Who’s Afraid Of The Casual Gamer?

“I’m just sick of companies pandering to the casual gamer.”, he said. It doesn’t matter who exactly said it as it could have been any one of a thousand players that I’ve spoken to or found while trawling forums for tidbits of information on an upcoming release. In part I agree with those sentiments as so many games are getting “dumbed down”, for want of a better term, these days. Favourite series are having sequels that have lost so much of their depth that I no longer even like them never mind adore them as much as I used to. Games I’ve been waiting years for seem to consistently disappoint me and others, leading to yet another claim that it’s all down to the casual gamers ruining the market.

I know who they’re referring to, of course. Those who play the Wii, those who have fun with Kinect or wave planes home on Playstation Move. Those are the casual gamers this time around and it’s their fault that our games aren’t as good as they used to be. Others will be referring to those who spend their lives connected to Facebook and inundating everyone they’ve ever come into fleeting contact with at any point of time with requests to check out their vegetables. Still others even count those who use handheld consoles as the casual menace to true gaming, with their reliance on bite-sized gaming that can be picked up and put down at a moments notice. Then there are the party gamers, drunk after a night out and playing endless minigames in their living rooms full of plastic instruments that make them feel like rock gods as they simulate playing songs that most of them sadly believe were written just for the game they’re playing. Bloody casual gamers eh? It’s no wonder that our games are getting shorter and a lot more shallow with game companies splitting their attention between that lot and us real gamers.

Well, that’s what those who call themselves hardcore would like us to think anyway. See, I’ve been around for a long time and I’ve seen each of the arguments against casual gamers over and over. This time we’re railing against those who use these different peripherals for motion control. Last time some of you who are involved in this debate were the ones being complained about, because you were into these music games that threatened the industry. Then there was the idea of having streaming movies over consoles. What real gamer would pick that over better network stability? Another sign of the casual gamer ruining our experience, and one we couldn’t ignore as much as when DVD movies could be played on consoles (an experience we ignored as it was a side effect of having larger disc capacity for our games) in the last generation. Before that those we had the entire Playstation generation taking away from gaming with those casual Tekken and Wipeout players entering the scene. And before that it was the ones who wanted 3D graphics, which many companies were implementing at the cost of precise gameplay. Control pads instead of mouse control – bloody casual gamers again, dipping their toe into our hobby, ruining it then buggering off again.

Except they didn’t bugger off, did they? Many of you reading this may fit into any of the classes of casual gamer (and those I listed are only a few of the many – FPS players for example were once thought of as casuals) that I listed. Many of you may have been what was fought against before and have stuck around to be the ones fighting. Some of the evolutions that gaming has been through in my time have stuck around while others have disappeared, yet each one has originally been blamed on the casual gamer by those who simply didn’t understand it at the time. Sometimes those naysayers were proved right and the change was abandoned, sometimes they left their changing hobby as it had changed too much since they enjoyed it, and sometimes they were swept along with the changes and learned to enjoy them, sometimes to the point that they can no longer imagine the hobby without them. As for the casual gamers, many of them stayed with the hobby after being introduced to it in a way that hadn’t been available to them before, and many of those became the hardcore railing against the later changes that would introduce even more new players. Personally I don’t count anyone as a real gamer unless they know to shout “Shoryuken” after towards, down, down-towards+punch and then hit the guy standing next to them in a smoke filled room, but that’s my prejudice.

