Casual Games and Emerging Game Genres

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Casual Games and Emerging Game Genres

Post by eselle28 on Thu Oct 23, 2014 12:12 am

I thought it might be interesting to have a discussion of what a "casual game" is. Most people's definition is something like Farmville, the Kim Kardashian game, or Candy Crush. I've played all three, briefly, and would compare them to [EDIT: a 1980s era generation PC] god game, [EDIT: a 198s era generation PC] adventure game with a couple RPG elements, and a fairly amusing puzzle game. These games sometimes make me wonder what the difference is between a "casual game" and a game in some other genre that either doesn't have many features or is just not of very high quality. Is it a free to play model with microtransactions? Time-based microtransactions? The fact that a game is mostly played on a mobile platform? Lack of combat? Poor quality in comparison to the cost? Audience?

In comparison to the first group of games, I've also spent a little time playing Ingress, a reasonable bit of time playing Flight Rising, and a lot of time over the past couple of years playing Fallen London. Most of these games have at least a few of the features listed above. Ingress must be played on a mobile device and Fallen London can be (maybe Flight Rising too, and it just happens to hate mine?). Fallen London and Flight Rising have microtransactions, and Fallen London's are time-based. Fallen London doesn't really have combat. My unscientific perception is that Fallen London and Flight Rising have somewhat more female users than men - no clue about Ingress. That being said, I'd say they're all good games that are fairly easy to enter but do (or seem to) require planning and strategy to achieve certain goals. Are they still casual? And, if they are, will there ever be a point at which it's recognized that these games are fairly different from each other and should perhaps be talked about in terms of subgenres, or in terms of whether they're good examples of casual games or poor ones?


Last edited by eselle28 on Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:56 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Casual Games and Emerging Game Genres

Post by Wondering on Thu Oct 23, 2014 1:50 am

My husband has a whole spiel about why Farmville is not a casual game. (At least the original, which I played for a while. I haven't played Farmville 2.) His main thesis is that there are/were a whole heck of a lot of hardcore Farmville players, and the game itself got more and more involved, requiring excessive time to be spent on it by the end when a ton of people seemed to bail on it about 2.5 years ago.

I don't disagree with him on that.

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Re: Casual Games and Emerging Game Genres

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Oct 23, 2014 4:35 am

I think a "casual" game is something that lures people to play it for short amounts of time when they're bored (or at least that's how they think they're using it when they start). A casual game may or may not encourage users to check back in semi-regularly and form something of a habit, but it's generally presented as a passing-the-time sort of activity. I agree Flight Rising is "casual". It's a thing I spend a few minutes a day clicking all the easy things and occasionally spend some extra minutes on (coliseum grinding, etc). Tiny Tower (for mobiles) is kind of my definition of casual—you check in every so often, cash out your sales, order new things, spend the revenue to buy more floors for your tower (which means more things to click on next time).

Microtransactions, gaming time limits, etc. are models that tend to work well in casual game formats, so it's not surprising that they tend to be associated with that, but there are plenty of microtransaction-based or free-to-play or time-limited games that don't fit that mold. Free-to-play MMOs and MOBA/ARTS/HeroBrawl games tend to have similar models but are definitely marketed as hardcore/competitive games and in some cases "eSports".

I haven't tried FarmVille. From my limited knowledge I would call it a "social game" because a significant piece of the gameplay involves recruiting other people to try it (thus increasing the number of potential money-spending customers), but again, that's not really a useful marker for whether something is "casual" or not because WoW is definitely a sit-down-and-spend-hours-grinding sort of game and it puts heavy emphasis on the social aspects as well (plus "rested experience" mechanics).
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Re: Casual Games and Emerging Game Genres

Post by Jayce on Thu Oct 23, 2014 6:47 am

Casual can mean different to everybody. In the game community of Dota, League of Legends is considered a casual game. Similarly some people that play Magic the Gathering think a lot of other card games are casual games. For others its farmville and those other games that can be played on phones, I Pads, on the go. Some players consider games based a lot on reaction time like Counterstrike, Call of Duty, casual games and so on.

I think also sometimes casual is probably more of a term for a certain playerbase rather than what a certain game is like. Like there are those that play World of Warcraft once in a while to wind down, and those that go bossing all the time for loot.

I never play single player games nor on consoles so my knowledge and experiences only come from online games.

By the way how awesome would it be if all games took into consideration and advantage of their casual playerbase! If I could get into WoW casually I might get started. But Wow always dosent seem noob friendly (nor friendly to older computers with lower graphics). And also if the monthly fee was maybe less.

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Re: Casual Games and Emerging Game Genres

Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Oct 23, 2014 7:04 am

Jayce wrote:Casual can mean different to everybody. In the game community of Dota, League of Legends is considered a casual game.
That's more of a case of using "casual" as a pejorative, since there's nothing at all casual about either game's "high" meta; both games have multiple long-term high-stakes tournaments associated with them, i.e. people play these games for money. (I play both in a casual fashion—intermittently and in small doses, as Things To Do With Friends, but paying minimal attention to the Proper Way To Play A MOBA.)

I have a hard time taking that method of classifying a genre seriously. It tends to come with an attitude of derision toward the demographics who are perceived to play the "casual" game, whereas a Real Gamer/Geek would naturally prefer the superior... not-casual game. What's the word for the opposite end of that supposed spectrum? "Serious"? Is Super Smash Bros. (any game) casual? Some people play it competitively, for money; other people play it on crazy stages with random items. Again, I and most of the people I know like to dip a little in each and enjoy the entire game.

Jayce wrote:Similarly some people that play Magic the Gathering think a lot of other card games are casual games. For others its farmville and those other games that can be played on phones, I Pads, on the go. Some players consider games based a lot on reaction time like Counterstrike, Call of Duty, casual games and so on.

I think also sometimes casual is probably more of a term for a certain playerbase rather than what a certain game is like. Like there are those that play World of Warcraft once in a while to wind down, and those that go bossing all the time for loot.

I never play single player games nor on consoles so my knowledge and experiences only come from online games.

By the way how awesome would it be if all games took into consideration and advantage of their casual playerbase! If I could get into WoW casually I might get started. But Wow always dosent seem noob friendly (nor friendly to older computers with lower graphics)
Yeah, honestly if "casual" is defined by its accessibility, then I would prefer that all games be as "casual" as possible. Weird UI gimmicks and other arbitrary design choices that a certain type of person claims is there to separate the "pro" players who care so much about their game and the noobs who suck are what I would call fake difficulty. There was a certain type of person who complained when StarCraft II implemented a feature that would automatically order all workers to mine minerals at the start of a match, because previous StarCraft and WarCraft games leaving it up to each player's click speed was considered a good feature for competitive play.
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Re: Casual Games and Emerging Game Genres

Post by Enail on Thu Oct 23, 2014 11:36 am

I would consider casual game a medium (sub-medium?) rather than a genre. My main criteria for casual is that it be good for playing in small bites. But since there are games like Fallen London that you can play in small bites but that I wouldn't consider casual games, I think I have a secondary criteria that it's also fairly low-investment for its entirety and probably fairly small in size overall- if one might play it for the long game, it's probably not a true casual to me.

Games that are not casual games can certainly be more or less casual-friendly (suitable to play in more casual ways but not necessarily designed for that to be the primary play style). I agree it would be awesome if other games could support casual play without losing their depth, and it does seem like more games are moving that way with casual-friendly qualities like simplicity to learn, mobile platform/app-style software for computer, short levels, low cost. Actually, even the move towards save anytime rather than save points in large games could be considered a casual feature.
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Re: Casual Games and Emerging Game Genres

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