And we’re back! Well, I’m back — I can only assume that you’re back. Actually, I can see whether or not you’re back by looking at my traffic logs, so I know some of you are back. Thanks for coming back! I had to take a break from making comics while work and the Holiday Season conspired to monopolize all of my free time. It happens. It’ll almost definitely happen again, but it’s never permanent.
As I was preparing to jump back into the swing of things I decided it was time to comment on the whole “casual gamer” phenomenon that has taken hold of our little corner of the entertainment industry. Of course, it’s not so little anymore. Video games are big, BIG business, and the trend is being driven by people who would never think to call themselves gamers.
I recently saw an older lady with a DS, playing what I assume was one of the Brain Training games over lunch at a nearby restaurant. (The way she was holding the DS vertically tipped me off.) That scene brought smile to my face. It’s not every day you see grandma with a “GameBoy”, although that’s starting to change.
Perhaps now that gaming has found a wider audience folks won’t be so quick to blame video games as the source of all of society’s ills. Sure, there are plenty of ignorant asshats out there that will never “get it”, but I think we’re seeing the start of a revolution here.
While we’re on the topic of casual gaming, we can’t give Nintendo all the credit. Games like Guitar Hero (and to a lesser extent Rock Band, but it’s still early) are winning over the masses too. As a big Guitar Hero nerd this has me really stoked. Even GH3, which has been less well-received than its predecessors (mostly for not being innovative enough) is still insanely fun. It’s been my experience that when people (often non-gamers) see GH in action, they’re invariably drawn to trying it out. I’ve never seen that kind of response to any game before.
I also have Rock Band, which is an absolute blast when you can get a group together to play it. It too has that magnetic “gotta try it” quality that will certainly sell console systems to families who have traditionally resisted video games in the home. Rock Band isn’t for everyone; it’s expensive, takes up more room, and offers a less fun solo experience than Guitar Hero, but you’d be hard pressed to find a more engaging party game that just about everyone can agree on.
joe at dpad dot ca
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