Are Games Just For Gamers?

I’m a keen gamer, or I thought I was – but I’m also female and very busy, which apparently is outside the expected criteria. My preferences are typically for platform style games (Zelda) although I’ll play pretty much anything that’s easy on the eye and doesn’t require superhuman powers of hand-eye co-ordination. I lose interest in the games where you walk around shooting people but I can compete with (and sometimes win against) my colleagues at Mario Kart.

This year, there have been a few games come out that I really liked the look of, some of which I even own. However I only actually played one of them for any length of time. This isn’t because the games weren’t good, but mostly because they can’t be played in small enough chunks of time. While I am perfectly well aware that the target market for games is probably single men with long stretches of spare time – that’s not me. I love all things nintendo and have both a Wii and a DS, and will happily play on either when I can find the time. BUT “time” for me is 20 minutes, maximum, and not every day (sometimes not even every week).

If your game doesn’t allow saving at will, or as a minimum, quit regularly, then its likely that I’ll get frustrated and stop playing. Last time a Zelda title came out (my absolute all-time favourite), I had just moved to a new town, had a flat I could clean in an hour, and a job where I clocked in and clocked out. This year, there’s a new title, and I don’t know when I’ll even buy it, or how much I’ll actually play of it if I did. The recent Mario DS title required you to *complete* 5 levels before saving, never mind play them. I loved the game, but my lifestyle didn’t allow me to get far. The Metroid titles for Wii had exactly the same issues – I like the game but if I can’t pick it up and put it down, it just doesn’t get a look in. On completely the other end of the spectrum was the Professor Layton game, which was puzzle based and could be saved almost at any point!

So, it turns out I’m not a gamer any more, because the game design doesn’t cater for those of us with real lives … when will the manufacturers learn that actually normal people play games too?

9 thoughts on “Are Games Just For Gamers?

  1. I’ve actually considered the DS device as a win for casual gaming. I go through spurts where I game on my way to work. When my metro (/underground/subway) stop comes up, I just close the lid and shove the device in my bag. When I want to play again, I just open it up and pick up where I left off.

  2. Yes I’ve noticed this as well. Before I got a console every game I knew could be saved at any time. Quicksave was a standard feature for just about any game.

    But now that I have a console I see many games that won’t actually let you save, you have to hit checkpoints or complete the level. It’s just odd.

    But especially with a handheld console thingy I would expect that saving would be a mayor feature. Perhaps even sleep/hibernate of the gameplay. Heck, laptops can do it.

  3. Yeah I always thought that the Wii was a bit better for ‘casual’ gaming. I pretty much can’t turn my PS3 on unless I have a good 3 hours where I don’t have anything else to do (which is pretty much never, these days).

  4. Agreed. I’d like to think that an older generation of hardcore gamers is growing up, getting into the work force, and being in a situation more like yours where time to game is limited. Not sure if that’s so or not, but the games don’t seem to reflect it. Hope that changes. I’ve got a Wii and 360. May find time to get in a song or two on Guitar Hero II or III or Rock Band, but on a regular basis, that’s about it. Took forever to finish Assassin’s Creed.

  5. I know what you mean. I’ve been an avid gamer for years but have very little time, or patience, for it these days. If a games well designed, and can be played in short bursts, it still works for me. Bioshock was the last game I played all the way through. Great atmosphere, relatively frequent save points, but lots of shooting zombies. We can rarely get away from violence in games it seems. That’s another issue altogether

  6. The DS does “snooze” but not long enough to last between my available gaming sessions, just a day or something so I had to leave it plugged in all the time to be able to get through a game at all, bit silly really!

    Thanks to everyone who weighed in on this one – so nice to know I’m not alone! Hoping the comments about the gaming population growing up and having other committments are filtering through to the game-makers …

  7. Don’t every try Metal Gear Solid for the PS3. Hour long intro video. These were the games I was accustomed to playing but I no longer can.There are times where I return to a DS RPG game and I lose track of where I am at in the game because the last time I picked it up was a week or two ago. I guess I will have to stick to Diner Dash, Cooking Mama and Crossword puzzles.

  8. jnunez: cooking games are a good suggestion, as are the puzzle ones. The brain training works well as something to dip into, and I carry mario kart around for the same reasons

  9. I think that you can’t ask if games are for gamers. You shouldn’t also ask: are movies only for movie lovers? Are books only for book enthusiasts? No – those goods of our civilization are for everyone. Because we have a freedom of though and will, everyone can play or not – that depends only on his mood. If I would be a person that never played any computer game, but now I would like to… What should I do if someone would tell me that this game is only for gamers? Everything is worth to try and I think that everyone can do anything he wants (as long as he is not hurting anyone ;) ).

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