. I would like to grow as a person by playing it. 

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If a white Western European today wrote an epic about white Western European-types defending the West against Eastern hordes of dark, scimitar-wielding masses of pure evil, speaking a guttural language phonetically similar to Turkish, and included a poignant scene where one of the heroes wonders if their dead brown-skinned elephant-riding allies were born evil or just deluded, wouldn't you find it just a tiny bit racist?

 

Missing the point entirely. That single scene you misinterpret horribly is among the biggest clues as to how much anti racist Tolkien was. Good friggin' grief. Again, go to hell with your bloody undercurrents. A) You keep talking about them, despite being "tired of this debate" after I provided some well written evidence against your position. B) you have so far failed to produce any actual examples of these mystical undercurrents.

 

I am utterly sick of this position of "I can still love this thing AND point out its problematic aspects". You know what? Every single time I hear this ****, it's people trying to make themselves feel better by being "critical" of the olden times people, when folk have not yet reached our super duper awesome levels of progressive purity.


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