Wii Are the Champions

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Wii Are the Champions

Despite what you may think, casual gamers are not the embodiment of evil. After all, you were once a casual gamer yourself.

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An interesting article. I'd like to add that a lot of the discrimination against "casual" gamers that play something on Wii is from seeing how a lot of the people that were discriminating games and gamers themselves as "nerdy" or introverted are now proudly playing Wii Sports or Wii Fit, now it's so trendy and all. I don't think anyone has a problem with people getting to know the sport the easy way (the only way, perhaps). But I'll ask you this: how many girls that have been playing The Sims since 2000 are now avid gamers? Few to be sure.

I like how elegantly you interweave information, sarcasm and platitudes. Moar. :>

I think it was mentioned on the Listen UP podcast the other week that there is this idea that we, the few, the proud, the hardcore, have this arrogant attitude that if *we* haven't heard of a game then it doesn't matter; that if *we* don't like it then it's not good. The barbarians are at the gates, and bringing their pet simulators and hidden object games with them, and we try to fend them off with our first-person shooters and sandbox games--as if one set is categorically better than the other, and we are the arbiters to judge because... because we're the ones on the insular message boards, screeching to the choir?

Excellent points! Personally, I don't like the Wii for the often repeated reasons (bland design etc), but I love that it's a newer system that previous non-gamers are not intimidated by. I'm glad it's doing so well, and bringing in casual gamers.

Bofus Teefus:
Excellent points! Personally, I don't like the Wii for the often repeated reasons (bland design etc), but I love that it's a newer system that previous non-gamers are not intimidated by. I'm glad it's doing so well, and bringing in casual gamers.

NMH, World of Goo was on the Wii, Warioware, Boom Blox. It has just as much good and bland design as the other two consoles.

gmer412:

Bofus Teefus:
Excellent points! Personally, I don't like the Wii for the often repeated reasons (bland design etc), but I love that it's a newer system that previous non-gamers are not intimidated by. I'm glad it's doing so well, and bringing in casual gamers.

NMH, World of Goo was on the Wii, Warioware, Boom Blox. It has just as much good and bland design as the other two consoles.

I'm open to the idea that my Wii brush may be a bit too broad. I haven't seen much of what has come out on it since Umbrella Chronicles some game not worth mentioning, and was already disenchanted by that point. My main point was that aside from my own enjoyment or lack thereof, I'm glad it's around.

I'm with Shamus on this one. Despite the fact that it's not geared towards upmarket or midmarket gamers, it's very existence is a boon. The fact is a healthy industry will be able to cater to all levels, from the connoisseur to the curious. The Wii manages to do the latter in a way that no 32-button fragfest or horde of slavering fanboys could even hope to accomplish.

Too bad the aside contrasting arrogant jocks with arrogant nerds might never reach the eyes of those who need to read it most.

I would definitely play Bejeweled 6 if it's subtitle was "The Jewelening"

Severus Ape:
I think it was mentioned on the Listen UP podcast the other week that there is this idea that we, the few, the proud, the hardcore, have this arrogant attitude that if *we* haven't heard of a game then it doesn't matter; that if *we* don't like it then it's not good. The barbarians are at the gates, and bringing their pet simulators and hidden object games with them, and we try to fend them off with our first-person shooters and sandbox games--as if one set is categorically better than the other, and we are the arbiters to judge because... because we're the ones on the insular message boards, screeching to the choir?

That is a fantastic point.

My wife & daighters have played all the Harvest moon games, My Sims, My Sims Kingdom, and all the various Animal Crossing titles.

I've seen the guidebooks for those games. It's pretty hard to call them "casual" at this point. They're just... less deadly.

Sorry, but I was never a casual gamer. My first real gaming experience started with Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.

Regardless, I agree and disagree with you on some points. Yes, most gamers of today who recall the "glory" days of NES and SNES are mostly recalling games that could easily be called casual titles. Most platformers of those days were overly simplistic in their gameplay and tended to rely on ridiculous amounts of repetition.

However, I don't know where you get the idea that any of the new wave of casual gamers is going to actually jump to more involvement with gaming. Most of the new casual gamers, (moms, wives, grandpa, etc.) won't ever make that jump to more complex and superb games because they just don't care enough. They view gaming as an occasional diversion, not a worthwhile hobby. The only people I can see as making the jump are kids in the age range of (3-10), which the Wii is very popular with. The kind of gamers that the Wii appeals to will continue to buy shitty shovelware titles because very few of them will make the jump to actually try and find good games.

