I own both Fire Emblem Heroes and Fire Emblem Fates. While both are good games, I noticed that I play Heroes a lot more than I do Fates; indeed, I rarely pick up Fates at all. I thought about it for a moment, and then I realized something about myself.
I’m a filthy casual.
It used to be that I liked games with long, sprawling storylines, games that could compete with the best TV shows and films. These types of games were what commentators referred to when they spoke of gaming as the “next great storytelling medium,” capable of competing with or even supplanting Hollywood. And it looked true — as graphics improved and AI got smarter, the video game would take its place as the undisputed king of entertainment.
Then I got older, and my responsibilities piled up around me. There wasn’t much time for those games, yet I still wanted to play.
I found myself avoiding the games with big storylines and going for games I could put down at any moment — games like Civilization or The Sims. I took up puzzle games like Tetris and Pokémon Puzzle League (excellent game, by the way.) Whenever I had guests, I would play fighting games like Dead or Alive or Super Smash Bros. By contrast, I had purchased Valkyria Chronicles on Steam, only to begin and finish it a year later…on the PS4. And I used a cheat sheet through half of the game. Just about the only other “storyline” games I played were the Neptunia games.
In other words, I became a casual gamer.
Playing casually feels like the most natural thing in the world; instead of immersing yourself in a game for hours on end, you just start and stop without feeling like you’re neglecting something. Casual games come off as games first and foremost; they don’t try to be movies or television, and as a result, they shine where story-based games drag. This approach fits an adult lifestyle well, for it allows a person to take care of his things one moment and amuse himself the next. These casual games have as much impact as their story-based counterparts, for larger numbers of people could play them regularly.
As an artform, video games have to come into their own, and I think it is the casual games that will lead the way, for those games embrace their identity as games rather than try to emulate another storytelling medium.