Easy to Play, Hard to Master

Jessica Tams works with Trymedia Games, a division of Macrovision as director of partner development and is also a voluntary organizer of the Casuality Europe conference.

Can you clear something up for us? What exactly is a casual game?

Because the casual gaming space is so broad and an emergent space, the terminology is quite wide. A casual game is platform agnostic, can be played in micro time spaces -- whether that be one minute, two minutes or even two weeks straight and finally it's easy to learn to play and hard to master.

We all know about these simple games which are very hard to master and very addictive. Everything from Space Invaders to Dance Dance Revolution. One can sit down and play either of these straight away.

In the casual games space, the requirements to make the game is very different from the core gaming space. When I came over from the core to the casual space I thought it would be an easy stop before moving back into core games, but what I found was unexpected -- the space is not easy at all, it lends itself an entirely new set of problems.

Instead of technology being a major hurdle, it's about product and design focus. The focus on fun is the biggest difference between casual games and core games. Casual games have to be fun. If you put out a game with loads of press and hype if it doesn't play well straight away it won't sell, I've seen some horrible looking games that were unstable and you just look at it and think 'oh no' but if they are fun they sell very well.

Tell us about your involvement in Casuality Europe?

This summer, while in Leipzig, Rutger Peters from Zylom asked me to organize an event in Europe to appeal to the casual gaming space. The event is organized by the Casual Games Association, an independent group which also organizes Casuality Seattle of which I am the managing director. The European conference is on February 7th, 8th and 9th in Amsterdam.

What is the conference about?

This conference represents the first conference in Europe dedicated to the casual gaming space which has been largely ignored by the mainstream gaming industry as a respected gaming industry. With this conference we are hoping to raise awareness about our industry and the rapid revenue growth predicted.

What will the speakers be talking about?

We will be focusing on issues important to the casual gaming space from development to business models and distribution. The consumer in the casual space is very different consumer form the core space: most consumers of casual games are women over the age of 35.

Tell us about the speakers

We have a lot of speakers coming in to talk from around the entire casual gaming space. We wanted a wide variety of people from all different business models and geography. All of our speakers were hand selected by our steering and program committee to ensure we have great speakers.

How much will it cost?

I believe it is important for the entire industry to gather together, so we have aimed to make the event affordable for everyone. We looked at many of these events in Europe and were shocked at the prices, as they are significantly higher than in the US. We're charging $300 for all conference events with early registration.

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