But what about the depth that we’re losing from our games as companies try to please the casual gamer and get a quick buck out of them? Well, quite frankly that’s a load of horseshite. Oh sure, sometimes developers make things more accessible and sometimes they go too far with that and strip depth or challenge from their product, but it’s hardly the fault of the casual gamers. They aren’t the ones inundating fan forums with multiple requests for flying tigers to be introduced into hyper realistic crime simulators or chainsaws to be put into fantasy games. Nor are they the ones who complain, and if there’s anything the hardcore gamers can do it’s complain. We complain about everything we can and then we usually blame it on casual gamers. And the developers take our complaints and change their output accordingly, snipping unpopular and incidental features which were the previous games signature and giving more time to things like hitting someone with a big stick (a staple of gaming which is the modern equivalent of jumping on an animal to get coins or rings). It’s down to us far more than the casual gamers who probably have not even heard of the game. As for the developers themselves who are trying to get a slice of the casual market, good on them. Bring in some new people to love your franchise and the sales will go up allowing you allocate larger budgets to the next iterations and give us more of what we love so much. Just remember though, there are still a lot of fans out there who would very much love you to keep the depth and challenge as well as making things more accessible.

I started this piece with a quote and now I’ll give you the full story behind it. “I’m just sick of companies pandering to the casual gamer.”, I said as I looked down at the magazine and its description of an upcoming game. “Who the hell is such a wimp that they need to save their progress in a game?” I was young and my words were probably a lot stronger than that when I said them, but I remember my disgust clearly. Saving games was for wimps (again, a stronger and more feline oriented word was used) who couldn’t play through them in one sitting, children who needed their hands held all along the way. Bloody casual gamers.

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40 thoughts on “Who’s Afraid Of The Casual Gamer?

  1. Yeah. I still remember being outraged when I saw the original Batman movie as a child, because they weren't taking the character seriously. 🙂 Wrinkles and perspective, all part of life.Okay, the lack of paragraphs worked. :p

  2. All natural and unspoiled evolution in the world of gaming stopped between Quake and Quake II. Everything from that point on and forward is still on the beta level.I am, by the way, a casual gamer. However, I have been a casual gamer since Pong – that's gotta count for something, right?By the way: nice piece of writing. I like your 'call-back' in the end with the quote, linear writing gets a new dimension when you put the ends together like that. More paragraphs wouldn't hurt, though.:up:

  3. That's a signature of mine from way back. I prefer to end a post either at the point I entered it, or with the same words I started with.Okay, who sent the paragraphs memo around? 🙄

  4. Well, I can only speak for myself, but I can read really long texts on-screen without any trouble, as long as there are proper paragraphs. But even the shortest story gets hard for me to read if there are no paragraphs.In print is another story. I can read everything in print if it is interesting, even if it lacks paragraphs.I know you design your posts to be read on mobile devices, and paragraphs are not necessary in tablet format. But you do have readers who can afford proper equipment, ya know…:P

  5. So it would be redundant for me to mention the lack of paragraphs, wouldn't it? :whistle::p.:sst:I actually didn't notice while I was reading it though. :p.

  6. *So* much is being dumbed down, though – this is just part of a hugely worrying phenonemmenomen…..phenummanum…err..trend – not only games, but seemingly most, if not all forms of media-based entertainment. Everything seems be be starting to be marketed at idiot level participants – where and why did this start, and how much worse is it going to get? 'Casual Gamer' is the same as 'dumbass viewer', it seems to be assumed by whoever it is I'm talking about (and I don't know who that is)… that the customer by defaut has zero attention span, the intellect of a garden vegetable and the buying power of Rupert Murdoch.Wait a minute….Rupert Murdoch… <thinks..>

  7. Proper equipment? You really don't want to head down that track with the king of mobile bloggers. :devil:Okay, I'm seeing six paragraphs on the main post. How many are you guys seeing?

  8. Originally posted by Furie:

    Proper equipment? You really don't want to head down that track with the king of mobile bloggers.

