After a good long while now, in game years anyway, I think we are settled into our niches for now. One thing that seems to have gotten alot of people riled up is the advent of what is called casual games. Now the Wii is usually put at the brunt of this heated debate as the instigator of this little sojourn into new territory, what with its multitude of what some call 'non-games' such as Wii Fit and Wii Music. The people that usually buy these games for this system are now what you and I are, gamers. And I know you are a gamer because you are reading this in a site dedicated to gaming, and not to housekeeping as someone who doesn't game might.
These so called casual games have been said to be killing the hardcore games market. That the saturation of them is making developers put their efforts into this market while ignoring the long time gamers that have been at it for years and understand the ins and outs of the industry. This, I believe, is a misunderstanding of the market. For as long as most gamers can remember, most of them have been designed specifically to target the ones that play them the most, us. However there were always the casual games made for the other market, the Bejewelds and such. While we were happily gaming away on our PS1's and N64's and Sega Dreamcasts, not a care in the world. But Nintendo came along and decided not to throw their hat in with the big processing power houses this generation. Instead, they went to something different, a new design based on a simple gaming format, so simple it alienated some long time fans. However, Nintendo being the company they are, made sure to appease those old fans with some staple titles like Twilight Princess, and Metroid Prime, and Mario Galaxy, but they were not the main target anymore. They went after parents, grandparents, and the uninitiated in the gaming world. Some saw this as a problem, as soon sales figures for the non games began to exceed the mainstream games 2 to 1. And a relatively low powered console was taking the top spot in the console wars. What was going on?
The simple answer was the market expanded, that's all. Once they saw the Wii had the ability to pull in these unintiated, they began to cater to them, producing simple titles with easy to understand control schemes. Nintendo had caught the non gamer market and pulled them in, and being a business, profited greatly from it. Now, does this hurt the over all game industry? Why would it? Those that never played games before were getting into it with the Wii and the DS as well. They became intrigued and somewhat part of the community we developed over the years. So they became sympathetic to the gaming cause. Awareness was reached through these simple things to get a better understanding of what games were and what they could be. When your grandparents are enjoying themselves playing virtual bowling, they can better understand what appeal these electronic doohickeys the kids play nowadays are and what they have to offer. For many these may act as a gateway and you may soon see Nana pwning noobs on GOW in a few months after becoming bored with her backswing in the golf segment of Wii Sports. Why not? Stranger things have happened.
The gaming industry is larger now, thats all. While the numbers on retail sales may speak highly of the Wii and DS and its offerings, do not forget that the companies such as Atlus and Valve look at their own sales numbers and are quite happy there too, since that is THEIR market and they know it quite well. They are more than happy to sell to us, as we were going to buy them in the first place, and the casual crowds weren't going to suddenly pick up Left 4 Dead anyway, so leave them to their Wii Fit, let them enjoy it, and then let it collect dust in a corner til a game comes along that utilizes it to some purpose.
The main point here is that the indsutry is not suffering for these casual surges in gamers. The developers that sold the games we lov are still in business and are still going to make the games, it's just now they have company on the shelf. So when your going shopping and you want to get a new title, pick up Nintendogs or Sudoku or what have you for the significant other too, she or he games too now.