How can Casual game designers use this list?
In the Sunday newspaper (yes, I still get one of these ancient documents) this morning there was a list of the top 10 selling consumer products (in the USA I presume). I'm not quite sure how accurate the list is, or how it was compiled, but it makes for some interesting discussions.
Here is the list (in no particular order).
2. Cheap Wine
3. Gold Coins
4. Gardening Seeds
5. Spam (food), canned stew, and Chili
6. Macaroni and Cheese
8. Match.com sign ups
10. Guns (Must be the USA).
Aside from recognizing the obvious need for laxatives with all of the Mac n Cheese, spam, stew, and chili consumption; and condoms, cheap wine, and chocolate for all of the Match.com rendezvous, can a casual game designer make use of this list in any way?
I assume the age old (1986 on) need for collecting coins as introduced in Super Mario Bros might point to a re-interest in platform games, but what I really mean is what does this list represent as a whole? I think it represents the need for people to cocoon up and feel safe. The guns, gold, and canned food especially play into common foreign perceptions of America being filled with survivalist nuts cases. Be that the reality or not, how can a game designer exploit the common mans' need to feel safe at home with his guns, comfort food, condoms, laxatives, and internet stalking?
I am sure that the traditional puzzle games (Match 3, etc) will definitely NOT be adversely affected by this situation as the number of consumers (20 - 60 year old women and some men) of those games has only grown in numbers in the last year. But, what kind of game will appeal to the men who now find themselves with ample free time, cheap wine, ammo, canned comfort food (an obviously a lot of toilet time)? Match 3 canned foods or 3 Smith and Wesson products are too obvious to even discuss - just go make them.
I don't think sophisticated RPG, puzzle, or strategy games will appeal to this crowd, so the casual game designer will probably want to focus on shooting games and maybe even canned food cooking games...
Some Game Design Ideas:
1. Cooking Stalker - Fill out a Match.com style profile about food likes and dislikes and have a list matching canned food items be sent via fake HUD GUI email system to player. Player chooses food to "date" and then gets to shoot these cans of food with a first person style shooting gallery. Stage 3 is a cooking mama style contest where the skills needed to heat up and prepare canned food are tested to their extreme.
2. Gold Coin Protector - Protect the homestead and pile of collected gold coins by firing your guns a advancing gold stealing government zombies who are intent on taking all they can get to pay for government bank bailouts, and Council On Foreign Relations black ops. Shoot cans of thrown comfort foods to gain grenades and other power ups.
3. Organic Garden Tower Defense - A Tower Defense game where the player must protect his "Organic Garden" from hoards of advancing government officials, intent on eminent domaining his ass back to the 19th century. Out of real ammo from shooting cans in Cooking Stalker, the player must protect his homestead with A-Team style guns that fire canned food. Place laxative filled chocolates in the path of the BLM and DEA agents and they will stop eat, and run the the opposite direction in search of the outhouse - an outhouse that has been booby trapped with exploding cans of spam and bottles of cheap wine.
Those are the first 3 lame ideas that came off the top of my head, and I didn't even touch the Hente style games that can make use of some of the other items on the list.
Note: Just to clarify: Most Americans don't homestead up in fear of the government stealing their GOLD. They don't DATE their food and don't eat what they date. But, some do love to shoot crap, have sexual relations (in the garden), collect gold coins, and eat bad canned food. Not that there is anything wrong with that...