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 Casual Games
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Adam Doree

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Casual Games - Jun 27, 2008 00:53
Your views please.

What are casual games?

Who plays them?

Do you?

What' s hot and what' s not?

Like them or not casual games are becoming increasingly important to the industry' s established players - the likes of EA and Ubisoft have revealed dedicated casual brands and strong pushes from internal divisions, while arguably, the likes of Sony has always courted the massmarket gamer with things like EyeToy, SingStar and Buzz, and over on the Wii there' s a wealth of casual-like offerings. Casual gaming is not just from our part of the industry either, it stems from online gaming like PopCap, Miniclip, Pogo and even as far back as Solitaire, the original and most popular casual game, and extends all the way to mobile phones which is still a potent area yet to reach its supposed full potential. XBLA and PSN surely fit into the equation somewhere too. But at what point does good competition become oversaturation, and what is the best path forwards for this sector of gaming? We have all played casual games - whether we knew it or not - whether it' s Snake on Nokia mobile phones, an internet flash game forwarded to you by your friend. When do casual games become not so casual? Tetris is a casual game with a legacy, a following of fans and an ongoing business that is anything but casual. Is Bomberman a casual game? What about Death Tank Zwei?

Please discuss your throughts on this broad topic.
< Message edited by Adam Doree -- 26 Jun 08 16:59:01 >

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 27, 2008 01:08
Adam, you just moved the powder keg out into the open and everyones holding flaming arrows.

Casual games are games meant to be played for short amounts of time, usually accessible to any age or skill level.

Who plays them? My grandmother, non-gamers, gamers looking for a break from hardcore games. Oh and Wii owners play them a lot, but dont blame them, they dont have much of a choice .

I play casual games occasionally. I still love a good game of Tetris or Bomberman.

Whats Hot: Actual original casual games, such as Castlecrashers. And of course the old school(tetris, etc.) Whats not: Console casual games aka shovelware.

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 27, 2008 01:41
Casual games for the most part are not aimed at me, nowhere near me. I understand non-gamers outnumber gamers, and theres a much greater potential to make money from them than me, but internet puzzle games made for middle-aged women to play at their lunch breaks can stay way over there.

Sure I' ve played minesweeper and tetris, did I ever pay for them? - no. How much have I spent on the traditional videogame? Not as much as nitro I guess.

Anyway, where it does affect me, is when traditional videogame developers get lured over to the dark-side, and start compromising their games to try to increase accessibility for ALL. People are different and like different things. Its almost impossible to make a game that appeals to absolutely everyone, so its not even worth trying. Its very rare for a game to achieve this.

Devs should focus on making games what they want it to be, and not compromise their ideas in an attempt to broaden its appeal.

On the other hand, I' ve got less and less time these days to play long-winded games that involve a lot of grinding to progress. So in a way, games that have been casualised a little do appeal more to me than they did before.
However, I' d still play a game that took 50 hours to complete, as long as it was fun/engaging along the way.

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 27, 2008 03:06
Something about casual games has to do with their nonthreatening appeal in presentation. They aren' t dark, brooding, and intimidating. They generally have a light mood (perhaps almost clinical and corporate in the case of some of the " brain" derivatives). They appeal to people who often haven' t played many video games at all, but have vaguely fond memories of cute old school games like Donkey Kong and Frogger. Ironically, those cutesy coin-op games of yore are controller-smashingly frustrating and difficult even for many of today' s hardcore players.

But truth be told, there are certain aspects to casual games that can and do overlap with hardcore games. One is the enjoyment of competing against yourself and doing the same activity over and over in order to improve your score. Here, the difference between a casual gamer and a core gamer might simply come down to the degree to which the player becomes interested in continuing to work to improve their performance (I am intentionally avoiding the traditional mainstream media' s gawking accusations of " obsession" ).

Another is the enjoyment of exploration in a well-designed environment -- e.g., Professor Layton and the Curious Village has high production values and a very appealing retro aesthetic, similar to the mass appeal of Herge' s " Tintin" comics. A game like this, now considered " casual," has a lot in common with what many core gamers respect and admire in the heyday of LucasArt' s point-and-click adventure games. Were the LucasArts games casual games? Of course not. But within the context of contemporary industry buzz-vernacular, released today, they might be considered as such.

