Considering all the discussion here when that word "casual" came up with respect to Star Trek Online, I thought it might be interesting to mention Meretzky's thoughts here for comment.
He began by defining casual games in terms of who plays them: "A game intended for people for whom gaming is not a primary area of interest." By this definition, a "core gamer" would describe gaming as an active interest, while a casual gamer would not. A casual gamer would thus be someone who's mostly interested in other things who just happens to play a game.
So what about that? Is that player-centric definition enough to capture the distinction between casual and core?Meretzky then went on to identify the key features of the typical casual game:
- Low barriers to entry - no long download time, complex installs, necessary tutorials, or long tail to the fun.
- Should be forgiving - should give hints and reward error with only minor setback.
- Short play times - should be able to be taken in bite sizes. Even long story games are divided into levels or tidbits of 5 minutes or less.
- Highly replayable - if a game is going to be played in five minutes, it needs to be replayable to justify the purchase.
- Depth of gameplay revealed gradually - new elements can be introduced to the gameplay, but they have to be revealed and explained slowly and carefully.
- Non-violent themes - no shooting, hand to hand combat, racing, zombies, or apocalypses.
- Inexpensive - it's been proven that the audience will pay for games, but they have a greater resistance to price point than the hardcore users.
How about these? Do these make sense as a definition of a casual game? For example, could a game that typically takes an hour to play be considered casual?
What about how these might apply to a MMORPG generally, or to a Star Trek MMORPG specifically? Would you play a Star Trek MMORPG that satisfied all these constraints as long as it satisfied your other interests and preferences?