Jesper Juul discusses “casual games” in his article “A Casual Revolution” and he lays out the basic elements of what makes a game casual:
4. Difficulty and punishment
As I was reading the article I was immediately struck by the thought that the iPhone has, in some ways, become the ultimate casual gaming platform. Because of its inherent structure and limits, like battery life, touch interface and so on, it is set up to play these types of games perfectly. The control interface of the touch screen makes the usability very simple and intuitive, and excludes the possibility of any complex “hard-core game” type of controls. Also, since the phone is very limited in battery life, the games must be easily interrupted.
These factors, among others, seem have led the iPhone to be the platform of choice for many casual game developers. Some of the games Juul mentioned in his article such as Bejeweled and Peggle have made their way from their original downloadable forms to iPhone application format, and there has been an explosion of new games created just for the iPhone. I think it will be interesting to see how the market for casual games continues to grow as the iPhone and other similar devices continue to put these games in the spotlight of the mainstream. I wonder if some developers are also interested in subverting the simple characterstics of casual games to convey more interesting ideas, and if we will see “casual counter games for the iPhone” in the near future.