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Stay Casual: Hasta La Vista Commitment!

Tamsin Oxford

Yes, it abides by the same rules as casual sex but without the usual consequences...

As the noughties progress, there are several things that we are becoming increasingly short of and two of the most precious are time and commitment. They pretty much work hand in hand – we don’t have the time to make a lot of commitments and we can’t often commit to something that demands a lot of time.

There are always people who manage to do a thousand things a day but they are clearly holding back some secret that none of us are privy to.

So enter the wonderful world of casual games. These are ultimately defined by the fact that they allow players to enjoy gaming  fun without having to commit too much time and effort. You can swoop in, have some fun and swoop out again.Stay Casual: Hasta La Vista Commitment!

You can even dabble, fiddle, muddle and sidle.

Casual games leave the field wide open for all personality types, on all sorts of budgets and with any particular preferences (even an obsession with the colour pink is catered for @ Sify.com).

Yeah but...

Stay Casual: Hasta La Vista Commitment!

Of course there are some who believe that casual games do not exist or that they shouldn’t be slapped into a unique genre of their own. Check out CasualGaming.biz, and the announcement that Harvey Elliot, VP and general manager of EA Casual, is to be one of the keynote speakers or the Casual Games Forum. His entire stance is that “There is No Such Thing as a Casual Game or a Casual Gamer”. Hmmm, interesting.

It promises to be an interesting take on the subject but honestly not one that I can completely relate to.

Defining games as casual is not necessarily the pigeonholing of a singular genre that may or may not alienate it from the more hardcore player. I believe that even hardcore gamers will happily enjoy an hour or two playing Sudoku or Farmville, just because it’s wonderfully light and fun.

Yes, there is always going to be the allure of the FPS or RTS but that doesn’t mean gamers have to be stuck in a niche either.Stay Casual: Hasta La Vista Commitment!

Elliot believes that the very word casual is “misleading and potentially dangerous” (reference). Although I clearly don’t know what his speech will cover, I do think that gamers are savvy enough to decide what mood they’re in by themselves and that there is nothing remotely dangerous about the title Casual Game.

In fact it fills me with delight.

Casual fun

Casual games are like chips and dip. Tasty and easy, they take the edge off when you need it most. And it looks like plenty of people agree.

According to the Casual Games Association, there are more than 200 million casual gamers worldwide.

Stay Casual: Hasta La Vista Commitment!Defining casual gaming is simple:  – anyone of any culture, age or lifestyle can enjoy it, gameplay is easy to learn and you can play it on anything from your computer at work to your mobile phone on the train.

It’s an excellent way to make any commute less of a daily journey through hell, that’s for sure.

Another defining factor is that it can be instantly accessed and understood by anyone. Anyone. So your grandad could, theoretically, download a title and get involved within seconds.  He won’t need lightning fast reflexes or amazing mouse skillz0rs but he can enjoy a cuppa tea and a biccie at the same time.

Therein lies the appeal. You don’t have to invest hours and hours of your time to get results. You can play for ten minutes and abandon it forever without feeling even the slightest bit of guilt.

Cheaply cheerful

You see, casual games can be so easily abandoned because they’re cheap.

You’re not going to feel a lot of guilt about dumping a title you spent £3 on. However, every time you amble through the lounge you can feel the eyes of that Wii title you bought for £40 last month boring into the back of your skull.

That said, of course, there are plenty of expensive Wii titles that do fit into the genre of Casual Games but they don’t quite meet the demands of portability and accessibility that, ahem, are essential qualities for “true” casual game.

Needless to say, whether you debate this fine line or not, you can safely spend little to no money enjoying a casual game from the comfort of your sofa, car, train, plane, bus, office chair, holiday lounger and patio, on whatever device takes your fancy.

No commitmentStay Casual: Hasta La Vista Commitment!

Isn’t it wonderful to be free as a bird, to bring that 70s ethic of free loving right into the land of gaming?

So why not go and enjoy a brief fling with Peggle or a one-night stand with Plants vs. Zombies?

Delight in a divine dalliance with the Mystery Case Files series and don’t worry about her feelings later.

Snatch yourself some guilt-free fun and forget about commitment, for today...

Add a comment 1 comment
Stu  Oct. 7, 2009 at 18:28

I think the danger is casual gaming being a pigeon hole for cynically developed, low substance, low quality monstrosities. Good casual games can be enjoyed by everybody - poor casual games will be avoided by the hardcore and could put off the new gamer (be they the untouched demographics of Olds, and ladies) from gaming altogether.

Casual gaming as a mindset for developers also shows how uncomfortable they are with developing games for people who aren't young males. Case in point the terrible female orientated games centred round shopping cooking etc

I rest my case


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