“Filthy casuals.” That’s what they call us. We like short missions. Understandable rules. Sometimes we even play games with an entire level on just one screen. For these reasons, we are scorned and ostracized.
“Oh, you like those grandma games,” a woman once said to me. (Never mind that my actual grandmother played epic RPGs like the Ultima series.) The life of a casual gamer is one of shame and sadness. We are the lepers of leisure.
I say, enough! With this manifesto, I hereby proclaim my love of casual games. I hope you’ll join me. Here are all the reasons why casual gaming is the best way to game.
No need for 64 gigs of RAM, a 36” monitor, or a power-guzzling GeForce Neo Xxxtreme 999Ti Legendary Edition video card. Casual games can be played on a laptop. Get a good one, of course, like the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming laptop — you don’t want Minesweeper bringing your machine to a crawl. Now you can game anywhere. What’s more hardcore than that? Speaking of which...
Desktop Dungeons is a little turn-based puzzle game by a three-man South African team that goes for $14.99 — if you don’t catch it on sale. And it looks like this:
But behind the cutesy big-headed characters, bright colors, and stigma of the phrase “turn-based puzzle game” is a compendium of hundreds of maddening levels in which every click counts. Consider this: With each square you unveil, you regain a few hit points. So you don’t want to do much exploring unless you’re wounded. However, when your character levels up, he heals fully, too. So, ideally, you’ll time your kills so the final, leveling-up blow lands when your hit points are perilously low. That’s just one example of how Desktop Dungeons makes you think. The game makes all its numbers completely clear to you, so when you die, there’s no question whose fault it was: yours. Desktop Dungeons will have you doing math… and liking it.
The great thing is, Desktop Dungeons isn’t an anomaly. Games like Invisible, Inc., Loot Rascals, and Defender’s Quest are all crunchy as hell, and they’re still under the “casual” umbrella. You have more options than Bejeweled now. (By the way, even Bejeweled has its appeal.)
Casual games don’t require you to maximize your “APM” or nail headshots with pinpoint accuracy. As you get older, your physical dexterity will decline, but that won’t matter, as long as your mental acuity holds up. And once that goes, you’ll be perfectly happy watching Wheel of Fortune reruns. Hey, that’s a casual game too, now that I think about it!
While you certainly can devote your life to Rocket League — some people play it as an esport — you can also enjoy it occasionally, in short bursts.
You can’t really say the same for many hardcore games. If you play The Witcher 3 for a day or two, go away for a month, then come back to it, chances are you’ll be confused about where exactly you’re picking things up. (The Witcher 3 is still awesome, though! Just don’t plan to have much of a real life while you play it.)
I find that casual gaming is partly about what games you play, but it’s also about your mindset. Remember that games are games: They’re supposed to be momentary distractions from actually doing real stuff. I love games so much that it’s sometimes hard for me to keep that in mind! A casual game, which I can dip into, play for a little while, and then put away — looking forward to returning to it eventually — helps me focus on actually enjoying it, rather than getting sidetracked into an endless loot chase or competitive grind.
Who’s with me? Share your reasons why casual gaming is the best in the comments. Or feel free to provide a counterargument, and tell me why hardcore gaming is the way to go. Either way, the next time someone calls me a “filthy casual,” I’ll just smile and say, “Yes, I am filthy. Filthy… with fun.”
Tony Carnevale is a senior writer for Studio@Gizmodo.