Casual Games Introduction
For those of you who are new to the realm of casual games, Im guessing that your curiosity has got the better of you and you're seeking answers to a bunch of questions regarding this young, vibrant sector of the interactive entertainment industry.
Questions such as...
and, I'm sure, there must be a myriad other related questions.
However, before we can even begin to tackle these questions it is imperative that I first provide you with a primer or, if you like, a synopsis of the casual gaming industry from 30,000 feet.
Hmmm... This is a a difficult one. It's one of those questions that we all seem to come across from time to time; a question that just doesn't appear to have a clear-cut answer. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, this is due to the fact that casual gaming is still a relatively new concept. Perhaps there other more plausible reasons...
Should we let this minor inconvenience hinder our progress? No, of course not. Let's press on and define a casual game. While I have seen many casual games definitions, I haven't found one that encompasses all of what I believe to be the key attributes of these games. So, I decided to come up with my own definition.
OK, OK! I admit it. It's not really my own definition. It's one based on information gathered from other casual games definitions that I've previously encountered. Be that as it may, here goes... In a nut-shell, a casual game is defined as an electronic game satisfying certain characteristics.
Are there different types of casual games? As with any other type of electronic game, a casual game can be categorized using an idea borrowed from the non-interactive entertainment world - the idea of a genre, the French word meaning "kind of" or "sort of". In simple terms, a genre is a method of classifying something using criteria that are vague and have no fixed boundaries. Following on from the notion of a genre, a game genre is just a method of classifying a game according to one or more imprecise criteria.
What classification criteria are used within the casual gaming sector? Actually, there are quite a few criteria used within the sector to classify games. For example, a fairly common criterion used is type of platform - that is, the type of hardware on which the game is played. This gives rise to casual game genres such as PC games (games played on a PC), console games (games played on gaming console), mobile games (games played on a mobile phone), etc.
Another example of a common criterion that is used is type of game. As it turns out, the most popular criterion used within the casual games industry is type of game play.
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Well, anyone and everyone, actually. Why? Because playing casual games does not rely on your gender, age, marital status, profession, geographical location or, for that matter, anything else.
OK, so how does one define a casual gamer? And what unique attributes do they possess? Good questions, I'm sure you will agree. But before answering them, here's a little background on different types of gamers.
Excellent. Now that you are a fundi on gamer types, let's answer the two questions posed above. Firstly, what is a casual gamer? A casual gamer is characterized by the fact that gaming is not viewed as a primary leisure activity. These are people who play games for enjoyment and relaxation rather than games with steep learning curves or games requiring a high level of commitment or involvement.
Secondly, what are the characteristics of a casual gamer? In fact, this is a difficult question to answer because casual games appeal to people from virtually all walks of life. It is for this reason that most people find it difficult to provide an accurate description of a casual gamer.
So, irrespective of whether you are male or female; young, middle-aged or retired, single or married, a home executive or business professional or you reside in Seattle or Sydney, you too can experience the thrill of playing these exciting and fun-filled games.
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For pure entertainment (i.e. lots of fun and excitement)? As a form of relaxation (i.e. help reduce stress levels)? Or perhaps some other reason? I would hazard a guess that because we are all different, there are as many reasons for playing these games as there are people playing them.
But, what are the key reasons? Have a look at what the latest research has to say about this. I think you will be as surprised as I was with the findings.
Here is an interesting tidbit. According to an International Game Developers Association (IGDA) White Paper, women between 35 and 50 years of age make up the largest audience of casual games. Why is this? Here are ten reasons why women like casual games.
Do casual games have applications outside of the entertainment industry? As mentioned previously, one of the main reasons people play casual games is as a distraction from a chronic illness. This is indicative of the fact that casual games already have a place in the healthcare industry. What about other industries? It turns out casual games have applications in a number of industries.
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In the evenings? On weekends? During working or school/college hours?
Obviously, this is dependant on your personal circumstances - whether you are a scholar or student; employed, unemployed or retired; married (with or without kids); etc.
Based on my own casual gaming habits, I would have guessed that most people prefer playing during the week. However, others may only have the luxury of playing on weekends. Still, some may even be lucky enough to get to play during working hours.
When respondents were asked in a survey undertaken by two leading casual game makers, this is what emerged.
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In 2005 the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) undertook a research study amongst UK gamers between the ages of 6 and 65 years old. One of the objectives of the study was to understand where (i.e. what locations) gamers within various age groups play games.
Given that survey respondents were given seven different location-playing options, this is what was divulged.
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Earlier on, when I defined a casual game, I indicated that one of the characteristics of such a game is that it can be played on a variety of platforms and electronic devices. These include the likes of the PC; the set-top and portable game console system; the mobile/smart phone; interactive TV; and an assortment of other electronic devices such as the personal digital assistant (PDA).
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