Entertainment is an activity best shared. And video games are no different. Ever since network play first emerged, playing games became a social affair. So what’s the future of Casual Gaming?
Not everyone likes adrenaline-fueled slaughter and mayhem, as brought to you by successful video game franchises like Bungie’s Halo, or Id Software’s Quake and Doom, as well as Unreal Tournament by Epic Games.
But plenty of people still like to play simple, fun and mildly engaging games, just to while away the time between the commute, meetings and class.
What is Casual Gaming?
On your way to work, you sit out your journey on the train. It’s crowded, but it’s a nice day, so who cares, right?
It’s not like you can read a chapter from that new book in your satchel, there’s just not enough time for that. So you fire up a game of Tetris on your iPod. Man, does this take you back!
Going for the high score, now — watch out!
Games like Tetris or Sudoku are very much casual, simply because they command very little of your time, often completed in minutes rather than hours and appealing broadly to children, the elderly and women.
Let’s face it, in between slaying Covenant hordes, burnin’ rubber through Santa Monica, or figuring out a way across a treacherous rope bridge, there’s still a place for Frogger.
The future of Casual Gaming
You need look no further than the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch to see that Casual Gaming is on the agenda:
“It’s clear that casual gaming won’t be restricted to just the iPod range, but extend out towards the iPhone, too.”
As a market, Casual Gaming has enormous appeal to a very wide audience, certainly much wider than genres like FPS (First Person Shooter) action games.
Just look at the wide selection of games that the Nintendo DS supports as an example of the penetration of Casual Gaming.
Those of my generation will feel the warm tingle of nostalgia — golden oldies and classics now enjoying something of a renaissance with an entirely new generation of gamers.
“Mobile games revenues are expected to grow from $3bn in 2006 to $10bn by 2009, according to new research.”
In effect, Mobile Gaming is synonymous with Casual Gaming these days, though the former does still allow for more involving video game entertainment, like the aforementioned action franchises.
Moving forward, with a wide-ranging audience to grow into, there appears to be plenty of room for the likes of Apple and the iPod Touch, the Nintendo DS, Sony’s PlayStation Portable and the rumored Xbox Portable, too.
Though the latter three of these devices offer up enough power to play bigger, mainstream video games. But as an audio-visual experience, they can’t really compare to their larger brethren often found in living rooms and bedrooms around the world.
So the future of Casual Games may not be one of increased audio-visual appeal or technical sophistication, but one of a nostalgia for classic recycled titles and a desire to share and compete with friends, relatives and colleagues alike, though not necessarily in “real time”.
Sharing our experiences is where the real innovation will come. And the key infrastructure that will enable shared Casual Gaming will be “Wi-Fi” wireless networking, or at the very least reduced cost mobile telephony.
But what happens when you do want more — when Casual Gaming isn’t enough? Then roll up your sleeves, put the dog in the kitchen, secure all expensive ornaments and move the chairs & sofa out of the way.
This is Interactive Gaming…