Saturday, December 19, 2009

Do casual games need a good story?

Today I'm not going to be writing a review. So, unless you're interested with what I have to say you may not want to check it out.

For this entry I have decided to write about casual games and having a good story. I'm a newbie with the gaming industry, as I am young and have not been playing so many games for a while, so feel free to leave a comment to correct me or what not on what am about to say.


I've been working with a game development company that focuses on making casual games. I was given a project to test a game that they were about to release.

So, I tested it and played it out. It looked like it was practically finished so I didn't have much bugs to comment on. Instead, I started questioning on the grammar and how the flow of the story went.

I felt a little upset when I found out that I didn't sound "tech-y" enough probably because I didn't point out a lot of other things in the game like buggy buttons or something off in the graphics. However, someone came up to me and praised me for my comments.

I found out months later that the reason why I was praised for it because other than the designers of the game, I was the only one who cared about the story. Nobody else bothered to read the dialogue unless it looked off in terms of format or most likely grammar bugs (I was the only one so far who seemed to care, or had no idea at the time that they don't prioritize that). Nobody apparently asked questions on how the flow of the story went. If ever, people would just ask the designer/s "So, is the story good?" or something of the sort.


This surprised me. Is that the definition of a casual gamer? Someone who just plays a game and moves on with their life?

For the past few months this question bothered me, because I thought like movies, games SHOULD have a good story, whether casual or hardcore type of games. Sure, I admit not ALL games have a story and don't need one, but if you're going to put one in you may as well make it decent right? Not to mention a lot of the games lately (usually the triple A kind of games) have them to pull the player in.

Another reason this bothered me was because I hope that one day, I would become a game writer/designer as well. But knowing that putting a REALLY thought-provoking story may end up totally destroyed because the publisher doesn't want it or it will just be a hindrance to the player doesn't make me feel good. While I know money is VERY important to get a game company to get by, I don't like the idea of having to scrap something I worked my brains out and find out that "Uh, this is A CASUAL GAME. They will just get annoyed reading the dialogue." Or something.

This once again made me wonder, what ARE casual games anyway?

So I check out Wikipedia to get a quick recap on this.

A casual game is a video game or online game targeted at or used by a mass audience of casual gamers. Casual games can have any type of gameplay, and fit in any genre. They are typically distinguished by their simple rules and lack of commitment required in contrast to more complex hardcore games.[1] They require no long-term time commitment or special skills to play, and there are comparatively low production and distribution costs for the producer.[2] Casual games typically are played on a personal computer online in web browsers, although they now are starting to become popular on game consoles, too. Casual gaming demographics also vary greatly from those of traditional computer games, as the typical casual gamer is older [3] and more predominantly female,[4] with over 74% of those purchasing casual games being women.[5]

Most casual games have similar basic features:

* Extremely simple gameplay, like a puzzle game that can be played entirely using a one-button mouse or cellphone keypad
* Allowing gameplay in short bursts, during work breaks or, in the case of portable and cell phone games, on public transportation
* The ability to quickly reach a final stage,[6] or continuous play with no need to save the game
* Some variant on a "try before you buy" business model or an advertising-based model

Notice you don't see any "simple story" here. Yup, you don't.

So, to summarize my whole point the question I have is: Can you make a casual game that has a REALLY good story, and will it sell?

So far, the games I've played with good stories are: Phoenix Wright, Ravenhearst, Hotel Dusk, and Drawn. There are probably more but these are the first things that were in my head. These are GOOD games, and some of these have had good ratings.

...I'm starting to realize my blog may not have a point anymore...BUT ANYWAY. If you're a casual gamer, what do you think? Do you care about the story? Do you want a game where you'll have to read through dialogues to understand what you're doing or of the sort?

Or are you totally content with just matching 3 or more object to get to the next level or shooting zombies with plans?

That's all.


  1. I think about the cheating game online and if it has a story. Maybe that could count :P

  2. @penngwen> I don't get it. XD

    You want games that can be cheated? Sorry...I think I didn't get it >_<