Thursday, April 30, 2009

Casual games 2.0: The social network kind-of-game

Casual girl play gamesMan has been playing games for, well…more or less for ever (games have probably been around longer than the wheel)। The industrial and technological revolutions brought a whole new way to play games. Video games started appearing in the late 4th decade of the 20th century. The game industry growing from niche markets to mainstream took in about USD$9.5 billion in 2007 in the US alone (ESA annual report). Games have become more graphic, more real and more complex! Watch out 20+ old people, casual 2.0 in your way.

The new era has introduced us to both the "web 2.0" and the return of casual games. Casual games usually programmed in Flash or Java, are typically distinguished by their simple rules and lack of commitment required in contrast to more complex hardcore games. Although some gamers may argue that casual games are ruining gaming, others including myself enjoy the fun of simple, fun games that can even be played between engagements.
So, the "Web 2.0"- what does it mean? There are many answers to that question and you will probably get a different one each time you ask, but I'd like to think of it as the social web - the manifestation of the World Wide Web. Social networks are all around us these days, for mass audiences' varying in age, gender, interest and more.
Today we set forward to check some of the social networks out there involving casual games:

NewGrounds(NG) must be one of the oldest networks around, founded by Tom Fulp in 1995!
NG is mainly a website for people who make Flash items: Flash games and Flash movies (and less for those of us playing the game). High scores won't be saved and you will not earn achievements through playing the game. However, voting on games and movies and reviewing them will be rewarded. It also offers resources for artistic collaborations such as an Audio Portal where musicians can submit their music to be used freely in games and movies.
It is also probably the only casual gaming website (along with K's Hentai section) including adult features: adult games, adult toons, Britney& Paris Hilton parodies, dating sims etc.
Kongregate is a social web games website, described by its founders as "the YouTube of videogames". The site was created in June 2006 by a sister and a brother, Emily and Jim Greer. The Kongregate website itself was designed by Happy Cog Studios.
As of July 2008, Kongregate has raised around $9 million in capital from investments by Reid Hoffman (best known as the founder of LinkedIn), Jeff Clavier, Jeff Bezos (the American founder, president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of, and Greylock Partners (one of the oldest venture capital firms).
Although, featuring personal profiles and forums it is still hard to define Kongregate as a social network। Its social interface is basic and the main feature appears to be the live chat which opens up in the game window (usually).