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Understanding casual games

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I explain games and casual games throughout the digital games history

Published in: Design

Understanding casual games

  1. 1. From outer space to your farm Understanding digital games
  2. 2. Level 1 The beginning
  3. 3. Like many new technologies, digital gaming started as something out of this world.
  4. 4. 1962 1971 1971 Spacewar! 1st gen digital game Computer space 1st gen arcade game Magnavox odyssey 1st gen home console The first digital games
  5. 5. In 1972 the spaceship has landed In a local bar in Sunnyvale, California.
  6. 6. Atari Former publisher of pinball machines pivoted to be a developer and manufacturer of commercially successful arcade games.
  7. 7. But what IS a game, really? A game has many definitions and structures. In its base it is a system of rules, objectives and a tangible outcome.
  8. 8. Here’s one of my favorite definitions: “ A game is a series of meaningful choices” S. Meier
  9. 9. Why games are fun? We love... ● Competition ● Self improvement ● Feeling of progression ● Pattern recognition ● Sense of autonomy ● Story/mystery ● Reward system (random/linear) ● Positive reinforcements ● Flow - Immersion ● Social interaction ● To feel smart ● What else?
  10. 10. Sense of autonomy, AKA meaningful choices Are the heart of every game
  11. 11. What are the differences between the two?
  12. 12. ● Skill based ● Gives sense of autonomy ● Multiplayer ● Infinite variability ● Community ● Sometimes a skill game (depends on the machine) ● Less sense of autonomy ● Single player ● Finite variabilty
  13. 13. Game design principles for arcades ● Super intuitive controls and objectives ● Endless, race to highscore gameplay ● Fairly hard ● Skill based games
  14. 14. The game design IS the business model Insert coin Play (1-5 min approx.) Die Continue? Yes Get your initials on the leaderboard. (if you were awesome) Next player No
  15. 15. Why “Continue?” is such an amazing selling point? Loss aversion. People hate losing stuff they already “own” the morse so when invested time and emotion into.
  16. 16. The golden era of arcades 1972-1985 Space invaders 1978 Pac Man 1980 Street fighter II 1991 Donkey kong 1980 Asteroids 1981 10,000,000,000+ 8,000,000,000+ 6,500,000,000+ 1,120,000,000+ 500,000,000+ Link to arcade commercial
  17. 17. Who plays arcade games? Back in the day the majority were young, competitive males. But there were attempts to reach the other gender as well..
  18. 18. Pac-Man was designed with girls in mind ● A game about an eating disorder, Pac-Man tries to avoid the ghosts who haunt him for it. ● No shootings/killings involved. ● The settings (maze) appeals to both genders. ● This is actually a CASUAL game.
  19. 19. Pacman is the most profitable arcade of all times * A note to game designers: Girls MATTER!
  20. 20. Arcade traction started to decline in 1985 As home entertainment consoles took over
  21. 21. Level 2 Game design evolves
  22. 22. Home consoles NES 3rd gen console that revived the dying US market Link to arcade commercial 1985
  23. 23. In terms of game design, what are the differences between the two?
  24. 24. ● Short gameplay ● No save games ● Highscore as main objective ● Monetization based on small transactions ● Long gameplay ● Save game feature ● Many different objectives ● Monetization based on one big transaction
  25. 25. Game design rule - the feedback loop Repeat Kill monsters Get treasure Buy weapons
  26. 26. Feedback loop AKA - the addiction loop Dopamine Love!
  27. 27. Game design rule - the feedback loop Dopamine strikes when anticipating to be rewarded Random sized loot (variable reward) - causes addiction
  28. 28. Don’t you LOVE it when that happens? (But more on candy crush love later on…)
  29. 29. As games started to get bigger They appealed to what seems to be a niche gamer market Until….
  30. 30. Enter the PC. Not a gaming platform.. yet.
  31. 31. Genres evolve on PC
  32. 32. Casual games first introduced on PC 1990 2001 2002 Bejewled Downloaded over 150M times The sims Best selling PC game in all times Solitaire The most popular PC game
  33. 33. O, and the internet... 2009 2004 Social game Biggest social game, more than 11M DAU at peak. FTP MMORPG Most subscribed game with 7M paying customers.
  34. 34. It’s always a “non gaming” apparatus to expand the gaming circles to “non-gamers”
  35. 35. Actually, tablets brought in a new audience And now digi gamers officially span from toddlers to elders
  36. 36. Level 3 But what are casual games anyway?
  37. 37. What do you see here?
  38. 38. We love spotting patterns. We also love to match things, sort things, put things in order.
  39. 39. Casual games take those daily brain activities And use them as the main game mechanic Match things Sort things Put things in order
  40. 40. This is why candies, fruits, gems and animals are so commonly used. They offer a natural “matching” system
  41. 41. Casual games controls also need to come naturally
  42. 42. Not Natural natural
  43. 43. And remember this? Repeat Kill monsters Get treasure Buy weapons
  44. 44. Casual games need a smaller, condensed feedback loop Identify pattern Decide on which to act act Watch reaction and get reward
  45. 45. Game design rules for casual games ● Use elements from real life (unlike space stuff) ● Super intuitive gameplay ● Design for small bursts of play ● Designed for totally different play environments ● Condensed feedback loop
  46. 46. Level 4 Mobile and the free to play market
  47. 47. Shifting to mobile (2009) Fruit ninja New mechanics for touch screens Draw something First true mobile social success Angry birds Bringing puzzles to the people!
  48. 48. App Stores 2014 Candy crush saga Top grossing, monetization machine Clash of clans Top grossing, dumbed down RTS game Flappy bird The app store phenomena of 2014
  49. 49. Free to p(l)ay market If things are offered for free, why would anyone pay? Well...
  50. 50. Most do not pay. Others pay a little. And a small minority pays A LOT. We call them whales.
  51. 51. Free to play - fishing for whales ● Game design emphasizes micro transactions ● Game design heavily shaped by data ● Strong use of “loss aversion” ● strong use of impulsive buy (usually to rush processes up) ● Finding the exact amount of player frustration
  52. 52. Some say that free to play killed the gaming industry. I think it brought gaming to everyone.
  53. 53. From Arcade venues to our pocket, everybody is a gamer.
  54. 54. Gaming is… Everywhere “Everything in the future online is going to look like a multiplayer game” - Eric Schmidt, Google chairman Donkey kong commercial Xbox 1 commercial
  55. 55. This deck was brought to you by Dori Adar, Creative director at TabTale, gamer, talker, midnight toker. Doriadar@gmail.com

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