I have just discovered why casual games are casual: By their very nature they do not permit hardcore gaming ways. How? I tell you!
Let’s pretend for a minute that I haven’t reached a new personal low by setting up a puppet email account on googlemail with the express intention of then setting up an even more puppety FaceBook account in order to ping gifts back and forth between the real me and the pretend me on FarmVille. Yes, let’s pretend that never happened at all, because the shame of it is hot and uncomfortable, and it feels dreadfully akin to cheating. Yes, I am forced into cheating, in order to actually play the game as much as I want to. What the *&%$ is up with that?
Let us then put aside the core social networking gaming mechanic of FV that relies entirely on how many of your Facebook chums are playing FarmVille, or at least have opened a farm, looked at it twice and then never bothered with it again. As my experiment with a puppet account shows, if you don’t got the mates then you don’t got the XP. Those without friends must play longer and slower than those with friends. It’s like being the fat kid at school sports day all over again!
And then we should never speak of the real-time aspect of your farm on FV, that moves inexorably on the clock, where crops grow, mature and if failed to harvest, wither and die in the time it takes to do a full day’s work and forget about them. Heaven forefend you should be able to play when you want to, or for how long. That’s just not casual, people!
Instead, let’s focus on the most farcically stupid feature of casual games on social networks, which is the fact that they are irretrievably reliant on the social network itself. And if that goes down for maintenance, so does your game. Doh!
All this has reminded me, in a roundabout and rather wonderful way, that even though I occasionally dally with casual gaming, I am underneath it all, and where it really counts, a hardcore gamer. And all it took for me to find this out, was to utterly break a casual game.
Thank you Facebook!