Videogames in Critical Contexts HNRS 353-002 (Spring 2012)


One-Play Stand?

Posted by cjon2

After having a long class discussion on the use of casual games and its particular definition, reading Bogost's Throwaways chapter may have finally put a firm grasp on what we had been exploring, yet at the same time it helped me realize that the lines between these definitions in reality tend to be very blurred. He does this by offering a new perspective on casual games: the one-play stand. These are games, also called "Newsgames," that have enough content to be thought-provoking, but are fleeting and temporal in nature. You don't return to them as you do with other games, but rather you linger on them for a matter of minutes and then throw them away, much as you would with a newspaper. This kind of definition gives a new angle into the world of casual gaming and I appreciated it for the mere fact that he accepts the fact that casual is indeed such a widely sweeping word that there really is no way of pinpointing down what it includes and does not include.  For example, he points out that casual games ("as in Friday") often cause the players to return to them over and over again, despite the fact that the level of gameplay and time commitment in the moment is minimal. Others, given their price, appear to be relatively casual in the sense that they are "easy to learn, difficult to master." The time commitment on these types of "casual games" ends up being astronomical and costly. It is when we see stories like these that we begin to wonder when games that are "casual" really do fall under the definition. They're meant to be quick, easy, and made for people who don't particularly care, yet still they end up using up more time and energy than they realize. Newsgames, such as Airport Security, give a fresh perspective on the definition on casual games ("as in sex"), and how we can often enjoy the moment, then forget it.