Sanity’s Other Side: The Fallacy of “Kiddie Games”

Guest starring Dan Green

Mario Teaches Typing Cover

Good evening, readers. Moar Powah’s Inverseman here with a quick little piece on the culture of video gaming. If you’ve noted a couple times in some of my previous works, I do have a certain apprehension about “kiddie games” and that I would be saving that explanation for another night. Well, tonight I’m making good on that promise.

It’s really a common sight from players ages 5 to 105. “That game is for kids! Why would you play that?” What exactly makes a game kiddie? Does it make it any more or less of a good game? Is there a certain point where games have to be “mature”? Okay then, onto the class of definitions. Common suspects of the kiddie game label usually include anything without much bloodshed, cursing, and somewhat less risque content so most first party Nintendo titles tend to fit the bill.

Shadow the Hedgehog the game

A shining example of how a higher age rating =! higher quality

Now plain old common sense can come to the rescue and say, “Well, I don’t particularly need ‘mature content’ to be in my games, it doesn’t make them better. Just look at the how stale Call of Duty is or how awful Shadow the Hedgehog is” which would be airtight logic to the average consumer above the age of twelve, so allow me to open the larger statement that is usually posed, “I don’t really play kids’ games anymore. They lack depth, so I’m too old for them” And that will be our target for tonight.

Damage Formula = (((((((Level × 2 ÷ 5) + 2) × BasePower × [Sp]Atk ÷ 50) ÷ [Sp]Def) × Mod1) + 2) × CH × Mod2 × R ÷ 100) × STAB × Type1 × Type2 × Mod3)

Can you make sense of the above formula? It’s actually quite simple. That, my friends, is the Pokemon damage formula, which players invoke from time to time to optimize their builds. I don’t know if I can rightly call a game for kids if it looks like my students’ math test. This opens the first issue of depth. While it’s easy to say you don’t need “mature content” to have a good game, players tend to also forget somehow that a lack of mature content does nothing to the skills needed to play a game, even if it’s able to be played by children.

Super Smash Bros. Melee to this day (stigmas to the forefront and ironic Teen rating aside) continues to have a hugely robust array of skills needed to play on a competitive level with spectacular performances from EVO 2013 over the summer. For an old school example, let’s use chess as a prime example of a “kid-accessible game” that has centuries of layers of depth to it. So clearly whether or not a game is friendly to kids, teenagers, adults, or my oft-hated millennial title does not make a game more or less deep in terms of technical skill or challenge.

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Ocarina playing

In fact you can say the stigma around a family-friendly game is almost hypocritical or self-contradicting when I bring up the one game that makes the “too old” argument fall to pieces, and that game happens to be… *Insert favorite N64 or  PS title here aka only real 90s kids would remember X drivel*. Why would we go back and play Ocarina of Time? Or how about Sly Cooper? Or perhaps Dragon Quest? If we certainly don’t go back and play with our old toys in spite of how legitimately good they were, then why are we constantly go back and replay these video games which may as well share a spot on a dusty shelf with Woody or Buzz Lightyear?

Sly Cooper anthology SC

It looks like our fabled childhood nostalgia, which we young folks seem to be known for as a marketing engine, doesn’t permit  us to let go of our attachments easily. We know the games are legitimately good and they don’t get outgrown with age just from this behavior alone. So odd contradictions appear when a new game, which may also be intended for all ages and is just as good, gets the shaft as an inferior title claiming it’s been outgrown. Looks like the crotchety Old Man Childhood Nostalgia is going out for a stroll with his walking stick named Change Is Bad.

viva pinata garden

The egg for the rarest species of pinata is a time-consuming matter of dedication and luck. And then you have raise it…

Now we have a push-pull factor where we try to move away from these games because they don’t look exactly like our childhoods and we stigmatize them with a so-called lack of depth, all while we return to the exact same types of games we reject. When a game like Viva Piñata came out even I could have easily misjudged it with my attractions to other older pet-raising games and disdain for the 4Kids TV show. But little did I know that the game which I thought I was “too mature for” had a complex ecosystem and a huge following of dedicated piñata-bashing birthday boys and girls.

Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds dungeon screencap

So if we put the grumpy old man to bed we can find that new games aren’t all that bad and, in fact, might have a fair deal of inspiration from the games we replay to this day today, we can find new favorites or return to an old series that still has lots of life in it. I have no shame going to the store to pick up the The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and not happen to be a kid or (eventually) Kingdom Hearts III and not happen to look like a  sweaty preteen anime weeaboo. Join me next time when I hold a poetry slam underwater.

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The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.


The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

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