Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Unseen, But Not Undiscovered

I read a statistic that claimed half of all the people who play video games are female.  While my first instinct was to cry "bullshit," I've since thought about it a bit and come to the conclusion that if we're counting casual titles with really bare bones gameplay then, yes, it's most likely accurate.  A good example would be the hidden object subgenre of puzzle games.

Sort of a digital evolution of those activity books for young children, the primary mechanic of hidden object games is to look at relatively static pictures and find things from a provided list.  The closest I've ever gotten to playing one of these games is a free flash title called 6 Differences.  In the case of that game it's a dreamlike visual tale about pulling an all-nighter in a big city.  The storytelling is practically nonexistent and there's no dialogue.  However, in the case of many hidden object games the story is much more prominent with text driven conversations and narration.  Plots also tend to by centered around mother/daughter relationships.  I should point out that not all these games are about ponies, rainbows and other "girly stuff."  A lot of titles feature themes straight out of pulp novellas.

Another interesting aspect to the hidden object subgenre is the way the games are marketed.  They tend to be downloadable only, include free trail versions, are very cheaply priced and have low system requirements.  Personally, the artwork and certain story elements remind me a little of point-and-click adventure games.  Especially when it comes to the relaxed pace and overall style.  Unlike adventure games that I played in my youth though hidden object games tend to feature an integrated hint system.

While not something I feel terribly compelled to get into, I have to admit it's a category of video games that I knew nothing about until its existence was pointed out to me in a video courtesy of Extra Credits.  Kudos to them for shining a light on what is a rather low profile part of the gaming industry.

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