Peaceful games
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 December 2012, 3:01 am
I am currently in the mood for more peaceful games, games in which you craft and build instead of kill and destroy. Looking for such games automatically leads me away from triple-A PC games and towards other platforms: Social games on Facebook, mobile games on iOS, and the like. There is a strong correlation between "casual" games and peaceful games.

Facebook games tend to two defining features: A limit on the number of clicks per session, and the need to bother your friends with requests. Many people simply consider Facebook games to be unplayable because of these two features. But as real life often means I have limited amounts of disposable time for playing, a limit of time spent per game session is actually not so bad. And I got around the friend bothering problem by making lots of fake friends on Facebook (to the point that Facebook is now growling at me when I want to add new friends, reminding me that Facebook is only for real life friends).

The early Facebook games often didn't have much gameplay, nor graphics. That fortunately has evolved. There is much more "game" to the new Farmville 2 or Cityville 2 than to their predecessors; and they look graphically a lot more appealing too. But even among Zynga games there is a range of different complexities: Farmville 2 is on the low side, needing not much resource management, and not much interaction with friends. Cityville 2 is comparatively a lot more complicated and in my opinion somewhat overdoes the friend request part. Fortunately I currently have a bug in Cityville 2 where I am not limited in how many times per day I can send out requests to my friends. That led to an explosive growth of my city, but the forums confirm this to be a bug and not a feature, with not everybody being affected. A MMORPG couldn't continue running with some players having such huge advantage over the others, but Zynga appears not to care too much, nor in a hurry to fix the bug.

If you can't stand the friend request principle, you can find similar peaceful games without the need for friends on the iOS. For example Hay Day is a sort of Farmville on the iPad/iPhone, but without the need to ask friends for stuff or a limitation on the number of clicks per session. Instead everything needs some time, which still leads to short play sessions in which you set everything up and then need to wait for crops to grow and items to be produced.

If you prefer games where you can play long sessions, Puzzle Craft might be a good option. Here collecting resources is a tile-matching puzzle mini-game. A farm puzzle provides food, hay, and wood, and then the food is used as fuel for a mining puzzle which provides stone and metal. Resources can also be used to build up your village with various building helping you with the puzzles, or to make tools. Overall a nice combination of puzzle game and crafting/building game.

Other than Puzzle Craft there often is no "game" to resource gathering, just a simple clicking and/or waiting. The game is in the resource management. The advantage of that is that these games generally aren't twitchy at all, and don't need fast reflexes. I find it interesting how closely slow games are correlated with peaceful games, while most games that need fast reflexes are about killing and destroying stuff. Presumably that is a question of demographics, with the fast killer games being targeted at a mostly male and adolescent target audience, while the peaceful games are more likely to appeal to female and/or older gamers. With the average age of gamers going up, I expect more peaceful games in the future. Including big budget PC games, like the new Sim City.
Tobold's Blog

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