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February 19, 2008

GDC 2008 – Keeping Things Casual

Posted: 03:52 PM ET

Of the many events and conferences within this year's GDC, I spent a good part of yesterday in the "Casual Games Summit."Diner Dash 2

From the runaway success of "Guitar Hero" to the Nintendo Wii's successes with the elderly, even if you don't consider yourself a "gamer," you can't ignore the growing influence of so-called "casual" games.

During a keynote speech by John Welch of PlayFirst, one of the leading publishers of casual games, the mood was inspirational, with Welch calling on the industry to continue to create innovative content and help raise the profile of games to become "first-tier" entertainment.

Citing a diversity in the types of content that people digest on a daily basis, whether from television, movies, music or books, Welch insisted that games "reflect that diversity," by offering people a wider range of ways to play.

At the beginning of his speech, Welch noted that there was no concise definition for what makes a casual game. Pointing to the number of ways people play, whether it's on their cell-phone, through an online application such as Facebook or on their PC, Welch concluded that the "broadened definition means more opportunity" for developers and publishers alike.

But that enthusiasm was tempered with a warning ... that the only way to make good on that opportunity is to remain innovative. Instead of simply creating clones of previously successful titles such as "Bejeweled" or "Diner Dash," producers and developers need to continue to lead the way and innovate.

Welch believes that if developers of so-called "casual" titles continue to find new ways to engage their audience as well as attract new players, that the notion of "casual" games will eventually disappear... giving way for them to transition from the exception to the norm.

– Matt West, CNN Entertainment Producer

Filed under: Games • Gaming

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gballunlimited   February 20th, 2008 8:10 am ET

Forget casual gaming. *yawn* hardcore gaming is where the money is and where the true pioneers and first adopter of "innovative" gaming exist.
Theres a lot of talk about casual gaming and casual gamers, but its the hardcore game publishers and hardcore gamers that are walking the walk.

Patrick, UAlbany   February 27th, 2008 12:20 pm ET

gballunlimited: I don't think you should be so fast to discredit what's called "casual gaming". Just because bejeweled does not sport the latest in 3d graphics or pushes the limits of adult content, does not take away from its following of tens of thousands of players. If anything, the lack of casual games on the newer consoles can be seen as a barrier of adoption. I believe this is in part why the Wii has done so well.

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