Question of the Week: What's one "casual" game that ripped a bunch of hours out of your life?

by: Randy -
More On: What we're playing
Without turning this into a what is a "casual game"? debate, we asked our staff:  What's one casual game that ripped a bunch of hours out of your life? 

We normally keep our answers brief, mainly to keep you from nodding off, but we decided to post all 544 words of John Yan's stirring account of his love (and rivalry) with Yahtzee.  He wasn't quite expecting that, but it's a worthy read.

"Casual" is what you make of it; we're not arguing the definition--though if you were say something like World of Warcraft, then you may want to expound a little bit on how you play, exactly, that makes it casual.  (Plus, we want to know what you're playing this week.)

Elliot BonnieCritter Crunch and Trism. Those are my quick fixes when I am away from home.
(Currently Playing:  GTA IV: The Lost and Damned, FIFA 09, Devil May Cry 4, and the Resident Evil 5 demo)

Sean Colleli
:  I prefer the old definition of casual: arcade games that are easy to pick up and hard to master. Starting at two years old I sunk a ton of time into my dad's old Atari 800 computer. Pac-Man, Star Raiders and Star Trek were my favorites. The 800 had the same button-stick pad of the 2600, but the console could push graphics that were just as good as the real arcade games. Those were real games, not the brainless "waggle to win" Wii crap that passes for casual these days.
(Currently Playing:  Deadly Creatures, Team Fortress 2)

Charles Husemann
:  John and his f***king Yahtzee on his phone...seriously a  bad case of ADD/addiction there.  Sad when a guy plays the game while he's waiting for code to build, walking down the stairs to lunch, at the restaurant etc....I fall in and out of casual games a lot but I do play a lot of Windows Mobile Solitaire and I was seriously hooked on most of Popcap's casual offerings for a few months. 
(Currently Playing:  Wanted: Weapons of Fate, Team Fortress 2)

Randy Kalista:  While I won't try recapturing the stunning melodrama of John's Yahtzee addiction (not to be confused with Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, Zero Punctuation creator, professional troll, personal hero), Fieldrunners successfully swallowed the past month of my life, remedied only recently by...putting down my iPhone.  I'd ignored Desktop Tower Defense and PixelJunk Monsters, but Fieldrunners got me.  I took it to the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, dining room.  I kept it running at work, during breaks, at lunch, during meetings.  I squeezed in rounds while posting news, reading blogs, writing reviews.  And then, one day, this past Saturday, in fact, I was done.  I set it down and haven't switched it on since.
(Currently Playing:  GTA IV: The Lost and Damned, Auditorium, Afro Samurai)

Dan Keener
Bejeweled 2 has stolen many a hour of my time.  Those that play know...
(Currently Playing:  Rock Band 2)

Cyril Lachel
:  Boy do I hate the word "casual."  It doesn't seem fair to the game makers, to the games and especially to those inclined to play these games.  Especially if a game is as addictive as Tetris, Lumines or Bejeweled, how can you possibly call a game a casual experience when you put hundreds of hours into it?  But I'll get off of my soap box for now and just answer the question.  It would be easy for me to name Tetris as my ultimate casual game (since I do consider it the second best game of all time, right after X-COM).  But lately I have put more time into Puzzle Quest than just about any other game (outside of maybe Rock Band 2).  Puzzle Quest is so hopelessly addictive that I'm actually dreading the upcoming sequel, the last thing I want is to get lost in a serious Puzzle Quest bender.
(Currently Playing:  GTA IV: The Lost and Damned, Star Ocean 2, Big Bang Mini, and Life Force!)

Matt Mirkovich
:  I spend a lot of time on my iPhone playing ESPN Cameraman which is just a sports-centric game of Photohunt from a Megatouch machine. Love that stupid game.
(Currently Playing:  Not FEAR 2 (because I beat it in 2 days...wtf?), Street Fighter IV, Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories)

Sean Nack
:  When I was in middle school, we were forced to do a computer project that most of us finished very quickly. The rest of the time was spent playing Artillery; you were a fixed artillery position and had to adjust your angle and powder levels to compensate for wind and terrain to hit the other position before they hit you. I enjoyed the crap out of that game, and was thrilled when i picked up CannonGame for my iPhone. It's the same thing, but has moving targets! I haven't made it past level 13. It'll happen.
(Currently Playing:  FEAR 2)

Nathan Murray
Tetris. Lots and lots and lots of Tetris. Some Freecell but more Tetris.
(Currently Playing:  Gears of War 2, Call of Duty 4, Rock Band 2)

John Yan:  There it was. Just sitting there on my phone. It kept taunting me. Telling me that I would never achieve more wins than it. Mocking my every roll when we played. It was right though. My record against it was falling father and farther behind. The more I played the more it had my number. The dice rolls weren't falling my way and I was losing faith. But, for whatever reason I kept on persevering. Minutes became hours. Hours became days. days became months. Back and forth we battled and back and forth we won until I started to finally gain ground one week.

      The dices rolled, the scores racked up, the wins were tallied. The day came where I finally tied up the record between myself and the computer. The next battle would determine the who would come out ahead. I told myself that if I could manage a victory that I would end all contests between myself and the computer. I had grown weak and tired and I didn't have much fight left in me. Before I pressed the start button, I calmed myself down. Would this be the game that finally lead me to a winning record? Will I finally be free of all the taunts that have haunted me all these months? For a moment all I could think of were the words that it used to bring my spirit down. I drew in a deep breath and threw my first roll.

      Three ones were all that I managed. Not a good start I thought. The computer threw down four sixes and I cursed under my breath. A large straight on my third roll renewed my confidence and I drew closer to my opponent's score. Back and forth we went. Exhilaration turned to anger. Anger turned to disappointment. Disappointment became exhilaration again. The roller coaster ride felt like it would never end. The battle raged on until the final rolls came near. I had a 10 point lead until it rolled a large straight. With that throw I felt a sense of dread creep through me. I was down to my last turn and I had only one possible pattern to match. If I was able to do this, I would achieve total victory as there was no score the computer could get on its next roll to match or exceed mine.

      I pressed the button and my first roll came through. Two fours was my highest hand. I kept those and threw again. One more four fell face up as my last roll came to light. This was my last chance to best my opponent. All these months of hard work will finally be decided by one last roll. Would I achieve the win I long sought after? Or would my opponent agains get the best of me on the last battle. I closed my eyes and hit the button. I heard the sound of the roll being finished. Then, for a brief moment I heard nothing and thought of nothing. This would be the final act in our long war. Slowly I opened my eyes and my vision cleared. The focus came and I looked at the final outcome. With almost nothing left in me, I whispered, "Yahtzee".
(Currently Playing:  Gears of War 2, Street Fighter IV, Left 4 Dead)

[...In which we learn that John Yan rightly earned A's in all his college writing courses. -Ed.]
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