A chap from from the British countryside (Cornwall that is) currently residing in the big city of London! Video games are a big part of my life, although trying to find the balance between that, uni work (doing a Politics degree) and having a social life!
Despite my chosen degree I have been increasingly researching Ludology and ways in which video games as a medium sends its message and progresses in line with other mediums and whenever possible writing essays on the topic for marks towards my final grade. Shame its currently part of media studies...
There is an unfortunate trend that many of us face as we get older. This trend being that we often have less free time in which we can spend playing video games. Before hand the only thing getting in the way was school work, but you never let it take over your life, and at the end of the day you knew what was important. But as you progress through the educational system the work load increases, as well as the importance of the work. Then you get to the stage iím at now, University.
University is a complete life change. Youíre now more responsible for your actions than ever before. You have to spend time cooking, cleaning and shopping (primarily food). Then of course there is university itself. Now depending on your course varies how much time you spend in lectures and how much time you spend reading and writing essays. For me whilst I may not have many lectures, I am constantly reading. Plus for the last month or so I have been very busy writing four essays all due for the same day!
What did this mean for my video game time? Well as you can imagine it diminished significantly. My 360 was unfortunately starting to gather dust like my DS, (although whoís DS isnít, except for this week as Spirit Tracks comes out). The only time I felt it was acceptable to drag myself away from studying was for the release of Modern Warfare 2. This was because I knew the single player wasnít going to take too long, and then I was free to go onto the multiplayer in my other free time. During the peak of my essay writing even getting onto the multiplayer was difficult.
This lead to an interesting turn of events for me, I ended up getting out my old iPhone (which is without a sim card so may as well be an iPod Touch) and played the games that I had on it such as Peggle, Stone Loops (essentially a Zuma clone) and Doodle Jump which I would play for half an hour or so before I went to bed. The thing with these games is that one could easily describe them as casual games, because you can pick up and play and there isnít too much skill involved. Yet for me this didnít matter as this was precisely the kind of game for me to play at the time. Now despite the fact that I would call myself a hardcore gamer, there are often moments now when I canít find the time to indulge in lengthy play sessions. And casual games have been my saviour and allowed me to enjoy some quality time playing video games. As I was enjoying these games so much I headed to the app store and downloaded a couple of other games such as OMG! Pirates and Critter Crunch. Really enjoyable games that you can pick up and play, but also cost very little, both games were around £1!
Of course the thing about these games is that theyíre all indie games (with the exception of Peggle). The hardcore is still blaming the shift in priority to casual games, but I think what we need to consider is that the difference is that the big companies like Nintendo, Ubisoft and the third parties that exploit the Wii/DS are only doing so to make ďa quick buckĒ. The quality of these games is atrocious yet they still sell, and it is this which annoys us so much, whereas with indie games the quality is often much better despite the cheap cost and often the simplicity of the games. Which when you think about it isnít too dissimilar to arcade games.
From now on when we refer to casual games we need to clarify the difference between cheap cash in and a great piece of work. Although with the recent fall in sales of these games for Ubisoft, others might just wake up! Hereís hoping Nintendo will listen.