"Urrrrgh, man...why is there just a surge of psychologically daunting games these past couple years? The Cat Lady, That Dragon Cancer, and now this? I'm sure there are more out there. AND WHY DO I WANT TO PLAY THEM ALL?!" asked user carmanut on the discussion about the new indie project A song for Viggo, which deals with such lovely and merry themes and feelings as bottomless guilt, death of your child, depression, existential doubt and making breakfast.
I started to write an answer, when I realized I've written a lot more than is necessary for a quick reply, but since I enjoyed analyzing the history of video games, compared with history of the generation who played it from the start, I decided to spruce it up a bit and publish it on TAY for more people to see.
So it goes all down to correlation between growing up in my generation and development of console generations. If we look how we (both people and consoles) started, it makes perfect sense for us to want precisely that sort of games right now. Of course all of this are great broad generalizations, but one can see a kind of pattern emerge.
Games of the 80es - crude squiggles and pixels. Barely recognizable human shapes. Tasks given to us were equally simple. Climb up the top. Clear one room of the enemies. Do the same with two or three different colors in another room. As Thomas, who was alone nicely put it - go right and up! As was with us, real life protagonists, the games of this era were restricted, weren't allowed to move where they wanted, were powered more by imagination, than by anything else. A sprite of 4x6 pixels could tell loads of stories and adventures, purely without a single understandable word and in the end teach us something about friendship and perseverance.
Games of the early 90es - more sophisticated, but almost entirely focused on kids. Lots of adventures, garish colors, anthropomorphic animals. most of the time the point of it all wasn't to reach the goal, but to be on a journey. There was a proliferation and further development of genres, but most of it was far away from mainstream limelight in which cuteish (mostly anime inspired) child-like sprites ruled.
Games of second half of 90es - even more sophisticated, can deal with some mature matter, but mostly "mature" translates to lots of blood and gore. The games are rebels, try to push and break the boundaries of allowed and good taste, lots of intelligence shines through in these years. but...
Games of first half of 00ghts - gaming is incorporated, industrialized, broadened and analyzed. What is made must make lots of money, and the kids who way back then played Mario Worlds and Ducktales on NESes have grown up to become frat boys and late teens. So the games are loud, violent, even more "mature", full of logoes, trademarks and snark. Edgy. Extreme. Dumb. That goes on for two entire console generations.
Games of very late 00ghts and up till today - everyone and their mother is tired of shoot-bang Hoo-Rahh, mo-peep-ucker mentality. The former young adults are yet again changing, growing up even more, graduating, making families, having kids. And they want something different. Combine that with sudden proliferation of programing softwares and suits (it started with Flash animations/games, jumped over java (Minecraft), spread like a plague with relative ease and small cost of using Unreal engine, Unity and various RPGmaker and Twine suits) and you get one of the greatest times for games ever.
So yeah, we get so many deeper, thoughtful, artistically rich games cause we finally deserve it and are capable of making them.
Still, the mainstream Forces That Be use various telemetries and statistics to make perfect gaming package for the least money (which they can get away with):
They make us connected in vast sprawling worlds on grand epic adventures with cinematic presentations, but what they don't realize, there's a whole wide segment of people tired of fluff and wanting something more deep, meaningful and personal.
Recent E3 offerings are showing some good signs, trying to make the indie relevant and integral, but so many times we heard outright lies and exaggerations from performing execs, that lots of us are doubtful.
But vast swaths of PC indie are ever stronger and more prevalent. There are game jams, there are Indie awards, there is major support from mainstream-ish youtube personalities. So I'm very optimistic we'll see even more such games in the future. It's the greatest time to live for a vid-game lover!