Does the new wave of casual gamers have shitty taste in games? Sure they do. They don't have the experience necessary to weed out the good from the trash. This also kind of occurs in the "hardcore" market occasionally. It's the entire reason why a mediocre game like Halo became so damn popular.

I don't hate the Wii for pandering for casual gamers, I don't even hate casual gamers. what gets my metaphorical panties in a bunch was that they Wii wasn't advertised as a casual machine (or maybe I didn't read the right articles)at launch and thus I wasted my money on something use maybe for an hour every two months.

Shamus Young:
My wife & daighters have played all the Harvest moon games, My Sims, My Sims Kingdom, and all the various Animal Crossing titles.

I've seen the guidebooks for those games. It's pretty hard to call them "casual" at this point. They're just... less deadly.

Isn't that really the underlying criterion that's being used to judge hardcore and casual? (Well, if it isn't, I'll assume so for this post.) Casual games do not, on the whole, appeal to the hardcore audience--what appeals to them are competitive adolescent male power fantasies. But that's a pretty small niche of games, why is it assumed by the hardcore that casual gamers who want to graduate to "real" games will have to find themselves attracted to those games?

But maintaining these hardcore/casual constructions is making my head hurt. What the hardcore/casual delineation does, in the end, is invalidate what one set of people consider to be fun, based on another set's criteria. Lots of people--two million, last I heard--have fun playing Carnival Games. But we hardcore pipe up and declare it shitty shovelware: "Stop having fun," we say, "that game is no good! Play a real game!" Well, shock and horror, not everybody will agree that CoD4 is the superior game. "I thought I was having fun doing something I personally enjoyed," the erstwhile casual gamer admits. "Now I see what real fun is!"

This seems to be the epiphany so many casual gamers are denying themselves by not further investigating video games (i.e., owning something beyond a Wii/iPhone/browser). Does anybody actually believe that?

Joeshie:
Sorry, but I was never a casual gamer. My first real gaming experience started with Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.

The point he was trying to make was that we all started out with games that are much simpler than they are today.

Doom and Wolfenstein 3D are pretty damn simple (you can't even look up or down) when you compare them to the complexity of todays games (most FPS's have crouching, free look, dual weilding, and cover systems, to point out the more obvious ones), but we don't see them as complex because we grew up playing them, and we introduced to each new concept as it was released (or don't you remember the first game you could duck in?)

I was mildly offended by this article. I know you don't think all gamers are arrogant and cynical twats, but there certainly wasn't any sort of disclaimer in the article. In fact, there were quite a lot of places where your word choices almost made it sound like you WERE addressing the entire gaming community.

You know Shamus, not everyone starts out on casual games. My first real introductions to video gaming were Starcraft and Rainbow Six. I know I'm from a different generation from you, but to me your argument doesn't hold weight. I didn't get introduced to the casual market until after I was a 'hardcore gamer'. Now we have a whole new generation who's first introduction to video gaming is games like Halo. Think of it from their perspective. Halo is their frame of reference that other games are measured against. I do have a love of casual games, but can you see how people from the 'Halo Generation' might consider casual games uninteresting?

OK, as someone who never played an online game apart from the occasional flash one before purchasing "Team Fortress 2" (and for whom even that is a very occasional pleasure) - what is this prejudice of which you speak? Never seen it myself... is it an American thing? Or do I just not run in the correct circles? Most of my friends go to the occasional LAN party, so I don't think I'm completely out of touch with the more "hardcore" gaming element here.

Noggy:
You know Shamus, not everyone starts out on casual games. My first real introductions to video gaming were Starcraft and Rainbow Six. I know I'm from a different generation from you, but to me your argument doesn't hold weight. I didn't get introduced to the casual market until after I was a 'hardcore gamer'. Now we have a whole new generation who's first introduction to video gaming is games like Halo. Think of it from their perspective. Halo is their frame of reference that other games are measured against. I do have a love of casual games, but can you see how people from the 'Halo Generation' might consider casual games uninteresting?

"Uninteresting", yes. "Stupid, and for retards", no. Which was the argument I was addressing. I specifically left out those people - still under 18 for the most part - because they aren't buying their own consoles.

And the idea that, "I leaned to play Halo at eight years old so a 30 year old woman should jump right in and play Killzone" doesn't make a lot of sense to me. It's certainly POSSIBLE, but I think it's a lot more likely she will want something a little more accessible. I think the Wii sales are a result of this.

