Interviews With Ex-Hardcore Gamers... And New Casual Ones

Excerpts from A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games And Their Players by Jesper Juul.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

[Note from Kotaku: The following excerpts are from a series of interviews published in A Casual Revolution, a new book that chronicles and studies modern styles of gaming, challenging the notions of "casual" and "hardcore", and examining how and why gamers play what they play]

Type 2: These are the stories of players who used to intensely play video games and now have switched to more casual video games.

Survey response from a 40-year-old female player.

Q: Have your game-playing habits changed over the years?

A: I used to only play RPGs like Guild Wars but you can start and stop casual games easier during the day.

Survey response from a 42-year-old female player.

Q: Have your game-playing habits changed over the years?

A: Started with text-only adventure games, moved toward RPG video-games & simulations, most recently I stick with time management-type casual games.

Survey response from a 29-year-old female player.

Q: Have your game-playing habits changed over the years?

A: I no longer play shoot ‘em ups or beat ‘em ups or two-player games with my sister on the Amiga. I’ve less patience with poor games and am less inclined to persevere. My shelf’s full of games I’ve bought then never even bothered to play, or those I’ve only played for an hour then given up. At least with casual games the free trial makes that less likely. I’ve always played casual games, even before they were called that though (Tetris, pinball, card games, Nuclear War, Rockstar Ate My Hamster, they were all casual) and I’ve always played traditional games too.

Survey response from a 38-year-old male player.

Q: Have your game-playing habits changed over the years?

A: As I grew up and had more obligations my time and patience became limited towards investing in epic games. Though I still love the idea of playing epics like Civilization or Warlords or SimCity, the time required is just more than I can provide. Every so often I try to get a game going only to be pulled off it by various obligations and [I find]it difficult to return.

Survey response from a 30-year-old female player.

Q: Have your game-playing habits changed over the years?

A: Having a baby really changed my game playing habits. When she needs my attention the game must stop. This is why World of Warcraft has been hard to play as of late.

Survey response from a 43-year-old female player.

Q: Have your game-playing habits changed over the years?

A: I’ve been an active computer gamer since 1989. I’ve always loved the adventure games. But as I’ve grown older, got married, had kids, I find it hard to concentrate too long and get too involved in an adventure game, since the time that I spend on the computer is so inconsistent. A casual game is now perfect for me … it helps me to relax and ‘‘stimulate the grey matter.” I love them!

Players Discovering Casual Games
Type 3: These are stories of players who have discovered video games through casual games.

Phone interview with the father in a Wii-playing family, the parents in their early 30s with two twin girls aged three and a half.

Q: You compared the Wii to Parcheesi?

A: We don’t play Parcheesi [Sorry!/Ludo]with the kids, because it is too complicated for them-they are only three and a half years old. With the Wii, on the other hand, the way that you do something and see a reaction on the screen, the way you tilt the controller and see something on the screen-that is something different. You cannot give them PlayStation controllers; those are a little too advanced with too many buttons. With the Wii, we can see on the kids that it just works for them, they can use that immediately. We play the Wii with friends, at social events. We have also played it with the in-laws who are both around sixty. They play it eagerly, and they ask if we shouldn’t play the game one more time.

Q: Do you personally play other computer or video games?

A: Ah yes. I have started playing Call of Duty, and I used to play Counter-Strike a lot. I am into first-person shooters, we have a clan, and so on. But nothing related to the Wii.

Q: You haven’t tried converting your wife or family to computer/video games?

A: Not to traditional computer games. I know they don’t like those, so it hasn’t come up. We play the Settlers board game with the in-laws. The computer is not so good for something like that where it becomes strategic and you play for several hours. When I was a child, we played Parcheesi and chess, or perhaps Pong. That could be played with the family.

Q: What Wii games do you play?

A: Mostly Wii Sports and Wii Fit. We have bought some others, but we don’t play them. We just held a summer barbecue with eighteen guests. Everybody was playing the hula hoop on Wii Fit. We bring out the Wii at social gatherings and when friends come over.

Phone interview with a player of downloadable casual games in her 50s.

Q: Have you played board games or card games?

A: Lots. Checkers, Nine Men’s Morris, and lots of card games.

Q: And Solitaire games?

A: Yes. Playing casual games actually feels similar to playing Solitaire. You are totally relaxed, you cannot concentrate on anything else, but at the same time you can be thinking about other things in the back of your mind. I often play when I face a difficult problem. In my company I face various tasks that are hard to get started with. I already have the knowledge I need, so I play a game rather than go read a lot of books. Then the solutions come. It is like the game brings out a lot of tacit knowledge, as if the problem solving in the game maintains that skill, and that is a skill I need.

Q: How were you introduced to casual games?

A: My 75-year-old friend introduced me to Zuma and Collapse, the predecessor to Zuma. It was after I had handed in my PhD thesis, so my brain was completely offline. Then she invited me over for dinner and told me she had something interesting to show me. She also had a computer Mahjong game that was very beautiful and exciting, I really liked that. Later I have begun to buy them myself, because they are not that expensive.

Q: How do you feel about difficult games? Is it a problem to be stuck on a level?

A: Level twelve of Zuma is really fast. I think I gave up after fifty attempts. Zuma has a game mode called Gauntlet where you can practice different levels, so I switched to that and practised becoming faster. That helped, but I was still too slow. It was important for me to finish the game-I believe that is important in life, to finish things, no matter what. I like competing with myself, to see development and progress. ‘‘No matter what,” is really the point for me. I googled for solutions and found a site with a cheat code to make Zuma slower. It worked!!! For me, that was even more satisfying that beating the game on its own terms: to modify the game to fit my own limitations and capacities.

Survey response from a 52-year-old female player.

Q: Have your game-playing habits changed over the years?

A: Until I discovered casual games on the computer I used to spend a lot of time with traditional crossword puzzle books and other puzzle-based paper-based activities.

Survey response from a 49-year-old female player.

Q: Have your game-playing habits changed over the years?

A: I play more now that they have made games to suit women. Not the fighting, killing, kicking … etc. games.

Survey response from a 29-year-old female player.

Q: Have your game-playing habits changed over the years?

A: I only discovered ‘casual games’ about a year and a half ago. Of all things, my mum had bought Insaniquarium and a puzzle type one (I want to say Penguin Puzzle, but I don’t remember the name for sure) for my son for Christmas. Regardless, after the entire family got hooked on Insaniquarium, I ended up checking out the website of the company that put it out, and things went from there. Before ‘casual games’ entered the house, I’d gotten to the point where I mostly played MMORPGs-EverQuest, at the time, though I usually ended up giving new ones a try as they came out. That, and Sims 2. But like I said above, ‘normal’ computer games don’t come out all that often. At least, not ones I was interested in. With the whole new world of casual games that can be downloaded and tried in just a few minutes, it let me have a much wider variety of games to play, so that I now have something to play no matter what my mood is and what I want to do.

For more on A Casual Revolution, go to the book’s official site or purchase it here.


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