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March 11, 2013 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Press Start

Video Games and why you should care

After hours of painstakingly working on the grounds of your farmland, choosing the right fertiliser, cultivating the right plants and sowing the seeds of progress, you triumphantly hold your first turnip. it’s not a big plant, but it’s progress. you fist pump, exuberant that after all this time you have something to show for your work. And as you look up from Farmville, your classmate looks at you oddly and your lecturer gives you a glare.

Welcome to the world of casual gaming; this is an area of the medium that is slowly on the rise, as social media and the video-game industry have forbidden love-children in the form of tablet gaming, Facebook games and mobile play devices. Ever since Nintendo’s original handheld game and watch devices appeared in 1978, video games have slowly become more socially acceptable, and in 2013, almost anything with a screen can be used to play a video game.

But hang on, says you. “Why should I care about what the video game industry is doing? I’m not interested in Call of Duty, Angry Birds or any of that crap.” The honest fact of the matter is  that you don’t have to be. People are always daunted when they are accosted by one of their gamer friends blurting jargon about some sci-fi or shooter title that they know absolutely nothing about. This is where the new face of casual titles have emerged: to fill the intermediary between people who game regularly and people who dip in and out of the habit. Neopets, Peggle, Doodle Jump: these are all games that live in the same space.

Take the aforementioned Farmville as an example. Everyone played that title at one point or another because it was accessible, both in proximity and mechanics. But what really sucked people in—what really got people talking about it—was simply how it took something so mundane and turned it into an experience that pulled people away from their everyday lives. Suddenly it wasn’t so daunting to talk about the game as an isolated experience. Suddenly all of your friends were playing it, and it transcended from being a ‘game’ to becoming simply a fun experience.

This is the casual game. The game that you can dive into with no prior knowledge and still play for hours upon hours on end. Everyone has played something; even if it is one game of the Sims Social or Snake on the old nokia brick, no game has any less credit than any other. The escapism of a video game is something different to that of a film or a tv show. you are in control, and you are participating in an experience away from the real world, in the same way as if you were playing sport or going out with friends.

Video games are the most accessible they have ever been, and are only going to become more prevalent as the years go on. the best part here is that anyone with a tablet is in on it: it only takes five minutes to get the latest angry birds or bejewelled and you are set. That time you spend on Angry Birds or that lecture you spend on the Sims Social is gaming for the more casual participant, and its satisfaction is as justified as any world of Warcraft Clone. Disappearing from the world for a few minutes can be as easy as pushing a button. Those turnips aren’t going to pick themselves, you know.

Doc Watson



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