Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I have been playing Outpost Kaloki and I'm stuck on level 14.

I bought the game from the Manifesto Games pre-launch site. You know, Manifesto Games, the bold indie games initiative that's going to liberate game developers from serfdom. Manifesto Games is supporting indie games made for hardcore PC gamers, as distinct from the casual games market (the market of 40 year old Bejeweled-playing housewives that seems to have sprung up recently and rapidly).

I have a theory about casual games. It is a flimsy supposition founded on absolutely nothing, but I have always been a reckless theoretician.

I think that casual games are a gateway drug. I have attempted to express this theory with the following game examples and their soft to hard drug equivalents.

Solitaire = Benadryl cough mixture
Classic procrastination tool for computer users. A mildly guilty pleasure, and only mildly pleasurable at that. Based on the card game, so no need to learn the rules.

Pool (ICQ) = bottle of Asti "Spew" Spumante (traditional drink of teenage Australia)
Again, everyone who's not a sad-arse knows the rules of Pool. This is free to play, but multiplayer: you have to go to the effort of starting up a game with a friend on the ICQ network.

Bejeweled = pack of "Holiday" brand cigarettes
Players have had to actually purchase this game online. Oo-er! Inconveniently, they are obliged to learn rules (even if there are only, like, two of them).

...(insert assorted play-through-your-browser casual games here)

Rollercoaster Tycoon = Marijuana
This is where a line is crossed. Players have to physically go into KMart or wherever and purchase this game, then physically install it on their computer from a CDROM. But having the crap bored out of them by games such as Bejeweled might just be the motivating factor these nascent gamers need to take such a big step.

World of Warcraft = Crack (crack cocaine, US) / Smack (heroin, Aus)
Most people get nagged at least twice a day by their friends to "come on, just try it [World of Warcraft]". WoW is popular with noobs because you do everything with a mouse and hide your lack of talent within large raiding parties. Based on quantity rather than quality, WoW is highly addictive hit and is unsuited to recreational use.

... (insert games that normal gamers play)



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