I didn't want to get back into gaming. After spending the better part of the '90's creating complex, labor-intensive adventure games, I was done. Burnt. Fried. Disillusioned. Games were becoming increasingly violent and ever more ridiculous. My dream of creating games with heart and soul was crushed. So I left gaming, became a stay-at-home dad and wrote the great American novel. My feeling was I'd never work in games again. But what happened? In a word: Flo.
- To feel secure. To feel safe. To feel a sense of control. The comfort of knowing that certain efforts will yield certain results. Do good, get good in return. Predictability. Affirmation. A modicum of recognition, a genuine expression of gratitude and appreciation. The satisfaction of a job well done. Love. And all this can be yours for $19.95. All this from a game.
- A rare thing happened to me today. I was sitting at my desk minding my own business when out of nowhere I was hit over the head with a wonderful new game. The Scruffs is the best hidden object game I've played since Big City Adventure and easily the most delightful game of the year.
- Who is the Naked Gamer? Is he really naked? Is he really a gamer? After more than a year and a dozen editorials, it's high time those questions were answered. Don't you think? You've seen my photograph, you've heard me rant, rave and plea, but why am I here? What's the point of this 'column'? Well, let me tell you. Let's take a little trip, you and I. Allow me to escort you back...to 1969. (cue Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida).
- Casual Connect. This is what they're calling it now. It used to be Casuality , but I think that sounded too much like casualty, so they changed the name of the conference to Casual Connect. Now it sounds like a lurid sub-category off the CraigsList personals. Let's connect, casually. Wink, wink. But really, that's what we did in Seattle last week. Those of us who make games and sell them. We connected, with each other. But not with you. There were no consumers, none of you who play the games and buy them. And this was kind of sad. I've never worked in an industry so far-removed from the customer.
- The Sopranos finale, 9-11 and the rise of casual games. It sounds like a dissertation but it's really just an observation, something you notice, not when you're paying attention but when you're not. It's human nature to make connections and look for patterns, and there's one here. The world is a lot different than it was six years ago, the term that comes to mind is sea change, so it's no accident that we've latched onto light, happy, mindless games.
- Casual game portals are like gas stations. It doesn't really matter where you fill up your tank. Gas is gas. Yeah, it may have Techron or some other additive to clean your fuel-injectors, but if you're like me, you wait till the gauge is clearly on E, you pull into the nearest station and fill up your tank. Gas stations are really only differentiated by two factors - price and color scheme. BP is yellow and green. Shell is red and yellow. Chevron is red, white and blue. And I am influenced by these colors, by the personality of a gas station, more than I am their prices. I feel more comfortable at a Shell than I do at a CITGO, and it has nothing to do with the latter's ties to Venezuela's state run oil monopoly. It's because Shell's colors appeal to me, and I dig their logo. A nice, simple, yellow scallop. Shell is mellow, and cool, and I like the way their stations look at night. It occurred to me recently that casual game sites are fundamentally similar to gas stations.
- Seventeen years. That's how long I've been pondering this question, since 1990 when games still came on floppies that actually were floppy. Games were small and crude and there room for preludes and cut-sequences or movies. But still we dreamed. We imagined interactive technologies could supplant video and film and that a new medium of story-telling would emerge, a more powerful medium that would engage people of all ages. We liked to use the term interactive story-telling, but we had no idea what that meant so we made it up as we went along and failed more often than we succeeded. Games could tell a story, but not a very compelling one. The adventure games of the mid-90's came pretty darn close though, and people like Tim Schaffer and the Miller brothers did a helluva job trying, but in the end even MYST and Grim Fandango are more game than story. The same is true of today's casual games.