Casual Gaming – Gamers Not Games

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I really don’t like the term, ‘Casual Game’. Some might say it’s because I don’t want all these new kids coming in and being apart of something I enjoyed before it was cool. Like it or not, games are becoming mainstream.

iPhones, Popcap, Facebook and others have made gaming easily accessible to the mainstream markets. The term casual game gets thrown around a lot. I don’t like it. This week I put on my angry ranting hat to argue against using the term casual to describe a game.

Casual games are usually looked at in scorn by hardcore gamers. Most often the games referred to as casual are rather simple, easy to learn and fun to play for short periods of time.

But are there really such things as casual games? Or only casual gamers? Looking at some examples of ‘casual games’ it becomes clear(to me after weeks of late nights) that any game defined as casual can be quite the opposite.

Heralded as some of the first casual video games; Minesweeper, Solitaire, Freecell and Hearts came with the Windows operating systems. Most anyone sitting at a computer with time to kill has fired up one of these before (usually when the internet isn’t working).

Even games as simple and throwaway as these have their hardcore players. My mate’s dad Peter for one. We were not allowed to touch the computer if Freecell was running, turns out the program recorded how many wins in a row you were on. Peter was hardcore enough to keep playing over and over to get a good high score.

Every now and then I get an invite from some sort of Facebook game. We’ve all seen them, Farmville, Vampire Wars, Mafia Wars and anything else with ville or Wars on the end. These so called, ‘casual games’ are free to play and don’t require much skill from the player.

The amount of input required from the player can be minimal to advance. Then again, I’ve heard stories of people getting hooked on Farmville, wasting hours on end tending to virtual crops.

Collect KONG, Stars and Puzzles. Is this Donkey Kong, Mario or Banjo Kazooie?

The new(ish) Donkey Kong game for the Nintendo Wii is a good example. The game is rather easy and simple to play. The levels are small enough that a player can play for a few minutes at a time. For those out there who need that little bit extra, Donkey Kong Country Returns offers players the opportunity to collect extra items and unlock more challenging levels. Again, it’s up to the player on how casual they want to be.

Maybe I just don’t like it when someone tries to tell me that Insane Aquarium is a casual game. Clearly it has aliens and increasing difficulty. I’m not feeding fish and choosing the seahorse companion to waste time. I’m playing to have the best damn Aquarium I can get.

I’m playing to win.

Sheriff Dan Tweets casually, follow him on Twitter.

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