Severus Ape:

But maintaining these hardcore/casual constructions is making my head hurt. What the hardcore/casual delineation does, in the end, is invalidate what one set of people consider to be fun, based on another set's criteria. Lots of people--two million, last I heard--have fun playing Carnival Games. But we hardcore pipe up and declare it shitty shovelware: "Stop having fun," we say, "that game is no good! Play a real game!" Well, shock and horror, not everybody will agree that CoD4 is the superior game. "I thought I was having fun doing something I personally enjoyed," the erstwhile casual gamer admits. "Now I see what real fun is!"

This seems to be the epiphany so many casual gamers are denying themselves by not further investigating video games (i.e., owning something beyond a Wii/iPhone/browser). Does anybody actually believe that?

I agree that the definition of "casual" is about as vague as it gets. When I think "casual" I think "you can learn how to play in under a minute, and play in 10-minute segments". Bejewleled, Peggle, Wii Sports.

Games like Harvest Moon, Sims, and Animal Crossing are pretty complex and are played for hours at a time. I don't see them as "casual". They're just a really cuddly sort of hardcore.

But it's not like there's a written definition somewhere. "Casual" sometimes means, "Games that are too easy" or "games where you don't shoot people", depending on who you ask.

personally i welcome casual gamer i think its great if the size of the gaming community increases it means there will be more money in developers' pockets therefore bigger budget games resulting in better games. oh and there's always the extra "noobs" to "pwn"

Very good article Shamus, and I have to say I do find the shameless use of Wii in the title witty.
Now the snarling fanboyism aside, I think that the fear that since "casual" games are less expensive that "mainstream" games to make, and have proven to be just as if not more profitable, the market might shift heavily or even entirely towards them might me be legitimate, although I feel such worries are largely unfounded, but I can still understand why some would think that.

I believe that you, Mr. Young, fail to see why casual gaming is looked on so negatively by some of us who you would call hardcore gamers. Or as I like to call myself, Gamer 4 Life.

Gamers are like any other people. We learn, we grow and we evolve. Gaming for a lot of us, needs to evolve with it's audiance. That's not to say there's no merit in games that are simpler or easily picked up, everyone needs a starting point. But let's take Wii Sports for an example. It's cartoony, it's trite, it's overly simplified. It has an extremely low learning curve. But that's not what the bad thing is, we've had games like that in the past and they were fine. But it's when game companies like Nintendo go around telling us that casual games are the wave of the future and brush off the life-long gaming crowd, comparing us to fat, bespectacled cavemen because we grow easily bored of living room bowling.

Gaming was one step away from becoming an acceptable form of media. Not a toy, like many pundits and politicians mistakenley see it. But a form of media! If anything, companies like Nintendo embracing such backwards philosphy are doing more to damage gaming then they are to evolve it. But like I said, there is a place for casual gaming within the market. Gamers need to be informed, though. They need to learn what constitutes a good game and a bad one. If they don't, it'll be casual shovelware from here on out. Because that's what's driving the market right now. Do I really need to remind anyone what happened in 1983?

SatansBestBuddy:

Joeshie:
Sorry, but I was never a casual gamer. My first real gaming experience started with Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.

The point he was trying to make was that we all started out with games that are much simpler than they are today.

Doom and Wolfenstein 3D are pretty damn simple (you can't even look up or down) when you compare them to the complexity of todays games (most FPS's have crouching, free look, dual weilding, and cover systems, to point out the more obvious ones), but we don't see them as complex because we grew up playing them, and we introduced to each new concept as it was released (or don't you remember the first game you could duck in?)

That's not really a fair comparison. It was far more complex than most other games at that time. It's like pointing to Doom and saying "those graphics suck" without even realizing that they were amazing for their time. Complexity, just like graphics, is very dependent upon what time frame in video games we are talking about.

You also don't need successive games to learn multiple concepts in a video game and the assertion that you do is ridiculous. I know people who jumped into Starcraft, a highly complex RTS, without ever having played an RTS before. It can be somewhat daunting, but it just takes some time and patience.

You sir, know nothing of my monocle. It is made of pure awesome and I clean its lens with the flesh of innocents.

