I was inspired by my friends blog from Klei Entertainment that games are simply more than just "fun
". The word casual makes most gamers cringe but I am here to say why the word casual does no justice to casual games.
Casual is a term used to describe games that are easy to play and require little time and knowledge to play. Though with most gamers the term casual usually brings up pictures of half hearted games that would most likely not want to play. Casual games are not new but have been around in video game history as far back as Tetris. Recently though with copies upon copies of the same casual games it is hard to not be scared by the term casual. Even though these games require very little time to learn and play usually developing good casual games takes a lot of skill. There is nothing casual about the time it takes to make a great game that can be played with a short amount of time.
Traditional games usually takes more time to become engaged, casual games have to gain your attention fast. Usually these games are played on the go but can also be played at home. To make a game that someone likes to play in less than a thirty minute time frame is no easy task. To many times a game can be made to easy and one finds themselves getting bored. The trick with casual games is a gradual progression. One learns the mechanics in the first couple of levels then the game gets slightly harder and harder after each one. Peggle is a great example of the great design of a casual game. The first few levels are easy letting you get a hold of mechanics but gets progressively gets harder after each level. Peggle though never feels so easy that you can just breeze through it in a thirty minute time frame. Towards the end one will find themselves retrying a level three to four times before they actually pass it.
What one person is to say that these gaming experiences are not valid? These games are just not what gamers usually play. Gamers are looking for experiences that usually have a high learning curve and a high time commitment. These games exist on the other end of the spectrum that one is not use to seeing. Casual games have helped bring more people into the video gaming world that would have never had the time to play. With full time jobs, marriage, and children some games have to evolve to fit into a persons life. Most of these people were being ignored for the most part up until the big boom of casual PC play with companies like PopCap, and Big Fish games.
These games can also can unite players who might not see eye to eye on games. RockBand is a major stand out in the modern hybrid of casual titles. While one person can play on Easy no fail mode and play just to make it through another player can play on expert and go for the glory of perfect score. Each person is happy since everyone has a choice in how hard or easy the game might be for them. Some people might find this to be a dumbing down of video games but video games should not be an exclusive club for the few. This is not to say that more challenging video games should go away but that casual video games are just as much apart of the video game world as hardcore games are. Socialization though is an important part of anyones life which is what casual games bring to the table. Hardcore games can be a social activity for avid gamers but casual games can be played by both the avid and non avid gamers.
Can anyone just make a casual game? Yes there are developers who are in the video game business to cash in on the casual game craze. The sea of casual games are filled with mainly variations of match three puzzles, time management, and your mystery solving games. Though the market has been getting better with stand out titles like Eets, Braid, Poker Night at the Inventory, Peggle, and Plants vs. Zombies. These games show that games can be made that appeal to everyone and not just a few.
Casual games are here to stay and a new breed of casual players has been born. Hopefully with great casual games new gamers might be more moved to play more traditional video games that they never thought they would pick up. Anyone can just push out a copy of diner dash, but to make one that is loved by everyone is a true challenge. The word casual itself undermines the time and effort that is put into a game by developers. These games are just more than casual they engage players of all ages and bring us enjoyment in our busy lives.
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