Cozy Contempt

All other video games not related to the main farming series - Pokemon, Stardew Valley, My Time at Portia, and other indie-developed games.
User avatar
Kikki
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
Posts: 4263
Joined: Apr 14, 2015 6:01 am

Post  Posted:

I don't agree that that's how it works when, in spite of the highly visible boom, cozy gamers are still a minority. And I also don't want the title 'cozy gamer'. Others are welcome to enjoy it, but it doesn't fit me any better than 'casual gamer' did. I'm just a gamer, as I have been for the last 38 years.
Milo
Anonymous Fish

Post  Posted:

Yeah... "cozy gamer" doesn't make sense to me the way "casual gamer" does. It's a term for individual games, not the people who play them.

"Casual gamer" carries the implication of someone who plays only casual games and no other ones. While I think there's a general understanding that you can play cozy games without those being the only games you play.
User avatar
PaleSunflower
Custodian of Corn
Custodian of Corn
Posts: 446
Joined: Jul 26, 2009 12:11 am

Post  Posted:

Another issue with casual games is that a lot of mass-produced, low-effort, no-thinking-required games came out with the label. A big complaint about casual games is that they are easy, often too easy, for gamers wanting a challenge. Cozy has been having a similar thing with many, low-effort farming games coming out (probably chasing after Stardew Valley's popularity, but still). The main difference is that cozy hasn't gotten as big as an audience that casual found. Casual exploded, especially on phones, but cozy hasn't really exploded to the same extent yet.

Also, the term cozy itself isn't trying to be defended; it's cozy games. Games usually don't usually promote themselves as walking sims, because walking sims are considered a stupidly easy, "bad" genre. Some games do well as walking sims, but those are rare. The main reason that insult isn't really used much has more to do with it's replacement ("press x to win" is only a step away from "go forward to win") rather than walking sims getting a better reputation. Walking sims being bad and boring is also old news, so most people don't feel compelled to talk about much anymore. Games are still being advertized and promoted as cozy, however, and games with the cozy label are basically all casual games with the same perceive-able issues casual games have.
xeiroe
Anonymous Fish

Post  Posted:

What I dislike is it seems a lot of people assume cozy = no effort/thought what-so-ever from the player or when people complain about a game's mechanics they don't like because it's "supposed to be cozy", so it can't have "X" in it.

I'm referring to several instances on forums where entitled whiners complain and want the devs to remove base mechanics. Like in farming games, they insist that the need to sleep, OR THE STAMINA bar, be removed completely. In some games (Sun Haven), with fighting a a base mechanic, they insist the fighting is too hard and has to be removed. They argue they shouldn't have to worry about that in a cozy game! It's causing them stress!

The majority of games that are being called "cozy" now, are not, and are simply called that because like Kiki said, they have farming/life sim elements. Or are pixel style. Pixel art is now automatically being labeled that it seems, regardless of the actual game content.
User avatar
simside
Wacky Weed Puller
Wacky Weed Puller
Posts: 147
Joined: Nov 28, 2009 10:57 pm

Post  Posted:

I dislike the label "cozy" for reasons already stated - it doesn't really tell me anything about the game. I like more description - "farming" at least tells me there's a simulation element in it in some way/shape/form (though the popularity of SDV has made that label a bit frustrating as well), a dungeon crawler tells me what I'm going to do, as does a visual novel, and even something as broad as role-playing game. I have a vague idea what to expect. But what is cozy? Do I trust you, random strawperson on the internet, to tell me what I think will be cozy?

I hadn't considered it a label to replace "casual", which it sort of is. I hate frictionless game play, which a lot of folks say they enjoy (though... I suspect folks demanding that are a loud minority). I also may have misunderstood the casual label in general - to me, this wasn't someone enjoying a particular type of low-effort game, but someone who only played games occasionally. I kinda thought it was also for, like, a person who only plays one or two big releases a year, and nothing in between. Legend of Zelda is the one I always think of, which is not a casual game, but a game enjoyed by occasional enjoyers of video games.

