To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Casual Games -- Indeed
Date: Feb 2006

There was a whole section on Casual Games in the Women in Games conference held in San Francisco on February 18th.

Casual? Why not nonchalant, blasť, transitory, relaxed, informal incidental, random, laid-back? It's a genre that is looking for a catchy name. The name though, does give you a sense of what to expect -- relaxed, a stress reliever, no bosses, easy to learn yet challenging, a game you mostly play by yourself in those few minutes of spare time. In short -- a woman's game. Women at the Game Developer Conference back in the '90's were asking for games that would be satisfying to play in small time frames, games where they would not die, games without boss fights, no blood and preferably no killing. It is not surprising that roughly 70-80% of the casual game players are women. The industry is finally beginning to hear us and it looks that these games are attracting the players and the money.

Not all girls play girl's games -- some girls play boy games. At the conference, Ubisoft presented the Frag Dolls. Skilled at games like Rainbow Six, Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Far Cry, they are excellent team players, hold their own against hard core gamers and play an average of more that 300 hours a week. Playing online, guys always expressed surprise upon finding out that the characters they were playing against, were women. While the Frag Dolls talked about trying to encourage more women to play what I call "boy games", the audience that is listening and playing is mainly young men.

There is a place for games that appeal to women besides the Casual Games, but putting women characters in a battle/war game not going to cut it. Introducing a bikini clad warrior, or bringing in a woman as a soldier in Ghost Recon doesn't make it woman's game any more that wrapping it in pink makes it a Barbie game.

The industry is not making games for women. I have come to the conclusion that we are not going to get games that call to the woman's soul until women make the games. Once created - it will be obvious, playable, addictive, include poetry, mystery -- a gestalt that will bring game enlightenment.