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Casual is the New 'Hardcore'


Gamers born in the 1980s have, for most of their lives, been playing electronic games as they’ve evolved into what we have today. While many abhor the use of labels to players such as ‘casual’ or ‘hardcore’, they still persist regardless. A hardcore gamer is easily defined as someone who plays games above all else. While the term may have changed slightly over the years, its definition is still succinctly accurate. On the other hand, there are the casual gamers. These are people who may merely dabble in gaming, enjoy games that may not demand the attention that deeper games do or more to the point merely don’t have the time to devote to gameplay other titles do. As time goes on though, there are casual gamers who play the informal titles they enjoy at the pace of hardcore gamers. Therefore, it becomes arguable that casual gamers are becoming the new hardcore class of the gaming community.

PopCap games are most notably being recognized as the prime purveyor of games that many in the industry have labeled as ‘casual’. Many see these merely as simple mechanics mashed together and shipped out.

However, there is truly a satisfactory amount of depth present. Peggle being one of the simplistic selections currently available in PopCap’s library, it at first seems to lack the profundity to keep any devoted gamer interested. But, the present mechanics combine a casual concept of dropping a ball with puzzle elements to make an astonishingly fun game.

Conversely, games like Bookworm additionally seem to possess elementary qualities, but on further inspection reveal far engrossing fundamentals. Progressing through levels by completing words, it becomes a single-player Scrabble that keeps players constantly playing, learning and expanding there vocabulary to remain plausibly able of obtaining a high score.

Most notably though is Plants vs. Zombies. For everything encompassed in a game where you defend your home from zombies using giant plants that are raised and purchased utilizing sunshine as your currency. A simple mechanic such as tower defense translated to the stellar creation that was PvZ is remarkable in that many of the people asked about the game hardly realize that they are even playing tower defense. Consequently, while it seems these games are at their heart very straightforward, the layering of multifaceted workings continually keeps them fascinating to players.

Games scattered across the internet have additionally changed the way many players examine how they play. Playing a ninja collecting simple squares, N+ is doubtlessly one of the best examples of a game built on Flash that illustrates the uncomplicated gameplay which exponentially adds on new mechanics that keeps gamers absorbed. As the first few levels entice you to fly across the game-space, bouncing off the walls to scale ledges and obstacles, it at first plays very easily. However, as the player progresses, they encounter elements that make the game significantly more difficult. As this can become frustrating to many gamers, it then becomes a balance between the challenge curve and fun factor. Ultimately though, the balance remains proportional enough to keep people playing well past their bedtimes.

Music is another genre that has gone from being a hardcore exclusive space, becoming increasingly accessible to just about anyone. Auditorium is an online only game that utilizes different instruments and generated tones to give gamers an audiophile experience like no other. Starting with a piano melody, the game uses streams of energy that move across the level unobstructed. Utilizing spheres with arrows in them, you can alter the course of the musical energy as well as affect the influence of the sphere itself by expanding or contracting the size of the sphere. Overall an intriguing concept that remains particularly effortless in the first few levels, it develops into a more demanding experience as the player advances.

The up and coming outlet for casual games on the internet though is the social networking website Facebook. Games like Farmville, Mafia Wars and Bejeweled Blitz all demonstrate easy amusement that is capable of existing inside a social networking site viewed through a browser. While the prospect of browser-based games, especially those made accessible by navigating to a site primarily based on the prospect of social interacting is an interesting diversion.

While you may not necessarily go to Facebook with the intent of playing these ‘games’, they stand the real possibility of pulling you in and keeping you busy for an infinite amount of time. Adding insult to injury, friends on the site are capable of, rather easily, inviting you to play the game with you and in most cases are rewarded for doing so. While these are debatable as far as the industry and community are concerned in regards to worthwhile experiences, the ability to reach out to such a massive audience will ultimately see these games created, released and supported for an indeterminate amount of time.

Interestingly enough though, online services provided by the big three game publishers have additionally grown in appeal amongst the casual crowd as time has gone on and remain continuously popular. Titles on Xbox Live such as Geometry Wars and Hexic have opened the door in a very significant way for casual gamers to get their foot in the door towards what could be considered more ‘hardcore’ titles.

But what is consistently fascinating is that gamers, regardless of their walk of life consistently continue to play regardless of difficulty. If the game interests them and has a genuinely interesting quality about it, odds are the person in question will keep playing. For my part, my mom is currently playing Farmville relentlessly and constantly tries to recruit just about anyone she can get her hands on to play the game with her. My sister-in-law recently got hooked on Brain Age and it’s sequel with her interest constantly expanding. Finally, my girlfriend is playing through Might & Magic on her Nintendo DS and is expanding her repertoire as I keep offering her new titles to keep her interest constantly piqued.

What it essentially boils down to is that casual gamers keep purchasing and playing the casual games made by independent developers or ‘side-projects’ of big name creators that enable to continue making the big name games that the ‘hardcore’ continue to know and love as the days go on. So, it could be arguably a symbiotic relationship between the casual and hardcore titles and gamers in the community. Thus, as long as people keep playing, the ability to maintain the industry as a whole via easier or difficult titles ensures that there will always be a steady stream of new games with content that players, regardless of how much time they put into their gaming lives, may have never seen before. Thus, casual titles serve as a means to an end in regards to hardcore or triple AAA games constantly creating circumstance where casual gamers have the potential to always become hardcore.
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About AndrewG009one of us since 1:33 PM on 07.28.2009

"I kind of miss the days when games were judged on their game-playing merit alone. I'm a little concerned about how far we (the game industry) are into the licensed four-page-ad marketing blitz era these days, which may be a natural evolution of the industry. But I'm always worried when we put more emphasis on glitz and production values than on the game. That's a trend that looks good for a while until you realize there's no game industry any more. If we don't have gameplay, we can't really compete with other forms of entertainment because we can't do graphics as good as the movie industry and we can't make sounds as well as the recording industry. All we can do that's special to us is be interactive. So we have to hang on to that and make sure we do a good job." - Sid Meier

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