Categorization of Games
Here we will focus on a casual games categorization scheme that is based on casual game types.
We previously defined the term game genre as a method of categorizing a game using vague criteria with no fixed boundaries. Well, a similar concept can also be applied to casual games.
It should be stressed, however, that because the casual games industry is still a nascent industry, a common classification scheme has not yet evolved to the same extent as it has for the hardcore (traditional) gaming sector.
What criteria can be used to categorize casual games?
The most popular criterion used within the industry is based on the type of game play. We will have more to say about this later.
Other criterion used are based on the type of game (e.g. downloadable game), the number of gamers that can play a game (e.g. single-player, multi-player or massively multi-player game), the platform on which the game is played (e.g. console game) or some combination of the aforementioned (e.g. a downloadable, multi-player, console game).
Classification of Casual Games
Following are the casual game types (genres) based on the criterion type of game:
- Casual advergame. Mainly used by business, a casual advergame (synonym for advertising game) is a downloadable (see below) or web (see below) game where the primary objective of the game is to deliver a business sponsors advertising messages, drive traffic to the sponsors web site and build brand awareness.
- Casual downloadable game. A casual downloadable game is defined as a casual game type that can be downloaded, in its entirety, from a games web-site or peer-to-peer network and installed on the gaming platform of your choice (e.g. a PC), where it runs as a stand-alone application without any further access to the Internet.
- Casual online game. A casual online game is defined as any game that is played over a computer network, most commonly the Internet. Casual online game types can range from simple single-player, text-based games to massively multi-player online games with sophisticated graphics and many gamers (sometimes even tens of thousands) playing simultaneously. Many casual online games also have associated online communities, making these games a form of social activity beyond single-player games.
- Skill game. A skill game is a web game (see below) where the outcome is determined mainly by skill, as opposed to pure chance. These casual game types are typically played in a tournament format that is, a player must first pay a tournament entrance fee before competing in the game. Money and/or prizes are awarded to the most skilled player(s). Elements of chance have either been eliminated or greatly reduced in the game. This is important because the distinction between "chance" games (also known as gambling) and "skill" games has legal implications in those countries which view chance games differently to skill games. The legal distinction is often vague and varies widely from one jurisdiction to the next.
- Casual web game (also known as a browser game). A casual web- or browser-based game is a game that is launched from your web browser via a games web-site. These casual game types do not usually require you to download and install any software on, for example, your PC. However, in order to play them, you will require one or more web browser plug-ins such as Flash, Shockwave and Java. Or you may be required to download and install a special type of program (called an ActiveX control) that will enable you to play a certain type of game (developed in a programming language called C++).