Some elements usually absent from casual games: realistic death (if any death at all), realistic or extreme violence, gloomy atmospherics, extensive grinding, and long narratives (not to give too much credit to the narratives in hardcore games, which still are usually nowhere near the quality of decent novels and films).

It' s this last aspect that I' d like to highlight as the place where hardcore games have taken a wrong turn: long narratives. That is to say, the emphasis on a vast quantity of hours of play as opposed to improving the quality of the story within a lesser number of overall hours of play. In other words, a 70-hour game with cheesy, distracting dialog and a cliched plot riddled with illogical holes is simply not as satisfying and worthwhile an endeavor as a 10-hour game with a tight, solid and well-crafted story. (Indeed, even a game like GTAIV, by all rights a solid 10-15 hour game, was padded with tediously repetitive missions into a 50 hour game, under pressure to appeal to a core audience that demands length at the expense of the necessary brevity of quality storytelling... sorry Mr. " It' s a perfect 10!" )

Lastly, I have to question whether Tetris is indeed a casual game. It is certainly visually non-threatening, but it has all the depth and, frankly, adrenalized anxiety factors that appeal to core gamers. (I personally hate playing it because it' s nerve-wracking.) Its casual appeal, therefore, is in its non-intimidating aesthetic design. Essentially a game like Tetris brushes away the rubbishy buzzwords of core and casual -- it is both, because those buzzwords are ultimately insubstantial. A well-designed game will have broad appeal -- not to every last person, but certainly across broad swaths of demographics.

Spore is shaping up to have that kind of broad appeal. It seems to offer the depth of strategy and obsessive analysis and adjustment that appeals to the core mindset, while including the sit-back-and-enjoy-seeing-what-happens-for-a-while appeal of The Sims. Sheeeit, even the lineage of The Sims is traced back to the hardcore micromanagement in a friendly presentation of Sim City.

I could go on and on... for the most part, though, I maintain that core vs. casual is mainly buzz. And it' s a good thing that more and more people are trying out video games. The classification of " gamer" and " nongamer" should be irrelevant.
< Message edited by Zoy -- 26 Jun 08 19:12:21 >

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 27, 2008 07:33
That' s a long post Zoy! Afraid I' ve only skimmed it, but I agree with some of what you said.

So in my opinion casual games are by and large ones which are easy to pick up and play for anyone, and equally easy to put down without any consequence. Plot will be minimal if any, also most casual games are not played against AI, most are either playing against fixed logic, or other humans, so by that casual games require little skill to take part.

I would call tetris a casual game, and the various Brain Age, Sudoku games etc as well. And therefore I do casual game but it is such a small percentage of my gaming time.

Oddly my wife, who knows very little about gaming, is not a casual gamer either preferring strategy or build-em-up type games.

Thinking about I know nobody who would be classed as a complete casual gamer, the one person I know who really raves about wii party games is a hardcore Eve fan.

So to answer Adam' s original question, who is a casual gamer; everybody, yet also nobody is just a casual gamer.
Agent Ghost

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 27, 2008 13:55
Is this market research?

I have respect for casual games as long as they' re priced accordingly. I' m not an idiot. If a simple game has a fraction of the development costs, they should be much cheaper than hardcore games.

Imo the hallmark of a casual game is the target duration of each play session. If I can sit and play a game for three hours (and be entertained) then I wouldn' t consider the game to be casual. Some games are casual in nature (by your definition) but can still appeal to a harcore gamer as a hardcore game, thus should not be considered as casual. Good examples are Tetris and Geometry Wars. They sit at both sides of the fence looking at what many consider the things that define " casual games" , it depends on the person playing. " Casual" games should be defined so the line is never blurred.

If casual games are now going to be a specific type of game we need a new category to describe games like Tetris and GW. Simple design. Easy to learn but difficult to master. Fifteen minutes or hours at a time. Maybe we can refer to these games as " oldcore" or something.

What I consider perfect examples of casual games are games like Spore and Animal Crossing. Play for 15-30 minutes a day. A casual game is where skill is hardly a factor, the goal of winning isn' t too important if at all to the player(s).
< Message edited by Agent Ghost -- 27 Jun 08 5:59:23 >
Joe Redifer

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 27, 2008 16:52
Casual games are cool the first time or two you play them, but then you forget about them and never have any desire to play them again. If you don' t have enough personalty to entertain your normal guests adequately, then a casual game may help break up the boredom.
Adam Doree

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 27, 2008 16:54
It most certainly is market research. :P

And who better to get it from. I don' t believe in opinion-data I believe in opinion-words.

