The elusive "casual market" has recently become quite the sought-after prey for game publishers, each one attempting in its own way to hunt down those who would normally shy away from complex and scary video games. Nintendo isn't the only company to have Grandma firmly set in a Zapper scope -- the other major players are also taking aim, Microsoft with Xbox Live Arcade and Sony with Singstar microphones.
With this in mind, Alex Petraglia decided to test whether or not Microsoft in particular was actually hitting their target. After all, he had the equipment necessary to conduct such an inquest: one Xbox 360 console, several Xbox 360 games and one willing female parental unit. Alex introduced his mom to a wide variety of XBLA and full retail titles, documenting her performance and struggles. The article places his thoughts alongside those written by his mother and it makes for some very interesting reading.
It seems the most difficult acclimations involved controls and finding the correct path through a level. The 53 year-old Mrs. P notes that "the biggest problem is a simple lack of experience. It seemed like, in a game such as Prey, you [Alex] knew exactly where to go after looking at a puzzle or roadblock, whereas it'd take me an exorbitant amount of time to move onto the next task or area. And it took me a very long time to develop the ability to move freely in the game and feel comfortable with the controls, to some extent."
Other points of interest include her first interpretation of Geometry Wars ("she flew directly into the first target, thinking maybe that was the point of the game") and her eventual favorite, Condemned (!). "I think strong dramatic elements, like story and visuals and music, would be a bigger draw to older generations than unique gameplay mechanics or what have you."
[Thanks Alex P!]