Are Casual Gamers All That Positive?

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In the chapter of the book Casual Revolution entitled “What is Casual?”, Jesper Juul defines and refutes some commonly held stereotypes about casual gamers. There’s these ideas that casual gamers have low game knowledge, low time investment, and a preference for ease over anything challenging, that Juul rebuts, revealing a much more diverse group of people playing casual games. The one stereotype he does not attempt to disprove, however, is concerning what he calls ‘fiction’.

According to Juul, fiction stands on a scale from positive to negative, marking more or less the ‘vibe’ of a game. Is it a brightly colored restaurant simulator, or a gritty first-person shooter? The stereotype is that casual gamers prefer a more positive fiction, and it’s a stereotype he doesn’t fight anywhere in the chapter. It follows logically to me, I suppose, that there is more intrigue to violence and darker themes in a more complex game, the type that lends itself towards comparatively more hardcore gamers. Many people who aren’t devoted to a narrative may not want to see those things. I myself gravitate towards cutesy, lighthearted mobile games. However, even with my status as not at all qualified to speak on these things, I’d argue there is a greater range in fiction preference among casual gamers than Juul gives them credit for. What of tower defense games? They’re maybe not gritty, certainly not the most graphic video games can be, but they undeniably contain violence and center around conflict. Still, I’d imagine they broadly qualify as fairly casual games. Just because makers of casual games tend towards a very positive fiction doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be any market for more negative ones. Juul presents a lot of gray area when it comes to defining games and players as either ‘casual’ or ‘hardcore’, but there’s even more gray area than he takes note of.

Prompt: Write a 250 word blog post based on Jesper Juul’s “What is Casual?” that responds to Juul’s conclusions about fiction preference in casual gamers

Title: Casual Gamers and the Power of Fiction: A Response to Jesper Juul

Casual gaming has become a prominent and diverse segment of the video game industry, drawing in players from all walks of life. Jesper Juul’s insightful exploration in “What is Casual?” delves into the characteristics and preferences of casual gamers, and one intriguing aspect he touches upon is the role of fiction in these players’ gaming experiences.

Juul suggests that casual gamers often gravitate towards games with straightforward and accessible fiction. They prefer games with a lighter narrative that doesn’t require deep immersion or extensive commitment. This notion aligns with the idea that casual gamers may have limited time or a desire for simpler, less demanding storytelling in their games.

However, it’s essential to recognize that the term “casual gamer” encompasses a broad spectrum of individuals. Some casual gamers may indeed prefer games with simple narratives, while others may enjoy more complex or emotionally engaging stories. This diversity highlights the need for a nuanced understanding of casual gamers’ preferences.

One key takeaway from Juul’s exploration is that game developers should strive to provide options that cater to this diverse audience. Casual gamers should not be pigeonholed into a single category. By offering a range of fiction styles, developers can better engage casual gamers, ensuring they find the narrative experiences that resonate with their individual tastes and preferences.

In conclusion, while Juul’s observations about fiction preferences in casual gaming provide valuable insights, it’s essential to recognize that the casual gaming audience is far from monolithic. The power of fiction in casual games lies in its ability to be flexible and adaptable, offering a variety of narrative experiences that can cater to the diverse interests and backgrounds of casual gamers. Ultimately, understanding and accommodating this diversity can lead to more inclusive and appealing gaming experiences for everyone.

2 thoughts on “Are Casual Gamers All That Positive?

  1. I’m glad you’ve waded into the question of fiction, Catherine, and tower defense games are an interesting place to consider. I think something like Plants vs Zombies is a good example of a game in this genre that makes the fiction less harsh because it is so goofy. But it’s also worth considering that once a casual gamer gets into a particular game, they may simply gravitate toward similar games. Genre, then, becomes an important aspect for casual gamers, another point that Juul doesn’t really explore.

  2. I agree that fiction didn’t really seem to allow for the diversity of casual gamers, but maybe that’s just a side effect of trying to define a group of people. The same thing came up with my analysis of board games in my blog; a board game might be lighthearted and not violent, but it isn’t necessarily hardcore and vice versa.

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