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 27, 2008 17:00
casual games by and large are bought by people who get their gaming information from tv adverts rather than specialist gaming sites or magazines.
Terry Bogard

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 28, 2008 01:23
Personally, I consider games that require crazy peripherals to be casual in nature. Games that people can probably get even more enjoyment out of while drunk. The Guitar Hero and Rock band stuff. Singstar, Wii Fit, Eyetoy, Donkey Konga, etc.. I think Lightgun games might fall under that category as well, at least in arcades!

Who plays them?

Do you?

ONLY for review purposes!

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 28, 2008 02:54
I would describe casual games as something to do when you' re trying to relax or at school. A game that you can jump in and out of... The casual games I play is Solitaire and Lego Star Wars(Just ordered Lego Indy). I know it' s for kids but playing without using a mouse is really good. Casual games that don' t require a lot of thinking or a hypersensitive mouse. Also N game is a good game when you' re bored with 500 levels and a lot of user ones.

I only own a laptop so I can' t play FPS or something like that because then I' ll end up dislocating my fingers if I don' t have a mouse.

I believe casual gamers to be people who can' t afford to spend 5 hours a day being yelled at by a twelve year old(" U fukin nub" ) in WoW. People who work or go to school. People like me who plays some game and pauses it to reply to some email.

I play a lot of casual games. I' ve completed Lego Star Wars II twice and I have a high score of 8300 in Solitaire. I' ve only gotten an pink and a brown ninja but it' s coming along

I also played Tetris until recently... I must admit it got boring in the end.

EDIT::: Spore also seems to be one of those games that you jump in and out of... Well I do. It' s a game I' m definetly buying
< Message edited by Kelvinellenton -- 27 Jun 08 18:57:12 >

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 28, 2008 03:51
Well now I have thought about this before and if i was able to get my thoughts out better I would have written something sooner, as it is this is the way I see it for the most part " casual" as opposed to " hardcore" games have less to do with the game and more to do with the person playing it. One of the best sources of this is that there are actual " casual" game tournaments where you can actually win money and prizes, so if these people play " casual" games like pro " hardcore" gamers then what is to keep it from being " hardcore" . Now that being said categorizing gamers is stupid as well, just because a person doesn' t play COD4 or MGS4 or other such games doesn' t mean that they are less of a gamer then those who do. The way I see it if you casually play a game fine or if you play a game fanatically that was designed for a more casual audience(yes I' m talking about you ghost), we should just treat it like any other game. Now I do agree that shovelware is annoying, but we do have to realize that game devs are also company so if they make a game that costs them less and can sell it for more profit then you can' t really blame them for trying, the problem with every dev making big games that take several years to develop is that if the game were to fail it would be a much larger lose and could potentionally put said dev out of business, where as a cheaper game to develop is less of a hit if it tanks.

Hey that was badly said, but if you can decipher it then I think it is pretty acurate.
Agent Ghost

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 28, 2008 06:11

casual games by and large are bought by people who get their gaming information from tv adverts rather than specialist gaming sites or magazines.

Lets not confuse casual games with casual gamers. Two sperate things. You can have someone that doesn' t put a high priority on gaming but prefers to play hardcore games and still knows what they want.

I' m personally interested in Spore. I even picked up the creature creator. That' s about it for casual games with me. I' m a big fan of Geometry Wars too. I don' t feel like I need a bunch of casual and what I call oldcore games. If I can get one great game from each category I' ll be good. I don' t need another GW or Spore clone and since things like graphics are not important in these games they will last a long time. Another thing is that these games have no end.

Hardcore games represent 99% of my time and money spent on gaming. I have higher expectations for them.
< Message edited by Agent Ghost -- 27 Jun 08 22:55:56 >

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 28, 2008 10:44
Let me ask a dumb question are games like those on " Facebook" considered casual games?

