I have plenty of games to play on my console or on PC through Steam. Really great, high end, well-rounded games that I paid hard-earned cash to own. And yet, I still find myself playing free flash games online.
My main weakness is for tower defense. I love to build my towers, upgrade them, and watch all the little creeps die. The strategy behind it – what to build, when, how often to upgrade – it’s like a glorious little puzzle. Some of these games have fantastic graphics and sound effects, some are way too similar, but it doesn’t really matter to me. Kingdom Rush was a brilliant game, and Incursion 2 clearly copies elements just with different sounds (stealing from Warcraft). Does that make Incursion less fun? Nope. Still played it for all it’s worth.
In general, I find these games on Kongregate. I suppose it’s because I started on there and haven’t bothered to change sites. Also, there are badges, and it’s soothing for my OCD to collect them.
Then, I’m sad to say, I have also fallen prey to King’s game, Candy Crush Saga on Facebook. Yup, I confess, I play that monstrosity of a Bejeweled clone. Although it goes so much further than Bejeweled – it seems CCS was designed to be pure addiction. It’s not even that I enjoy the game, I just can’t stop playing it. I keep thinking that I’ll just play one more game and then delete it… 5 lives later and I’m still playing.
So why? Why am I playing free tower defense or fake Bejewled when I could be playing Civ 5 (equally addictive) or finishing ZombiU, or replaying the Last of Us?
Well, I think part of it is that flash games AREN’T immersive. Yes, they’re addictive and time passes while playing them. However, I can still work while having Candy Crush Saga open. Much like the old days of playing Solitaire while on the phone, it doesn’t distract from my actual task at hand. It just makes my work seem a bit more entertaining and somehow helps me focus. When I need to think of something – how to phrase a thought, or how to approach a particular situation – I can focus on it more clearly while playing a game. It’s almost zen-like; when I play Candy Crush Saga, it uses the parts of my brain that seem to get distracted most easily, leaving the rest of my brain to focus on the things I want to think about. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, playing mindless games on Facebook actually boosts my productivity.
I’m clearly not the only one. Kongregate is looking to expand onto mobile platforms, and it seems that Candy Crush Saga is huge on Facebook at the moment. Why do you play casual games? And yes, I’m including mobile games in this category. Why do we play cheap/free games when there are so many high quality, immersive games out there?