Thursday, August 03, 2006

Casual Hardcore

There is an interesting article on Gamasutra entitled Analyze This: Will 'Casual' Games Dominate the Future of the Industry?

In a way, the article contests the idea that Casual Games are necessarily *the* future of games. Although I enjoy casual games (specially for their cost of production), and try to keep in mind casual audiences, I cannot help thinking that "hardcore is the new casual" - something Manifesto! Games might eventually prove.

Also, a particular passage from the text intrigued me:

"Over on the PC gaming side, for several years now, Web games such as Yahoo!'s gaming service have done extremely well, and EA's The Sims franchise has been a long-time staple for that company."

Yes, most casual players enjoy The Sims, but I would not say it is a casual game, would you? It has quite complex rules and interaction schemes, massive interface, it takes time to learn and play... Just because casual audiences enjoy it (mostly, I believe, for the content - which they also can create), it doesn't mean it's a casual game. Maybe it's casual hardcore. Or vice-versa.


Chris said...

I'm going to pull out the philosophy here and point out that games do not belong to measurable categories. That is, there is no instrument available that you can point at a game and have it beep when that game is 'casual'.

We can apply 'casual' and 'hardcore' to an *audience* by statistical methods, but your answers depend on your assumptions. One can extend this to a game by some means, but again it will be your prior assumptions which determine the outcome, not an act of measurement.

Is The Sims a "casual game"? It depends entirely on how one chooses to define "casual game". And clearly, on this point, there is currently no widespread agreement.

Still, it's all in good fun, isn't it? :)

chico queiroz said...

You have a point there: definitions as this one can be arbitrary and open to subjectivity. Plus (and I really enjoy this part), it´s much about how the player uses the game - not only the designer´s intentions.

However, I went through IGDA white papers after a definition for casual games. This is what I´ve found:

"Casual Games: Games that generally involve less complicated game controls and overall complexity in
terms of gameplay or investment required to get through game."

Maybe you´re right, it´s all about your own assumptions: it says "less complicated game controls", but it does not specify a parameter. Less complicated than which game´s control?

And later:
"The term "casual games" is used to describe games that are easy to learn, utilize simple
controls and aspire to forgiving gameplay. Without a doubt, the term "casual games" is
sometimes an awkward and ill-fitting term – perhaps best described as games for everyone."

So there you go: If a casual games are best described as 'games for everyone', The Sims would certainly qualify as one (as far as I can see). Although I´m not sure it fits the other requirements.

So The Sims could be a borderline case. Well, it could be a casual game. It´s hard to say, partly because The Sims transcends so many definitions.

There is just no safe way to use these labels, is there?

Thank you so much for the input! It really confused me, but that´s a good thing, you know...

Chris said...

I'm glad you didn't mind! :) It suprised me that I decided to go to town on this one; it just flicked something in my head for some reason!

And now it turns out that it's the roundtable topic, which is what brings me back here to see what we said then before I see what I decide to say now...

Patrick Dugan said...

Its worth noting that The Sims' more complex social play was streamlined by a context-sensitive interface, so the majority of play amounted to clicking. This is conceptually similar to the UI for Fianna that I've finally iterated on, so there may be similar flexibility in my case, hopefully.

Chris said...

(I'm echoing this comment from Corvus' blog in case you don't see it there).

It’s funny, Chico, I almost name checked you after writing today’s piece as you really did set the ball rolling on this one! I’m not sure what it was about your post that clicked something in my head, but I frequently find your blog has that effect on me. Perhaps that’s why I like it so much! :)

PS: 8 letters in the verification game today? Sheesh these are getting hard! :)

chico queiroz said...

Thanks a lot for the compliments! Well, I would say gamasutra's article set the ball rolling for me in the first place...

And yes, Blogger's word verification strings are getting longer than my comments.

Copyright, Chico Queiroz