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November 05, 2007

We Were On A Break!

So yeah....
Took a break.
Had some stuff to do.
Back now, so let's get to it, shall we?

These days, when I get home from work in the evenings, my kids and I still play games almost every night, but since there's more homework to be done these days, our weeknight gaming sessions are much shorter than they used to be. Instead of, say, an hour and half playing a delightfully engrossing console game together, we'll usually have just 20-30 minutes before PJ time.

Now I don't know what that says to you, but to me, our new time constraints lead me to one inevitable conclusion regarding the best type of game to play - casual games. That's right, I said it. Casual games. You know 'em. You love 'em. And more and more with each passing day, you've played 'em.

For several years now, my kids and I have been playing casual games on RealArcade, Pogo, MSN Games, Yahoo Games, et al, and most recently, on Xbox Live Arcade.

Since I've been meaning to write about this topic during my little two-month hiatus, I don't have a list of specific games handy, but I'll start with a few that are top of mind, then add more in subsequent posts.

Diner Dash is one of the more successful casual games of recent vintage, and given the copycat nature of many casual games, several clones have popped up in the last couple years, with some being more successful** (Pizza Frenzy, Cake Mania, Teddy Factory) than others (Belle's Beauty Boutique, Big Island Blends).

** in terms of my family's enjoyment

My kids (my daughter especially) like this type of game a lot, because they find it both challenging and enjoyable, which, when they do well, is very rewarding. The one my daughter likes best is Sally's Salon. In making the natural comparison to Belle's Beauty Boutique, it isn't so much that Sally beats Belle in visuals, interface, characters, or even gameplay. Rather, it's the difficulty, stupid.

Belle just sets the bar too high. My daughter is pretty damn good at these games, and getting better every day. Yet invariably, even when she's in the zone, she can't reach the lofty goals set by Belle each time. And in fact, not that I'm God's gift to gaming, but damn it if I can't either. Sally's Salon, on the other hand, is challenging enough, but sets realistic goals that can be met with a combination of concentration and hand-eye coordination.

To the designers of games like these I'd ask them to please keep their audience in mind. As Chris Taylor said in an editorial that I posted about a few months ago, reward players, don't punish them. And while Sally offers the casual gamer the realistic goal of earning a carrot, all Belle gives you is yet more stick.


  • Just because you were away doesn't mean I forgive you for the Damaci reference Dan.

    Glad you aren't dead

    By Blogger Cunzy11, at 2:34 AM  

  • A) Um, methinks you misunderstood what we "agreed to" back in the day. It was about viral videos and bandwagon jumping, not about Katamari Damacy, since I was on that bandwagon from the start. I reserve the right to post about when my kids and I play KD or its sequels any time. So it seems you've wasted all that vigilance over lo, these many months.

    B) I'm also glad I'm not dead. Now that's something we can agree on. :)

    By Blogger Dan, at 6:41 AM  

  • The damage is already done Dan. You've made your bed and Katamari is in it.

    By Blogger Cunzy11, at 4:40 AM  

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