I've been playing video games for some 29-30 years, and I've also come to despair of the current farce that is the hardcore versus casual gamer. I'll exemplify my opinion with the statement that chess is one of the most "hardcore" "casual" games you will ever play. I contend that what distinguishes a true hardcore gamer from a true casual gamer is not the particular game or kinds of games they play; instead, it is their approach and level of immersion into the lifestyle of gaming, i.e. their enthusiasm for gaming, that truly distinguishes them. Thus, I think more appropriate labels would be "enthusiast" and "non-enthusiast", with no accounting for experience with the gaming lifestyle and culture(that's handled by labels such as "newbie", "pro", and "expert"). These labels are not intended to distinguish who is the better or more worthy gamer; rather, they are intended to denote the level of commitment a person has to the lifestyle of gaming, balanced against all other life obligations.

In my opinion, it is the so-called "hardcore" gamer crowd, as it has come to be, that is really more responsible for the contraction of innovation and variation in gaming. Basically, if the game is not some variant of Grand Theft Auto, God of War, or a first person shooter about space-marines, featuring a color palette of butt-shit brown, suicidal-depressive gray, or snot-puke green, then it's just not accepted as a viable and fun game. Also, the hardcore crowd doesn't seem to accept a game unless it is designed to completely monopolize one's time and energy(as far as I have seen, game developer's have been accomplishing this not with increased content requiring extended play but, rather, by using time wasting gimmicks in the design of the game). These attitudes seem to uniformly permeate the current "hardcore" crowd, and this crowd seems to have the loudest face in shaping the direction of gaming. Finally, the bigoted, infantile hostility of the so-called hardcore gamer crowd is definitely not conducive to bringing more people into the gaming culture, which would give more legitimacy and acceptance of gaming within the larger social context. Instead, it serves more to isolate gaming and return gaming to the closeted and highly stereotyped state it had during the 90's and early 2000s. This is ironic considering the more social, and even family-oriented, state of gaming during its earlier years(just think back to the days of the big arcades). In short, I contend it is really the current so-called hardcore crowd that is actually bad for gaming.

From what I see, the so-called casual gamers can actually offer the opportunity to breathe new life into the gaming industry by providing a market that is not inbreed to same basic games or kinds of games. Also, these casual gamers, having the opportunity to be more well-rounded in knowledge, experience, and attitude, can bring new ideas into the gaming community and provide new perspectives on gaming with the greater context of life and society.

In my opinion, the so-called hardcore gamer crowd need not fear a sudden deprecation of their favorite game or game genre. If there is a market for a particular game or kind of game, there will be a developer that will make it(just look at game like Rapelay and shudder). It may not make the front cover of all the gaming magazines anymore, but it will still be out there. What the infusion of so-called casual gamers offer is the potential market support for experimental games that attempt to extend into new areas of gameplay outside the space-marine first-person-shooter, GTA clone, God of War clone, or city racer.

Ultimately, games, as we have come to know them, are about having fun, regardless of any labeling. If a person plays games on a regular basis, then that person is a gamer. Period. We each have a different definition of fun that we each decide, and we seek games that satisfy that definition of fun. The distinction of "hardcore" or "casual" is unimportant and undefined in that context. This elitist, separatist attitude dividing the gaming community into so-called hardcore and casual gamers is nothing but a farcical rationalization of self-importance; simply one group stoking its own ego to think itself superior to another for no truly justifiable reason.

geizr:
Finally, the bigoted, infantile hostility of the so-called hardcore gamer crowd is definitely not conducive to bringing more people into the gaming culture, which would give more legitimacy and acceptance of gaming within the larger social context. Instead, it serves more to isolate gaming and return gaming to the closeted and highly stereotyped state it had during the 90's and early 2000s.

Exactly! If you admitted in public 10 years ago to be a gamer (or today, if you are a girl) your chances of getting jaded and smug looks together with the "video games are for kids" routine were pretty high. Then I remembered someone in the office admitting he was playing World of Warcraft - a 40+ year old guy I would never have pegged as a gamer and I hoped we were finally getting beyond the ghettoization of gamers. But alas, obviously I forgot about basic human psychology.

It's pretty funny actually. Some people live a long time in their ghetto and spend every single moment whining about getting a speck of the spotlight for their hobby, to end intolerance of the mainstream towards it, to get new people to join the flock. Yet, when the gates open and the masses begin to take interest in the hobby, they are getting ridiculed by some pretensions elitists who want their ghetto back. Same thing happened with the Linux community a few years back for example and every fan of some tv series before it was popular has surely witnessed the same.

The funny thing is: We always had casual games, I played them 23 years ago already on a monochrome display connected to a IBM XT with whooping 128 kb of ram. I've never seen them disappear for a period of time and I've never seen Sturgeon's Law (90% of every x is crap) stop applying to video games. So I don't get this whole "casual games equal more crappy games" hysteria. We only labeled casual games "casual games" recently to redraw the vanishing ghetto lines in video game country.

