Grow Up: Marvel’s Spider-Man Proves We Need Real YA Games

Grow Up: Marvel’s Spider-Man Proves We Need Real YA Games

Around the time I was first kicking around the idea of this column, Austin Walker, in a 2018 Waypoint Radio episode, suggested that Marvel’s Spider-Man was the first real AAA example of young adult games, following on the industry’s obsession with dad games. After all, it follows a young man who must balance his heroics with real-world concerns like how he’s going to pay rent, his fraught relationship with his ex-girlfriend, and coming into his own as a real adult. He’s an earnest, unrepentant do-gooder, and as I’ve mentioned in previous entries of this series, that sense of earnestness, of doing good, is one of the main appeals of young adult fiction for me. (more…)

Grow Up: Gone Home is Wonderfully, Perfectly YA

Grow Up: Gone Home is Wonderfully, Perfectly YA

Grow Up is a series in which I evaluate whether games called young adult actually fit the definition and exploring why that matters.

Gone Home was really the inspiration for this column. It’s a critical darling—when it was released back in 2013, it was everywhere. At the time, it was like few other games out there; you didn’t play the hero, it revolved around two queer teenage girls, and it was more interested in exploration and atmosphere than traditional game mechanics. By virtue of being new and different (and kicking off the explosion of walking simulators), it was impossible not to talk about. (more…)

Grow Up: Why We Need Young Adult Games

Grow Up: Why We Need Young Adult Games

I am an unabashed lover of young adult fiction. I always have been; it was there for me when I was a kid, and as an adult it’s a breezy respite from the heaviness of the mature books I also read. The same is true of games, where “young adult” is a label that doesn’t quite exist. Instead of young adult, we label games as for kids—though, for adult audiences, kids’ games are seen as somewhat more acceptable than young adult fiction, given the number of us unabashedly sinking hours into Sonic Mania—or for adults, with little room for anything else. (more…)