ok... What does "Casual" mean again?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by JGOware, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. JGOware

    Indie Author

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    Seems everyone is tagging the word "casual" onto the description of their game, I'm kind of lost what "casual" means anymore. Casual 3d shooters, casual platform games, casual rpgs, etc, etc. Can someone in the know properly define what a casual game is? Thanks.
     
  2. AlexWeldon

    AlexWeldon New Member

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    My interpretation of the word, in a nutshell, is "easy." Easy to learn, easy to beat, familiar theme, pretty graphics, encouraging tone. For people who think of games more as a diversion - only slightly more engaging than television - as opposed to a hobby.
     
  3. electronicStar

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    The oldschool definition is "would it be accepted by PopCap (or Bigfish) ?".
     
  4. Uhfgood

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  5. Jason Chong

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    But apparently some thinks you must have 100++ levels for whatever the game you're making.


    Stretching the content/gameplay too thin in my humble opinion.


    I think the most important aspect of casual game is they must at least support 100 percent mouse oriented gameplay besides the easy to play/learn factor.
     
  6. luggage

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I never understand this discussion. It just doesn't matter what 'casual' means.
     
  7. neonleif

    neonleif New Member

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    Nice ones.

    I've got a few links as well:
    first a scientific paper defining the casual phenomenon in relation to games. It really rips it apart... i like it :)
    second and maybe more practically oriented than the academic chatter: IGDA's casual games white paper [2½ mb]
    last one is on gamasutra... "Persuasive Games: Casual As In Sex, Not Casual As In Friday":rolleyes:
     
  8. joshuadallman

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    Casual games are games for everyone.

    Hardcore games are games for a niche market of hobbyist game players who upgrade their computers, read gaming magazines, buy video game accessories, self-identify as "gamers" etc.

    There's also more than these two markets and terms; within casual there's the Nancy Drews (hidden object / adventure games), the Tycoons (Virtual Villagers), the Clickers (marble poppers), the Wii casuals, the teen market Flash game casuals, the cell phone casuals, and on and on. Ditto for hardcore: the strategists, the RPG'ers, the MMO'ers, the FPS'ers, etc.

    There's more of an art than a science to understanding the differences between hardcore and casual; it takes more intuition than knowledge to understand the markets and terms.

    For what it's worth it took me years to understand what "casual" meant. I thought my 3D online adrenaline-pumping shooter was "casual" because it had cartoon graphics and easy to pick up and play controls. Imagine my surprise when it had no viability on the newly defined "casual" portals such as Reflexive, BigFish, etc.
     
  9. joshuadallman

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    I challenge that idea whole-heartedly.

    There is a difference between games for kids and casual games.

    Games for kids should be easy, familiar, pretty graphics, encouraging.

    Casual games -- for educated sophisticated adults -- should be accessible but not easy. In other words, welcoming to newcomers but not dumbed down.

    Most intelligent casual game players will reject a game that is too dumbed down with too many googly-eyed cartoon graphics and helpers etc. That would work fine for a coffee-break Flash casual game, but not for a downloadable casual game that respects its audience's intelligence. There are a ton of smart, tough, casual games with edgey graphics and unfamiliar themes that are still casual. As one example, Large File Adventure games readily fit into this category -- they're far from Bejewelled, yet it's the same market as hidden object games.
     
  10. Xathia Vastar

    Xathia Vastar New Member

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    Casual games are short, straight-to-the point games that you can play on coffee breaks, or games that you can generally put down for a bit then pick back up later.
     
  11. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    One reason it may be a little hard to define precisely is because the definition is probably varying over time. The market does a bit of recycling and the players in that market grow in sophistication, and with regards to what they'll expect and accept from the games being put out. What works today might have been too complex for the market a few years back.
     
  12. Nexic

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    Think "The kind of game your mum would play"
     
  13. Bmc

    Bmc New Member

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    "casual" is just a sexier word used in place of "mass-market' or "broad-appeal"

    Consider the following elements of a game.

    Interface - The easier the interface is to use, the more people there are that will be able to play your game.

    Theme - The broader the theme/story/narrative/(whatever you call it), the more people it will resonate with.

    Mechanics - Many factors here can increase "casualness", have fewer actions that can be used in more ways (think of in Mario, where jumping and running are the core actions of the player), goals are clear, progress is clearly shown etc... Basically make the game very user-friendly.... don't make one single thing a chore to do.
     
  14. James C. Smith

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    To me casual means

    • accessible: easy to learn and understand with no prior knowledge of video games
    • masses appeal: themes that are not gender specific or appealing to only small groups
     
  15. AlexWeldon

    AlexWeldon New Member

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    You mean themes that are not male-specific. A lot of casual titles are very girly indeed, and even the supposedly "neutral" ones employ a lot of tricks that target female psychology.
     
  16. sindisil

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    I'm curious what sorts of "tricks" you mean; could you give a few specific examples?
     
  17. AlexWeldon

    AlexWeldon New Member

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    Well, hidden object games and time management games both require skills that women test better at, on average, than men.

    The protagonists are usually female, and fit what a stereotypical female sees as the ideal woman (and definitely not a typical male's ideal woman). Compare female protagonists in casual games to the women in ads directed at a female clientele and you'll see what I mean (not beauty product ads though... more stuff targeted at women with families, like cold remedies, instant foods and cleaning products, for instance). Beautiful without being cheap, self-confident, and kind of smug about being supremely competent at juggling family, work and personal life.

    The presentation of the games is also geared towards feelings of personal accomplishment than competition. In general, women lean more towards individual sports than team or one-on-one sports, and casual games feel more like the former than the latter. Games aimed at men often feel like you are competing against the game (or its designer), whereas casual games come off more like a coach or a personal trainer.
     
    #17 AlexWeldon, Jan 25, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  18. sindisil

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    Thanks Alex. Very interesting (and useful) analysis. I appreciate you taking the time.
     
  19. CousinGilgamesh

    CousinGilgamesh New Member

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    To me, the 'casual' genre isn't about who it will appeal to so much as how it is to be played. 'causal' games are played casually. It's not the kind of game that you sit in your office all day waiting for work to end so that you can go home and beat the final boss and watch the cinematic climax for. Playing it isn't a commitment to spend 50 hours leveling up your dudes. It can be picked up and put down casually. It fills free time in a reasonably enjoyable and casual way, the same way that a game of solitaire or the crossword puzzle in the paper does. You can make a casual game with mass appeal or directed toward women or men or whatever audience you want, but when it comes down to it, the thing that makes it a casual game is the casual manner in which it is played by its audience.
     
  20. James C. Smith

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    They are not all perfect. Some of them get away with not having mas appeal and catering to one gender but I still think those are the exceptions rather than the rule.
     

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