Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Appeal of the Casual

So I have a confession to make: not only have I been playing brainless games on my Kindle, but I finally got a smartphone last weekend.  And after setting up my Gmail and Twitter accounts properly, the very first thing I put on my Droid was... Angry Birds.

And so, there I sat for hours, in the living room, perhaps four feet away from the fancy high-end gaming PC and from the Playstation 3... using my telephone to fling enraged avians at piggies.

This is after a few weeks of whiling away my evenings playing Plants vs Zombies on my laptop, thanks to the outrageous discounts on the Steam Holiday sale a few weeks back.

We have this completely false gamer spectrum, and we call it "casual" and "hardcore."  This is where we get the "real gamers" problem: if you play Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto on your PS3 or XBox, you're a "real gamer," right?  If you play violent games, particularly with an online multiplayer component, and are a male between the ages of 14 and 31, you're a "real gamer."

Only, not so much.

All it takes is a glance over Twitter to find that the same people not only playing the "hardcore" games, but also writing and developing them, are playing Angry Birds on their phones and Plants Vs Zombies or Bejeweled 3 in their down time.  All games for all people: sometimes you want a filet mignon from an expensive, high-class restaurant, and sometimes you want a cheeseburger and a milkshake from the cheapest, nastiest 3-a.m. greasy spoon in town.  And sometimes you want neither, and want soup, or a salad, or a cookie.  (Can you tell it's almost lunchtime for me?)

So why do we keep expecting gaming and gamers to be different?  It's not a matter of playing Wii Fit or Assassin's Creed.  It's a matter of making time in the day for both.

(P.S. Man, Angry Birds develops some really pain-in-the-ass levels as you get in!  I can't imagine playing this on the Metro; one jitter and I'd have flung them off the wrong side of the screen entirely.) 


  1. I miss having an XP box to play MOO2 on. It qualified, I think, as casual and mindless because I always played the same optimized species and followed the same path to scientific then military dominance. I loved it.

  2. Angry birds is bigger and better on the iPad. Start saving up, generation 2 is coming out soon.

  3. But on an Android you have Angry Birds with you whenever you end up with a few minutes to play. And she saves $600.

  4. "Big Paddy" goes everywhere with me. He cost $629 but He's $499 without the 3G. My kids play angry birds, plants vs zombies, and fruit ninja (must have) whenever they want. I'm a word base gamer. Get fruit ninja, even I like that one! Waaaaaaah

  5. I was teasing, the iPad is not for everyone. Writing is harder on the iPad for me. I make more typos now. But I don't need a personal computer for my job. Big gov wants me to do everything there. I have a nook, and the nook ipad app. I also have a blackberry but I probably don't need it now, because no one calls me and I can text free from the iPad.

    We have two desk tops (one is on it's last leg) and a laptop but I brought my kids cheap notebooks for Christmas because I think keyboards are going to be around for a while and they should get used to qwerty.

    I still say get Fruit Ninja!

  6. Fruit ninja requires a large touchscreen, I'll give you that. I DL'd it onto my Vibrant but it's not nearly as good on 4 inches (twss). Otherwise I'm happy with my smartphone and a desktop.

  7. I just don't have a need for the iPad in my life. My husband and I actually between us have as many as six computers in the home some days: a personal laptop each, a gaming desktop each, and now we both have jobs with work-issued laptops. My Droid and my Kindle fit neatly into every purse I own and don't weigh much. (And Kindle > iPad because I can't do the sustained reading necessary for a novel on a backlit screan. My eyes Do Not Like.) Plus we each have a Nintendo DS. The iPad is heavy. I played with one at an Apple Store for a while... it was too big for one hand, too small for two hands, and just confused me overall.

    I'm sure it's great laptop replacement for a lot of people, and clearly loads of folks get a lot of use out of it. I just think it'll be a long time before I'm one of 'em. My laptop is my writing machine so it needs a real keyboard.