I recently joined the cast of casual crazies in Kiev for the Casuality Europe (waaaay) East Conference. Kiev, in case you’re wondering, is one of the most interesting event locations I’ve been invited to. And while I’m sure that 50% of the reason for inviting me was for my charm and good looks, the other half must have had something to do with the interesting panel I moderated on the subject of the Casual Games Value Chain.



So nice. I like. High Five!



Which got me thinking: what am I thankful for this year that I could write about on Gamezebo? Family, friends, health, New York are all high on my list, but this has been a very interesting year in casual gaming as well – so I thought it would be great to make a little Top Ten list and share it with you all.




  • Mystery Case Files – the return of the hidden pictures games. Though I never loved those Highlights as a kid, I find it comforting that today’s casual game players can still enjoy being frustrated searching for a small troll or banana in a beach setting without feeling "funny".



  • The establishment of Casuality as a serious place for the casual games industry to get together and get connected. Now we don’t need to meet under a freeway overpass anymore in the dead of night to discuss our plans for taking over the world. All we have to do is hit Seattle, Amsterdam or Kiev!



  • Phlinx, as good as a sample sale, but in ball-shooting form. Thanks go to Pogo for making Zuma fun again!



  • The industry’s mavens and leaders for keeping me on my toes. I make grand pronouncements more often than the average bear, and it’s nice that folks don’t simply accept my pablum without critical thought.



  • The epic battle between Real, Oberon and BigFish, finally proving to everyone in the industry that we can’t all just get along. More importantly, the honesty of those involved has been most refreshing – like Fresca on a Summer’s Day. And, if you can cite the error (and originator) of my analogy, drop me a line – I want to hear from you!



  • BigFish Games for their attempt at creating a taxonomy of casual game genres that goes beyond just action, puzzle and Mahjong. Hint to the IGDA: this is a great place for you to get involved.



  • The early and vociferous support for the Zeebies – my latest project. In case you don’t know, we’re bringing a consumer-driven awards program to the casual games industry with the support of major developers and associations. Check back here at GameZebo in January for your chance to participate and have your say in who will win these coveted and cute awards! Ultimately, you will decide.



  • Margaret Wallace and Jessica Tams for really owning the significance of their roles in the casual games industry. Yes, they’re powerful women, but that’s neither the beginning nor the end of their story. Don’t know them? You should.



  • Habbo Hotel, MapleStory and Cafe.com (disclaimer: it’s my employer’s newest product) for doing cool, new and interesting things with community games. Yes, you can love Pogo and still see other people.



  • Casual gamers of all stripes. Whether you’re a grandmother with a special skill for pattern matching or a 13 year old girl that can’t get enough of those Neopets, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for buttering my bread, making me laugh and keeping me sharp. I’m sure everyone in this industry would agree with me when I say that I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring you great casual games of all stripes; after all, it beats working on a new version of Windows or at the DMV. If you’re ever in New York, M. Casual Gamer, look me up. I’ll buy you a drink, and we can talk for a while over canapes about casual games. And remember, I always practice safe Phlinx.