    :DI see six paragraphs too, and they are fine, since the story comes in six parts. The illustration is also put very aptly. An easy way to make the text more digestible is to add a short sentence between each paragraph, a 'bridge'.Take the intro of part 3, which goes like:"Well, that's what those who call themselves hardcore would like us to think anyway. See, I've been around for a long time and I've seen each of the arguments against casual gamers over and over. This time we're railing against those who use these different peripherals for motion control."If you take the first line and seperate it from the rest, it becomes a bridge. It really belongs to part 2 anyways:"Bloody casual gamers eh? It's no wonder that our games are getting shorter and a lot more shallow with game companies splitting their attention between that lot and us real gamers.Well, that's what those who call themselves hardcore would like us to think anyway. See, I've been around for a long time and I've seen each of the arguments against casual gamers over and over. This time we're railing against those who use these different peripherals for motion control."That is one way to do it. You pretty much write as you would speak, like man to man real life talking. And if you transcribe what somebody say, you'd find that we all speak in many paragraphs. You just put in paragraphs where it would be natural to pause if you were speaking the text.That's what readers would expect.End of lesson.

  9. Originally posted by Furie:

    Readers? I'm talking to my minions.

    Humour your subjects, milord, and they will be loyal until death, and sometimes even beyond.

  10. I swear, Martin and I are harassing you independently of each other. :DStill can't comment in mini. And getting to your own blog in mini is a nightmare.

  11. I've been playing games for over 20 years, and the only time I ever really notice dumbing down is sometimes in sequels. Oblivion is simpler than Morrowind, Deus Ex : Invisible War is much simpler than Deus Ex, etc. But in other series the complexity has increased massively. Compare the original Shogun : Total War to the later Napoleon : Total War, or Civilization I to Civilization IV (ignore V, it's gone backward a little in complexity). Generally, though, I don't really get a sense of them getting dumber. Shorter, though, is another matter.Oh, and I save quite a lot in games :p I didn't used to, but I've not got the patience to repeat things ad infinitum anymore. One too many crashes probably disrupted my old style.

  12. I'm confused… will you, or will you not, check out my vegetables/farm/café/sharks/whateverelsethekidstodayplayonfb…? :confused:

  13. Originally posted by rose-marie:

    whateverelsethekidstodayplayonfb…?

    That's just the point. It is NOT kids who are addicted to application based Facebook games. Kids know better. It is grown people who would never dream about going into serious gaming where you actually need to establish, develop and maintain special skills. Everybody can play those games – actually it is an insult to the concept of gaming to call them 'games': there is no risk, no consequences, you don't have to start all over if you fuck up, actually you can't fuck up at all. And behind it all, somewhere, somebody's bankaccount is growing for each minute you spend with your baby elephants.It is just not right.

  14. *picks the Flower up & puts her on the Observation Shelf, to sit with the Pussy Cat so they can eat cookies and watch as the boys argue amongst themselves*

  15. *notices that the disintegrator's power plug has fallen out of the wall socket, so herds the mutant baby elephants over in the right direction, giving Flower and Cat the opportunity to make like Mahoots and sit on the backs of a couple of elephants, enabling them to escape their otherwise possibly risky position before <someone> gets the power back on*

  16. *sits back in his chair as the new controlled clones exit the building*Good old nuclear powered disintegrator with novelty power plugs that aren't needed.*sweeps up the dust from the shelf*

  17. *knows the truth, that there is no story without real Flower & real Cat. Clones are as usual a smokescreen, the dust is merely that, probably dead flies, even….so, wanders around, hands in pockets, whistling a cheery tune*

  18. What does it do? Find jewish sites and accuse them of mass suicide in an attempt to discredit the peaceful nazi agenda before linking to penis extension spam?

  19. Am I the only one who has noticed that that spam-comment actually makes more sense than the thread of comments just before it?

  20. It used to hunt forums for the use of the word Turkey and start denieing the holocaust at length. Eve if was a cookery site.

  21. Yeah, I've heard about trainspotting, but I have never heard about trainwanking. Then again, kids will do anything. I just read in the news today that a couple of Norwegian school kids was expelled from their school because they were cought masturbating into a cake which they baked and served for their classmates.BTW, Google search on 'masturbate cake norway' top search result: Norwegian recipes in English… Erm… Enjoy…

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