Keeping It Casual

Keeping It Casual

I have a lit-up, pimped-out, overclocked rig that's worth more and goes faster than my car. I am disgusted by the weakness of people who complain that standard PC keyboards are unintuitive as game controllers. I beat games like I beat children and small animals: enthusiastically and often.

And I'm looking at the PopCap website.


Rock Paper Shotgun did a great interview with Jason Kapalka, co-founder of PopCap, and they are very aware of the addiction potential of their games. Here's a choice snippet:

RPS - To what extent do you work addiction theory into your games? Are there known methods and tweaks to keep people playing, or does it come organically from making a fun game?

JK - There are some tricks and shortcuts we've learned ... like, always have sound cues of rising pitch associated with combos, and never award points in increments of less than 10. These are often non-intuitive little things that just work with gamer psychology for some reason. But beyond a few things like that, it becomes a black art rather than a science. Everyone has theories about what makes a game fun, or can revisit a successful game in retrospect and analyze it, but if it were really that simple to understand the elements of what makes a great game, everyone would be cranking them out like popcorn, and that just isn't the case. It comes down to a lot of trial and error, abandoned prototypes, and trying different things until you find something that's fun.

Ah, that takes me back to my first million-point combo in Peggle...

Are casual games the first step towards joybooths?

Whenever I find myself playing a casual game for too long, I start to think, wow, I could be playing such a better game right now, and then I do :) like Bioshock.

Btw, There is something wrong with you... you liked Titans Quest? What?

Google has failed me. What's a "joybooth?"

The interview with Kapalka is interesting. Aside from the obvious addictive elements, the range of demographic appeal of PopCap games is utterly mind-blowing. My aforementioned mom loves these things, but a 19-year-old friend who I guess you'd call a mainstream console gamer - not a game nerd by any stretch - is absolutely hooked on Zuma on his mobile. And we all know about that Peggle thing...

Google has failed me. What's a "joybooth?"

I think he's referencing the Venture Brothers episode where Dr. Venture makes a machine that fulfills personal fantasies. The Doc calls it a joy booth, Brock goes inside, hilarity ensues.


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