Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blog #8: Diner Dash and Conversation with Anne - S03

Though I identified as a “casual gamer” by Soderman’s definition of the term, and though Anne preferred the experience of more hardcore games, we found common ground in Diner Dash and both took great enjoyment out of the game. There are a lot of casual games, however, that I feel might not appease so much to a hardcore gamer: after playing God of War for hours upon hours, would a gamer really want to play Tetris on his cell phone if he was for some reason pried away from the TV screen? Yet there is something about Diner Dash that seems almost universally appealing. Anne and I agreed that the game found a perfect happy medium: it wasn’t too complex or emotionally or intellectually challenging, but at the same time, the semblance of logic which it did require prevented it from being brainless. To me, this spoke to one of the more fascinating parts of Soderman’s chapter, the paradox of time management games like Diner Dash: though casual games, Soderman argues, are in large part designed as ways to “kill time,” they simultaneously depend on and perhaps even contribute to the development of the user’s time management skills. To play Diner Dash is to kill time by managing it. After spending much of the day in the library, I found the hour spent playing Diner Dash to be a perfect break: a way of killing time before heading back to the Scili, but without being completely mindless (like, say, playing Pac Man on a cell phone, a game completely contingent upon reflexivity and reaction time, but with no real strategy or logic required). Since both Anne and I enjoyed the game so much, despite preferring two antithetical kinds of games as a general rule, I wonder where exactly Diner Dash fits on the game spectrum: while clearly not hardcore, neither is it entirely “casual” or its purpose merely to “kill time.”

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