At the recent Game Developers Conference, Heather Chaplin raised some eyebrows during a rant session. She said that most games were immature because the designers are, among other things.

Now over at gamesetwatch, Leigh Alexander has a piece up that takes issue with those remarks. But I think both of them have missed something here.

What they’ve overlooked: the publishers. We’ve talked about this before a number of times. Most publishers have their eye on the “young guy demographic”.

That’s where they see the money. That is what they spend their money on pleasing. And when publishers pump millions into development, they want a good return.

Which, as we well know, is why there are so many “series” games, so many rehashes of shooters, so many games featuring sexy-looking women, and so many games with ultra-realistic deaths.

That’s the stuff the target market buys, and the big-time publishers aren’t going to risk big bucks on anything else. Not unless someone can bring out an “A” game that’s more mature and sells big numbers.

They’d also have to be convinced that such a game wasn’t a “one-hit wonder”. Especially right now with the money crunch, and most companies tightening their belts, dropping projects and people, and looking to outsource as much as they can.

Which brings up the question: is Heather right after all? If publishers want “adolescent” games, are they attracting “adolescent-minded” developers? Not necessarily.

If designers want their product (or proposed product) taken on by a “name” publisher, it has to fit in with the publisher’s viewpoint. I have no doubts there are designers, past and present, who can tell stories of pitches that didn’t work because the game didn’t have enough guns, bodies, blood or boobs to satisfy the suits.

So long as such games sell, the developers will be churning them out, whether they like it or not. Because that’s still where the money is. And it wouldn’t surprise me if this was a factor, along with horrendous overtime, that causes so many early burnouts in the industry.

Kicking The Dog At The Game Critics’ Rant