(or ‘The Power of Bubble Witch Saga Compels Me! The Power of Bubble Witch Saga Compels Me!’ Seriously… Help!)
In the past, my game-playing habits have been described as similar to how you read a good book. Every now and again, I immerse myself in a game for a few days (okay… a few weeks – stop peering over my shoulder, Bride of Mungo!) exploring every inch of a game world and then resuming my footloose and fancy free status for a while before I find my next big title to binge on.
Sure, that’s kind of an addiction. But only in a completionist sense – like when there’s just a few Chilli Heatwave Doritos left in the bag and, even though you’re full, leaving them until tomorrow seems like the most ridiculous thing in the universe. (Please Note: Other brands of savoury snack are available) Sorry, what was I saying? Ah yes.
My habits seemed to have changed. I’ve stopped binging but started grazing with Casual games my new snack fodder. Bubble Witch Saga in particular.
So why is such an old-fashioned gamer so compelled to keep bursting bubbles? It’s tricky to put into words, isn’t it! Some of the most compelling and addictive games are the ones that sound really weird and actually not particularly fun when you’re trying to describe them. But they are!
I think this is why a lot of the discussion of games has gone to ideas with a more narrative bent – they’re easier to talk about (after all, we’ve had thousands of years practice telling stories to one another). For the record, I am a huge, huge fan of narrative in games and the potential of story worlds, emergent storytelling yadda yadda yadda. But I think there can often be a danger of liking a ‘narratively bold’ game as a concept just by having read about it -but without ever actually having played it.
I used to play Diamond Dash quite a bit too. Why did I move to Bubble Witch Saga? Well, honestly, it’s probably because I find the satisfied meows of the witches’ cats quite pleasing and I can tell how well I’m doing because ghosts and spiders appear more frequently.
There’s a modicum of skill involved but mostly I’m like a lab-rat that’s learned to press the button to get the treat. And, even if that implies some sort of sinister overlord in a white coat masterminding your experience, there’s also something kind of comforting, pleasing and pacifying about knowing what you’re getting.
I can rationale other forms of game or entertainment in general as more challenging (and therefore more worthwhile?) but then don’t I go back to the same trusty authors, film-makers, bands and restaurants for something the same but different all the time as well?
I don’t really want to share my scores. I don’t want to challenge my friends to try and beat me. But, if it’s been a rubbish day in our laboratory and those corpses just ain’t re-animating, I want to get some positive feedback for vaguely clicking at something for a bit and some polished UI going ‘ting’ at me in a satisfactory manner. So, that’s my little love letter to casual games.
Also, I’m addicted to coffee.