If yes.,then most people can get into casual games fast because the learning curb is short but for most " hardcore" gamers these games become monotonous fast.
A lot of young kids, mid wives, child p0rn men and older individuals spend time on casual games. Because it' s fun without putting too much effort into it.
Take for example me i joined Facebook last month but the only game i like is the application Mob Wars easy to get into but i don' t play it regularly. Usually 2x a week but I would rather play UT2004 (PC)or Guitar Hero on the Play Station and if really bored and no one around DS.
Most girls like Bookworm Adventures and sorts of games from Yahoo, ??House and Reflex Arcade type games.
I loose attention to these games.

Provided my classification of causal games is correct thats my opinion.

End result: Casual games the time spent on them don' t pay off for good end' s just not rewarding for the time put in. I can see myself playing COD4 for a long time because of the SP and MP rewards.
< Message edited by the_shadowwolf -- 28 Jun 08 3:11:30 >

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 28, 2008 23:30
I agree with what a lot of people have said about games that try to fit into the blurry area between core games and casual. Take Assassin' s Creed for example. This is a perfect example of how a big budget game suffered from being over-engineered. They put so much effort and time into making it ' accessible' that it turned into something that was blindingly monotonous once you got over the initial ' new game' factor. I couldn' t force myself to finish it. The combat, the free-running, the health system, the missions, etc. For example, to escape from somewhere, all I had to do was hold down a couple of buttons and pick a direction to run. Doesn' t matter whether there' s a building or any other obstacle in front of me, I could always escape with no effort. The game effectively played itself. It was all so stripped down that it left me wondering why the hell I was even bothering to play. The actual concept for Assassin' s Creed was excellent, the presentation is top notch, and it' s done by a studio with an strong pedigree. But somewhere along the way it feels the original concept got lost underneath a pile of focus group statistics. This problem seems to be affecting an increasing amount of games every year.

There are very few casual games that I can get into. In my opinion, there' s no point in playing something over and over again when it has no depth to it. There has to be a reason I want to play.

There has to be some sort of dynamic that requires me to engage in some sort of adaptive strategy. I don' t want to simply turn my brain off and mash a single button. I want to be challenged in a way that requires me to think before I act. I don' t want mastery to occur within a couple of hours. I don' t want a boring objective (like a high score).

But I also need some sort of immersion aspect too. Sure, a Sudoku puzzle or Brain Training can challenge me, but I look at them and immediately think of a dozen better things I could be doing. If there' s no setting/story/characters/etc then I quickly switch off.
< Message edited by UnluckyOne -- 28 Jun 08 15:43:23 >

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RE: Casual Games - Jun 29, 2008 01:13
What are casual games?
Any game that appeals to a wide demographic based on it' s accessibility and simple learning curve.

Who plays them?
Everybody, or at least everyone has at one point.

Do you?
Not regularly. I don' t dislike casual games, but if I have enough free time to do something, but not enough to sit down and take a bite out of a more conventional title, I' ll listen to music, or work out.

What' s hot and what' s not?
A successful casual game, in todays flooded market has to stand out from the crowd. Be it a creative palette, and interesting control scheme, or a revolutionary gameplay mechanic, it has to do something to stand out from the crowd. Games like LocoRoco, Katamari Damacy, Cooking Mama, Geometry Wars, Marble Blast Ultra and WarioWare (the original) are perfect examples.

Games that aren' t hot? Copycat titles. If your core gameplay element is that of another more successful title, might as well throw in the towel.

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RE: Casual Games - Jul 01, 2008 20:10
Casual games sucks,if I see someone playing a DS infront of me I kick him and then stomp on his DS

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RE: Casual Games - Jul 02, 2008 00:58

Casual games sucks,if I see someone playing a DS infront of me I kick him and then stomp on his DS
Then destroy him with your Quez laser vision?
Iad umboros

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RE: Casual Games - Jul 02, 2008 07:41
I go to newgrounds and play their flash games, that kind of thing is casual gaming for me. Or the ones sent round work etc, such as smack the penguin as far as you can from Yeti Olympics.

But mobile games (poker, Puzzlequest, Pacman etc) I buy once in a while - mostly strategy games which aren' t so casual though. And as Quez said DS games, but he' ll have to stamp me for owning one and enjoying the minigames on New Super Mario Bros.

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RE: Casual Games - Jul 02, 2008 23:53
I think its great that people newly to gaming pick them up.
I just think its sad that they will never get anything mindblowing and epic as you can find on a ps3/xbox360,its ashame they dont know whats out there...
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