A gaming giant: not for hardcore gamers

Most of the games I play fall under the “games for the rest of us” category. In the past couple of years the games I’ve played most often are solitaire and 2048 on airplanes, and occasional Wii Sport Tennis matches, Mario Kart races, and Super Mario Brothers adventures with my siblings for the few weeks we go to Lake Cumberland in the summer. It was interesting to see how all of these games fit into the five criteria of a casual game that Juul uses to distinguish them from hardcore games.

Nintendo is one of the most popular casual game creators. I’ve talked to friends who spend hours playing Smash Bros, Mario Kart, etc for hours on end with their roommates, yet they never would classify themselves as gamers. As Juul discusses, being classified as a gamer has complicated connotations. Some wear the title with pride and others do anything possible to avoid it. Some claim that someone being a “gamer” is a red flag for relationships while others love the gamer “vibe.” Everyone should be able to choose their hobbies and interests without being judged, and I sincerely find my respect for gamers growing; but it is undeniable that it has widespread negative connotations. This lead me to wonder, how has Nintendo, one of the largest gaming companies in the world, managed to escape the majority of these negative connotations?

Last semester, I worked on creating a campaign for Nintendo in my advertising class. Our strategy hinged on the idea, phrased by Fils-Aime that Nintendo allows anyone “to pick up a controller, not be intimidated, and have fun immediately.” Nintendo stood out among gaming brands because of its positive brand associations, nostalgic associations, and simplicity. Through our third party research and surveys, we found that most people (most notably, parents) viewed it as a video game company that connects and gathers people instead of dividing and promoting isolation.

Nintendo games have extremely low barrier to entry and are primarily intuitive. Its influence spans generations and connects people of a variety of ages. Many people recounted fond memories of playing games on the Wii in their neighbors basement or battling their older brother in Mario Kart. Consumers saw Nintendo products as a vehicle for connection.

This was especially relevant in our project because our target audience was young adults 18-25 with an emphasis on college freshman. Our focus groups revealed that video games, specifically Nintendo games, had been a starting point for lasting relationships for many freshman housemates. Despite their varying backgrounds, one college freshman mentioned that “We were all familiar with the games so it was easy to play together.” Another exclaimed “We BOND over Smash Bros. It’s social… It connects us.”

While rethinking this project in light of Juul’s article, I discovered insights about how Nintendo has avoided hardcore gamer stereotypes. A lot of the fun in their games hinges on other players and the physical atmosphere. To many people Nintendo means game nights, cheering, friendly competition, and roommate parties. The bright colors, nostalgia, childlike design, and in person connection that defines Nintendo sets it apart in its industry and provides interesting insights into the stereotypes that differentiate casual and hardcore gamers.


Prompt: Write a 350 word essay about the chapter titled “what is casual” in “A Casual Revolution : Reinventing Video Games and Their Players”. Focus at least a portion of the essay on Nintendo.
Title: “What is Casual” in Gaming: The Nintendo Impact

In the world of video games, the concept of casual gaming has undergone a significant evolution, as explored in Jesper Juul’s book “A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players.” One of the pivotal chapters, “What is Casual,” delves into the changing landscape of gaming, with a specific focus on Nintendo’s substantial influence.

Juul begins by dissecting the term “casual gaming,” highlighting its various components. Central to this discussion is Nintendo’s role in reshaping the concept, making gaming more accessible and appealing to a broader audience.

Nintendo’s impact is most evident in the introduction of the Wii console. With its innovative motion-sensing controllers, the Wii lowered the entry barrier for players of all ages and skill levels. Games like Wii Sports, bundled with the Wii, exemplified Nintendo’s commitment to inclusivity, appealing to both dedicated gamers and newcomers.

Juul underscores the importance of simple and intuitive controls in casual gaming, an area where Nintendo excels. Iconic franchises such as Mario Kart, Super Mario, and Animal Crossing have maintained their appeal while drawing in casual players with straightforward mechanics and charming aesthetics.

Social interaction plays a significant role in casual gaming, and Nintendo’s emphasis on local multiplayer experiences has brought friends and families closer. Titles like Super Smash Bros. and Mario Party foster social connections through competition and cooperation, making gaming a shared experience.

Shorter play sessions are a hallmark of casual gaming, and Nintendo has adapted to this trend by introducing portable consoles like the Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite. These devices allow players to seamlessly switch between TV and on-the-go gaming, accommodating busy lifestyles.

In summary, “What is Casual” in Juul’s “A Casual Revolution” offers a concise exploration of the transformation in gaming, with a particular emphasis on Nintendo’s role. Nintendo’s commitment to accessibility, social gaming, intuitive controls, and adaptability to modern lifestyles has profoundly influenced the definition and widespread acceptance of casual gaming. The chapter underscores that the casual revolution has made gaming more inclusive and engaging for players of all backgrounds and skill levels. Nintendo stands as a testament to the evolution of casual gaming, inviting a broader audience to immerse themselves in the gaming world.

(First post written by me, second by ChatGPT)

One response to “A gaming giant: not for hardcore gamers”

  1. Brian Croxall Avatar

    Wow, Shelby. What a great application of what you’ve done in other classes to what we’re talking about here! Nintendo is an interesting company because it has managed to create, as you note, so many positive associations for people with its games and systems, despite having plenty of hard-core games like the Zelda franchise. In the last 15 years, however, I think it’s their console design that has made this possible much more than any particular game design.

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