The creative director at EA’s casual Pogo division talks about what makes a fun casual game, and how casual gaming went from being the eccentric “crazy aunt” to the “hot aunt.”
Pogo’s Todd Kerpelman (pictured) told David Edery, an associate director in the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program, “…I think it’s a common trap for game designers (myself included) to come up with some idea that’s innovative or clever, and we end up being so impressed by our cleverness, that we often overlook the fact that there’s a simpler (and probably more fun) solution out there. … There’s ‘clever’ stuff that we often mistake for ‘fun.’"
Kerpelman also commented on another pair of terms that often get confused: “accessibility” and “simplicity.”
“I think accessibility is certainly one of the keys towards making a casual game successful,” he said. “This doesn’t mean that games have to be simplistic, though. There’s a lot of really complex games out there, but the successful ones do a good job of easing the player into it. … If [players have] mastered the whole game in the first five minutes, there’s no reason for them to keep playing.”
The explosive growth and increasing recognition of the casual gaming space has surprised even Kerpelman. “I’m pretty surprised at the speed in which it’s gone from being the ‘crazy aunt of the gaming family that nobody talked about’ to the, uhh… hot aunt. (Like Portia de Rossi in Arrested Development, I guess.)“
He continued, “When I started at Pogo back in 2001, the site had huge numbers of subscribers, but getting anybody outside of our world to acknowledge that large numbers of people were playing these casual games was impossible. These days, it seems like a lot more people are talking about making or playing casual games. I don’t know why that is. I’m sure that having Microsoft and Nintendo hype casual games with their latest offerings certainly hasn’t hurt.”
See the full interview here.