Casual Delight

When it comes to this whole recent “social games” vs. “REAL games” tiff, I’ve largely shrugged and gone on my merry way.  For one reason, it seems as though this is just another iteration of the whole “casuals vs. hardcore” argument that is destined to go on until the sheer bloody end of time, and I’ve washed my hands of that lunacy.  Really, it’s just pointless and counterproductive to both sides.

Whether or not Farmville exists has no real bearing on my life.  It does not offend my senses, it does not alter the course of my daily decisions, and — most importantly — it does not stop the type of games that I enjoy from being developed, launched and run.  It is, simply, another option on the gaming menu.  If I was to use a restaurant metaphor, there are fast food-style games, sit-down eateries types of games, and 5-course meals of savory goodness in gaming.  The fact that one exists does not put the others out of business, because they appeal to different people at different times.

Here’s what I don’t understand about this whole struggle: unless you’re a person whose questionable ego is tied up in defending to the death the purity of one type of game/difficulty/gaming platform/gaming style, then chances are that you have a variety of play appetites just like the rest of us.  There are PC MMORPG players among us who also own an Xbox 360, or a Nintendo DS, or — saints preserve us — a TRS-80.  There are hardcore raiders among us who also enjoy a good round of Bejeweled and Yahoo! poker.

For the most part, many of us are grown up enough to realize that we don’t owe a particular gaming platform or type of game or company our undying loyalty, because those things don’t care if we feel that way or not.  They are just there, and we either enjoy them or we ignore them.  It doesn’t do a lot of good to expend copious amounts of nerdrage and flaming to jockey for some imagined superiority over others.

For me, I love PCs and playing MMOs on them.  But I also own a Wii, and play party games and Rock Band with friends and family on occasion.  I enjoy little games on my iPhone while I have breaks here and there.  And sometimes, yes, I want to enjoy a game that I can play right in my browser without a high-end computer or a subscription.  I don’t see what the problem is for having all of these kinds of games.

I’ve seen a lot of folks rail against browser-based MMOs, for instance, mostly on the platform that “all browser-based MMOs are crap” (really? where’s your scientific data?  have you tested them all?) and that “real players play… um… non-browser-based MMOs”.  That’s pretty much the extent of their derision, but it keeps popping up.  And here I am, slapping my forehead and thinking, “These people don’t get it!”  It’s not about making a browser-based MMO that’s better than some other game that’s out there, it’s about making a highly-accessible game that’s fun in some way, for people who don’t always have an awesome computer or who might want to play on a laptop or on a more casual footing.

If someone has honest-to-goodness fun playing Farmville, then the more power to them.  I’m not going to tell them that they’re not enjoying what they clearly are, and I think I’d be a hypocrite to condemn Farmville’s grind while I play some of the grindiest games ever made.  Social games, browser-based games, casual games — these may not be your cup of tea, but guess what?  They are someone’s cup of tea, and those people have a right to enjoy the types of games they like at the level of difficulty and access that they demand just as much as you do.


8 thoughts on “Casual Delight

  1. Slurms April 7, 2010 / 10:20 am

    I’m working on a post about social games, but not so much about where I stand on them as much as what MMO’s can learn from them. Farmville may not be on your list of games to play, but I guarantee it will effect how you play games eventually. But hopefully for the better =)

  2. Sven April 7, 2010 / 12:00 pm

    Aha! That sounds just like something a Farm-villian would say!

    See what i did there?

  3. Thac0 April 7, 2010 / 1:12 pm

    I totally agree, however you have to call into question people who don’t stop going on and on about how wonderful these Facebook games are and how they are the future as well as the detractors. Their claims are just as flawed as the nay sayers.

    Everyone has their opinion and those who don’t stop going on about it one way or anther both have questionable egos.

  4. Frank April 7, 2010 / 1:41 pm

    I posted about this a couple days ago too, during the very bitter Valve vs. Zynga semi-finals over at the Escapist’s annual developer tourny. Really, the issue is the idea of encroachment – that one or the other will kill their opponent in Mortal Kombat of some sort.

    Casual and hardcore games are made of sterner stuff. Just because casual games are more in the consciousness of people due to ease of access through Facebook doesn’t mean businesses are going to stop making hardcore or traditional games. I see all this as a natural evolution of the industry and ways to be financially successful in it. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, so they say.

  5. Dblade April 7, 2010 / 2:09 pm

    I think the problem is that people keep pushing social games as the wave of the future. I honestly never heard of farmville until recently, and it didn’t bother me. But the industry is a very fad-based thing, and the more people talk, the more the fad grows.

    I don’t think it will last, but look at rockband and the wii-a tremendous amount of cash-in and copycat games that have choked out floor space and compete with the games you and I do like to play. Wii especially, it’s so flooded with minigame collections that good games on it starve and publishers stop making them.

    Gaming is interrelated, and the fad of the moment does affect even people who don’t play other games.

  6. We Fly Spitfires April 7, 2010 / 5:39 pm

    Very well said! Couldn’t agree more! 🙂

  7. Rog April 8, 2010 / 3:08 am

    The reason so many in the industry are upset about Farmville and its trends is specifically because they ~do~ feel that its style of success interferes with the development of other games.

    It’s catering to the corporate demeanour isn’t it? I mean that’s my only beef, that the bigwigs in this industry push their weight around and they just love love love to maximize profit with the least amount of effort / cost.

    I don’t believe that “game addiction” is a true addiction, but there are so many suits just salivating at the prospect.

    Otherwise, I’d agree. It doesn’t affect my gamer circle much, not directly. It’s the indirect parts that are worrysome, but on that I’d say Farmville is just one annoyance among many.

    The greater concern to me is how much the bigger publishers are draining independants dry. Sure, there are success stories, but things like the app stores scare me a helluva lot more than encourage me.

  8. Wilhelm2451 April 9, 2010 / 11:20 am

    If people were running out to attack FarmVille for no reason other than that FarmVille exists, I’d wonder what was going on.

    But there is more context to this than you mention in your post. The great message from GDC this year, which was put more sanely by some than others, was Consoles/MMOs/PC games are all dinosaurs, they’re dead and if you’re working on them you’re a fool because Facebook casual games are where the money is! Nobody will ever invest in anything else ever again.

    And you’ll think I’m exaggerating with that, but if you dig around, you can find people saying all of those things literally and with a straight face.

    So with that in mind, some of the “screw you FarmVille” attitude is a bit understandable, especially since people from Zynga were high on the list of those trumpeting this “new” wave in gaming. Nobody likes to be told their favorite gaming genre is dead by somebody who makes a game you can quite quickly grow to hate.

    Is any of this logical? No. There is a message like this every year out of GDC. Not always as poorly framed, but we’ve heard that the future was in subscription MMOs, free to play MMOs, casual games ala PopCap, iPhone games, and so on, and you were ALWAYS a fool if you weren’t jumping on those bandwagons.

    That sort of thing does tend to frame a lot of the discussions following these events, and pointing at one side and asking why they are up in arms without trying to see things from their point of view only eggs on this sort of thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s