5 Ways Social Media Gave Birth to the "Casual Gamer"

Posted on July 20th 2013

5 Ways Social Media Gave Birth to the "Casual Gamer"

Casual Gamig and Social Media

Video games used to appeal to a much smaller crowd than they do now.  Many games were a test of reflexes, memory, and required a considerable time commitment to finish (due to a lack of save features).  Video games have since evolved.  As time went on, video games developed along two distinct paths.  One of these paths led to a new species of gamer, the “causal gamer”

An article published by the BBC reported that devices like smartphones and tablets contributed to a new breed of gamer.  A growing trend in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States shows that games are appealing to more people.  Many of these people have been classified as “casual gamers”.  A casual gamer is somebody that plays games without investing too heavily into the gaming experience.  Social media and mobile technology are primarily responsible for this new breed.

These are the top 5 ways that social media and mobile tech gave birth to the “casual gamer”.

Short and Sweet:

Casual gamers are called such because they play games when it suits them.  The casual gamers find the experience convenient and easy to break from.  One of the features that made Candy Crush wildly popular among casual gamers is that each round of play rarely takes more than a couple of minutes.  Riding mass transit or waiting on a long line?  Social media games offer a way to pass the time in a way that is much more enjoyable than remaining idle, and it doesn’t require a large investment of time. 

Keep It Simple:

The games found on social media tend to look sophisticated but the mechanics remain simple.  The most popular games are usually rooted in matching, putting things in order, or a point and click interface.  No matter the case, they are popular because they are very intuitive and simple rules make for easy play.  Console games often have in-depth control mechanisms to help immerse the player in the game.  While appealing to those looking to lose themselves for a couple of hours, it can be off putting to others.  Casual gamers appreciate social media games because it takes minimal effort.

Electronic Clay:

Odds are, if the game title ends with ville, city, or world, the player gets the opportunity to create something.  Creating something provides a sense of fulfillment while being able to customize provides a sense of freedom.  Combining these elements has contributed to the success of games like Farmville and Sim City. 

Just One More:

Some game programmers worked out a formula that takes advantage of a compulsive need to be rewarded.  Whether the player is growing a plant or cooking something for their restaurant, gamers want to make sure that the time they waited is rewarded with a finished product.  These games offer options where a player can choose to wait seconds or hours.  The immediate pay off satisfies the impulse for instant gratification but may also require more up keep.  Those hamburgers you made only took 60 seconds to make, but your customers eat them up way too fast.  Suddenly another batch is underway.

Who Says You Can’t Get Something For Nothing?:

Until social media and mobile games came along, video games represented a hefty investment.  Hundreds of dollars are spent on video game consoles and their games just to start playing.  For someone that doesn’t have strong feelings about a video game, the cost will often be prohibitive in exploring gaming as a pass time.  However, the vast majority of social media games are free.  Money is typically optional and rarely necessary when friends play.

As savvy programmers and internet marketing companies continue to make games more appealing, one is left to wonder what the future of games will be.  Will another split in the evolutionary track be encountered or will the two paths eventually meet up?

Photo Credit: Casual Gaming and Social Media/shutterstock

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Christopher Hansen

Chris Hansen is a freelance writer with a Master's in social studies education and Bachelor's in history.  Follow Chris on twitter @ChrisDaleHansen

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