I am glad that the alternate descriptor "comfy" never caught on, which folks were using to describe games for a minute (maybe I heard this IRL more often). In a true fit of old person, I loathe this word. Mostly because it was a real conversation stopper - when I would ask about a game, I would be told it was "comfy," and not much else. When pressed, I would often get descriptions of how the person felt playing it (which, to be fair, is them describing why they felt comfy), and nothing about the game. RIP, comfy!
Milo
Anonymous Fish

Post  Posted:

simside wrote: Jun 16, 2024 7:01 pmand even something as broad as role-playing game. I have a vague idea what to expect.
Roleplaying games actually have the issue that the term gets used less broadly than it logically should. Strictly speaking, any game that has a story and characters can be considered to be a "roleplaying game", in the sense that you're playing a role. Which is almost every video game ever, barring the very most abstract ones like Tetris. In practice, the name gets used for a much narrower set of games that have mechanics reminiscent of Dungeons & Dragons.
simside wrote: Jun 16, 2024 7:01 pmBut what is cozy? Do I trust you, random strawperson on the internet, to tell me what I think will be cozy?
I understand where you're coming from, but I think you might be overstating it a little. It's possible to play a horror game and never actually end up scared because you're that much of a tough guy, or because the author had some really bizarre phobias without realizing that nobody else finds them scary, but that doesn't invalid "horror" as a label. There is plenty of stuff that most people would agree is horrifying, even if not everyone does.

"Cozy" is a mood much like "horror", just on the other side of the pleasantness spectrum. (Usually I'd say they aren't compatible, but what if a game simulates, say, the experience of walking through a Halloween haunted house where you're in no actual danger?)
Areli
New Seedling
New Seedling
Posts: 31
Joined: Mar 29, 2020 6:06 am

Post  Posted:

I love farming sims and it is the only tag I use to search for these types of games. If the game is only under the cozy tag then it obviously won't enter my radar.

If I see the cozy tag among the tags of a farming sim my first impression will be "Oh": (let's start listing)
  • Does not have an energy bar
  • There are no fights or they are optional
  • There are no timed missions or general time limit
  • Crops/animals do not die or get sick
  • You don't have to wait a year for X thing if it gets lost in its "season"
  • The mechanics are simple
  • ...
And finally a huge list of exclusions will come to my mind haha

I guess that's what happens when one type of game wants to mix with another type of game. Assuming they want to blend in and not use tags irresponsibly or lightly, if you attract a certain type of audience, that type of audience will have clear minimum expectations.

Perhaps developers want to unify "large" niche audiences with, according to them, similar mechanics, not because a game has a farming mechanic makes it a "pure" farming sim that will attract this type of audience.
User avatar
midnighttherabbit
Not the Eggplant Wizard
Not the Eggplant Wizard
Posts: 550
Joined: Aug 06, 2012 12:00 am
Contact:

Post  Posted:

I like the idea of trying to find a term that captures the broadening of the life/farm/whatever sim genre, but cozy games just doesn't really mean anything. There's a subreddit dedicated to it, and there are people who argue that Skyrim is cozy AND people who say SDV isn't cozy because it's "too stressful" - I know some genres can be broad but this contradiction is pretty much the issue with 'cozy' as a way to define games. It's too subjective of a term, other genres are defined by what you can do (action, role-play, shooting) but cozy is more about how it makes you personally feel.

Also imo it feels very corporate. I try to find a video about life sims on YouTube and instantly get tons of influencers who have built an entire brand on the fact that they ARE cozy gamers. Here's a cute Switch case to make your Switch cozier, here's a cute mug to drink tea from while you play cozy games, here are the top ten cozy games you need to buy NOW. It feels like maybe the most defining feature of cozy games is that they aren't supposed to have depth - just something to quickly consume and then discard a week or two later for the next shiny management sim.
User avatar
Kikki
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
Posts: 4263
Joined: Apr 14, 2015 6:01 am

Post  Posted:

simside wrote: Jun 16, 2024 7:01 pm I hadn't considered it a label to replace "casual", which it sort of is. I hate frictionless game play, which a lot of folks say they enjoy (though... I suspect folks demanding that are a loud minority). I also may have misunderstood the casual label in general - to me, this wasn't someone enjoying a particular type of low-effort game, but someone who only played games occasionally.
I have never heard the term 'frictionless gameplay' before. I looked it up, but the results were more confusing than elucidating, as many did not appear to be applicable and all were a bit different from each other. What does it mean in this context?

'Casual' as a genre and as a type of gamer was always VERY broad, and encompassed not only the people who only play games on their phone when they have nothing else to do, but also Animal Crossing players (or etc) who put THOUSANDS of hours into their game(s), almost to the point of madness. As much as or even more than the 'real' gamers, those who fancy themselves hardcore or elite or whatever puffery a combat or other gamer might apply to himself to bolster his feelings of superiority. (Not that they all do that. Just the icky minority. I hope.)

