"Childish", "Teenage" and "Adult" RPGs?


I was surfing on the French-speaking Casus Non Officiel and found there, on a thread about the new World of Darkness, a post describing different "types" of RPGs (post #167, top of the page). There someone wrote:

Loris said:
La différence vient du fait que DD est un jeu aux problématiques infantiles, alors que le WoD est un jeu aux problématiques adolescentes, je pense.

D'où les comparaisons Hammer/Ann Rice, qui sont similaires.

PS : pour ceux qui se demandent, ces histoires de problématiques sont décrites dans Dubious Shards. DD est un jeu aux problématiques infantiles parce que on devient fort, puissant, et on résoud les problèmes par la simple application de force. Vampire est adolescent parce que on se balade la nuit, on a l'air cool, on a des super pouvoirs qui nous rendent cool, on subit une souffrance trop grande que personne d'autre ne comprend, et on subit les désidératas d'anciens qui nous donnent des ordres qu'on ne veut pas faire et qui sont dénués de sens. Le jeu adulte est plus Cthulhu, où le thème central est le sacrifice personnel pour le bien du plus grand nombre et la prise de responsabilités.
On peut ergoter sur ces comparaisons, bien sûr. Mais je les trouve bien trouvées. D'autre part c'est plus, et mieux, argumenté dans le texte original.

"EDIT : je précise que je qualifie d'infantile et d'adolescent sans vouloir être condescendant. Je m'amuse bien à ces jeux, hein.

My translation:

"The difference comes from the fact that D&D is a game with childish themes while the World of Darkness is a game with teenage themes, I think."

"From there come the Hammer/Ann Rice comparisons, which are similar in nature."

"PS: For those who wonder, these stories of themes are described in
Dubious Shards. D&D is a game with childish themes because one becomes stronger, powerful and solves problems with the simple use of strength. Vampire is teenage because one walks down the street at night, looking cool, with supernatural abilities which make you cool, one is subjected to a pain that is too deep, that nobody else understands, and one is subjected to the wishes of elders who give orders that one does not want to follow and don't make sense. The adult game would be Call of Cthulhu, where the central theme is personal sacrifice for the greater good of a large number of people and the awakening to one's own responsabilities."

"We could debate on the details of these comparisons, of course. But I find them well thought-out. Moreover, it is more and better developed in the original material."

"EDIT: I must precise I qualify games here as "childish" or "teenage" without any condescending thought in mind. I have fun playing these games, heh."

Looks like the original material discussed here is Ken Hite's Dubious Shards?

What are your opinions about this? Looks like the folks over at the aformentioned forum liked this "analysis". What about you?
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Aaron L

I think that, as happens far too much, someone has come up with 3 arbitrary categories and is attempting to slot games into them.

While the ideas are interesting and worth pondering (D&D being about becoming more powerful and CoC being about self sacrifice is an interesting idea) they are far too simplistic, and labelling games as "childish" and "adult" is, to me... childish. Arent all games inherently childish, and intentionally so? The goal of doing something solely for entertainment is the entire point of a game.

I see genre modelling as being a much bigger force behind the concepts of the games than anything else. In fantasy young whelps fulfill prophecies and claim kingdoms after surpassing thier lowly village births, and gaining levels is a fair to good way to model it. In Lovecraftian horror, smart and curious people find out the secret workings of the universe and the monsters that are actually in control of reality and go insane from thier inability to accept what they learn.

Both games are designed to model thier respective source material. So the writer of the article is essentially labelling fantasy as childish and horror as adult. And that is a ridiculus statement, I think.


First Post
I think the person writing this doesn't understand that the themes are set by the people playing the game and not so much by the game. Even in basic D&D which does have a far amount of combat their solving problems through strength; there are plenty of riddles and thinking parts. In fact lots of groups that just try to strong arm there way through modules usually die.

Vampire is kinda like that, but that is way more the old vampire and not so much the new one. THe new one is way more horror based.

But in the end the book this is writen in is about Call of Cthulhu so it doesn't suprise me that in this article that game comes out looking the best. Though I don't recall where in Dubious Shards it talks about other games like this.

Aaron L

Ah, so its a standard "my game is better than your game and here is why" post, using the words "adult" and "childish" in place of "good" and "bad?"

I like CoC and D&D equally well.


First Post
Numion said:
Just the kind of pretentious crap one would expect from such sources.

What sources are pretentious? Kennith Hite has in my reading of his work never really been pretentious in his writings. I think he's pretty darn good. And the book was published as an Origins special, with the PDF being sold through Ronin Arts. A company that once again I've nrver seen to ber pretentious. I guess one could see the whole CoC crowd being pretentious, but even that seems like a stretch.


Its French. Its trying to be sophisticated and condencending and pretentious.....

I know of D&D games that have mature themes....and seen childish WoD ones....Its not the game, its the way their run.


Call of Cthulhu is childish because it plays out themes of dread against forces against which you are helpless, that you do not understand. It is a monsters under the bed game.

NWoD is teenaged, because it secretly admires its parents, but would never admit that in front of its cool new friends.

D&D is adult, because it centers on interdependent relationships between people who must undertake complex tasks with no guarnatee of success, often resolving differing values and different ultimate goals in the context of obtaining immediate success along shared immediate goals.

This game is fun.

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