Long Live the Revolution! | Casual Game Revolution

Long Live the Revolution!


Before jumping into the world of game design, I paused to consider two things. First, I thought about what types of games I would like to design.  My answer was family-friendly games. I defined family-friendly as easy enough for a child to learn, yet with enough meaningful decisions to hold an adult’s attention. I also defined family-friendly as played in an hour or less. That time limit was not just in consideration of the shorter attention span of some children, but also because of typical family schedules. Between school, homework, soccer, dance lessons, etc., even sixty unscheduled minutes for a game can be hard to come by for some families.

The second thing I considered was whether there was room in the market for the types of games I wished to create. From my own family’s experiences, I already knew the answer to this second question was "yes." The typical stores where typical families go to buy a new game remain filled with many of the same classic games that you and I grew up with as children. Even the newer games in those typical stores too often are just spin-offs of those classics: Life Twist and Turns, Sorry Sliders, Uno Attack, U-Build Battleship, and more Monopoly variants than can be counted. There would seem to be plenty of room for innovation in family-friendly games. Yet it is quite the challenge for new, unknown games from upstart companies to squeeze past the classics onto store shelves and onto family game tables.

With much of the prime real estate on store shelves firmly occupied by the classic games, many newer casual games cannot make a direct assault and instead must attempt the end-around. For family-friendly games, the end-around often means selling through either specialty toy stores at one end or through specialty game stores at the other end. Casual games that can prove themselves first in one of these venues have a hope to maybe work their way onto shelves next to the classics at more heavily-trafficked stores. 

Yet this indirect path carries a danger of not marketing to a casual game’s greatest strengths. Yes, there are some specialty toy stores and some specialty game stores that are extremely friendly to casual games — as a game maker, I am thankful for such stores. However, beware, as this is not always true. There are many cases where casual games that attempt these end runs find themselves in a no-man’s land between two extremes: considered to be too deep (more game than toy) for the specialty toy store yet at the same time, too light for the specialty game store.

This dilemma is why I am all for the Casual Game Revolution. The Casual Game Revolution acknowledges the broad market potential for innovation in newer casual games without apology to the hobbyists whose tastes favor much deeper games. More importantly, the Casual Game Revolution promotes great new casual games that are worthy alternatives to the classics dominating the game shelves of typical stores shopped by typical families. When our family is looking for a new game, the Casual Game Revolution list of recommended games is the first place I check, and my wife and sons have yet to be disappointed by any game we have found on that list. Long live the Revolution!