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Casual gamer
Casual Gamer

"Casual gamer" is a loosely defined term used to describe a type of video game player whose time or interest in playing games is limited compared with a hardcore gamer. Casual gamers can conceivably consist of any people who show more than a passing interest in video games, therefore it is difficult to categorize them as a group. For this reason, games which attempt to appeal to the casual player tend to strive for simple rules and ease of game play, the goal being to present a pick-up-and-play experience that people from any age group or skill level could enjoy. Casual gaming demographics also vary greatly from those of traditional computer games, as the typical casual gamer is older and more predominantly female, with over 74% of those purchasing casual games being women.

Microsoft's Solitaire, which came free with Microsoft Windows, is widely considered the first successful "casual game", with more than 400 million people having played the game since its inception. Subsequent versions of Windows included Minesweeper, and once Microsoft discovered the popularity of their pack-in solitaire, they expanded on it with FreeCell and Spider Solitaire.

In 1989, Nintendo's Game Boy was released with Tetris as a free pack-in game. Tetris on the Game Boy proved immensely popular, and is credited with making Nintendo's fledgling portable gaming system a success.

Casual games moved online in 1996 with the debut of sites such as Gamesville and Uproar which offered multiplayer, HTML-based games in genres such as bingo, cards, puzzles, and trivia. These games required a constant server connection to keep players in sync, and did not include chat or avatars.

The advent of Flash created a boom in web-based games, while also limiting them to using a single-button mouse, and having no built-in functionality for save states, encouraging designers to create simple games that could be played to completion in one short sitting. One of the most prominent casual games, Bejeweled, started out as a Flash game. Programmers of Flash games have since discovered workarounds to the save-game problem, using methods such as cookies or passwords to bypass the need for a standard saved game.

Casual games received another boost when cell phones with large color displays became the norm because, like Adobe Flash before them, the cell phones had limited capabilities ideally suited to short, simple games.

Despite casual games being around for some years the term has only recently gained popularity with the release of Nintendo's Wii video game console. The simplicity of the Wii controller interface has opened up the gaming market to an untapped demographic who were unwilling to invest the time in learning or intimidated by the typical gamepad input device. This opportunity has seen a number of publishers attempt to design games that appeal to the relatively low skill level of these new players. 2006 saw a growing market of console-based casual games, such as Carnival Games and Wii Play. The precursor to this previously unnamed market trend can be seen in games like Crazy Frog Racer, Shrek: Super Party, Spice World (video game), Buzz!: The Music Quiz and Singstar.

Nintendo games such as mario kart are also considered casual. Casual gamers may listen to the music from these games and wear t-shirts relating to them.

Image from a dress-up game, info from wikipedia, last paragraph by me.


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