The word ‘mature’ isn’t worth saving. It probably means too many things to too many people. Nevertheless, it is worth questioning if “M” for Mature Video Games is really the definition of ‘mature’ that should be sold to the legions of video gamers out there. Why should a middle schooler who games away, shooting the heads off and hearts out of an endless parade of gorified pixels, get to think of themselves as participating in something that is mature?
“M” for Mature video games often (always?) cater to part of the psyche that is anything but mature. The games scratch a primal itch, that humans might be better off without scratching. Arguably it is a great thing to soak the brains of youngsters with mature violence, a great release and all that. Maybe there is an argument for getting it out of your system, or just relaxing and having fun, but don’t try to get serious by saying that mowing down zombie armies is a “mature” thing. You will find no science or scholarship in this post, just a bald assertion that “mature” is a shrewd marketing tactic to get young teens salivating for a chance to sratch the primal itch. Let everyone game away, but don’t let anyone kid themselves that that they are gaining or participating in maturity by getting their hands on the world of “M” is for mature games. Ratings systems or never cool (see Hays Code, Index Librorum Prohibitorum, or Parental Advisory), but they are even less cool as sales gimmicks.