The term “casual gaming” only really is noticed by the “core” gamer. It is the one phrase that you can say and instantly see a forum war unravel right infront of your eyes. That phrase is somewhat to a threat to their very existance because they see it as the platform where they will be ignored and “core” gaming will go extinct.
You maybe playing some of these games and don’t even know it. Bejeweled is one of the most prolific examples of casual games. The mom who is addicted to Zuma or the guy who spends his time playing tower defence games at work on the computer are good examples. I believe the definition for casual games goes beyond some marketing jargon. What seems casual to me is a game that you can invest a little in and get out quickly. Price should also factor in too. A game with simple gameplay mechanics and structure should reflect that in their price tag as well. It’s all part of the investment of developers and mine. Yet don’t confuse that with how much enjoyment it can give you. I can have as much fun with iDracula as something like Fable 2. Both are great games despite the $59 difference in price.
Yet many gamers and nongamers alike dismiss each others games. And many for valid reasons. But I believe the lines are getting blurry and it will be hard to distinguish the critirea of what’s “casual” and what’s “core”. One new example is with the recent launch of Quake Live. Quake Live is basically good ol’ Quake 3 Arena that you can play through your browser. Sounds pretty straight foward and it sure plays like it (Quake 3 was, I thought, one of the purest gaming experiences). Though what maybe overlooked is the leaps that this makes. A real fps that anyone can play on really any computer (unless your compy is from like 1995 and has a turbo button or a Mac) without installing any programs just some plug-ins on your browser. Couple with the fact you will be playing online with tons of people and you already a have a really fantastic idea. Still some people may say that they are really bad at these type of games. Thats ok too, because once you sign-up the first thing you do is play a match against a bot to test where your skill lies. Then afterwards you will be suggested games that contain players from a similar skill set that you possess. This makes playing matches very fun because you’re not getting you ass handed to you by the people who don’t do anything but play Quake since it came out. You can then make friends and add them to a list to play with them later or even clan matches if thats your cup of tea. Best of all is that your profile is saved to the site not your computer. So you can play on your profile from virtually where ever you can get online. So you could play a match or two on your break at work or pull an all nighter if you want to get your hands real dirty.
Which goes back to my point about “casual” games. Quake’s mechanics are simple enough i.e., shoot dudes. You don’t have to invest much time or any money to get into it (Quake Live is ad supported, yet I haven’t noticed any) to get alot of enjoyment. Just go to the site and in a matter of seconds you’ll find yourself in a match. Play one or two and then just close the browser (or check out some random Youtube videos). Sounds pretty casual to me. Even your mom can jump in a game with ease. So in the end Quake Live blends elements of a “casual” and “core” game (this is a real fps after all) into a great package that everybody should check out. Play some matches and then hit me up on the comments and I may come by to frag ya online.
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