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Thread: Did graphics shift the trend toward older audiences?

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    Default Did graphics shift the trend toward older audiences?

    If you look at the cover history of Game Informer from 1991 to 1996, you can really see a gradual trend toward "darker" or "edgier" covers in comparison to the innocent, cartoonish covers from their early days. At a time when most older games I think were buying PC games, the younger gamers were mostly playing console games. I generally regard 1993-1994 as really being the time when you started seeing more adult-oriented ads in video game magazines.

    The popular console games from those days were games like Mario Kart, Sonic, and Bonk. These days it's Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. It is true that a few games pushed the envelope such as Doom and Mortal Kombat, but in terms of market share, it seemed that the kid-friendly games were the best sellers.

    I think the CD technology opened the doors to edgier titles like Snatcher and Crime Patrol. The graphics on the NES and Master System just didnt lend themselves to more adult-focused games. They all looked like cartoons for the most part, and cartoons have always been geared toward children.

    The 8-11 year olds playing SNES and Genesis were hitting puberty in the mid 90s and I think that is why you also see the shift toward games that are testoserone fueled killing fests. As noted before, the new technology really opened the doors to gamers who wanted "more."

    Where am I going with this? I dont know. I guess I just find that gaming pre-1993 was a much more innocent time. Sure there were some porn games on the Atari and the NES but they were pretty obscure and I dont think they were exactly best sellers.

    If gaming graphics never advanced beyond the 16 bit era, would killing hookers in GTA still be our favorite national pasttime?
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    I don't think it has much to do with graphics advancing. During the pre-crash arcade boom, video games were popular among people of all ages. It's because of the crash that the industry abandoned the shotgun marketing of the past. They wanted to play it safe and retain the most dependable demographic, and based on their market testing, they concluded video games were most popular among young boys. So they went all in on laser-focusing on that demographic, ignoring all others. By the time the mid 90s rolled in, the industry was feeling a lot more secure, and on top of that, they realized the market they had focused on in the late 80s/early 90s was now in their teens and twenties. At that point, publishers felt they could juggle both retaining the older gamers while also bringing in new younger gamers.

    This article looks at it from the angle of why female gamers were excluded, but I feel it just as well applies to why older demographics were ignored as well:

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    Great Puma (Level 12) jb143's Avatar
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    I think a lot of it simply had to do with the games following the gamers as they grew up.

    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    They all looked like cartoons for the most part, and cartoons have always been geared toward children.
    That's not historically accurate. Many original cartoons were geared toward adults. Donald Duck was extremely popular with WWII combat soldiers for example. Even today with Adult Swim type shows. It was really only during the rise (and fall) of Saturday morning cartoons that this idea of cartoons being just for children came into being.
    "Game programmers are generally lazy individuals. That's right. It's true. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Since the dawn of computer games, game programmers have looked for shortcuts to coolness." Kurt Arnlund - Game programmer for Activision, Accolade...

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    "Dark" games were around, whether or not some devs and console makers liked it. Castlevania's NES titles come to mind, arguably Final Fantasy and even Zelda. FF would roller coaster on and off the grimdark up to VI on the Super Famicom/SNES. Hell, the whole "Angry American Boxart" thing on the whole.

    Now yes, to an extent darker and edgier games got more popular as time went on. Gaming "grew up" with the audience, plus (at least in the US) the period cited was when Nintendo started to realize people wanted more mature fare, and were willing to jump ship to get it. They didn't like it, they still don't like it, but they know it's there. This was (not coincidently) the time when edgy anti-Nintendo marketing became a very big thing.

    And make no mistake, colorful and whimsical games are not just for kiddies. Just look at the Mana series.
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