The Casual Gamer Myth

Note: I'm wrapping up the last bit of text and maps on a guidebook today and have to get ready to head to BC tomorrow for this weekend's GearJammer race. I'll be back to a more normal posting regimen next week, hopefully with an interesting race report and (finally) some impressions of all the new whiz-bang games releasing on XBLA (like a couple of remakes of some of my favorite NES games). In the meantime, enjoy a link or two...

Bried Dudley of the Seattle Times has an article in today's paper about the "myth" of the casual gamer. He attended a conference for casual games developers in NYC recently and apparently some of the keynote-types are finally realizing that pigeonholing gamers into the simplistic "hardcore" and "casual" camps is really inappropriate, as gamers of all demographics and interests often play games in numerous categories.

It's an interesting article, particularly since the stats do well to dispell the image of who a "gamer" is. I know, I know, it's 2008 and the stereotype of who a gamer is has long been shattered... but there are still those who refuse to believe that there are gamers living outside of their parents basements, let a lone the fact that many gamers are parents. After all, somebody is buying all those Nintendo DS consoles.

There's also word that Microsoft is co-producing a series of short films to be available over Xbox Live. The hope, it seems, is that one or two of them will become a hit that could be spun off into a full-feature movie or television series. The shorts will be available for free and, get this, are being developed by producers of the movie "Scary Movie" and "Meet the Spartans."

This should actually work. I know I just said that stereotyping gamers is passe, but if there is one stereotype I know that could apply to the majority of gamers (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and as if it's really necessary, Exhibit C) it's that they're overly sarcastic and not averse to gore. Spoof horror movies should be the perfect genre for this audience. I was about to blow this announcement off as much ado about nothing, but it seems MS may have actually partnered with just the right people to pull this off. And they definitely got the price right!

The curmudgeon in me says this is just Microsoft's way of creating an excuse for continuing to charge for Xbox Live membership. Personally, I think the $50 I spend on XBL each year is far better spent than half the games I end up buying, so I don't mind. But they are under pressure to remove/reduce the fee and adding "free content" (even if nobody really wants it) is just another value-added bulletpoint they can check off when explaining the need for the subscription fee. And at 12 million subscribers, they aren't about to let that sweet, sweet, money pie slip off the windowsill.

Come to think of it, I bet Sony is kicking themselves for never implementing a subscription service for their own plan. It's far easier to increase/decrease an existing subscription charge than it is to suddenly start charging for something that was always free. Then again, that assumes the Playstation Network is actually worth paying for. The phrase "you get what you pay for" is all too appropriate when it comes to going online with the PS3.

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