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Comfort Games

Ed Kirchgessner  //  February 5, 2010

Casual gaming's happy consequence


was feeling a little bit down last evening, so I thought I'd drown my sorrows in an evening gaming session. Being a rather serious gamer, you might have thought I'd reach out for CoD, Halo or another shooter — but you'd be wrong. While I'm sure every gamer has their own catalog of "comfort games," mine is distinctly retro; distinctly casual. Tonight, my poison was Tetris on the iPhone, but it just as well could have been New Super Mario Bros. Wii or PacMan.

As much as I enjoy a good shooter binge or an all day WoW marathon, there's something reassuring about the games of my youth. You'd never think to start up a conversation about Call of Duty at a restaurant, but Mario could keep a table chatting for hours. These casual games transcend gender and life experience so beautifully — everyone knows Sonic and Mario, even if they haven't actually played the games in a decade (or two). These are the games I play, not with my online friends, but with those people that are with me in my "here and now." Xbox Live and PSN are both powerful platforms, but they haven't surpassed my favorite social "lobby": my living room.

I find it amazing that it took the industry so long to catch onto the fact that "old school" has the potential to sell like gangbusters. With a new 2D Sonic game on the horizon, it seems like the "casual" gaming craze is here stay. I wouldn't fret too much, though, shooter fans. No one's forgotten about you, it's just that they've found a second audience upon which to capitalize. What's the happy consequence of all this? My catalog of "comfort games" keeps growing larger and larger. I've got a few more blocks to stack, folks, so you just have fun playing — whatever your game.

Michael Ubaldi // February 5, 2010 // 10:16 AM

Thus the birth of the phrase, "You've been hitting Mario again, haven't you?"

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