Which has always been silly, as they are simply different types of game that supply different types of fun, with different mental and emotional outcomes, but both with pretty much the same amount of benefits and drawbacks. And both types of player can have intense dedication to their gaming. Some AC players are pretty damn hardcore. Or Stardew players, or...whatever. Both categories of player have people in it who make you want to suggest counselling.

Though the 'casual genre' does contain a lot of games that are low-effort on the players' part. Not sure why that's a bad thing, though, especially for games that are just intended to pass half an hour on the bus.

Casual can be taken quite a few ways, anyway. It definitely also includes people who only play occasionally. Probably even if they're playing an 'un-casual' game like...I dunno, guys, what is the opposite of a casual game? Is Smash Bros a 'serious' game? Mario? Or are those too cute to be serious? Something more violent or bloody? Street Fighter? Mortal Kombat? Or a game that requires a lot of strategy? XCOM2? Well...pick one! Even if someone plays that super un-casual game, but they only pick it up once in a while, they're almost definitely still a casual player.

Cozy has a somewhat different vibe, so far. Imo. And I agree with midnighttherabbit that cozy games are a little too packaged, right now. Too branded and trendy, like being a 'cozy gamer' is pushing an entire lifestyle. (Sort of like yoga...)
User avatar
Mikodesu
Huggy Chickens
Huggy Chickens
Posts: 316
Joined: Apr 07, 2016 7:45 pm

Post  Posted:

Do you think part of the frustration with the term is having the games you love shuffled from one low effort naming convention to another? Casual, to cozy. If nothing else don't think the people who coined 'cozy' intended any ill will by the term, unlike casual. (Though casual might have even been a less venomous extension of 'girl game'. :? Not sure.)

Ime casual is far broader than cozy, erring toward games that are played and dropped, rather than routine oriented experiences. Pick up and play experiences. Low difficulty, non-competitive. Typically casual series (like Mario or Zelda) could be lifted from casual to 'hard core' or competitive by speed running them or playing randomizers (both of which raising the skill floor). Otherwise I think anything that doesn't have at least a PVP element to it or a high skill ceiling would be considered 'casual'.

Thinking of it... it's not uncommon to use the phrase "casual playthrough" for a lot of games.


As for the term cozy, I think it's just going through growing pains. All new genres do. Whether or not farming sims settle into that long term is anyone's guess. For right now, we might need another Stardew sized success to push them out into their own genre, separate of 'cozy'.
User avatar
Kikki
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
Posts: 4263
Joined: Apr 14, 2015 6:01 am

Post  Posted:

I think cozy was a well-meaning rebranding, intended to sweep dedicated gamers (primarily of various types of life sim) to a new, more appropriate identity, without the ugly connotations 'casual' got from the vile thinking of the gamergate era, where anything girls played was sneered at as not 'real' gaming and something that should be kept out of sight and out of the way of the real gamers and their real games.

But I think cozy is being indiscriminate, because there's no way to define what 'cozy' is. It's different for every player, so it's so broad that it has no real meaning. Cozy isn't a genre. It's a conglomerate of almost all genres. As such, I think it might be better described as a style or mood. It's a feeling a game can give off, regardless of genre.
Milo
Anonymous Fish

Post  Posted:

Kikki wrote: Jun 17, 2024 8:57 am'Casual' as a genre and as a type of gamer was always VERY broad, and encompassed not only the people who only play games on their phone when they have nothing else to do, but also Animal Crossing players (or etc) who put THOUSANDS of hours into their game(s), almost to the point of madness.
To me the term only suggests the former. If you're as obsessed with a game as the latter, that clearly puts you beyond the realm of casualness, regardless of what game it is.

Some games are specifically designed to cater mainly to casual players, being easy to pick up and easy to put down while avoiding anything that requires an excessive amount of investment, but it's still possible for someone to get unhealthily obsessed with such a game. That would make a non-casual player of a casual game.
Mikodesu wrote: Jun 17, 2024 9:53 amOtherwise I think anything that doesn't have at least a PVP element to it or a high skill ceiling would be considered 'casual'.
Okay, yeah, you have those South Korean professional gamers who make millions from playing StarCraft tournaments in front of televised audiences. I'm sure that to them, anyone who merely plays games "for fun" is casual, even if the game you're playing is Ultimate Hardcore Masochist Simulator 2000 and you spend half your waking hours doing it.

