All of us with a Facebook account have been in this situation before: (Insert random “friend”) has sent you a request to be your neighbor on (insert random Facebook game). More often than not these games seem to crop up and they appear to cater more and more to the audience some refer to as the “casual gamer”. The very thought of “casual” gamers conjure up negative feelings, in gamers that don’t play the games the “core” audience plays, of “them” invading “our” turf. So, are casual gamers killing gaming?
First look at the facts of what the differences are between “core” and “casual”. The core people like playing for the sake of having fun, they play for an escape or they play for the challenge of playing a game. I can’t speak for the casual gamer since I do not consider myself one. I would guess that they don’t think too far off as far as playing a game for having fun. The major difference being that casual gamers tend to play games that core gamers usually wouldn’t be caught dead playing.
All things considered, I can’t fault them. They’re (for the most part) easy, accessible, and pretty cheap. If something combines for all three, it’s almost hard NOT to play any of those games. I’ve been caught up in some of the madness of a few of these games myself, and while I do play them, I don’t experience the same fun, frustration, and intensity I have playing one of the games I usually play with a controller in my hand.
So while I can’t fault the casual gamers, can I fault a developer? I’ll take a developer like Zynga who’s amassed a fortune over games like Farmville and Mafia Wars. So they did have a lot of success working in their favor to develop other games such as a sequel to Mafia Wars. Yet for all their success, their profits have been way down this year due to factors such as a lack of a new title, and Facebook only using their credits as the only form of currency within their realm to buy in game items.
Also some time last week a story was leaked that Microsoft will add Comcast, HBO, and Verizon to it’s services to stream movies and television to it’s consoles. This is a great thing for all the people that want to have their movies, television programming, and cable service all in one spot. It’s a step in the direction of getting rid of cable boxes and DVD players themselves. This very deal is a very big deal for people that want things simplified and gives some cable providers something to think about in the future.
What does this mean for the casual gamer? It means that they now would consider buying a major console for themselves. The console gives them everything they would want out of a cable provider, Netflix, and hopefully would allow them to open up and play our games. It’s a stretch, but if you can convince a casual consumer that a major console can do more than gaming, it becomes a big deal to the companies. While it would take away time from the core gamer in the casual gamer’s house, it gets everyone together to support one product that would ordinarily separate the core gamer from the group.
Still for the “core” gamers to have feelings of resentment is just silly. Games are fun, they’re meant to be played by everyone…No matter how bad some of us might be at them. It’s not a matter of whether casual gamers are killing gaming, but a matter of the core gamers opening up and celebrating all things gaming. No they might not play “your” games, but we can take time out of our day to teach them. Heck, maybe eventually they’ll have the same fun, frustration, intensity, and passion we have for gaming. So maybe we shouldn’t look at casual gamers as a problem to gaming, but an opportunity for it.
There is an opportunity to take gaming to a new level. Where gamers might feel excluded from popular culture, embracing the casual gamers presents the opportunity to become part of it on the level of movies, music and television shows, rather than just being defended by the people that play them. With all of us united, we can defend our games from the constant scorn from outsiders that don’t even play video games. With that said, let’s just all have some fun together because, in the words of Kevin Butler “deep down inside, we all serve one master, one king, and his name is ‘Gaming’…FOREVER MAY HE REIGN!!!”