And while I'm not a casual gamer, I have one thing to say to the hardcore crowd: I don't give a f*** about you guys and I don't want to be a part of your little elitist circle; especially not by giving up games that are potentially fun but don't conform with your definition of a "good game." It all boils down to this Southpark quote "If you wanna be one of the non-conformists, all you have to do is dress just like us and listen to the same music we do." and that's a game I surly won't play.

Just a quick note about the "they haven't found review sites yet" part: Many review sites have the same "casual gamers are the death of gaming!" attitude that hardcore gamers have and will not review a game like that fairly, making reviews often useless to those who enjoy "casual" games. When the reviews are useless the only way to learn about good games is word of mouth which spreads much slower and probably leads to the slow sales curves for "casual" games (core games go up pretty fast and down just as fast, resulting in a lot of emphasis on first week sales).

As for the reason the shovelware exists, it's just because the Wii sold so much. A lot of that shovelware originally appeared on the PS2 (like the notorious Ninjabread Man) but the US didn't see it because SCEA had draconian game rejection policies that almost reach NES levels and made the US miss out on Earth Defense Force 2. Here in Europe we got all that shovelware (and EDF2) on the PS2 already. It just stands out on the Wii because there's fewer good games with third parties putting anything that has an ounce of effort but into it on the HD consoles.

NPD was surprised to find that only 13% of Wii titles accounted for 80% of the sales, the usual ratio is 20% to 80%. I think that shows that even the new gamers are not just buying games randomly.

Random food for thought:
- Onslaught (simple FPS game) is currently holding the #1 sales spot in all European regions (or at least the ones I have data about) on the Wii's WiiWare download service. I don't have any recent data about North America since the WWW sales lists only go up on Wednesdays (can a US American or a Canadian check the popular games list in their Wii Shop Channel? The countries have dfferent charts so saying where you're checking is important). Then again it can be learned quickly and played in 10-15 minute increments...
- Nintendo considers Animal Crossing a core game so yeah, it's not "casual".
- Ever seen a casual gamer fixate on one game? They may not have general gaming skills but they will often develop very high skill levels in a game they focus on. My sister went for OCD ratings in World of Goo, my father is unbeatable at Tetris, etc.

I agree with everything mr Shamus wrote, except the part about the Wii being a 'low-cost' console. Have you tried to buy one in the UK recently? It's like they're made out of fucking gold! That might just be the retailers squeezing their new 'stupid' customers for all their hard-earned cash. My mum and dad bought 'Lips' (karaoke game) for their Xbox 360 recently, and it set them back 60 ($110 approx). If they had asked me to get it for them (as I am familiar with the culture and therefore know the best places to shop), I could have got it for a 6th of that price.

Oh the Ellis Island immigrant metaphor couldn't have been more poignant.

Shamus, are you at all familiar with Sean Malstrom?

Anaphyis:

geizr:
Finally, the bigoted, infantile hostility of the so-called hardcore gamer crowd is definitely not conducive to bringing more people into the gaming culture, which would give more legitimacy and acceptance of gaming within the larger social context. Instead, it serves more to isolate gaming and return gaming to the closeted and highly stereotyped state it had during the 90's and early 2000s.

Exactly! If you admitted in public 10 years ago to be a gamer (or today, if you are a girl) your chances of getting jaded and smug looks together with the "video games are for kids" routine were pretty high. Then I remembered someone in the office admitting he was playing World of Warcraft - a 40+ year old guy I would never have pegged as a gamer and I hoped we were finally getting beyond the ghettoization of gamers. But alas, obviously I forgot about basic human psychology.

It's pretty funny actually. Some people live a long time in their ghetto and spend every single moment whining about getting a speck of the spotlight for their hobby, to end intolerance of the mainstream towards it, to get new people to join the flock. Yet, when the gates open and the masses begin to take interest in the hobby, they are getting ridiculed by some pretensions elitists who want their ghetto back. Same thing happened with the Linux community a few years back for example and every fan of some tv series before it was popular has surely witnessed the same.

The funny thing is: We always had casual games, I played them 23 years ago already on a monochrome display connected to a IBM XT with whooping 128 kb of ram. I've never seen them disappear for a period of time and I've never seen Sturgeon's Law (90% of every x is crap) stop applying to video games. So I don't get this whole "casual games equal more crappy games" hysteria. We only labeled casual games "casual games" recently to redraw the vanishing ghetto lines in video game country.

