Several months ago I found the delightful pleasure of the casual games. These games are video games downloaded onto a computer, they are easy to play, have various genres (Match 3, Hidden Objects, Adventure etc) and can be downloaded to mobile phones and/or game consoles. In most cases you can download the game, trial it for an hour and if you like, buy it. Normal games cost A$7.24 and special edition games, with additional gameplay can cost up to $14.24 (see http://www.bigfish.com).
What is nice about these games is that they are easy to play (and tutorials are always included) you can play and leave it anywhere to go do other things and often you get the choice of the difficulty level providing more or less challenge. Good games can have between 4 to 6 hours of fun finding things, following a storyline and playing mini games. Or you can play solitaire games with various themes and some even have an adventure background – all for the cost of a coffee and cake.
They are a bit addictive. Most of the games I play are Hidden Object/Adventure games and I’ve become fussy about which games I choose. There are even dedicated sites on which games are reviewed so you can check them out before you download and/or buy (see http://www.gamezebo.com). I will admit to being a reviewer. You can also download walkthrough’s – a detailed ‘how to play’ in case you get lost or stuck in a game.
So with all that as an explanation, it is worth noting that Wikipedia says nearly 200 million people worldwide play casual games. If that’s the case, I would think the developers, in many cases Russian or Chinese, would get a bit more adventurous with their stories because I’m sure with such a huge and lucrative market, any good games with a difference will make big bucks. With the exception of a few fairy stories, most are dark and dank using as backdrop rundown mental hospitals, old towns that have long been abandoned or places cursed by witches/warlocks etc etc. Even if you are a detective looking for a murderer you are likely to be Hercule P or similar well known detectives, including Sherlock H.
I’m sure there are more interesting story lines out there. I know many people whose short stories would make interesting as a backdrops for such games. I’d love to see one based in a spaceship or on an alien planet. I will keep my fingers crossed and hope that the developers find inspiration elsewhere soon because, despite the fun of these games, doing the same thing over and over does become boring.
I was going to say that if writers did the same thing over and over they would soon lose their readership but I thought about that and changed my mind. Many excellent authors, and some not so excellent, run with varying takes on the same theme and often these are murder mysteries or action thrillers. So there is a market out there for books with similar stories and currently anything paranormal is all the rage. So, in the same vein, I guess the casual game developers think they are on a good thing and it doesn’t take all that much hard work to continue with a murder/save the world from a curse type of theme.
Still, I wish for more variation. I read widely, including history (currently on the Vietnam war), science fiction (currently Pandora’s Star by Peter F Hamilton), thriller romances by Linda Howard, and finally getting around to reading Wuthering Heights. There have to be some great stories in there to base casual games on you would think. I will keep my fingers crossed or maybe buy more books instead of games.