These Colors Don’t Run

Recently Dave Thomson of Denki Games, the minds behind Denki blocks and Quarrel, gave quite the speech titled “A Game is a Game is a Game” at the Brighton Developer Conference. His main point being that the term “Casual Game” deserved a ban from the gaming lexicon due to it’s insulting and ill defined nature. Now the Squadron didn’t witness the speech but we assume it looked something like this.

Casual Panthers stand tall! ... for an hour or so occasionally.

Casual Panthers stand tall! ... for an hour or so occasionally.

Thomson argued that the word “Casual” has certain implications that go with it, usually discounting a game as worthless or a quick cash in and the label isn’t always true. He cited one of the powerhouses of casual games, Popcap, stating that nobody would call these games worthless or quick cash ins. Well the Squadron is a bunch of nobodies and we’re stating just that. As a group of “Hardcore” gamers, our issues with the casual aspect of gaming is very simple. We feel that it’s cheapening the experience of gaming, not only making what we do look simple and childish, but also allowing the casual gamers to grant themselves the title of a gamer when we feel it isn’t really deserved. This may be seen as mindless elitism but without standards the industry begins to become cluttered and eventually crumble beneath itself.

Boom Blox... game... or prophecy?

Boom Blox... game... or prophecy?

Now we could easily blame the Wii here, but the true fact is that casual gaming has been around since before the Wii’s time, hell, Tetris is a casual game in all honesty and so was Mario Party when you think about it. However; it wasn’t until the Wii that casual gaming was really turned into a force to be reckoned with. Where collections of cheap, and trite minigames were favored over characters, stories and dialogue that made you think and feel. What huts even more is that Nintendo has become what they themselves made a promise to their fans that they wouldn’t. A gimmick. A virus. A plague. A plague that is spreading to the other consoles, infecting them with thoughts like “Casual gaming is a cash cow! Milk it for all it’s worth!” With the imminent release of the PS3 motion controls and Project Natal companies are beginning to bring more cheap attempts to monopolize on the family end of gaming. That seems a little unfair though, bringing a family together through gaming is one thing (even though most gamers use it as an escape) but when you’re bringing them together over “Go Play: Lumberjacks” there is an issue. Why not just play a board game, like Cranium, or that awful Twilight board game?

Seriously we want this to go away.

Seriously we want this to go away.

The fact of the matter is, there is nothing wrong with a well designed, and interesting casual game. Like Plants Vs. Zombies or Peggle, but they aren’t anything more than puzzlers. They’ll keep your attention but they won’t offer anything more than a quick thrill. You could just as easily buy a hooker and get the same effect. The problem comes in comparing games, wondering if you are getting the same experience. Do you get the same experience playing Bioshock as you do Peggle? Or the same feeling while playing Team Fortress 2 as you did Gemsweeper? No, and it’s not only the differences in game play, but the fact that the former games were designed to MEAN something, not to just be a distraction from doing work. What’s even worse is the market saturation of shovelware and tie-ins. Games made for Grandma and Grandpa. Casual gaming wouldn’t be such a derisive term if the games that came with it weren’t a high percentage of worthless crap that still sells like gangbusters.

No... we said Ghostbust-- Goddammit you guys are idiots.

No... we said gangbust-- Goddammit you guys are idiots.

Not only is our market being cluttered, our very way of not having a life is being threatened by a bandwagon crowd. People just hopping on because some one waggled a fancy new toy in their face. People calling themselves gamers because they have a copy of Wario Ware: Smooth Moves and Wii: play. Can’t anyone see what’s wrong with that? Some may say it’s just harmless, but it has detrimental effects on us as a whole. Gamers who have defeated Ganon… repeatedly, survived a headcrab infestation with nothing but a crowbar, and gamers who wept tears of joy when Aeris died because THE BITCH IS USELESS… sorry… breathe… okay, we’re good. It’s almost like calling yourself a pro football player because you own a ball and a jersey, you have the elements but you don’t have the years put into it.

So yes, the Squadron is bitter. We think Thomson is merely trying to defend his games from critics who might write them off as casual or unimpressive, but if they had the chops they could stand on their own, they Casual label wouldn’t effect it. We’re merely saying that casual games are fine, when the time and effort is put into them but when they are along with shovelware that leads casual gamers to call themselves hardcore? Well it’s insulting to ones intelligence.



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Nerd Squadron.

Nerd Squadron, an elite team of cynical mysoginistic social regects here to scour the far reaches of the net to bring you all the gaming news your tiny little meat brains can handle.

July 2009
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