And while I'm not a casual gamer, I have one thing to say to the hardcore crowd: I don't give a f*** about you guys and I don't want to be a part of your little elitist circle; especially not by giving up games that are potentially fun but don't conform with your definition of a "good game." It all boils down to this Southpark quote "If you wanna be one of the non-conformists, all you have to do is dress just like us and listen to the same music we do." and that's a game I surly won't play.

I could hug you. I too am not a 'Casual gamer' but i do enjoy casual games just as much as i enjoy the latest GOW (either) or Fallout 3. Why do people always have to try and lump people in little groups?

johnx61:
Gaming was one step away from becoming an acceptable form of media.

No it wasn't. Maybe I missed something but gaming wasn't as much studied and analysed, or respected, back one generation.

johnx61:
If anything, companies like Nintendo embracing such backwards philosphy are doing more to damage gaming then they are to evolve it. But like I said, there is a place for casual gaming within the market. Gamers need to be informed, though. They need to learn what constitutes a good game and a bad one. If they don't, it'll be casual shovelware from here on out. Because that's what's driving the market right now. Do I really need to remind anyone what happened in 1983?

There's a few things wrong with what you said. While I agree that new gamers should be informed of what is good and bad, I think that in the long run, they will find out themselves. They are not stupid retards with no taste. Believe me, shovelwares are not driving the market right now or else your definition of a shovelware is pretty wide sir. I'm pretty sure that if you look at sales charts you won't see a lot of shovelwares in the top 10. What drives the industry are big games with a lot of hype (deserved or undeserved) built around them and sequels of those franchises. 1983 won't happen again because of that. The industry is much stronger than it was back then.

shMerker:
Shamus, are you at all familiar with Sean Malstrom?

Yes. The Birdmen article was a great read. I actually talked about it at one point in the past:

http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=2068

...if that interests you.

Shamus Young:

Noggy:
You know Shamus, not everyone starts out on casual games. My first real introductions to video gaming were Starcraft and Rainbow Six. I know I'm from a different generation from you, but to me your argument doesn't hold weight. I didn't get introduced to the casual market until after I was a 'hardcore gamer'. Now we have a whole new generation who's first introduction to video gaming is games like Halo. Think of it from their perspective. Halo is their frame of reference that other games are measured against. I do have a love of casual games, but can you see how people from the 'Halo Generation' might consider casual games uninteresting?

"Uninteresting", yes. "Stupid, and for retards", no. Which was the argument I was addressing. I specifically left out those people - still under 18 for the most part - because they aren't buying their own consoles.

Not only this, but (exactly like the podcast someone was talking about a few posts up) it's wrong to say that a whole group of gamers are wrong and therefore scum because they don't have the same view of enjoyment as we do. It's a plague that's infected more than the gaming community; I can't tell you how many times I see people arguing on YouTube about who's taste in music is better. You can have the red tricycle, or you can have the blue tricycle, or you can have both, but neither is better than the other.

johnx61:
Gaming was one step away from becoming an acceptable form of media. Not a toy, like many pundits and politicians mistakenley see it. But a form of media! If anything, companies like Nintendo embracing such backwards philosphy are doing more to damage gaming then they are to evolve it.

Horse Hockey.

If you want video games embraced as a form of media, you must first make them mainstream. Only after everyone accepts them as a form of entertainment can they transition into "media". Radio and TV were just gimmicks at the beginning; they only became media after their utility and entertainment value were discovered by the masses and they entered mainstream culture.

I was on the internet back when it was insular and isolated, before the commercialisation of the web and the explosion of internet-based content. I remember when the internet was not viewed as "media", but as a trifle waste of time. It wasn't until everyone started using the internet that it became a viable form of media, a respected place to deliver art, information and entertainment.

Wide-spread acceptance of video games is a vital step in their acceptance as "media". Decrying Nintendo's attempts to do this is counter-productive to your stated goals.

I don't know if I've recommended this before, but I think of it every time you start working on casual gamers. Yohoho Puzzle Pirates by Three Rings Design is (as far as I can tell) one of the few MMORPGs that meets the casual game need fairly well. There's no obligatory time commitments of more than about 20 minutes, the mechanics of actions in the game basically being puzzle games of spacefilling or color matching, essentially no lethality, and (at least the servers that people pay real money for open access instead of being able to accumulate in-game money to do so) the player interactions tend to be polite, helpful, and moderately well-versed in niceties of grammar and spelling.

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