Truly 'Adult' Video Games

A funny thing happened at a showcase for new PlayStation games last week. A rep for Sony was showing me the PS3's slick new online store, flicked through some of the new classifications for games on the store, each of which has a number next to them indicating how many games fit that category and... wait!... did that category say "adult"?

This is why I don't blink when someone is showing me their new online store.

Yes, there was/is an "adult" category on the new PS3 store, at least in the pre-release version I was being shown. The store doesn't go live in America until later this month, but what I was looking at was pulling in real data. Maybe just not all of it. After all, the word "adult" only had a "1" next to it. I didn't know they had that kind of racy stuff on the PS3. So edgy!

I was a little confused. This pre-release new PSN store had but one adult game in it. And what, I asked the Sony rep who was now probably wishing that I had blinked, is this one adult game on your online game store?

He clicked through.

It was... PlayStation 2 classic Shadow of the Colossus. You know the one? The beautiful, quiet, tragic adventure of a boy who climbs majestic monsters so he can kill them?

Joke's on Sony, right? That's no "adult" game! That's not porn, if that's what you equate "adult" with.

Or maybe the joke's on every other game. Maybe "adult" should mean "adult", as in "for grown-ups", as in "doesn't insult my intelligence." I submit that, under those standards, Shadow of the Colossus fits.

What else fits? Mass Effect 2? Heavy Rain? Journey? Tetris? Let's compile a list below. Submit your picks for truly adult games in the discussion section below. Please include a screenshot to make things look nicer.


    Catherine. A game about relationships, responsibility and making decisions. It's a pity we don't see more games like that.
    I'm also kind of tempted to throw Deus Ex: HR in this category. Very few games approach an issue (human augmentation) with the kind of balance and debate DE:HR did. I also liked the conversation boss battles, talking your way out of a situation seems like a mature thing to do if you ask me.

    Dear Esther.

      Dear Esther is a "game" for hipsters, not for adults.

    Fallout 1 and 2, especially the European versions. You could kill kids, be a porn star, become a drug addict, talk a boss into killing himself. The most adult series ever.

      Those games were always tongue-in-cheek though. Still, doesnt mean adults can't enjoy a bit of silliness either.

      Its easy to categorise a violent, vulgar or sexually provocative game as "adult", but not all adults enjoy those properties in games either. If the game has narrative substance and invokes a higher level of philosophical and moral involvement of the user, I think you can safely say it is "adult".

      Special mention though, the Walking Dead games. If you havent played them, you are really missing out on decent "adult" games. Not because of the violence, but the emotional involvement and the excurciating burden of your decisions, make it unforgetable.

        "Those games were always tongue-in-cheek though. "

        Tongue in cheek or not, they dealt with issues of nihilism, disassociation, racism, isolationism and many other topics through a well grounded sense of humour. Not all approaches have to be serious to be adult, they just have to be well presented.

    STALKER, without a doubt

    I suppose any game that displays a realistic outcome to your actions could be considered adult. Adults tend to think about abstracted outcomes, more than children. Children like immediate rewards.

    Examples of these could be Shadow of the Collosus, Ico, Heavy Rain, Walking Dead, Indigo Prophecy
    You could also bundle Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Nier in there too, but also platformers like Binding of Isaac. There are also many number of pure adventure games that are well-suited to adults.


    Metal Gear Solid series
    Dark Souls
    Demon's Souls
    Half Life series
    Assassins Creed series

    I think these games hold a certain level of sophistication that perhaps only adults can truly appreciate. Whether it be the way stories are told, mature issues are handled or just the art direction; one must have the right eye to see what these games have tried and succeeded at achieving. I don't mean to sound pretentious but when someone says "adult' and isn't referring to porn, this is what springs to mind - non gratuitous "mature" content.

    I feel my additions will be much enjoyed by an 'adult' audience (I'm 26) but are also playable by gamers of all ages:

    Deus Ex Human Revolution;
    Dead Space series;
    Red Dead Redemption;

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