Five years ago, Chris James, the founder of Stratus Games, started a Casual Game Revolution. This month, he’s asking you to join him.
Stratus Games published games that tended to be light, easy to learn, and quick to play—but there wasn’t a very clear term in the industry for games like that. There were those that use the term “gateway games”—the games that draw people into the hobby. However, “gateway game” carries some connotations: for instance, it implies that you start with them, but that you’re expected to move on to “better” games once you get into the hobby. The gateway is just the entrance—it’s not a destination.
But there are many people who love playing these lighter games, who don’t feel the desire to spend an hour or two on a single title. Tabletop gaming should not have a “you must play for at least an hour to enter” sign on the door. So James got together with publishers and retailers with this idea of “casual games,” borrowed from the world of video games, and it was a hit.
What is a casual game?
After a lot of input from various people in the tabletop industry, James settled on this definition of a casual game:
A casual board (or card) game is played in under an hour, set up and taught in under 10 minutes, and requires some light strategic thought. Casual games are not specifically marketed to children, but can be enjoyed by anyone from older children to adults.
It’s a fairly broad term, and is meant to be. While I certainly play (and review) my fair share of lengthy games, I also really enjoy games that I can just get out and start playing. They tend to be the ones I take with me on family vacations, particularly when we’ll be visiting friends who prefer the shorter games. Not all casual games are simple, but they should be those that don’t require you to spend 15 minutes thinking about what to do next.
What is Casual Game Insider?
James decided to put Stratus Games on hold for a little to work on his Casual Game Revolution, and eventually came up with Casual Game Insider, a quarterly magazine that focuses on casual games. Many of the sponsors are names you’ve seen here at GeekDad: Calliope Games, Daily Magic Games, Blue Orange, Gamelyn Games, and so on. There are game reviews, but also articles about tabletop gaming, interviews with various people in the industry, and so on. Our own Jim Kelly has also written for the magazine.
I’ve found that there do tend to be a lot of ads in the magazine, but unlike other magazines I read, all of the ads are for—of course—board games, so they’re actually ads that interest me and may point me toward other games to check out.
Want to read it for free?
Of course you do.
Between now and July 7, click here to get a free PDF of the Summer 2017 issue. You can subscribe to the email newsletter if you like, but it’s not required. (Your email address will only be used to send the download link otherwise.)
Then, if you enjoyed the magazine, on July 7 you can help fund Year 6 of Casual Game Insider through the Kickstarter campaign, which launches at 9am Pacific. You’ll get notified about the campaign if you’re subscribed to the newsletter. I don’t have all the details yet, but in previous years there have been pledge levels for digital-only subscriptions, print subscriptions, and “catch up” levels that include back issues from previous years.