I guess casualness is a sliding scale, not an on-or-off property.
Mikodesu wrote: Jun 17, 2024 9:53 am'girl game'
It's weird to think of Harvest Moon as being a "girl game", given that the first few games in the series were clearly aimed at boys (you can only play a male character and date female love interests). It ended up being relatively popular with girls despite this, due to being about stereotypically-feminine subjects like socializing rather than violence, and eventually the makers recognized that by adding an option to choose your gender when playing, though the ability to play as a boy never went away (except in "for girl" versions of games whose "for boy" version was released first).
User avatar
Kikki
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
Posts: 4263
Joined: Apr 14, 2015 6:01 am

Post  Posted:

Milo wrote: Jun 17, 2024 12:18 pm
Kikki wrote: Jun 17, 2024 8:57 am'Casual' as a genre and as a type of gamer was always VERY broad, and encompassed not only the people who only play games on their phone when they have nothing else to do, but also Animal Crossing players (or etc) who put THOUSANDS of hours into their game(s), almost to the point of madness.
To me the term only suggests the former. If you're as obsessed with a game as the latter, that clearly puts you beyond the realm of casualness, regardless of what game it is.
I'm sure there are others who would say the same. (If they ever thought about it, that is, since many have never considered the topic at all.) But I also know there are plenty who think that if you play a casual game, you are a casual gamer. There are people who say that an Animal Crossing player, no matter HOW dedicated, is not a serious gamer. I think the number of people who think that way has shrunk in the last 5-10 years, but it used to be pretty common. Maybe it still is. I wouldn't want to guess a percentage or anything like that.
User avatar
PaleSunflower
Custodian of Corn
Custodian of Corn
Posts: 446
Joined: Jul 26, 2009 12:11 am

Post  Posted:

Casual games =/= casual gamers. Games with the casual label are usually considered to be brainless, mass-produced slop, but casual gamers can range anywhere from people who play those sorts of games to the other meanings of casual, which would include people who primarily only play popular games, people who play games infrequently or only once in while, and people who don't get particularly invested in playing games (and play games for other reasons). It's how a gamer can be both hardcore and casual at the same time; playing Animal Crossing, a historically casual game, hours at time for months could make someone both a hardcore gamer (for being dedicated to and deeply invested into a game) and a casual gamer (for being a fan of a casual game). It's a mess, a mess that would be all the more reason to rebrand casual games as cozy games, with emphasis on "games" here and not "gamers".

The main difference, I guess, is that casual gamers refer to wider range than what casual games usually refer to. I am assuming that it's like how some cozy gamers apparently like Skyrim, but may not like farming sims. Those cozy gamers are probably focusing on games that are familiar to them rather than any genre in particular. They seem to be focusing on what I would normally call one of my comfort games, but to each their own, I guess. I suppose it highlights the some of the confusion with the cozy genre.

Come to think of it, the mess even extends to what is normally considered the opposite of casual in gaming, hardcore. Hardcore gamers =/= hardcore games, but fans of hardcore games can be considered hardcore gamers by default but not always or necessarily.
User avatar
Kikki
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
UNoT Extreme Mooomber
Posts: 4263
Joined: Apr 14, 2015 6:01 am

Post  Posted:

I don't agree at all that casual games are "usually considered to be brainless, mass-produced slop". I guess that's how you think of them, but I don't actually know many people who say the same. Casual games has always been a huge gamut, that include both fantastic and terrible mobile games, as well as pretty much all life sims and a large portion of what started out as the 'cozy' category, regardless of their quality. I totally disagree that 'casual' equates to 'slop', even when the term was at its lowest regard.

As for the pushback against cozy from the outside, it's not much different from negative reactions to casual. The people who typically only play platformers and combat games (and anything else they perceive to be the skill-challenging games) get mad that games that aren't of any interest to them are taking up screen time and development resources that they feel should be going to the games THEY want. The screen/media time could be argued, but the development resources thing is stupid. These indie devs making games about running cat cafes, or froggy point-and-clicks, or etc, were never going to make an indie version of Street Fighter.

I'm seeing quite a bit of it already. Comments sections of news articles about any game described as 'cozy' are either empty, or full of eye-rolling.

And the pushback against cozy from the inside seems to be mostly because we're not into the label. We were farming-sim fans, or management-sim fans, or cute, non-violent platformer fans, or whatever. We weren't 'cozy' fans, and now our fandoms have been sucked up into the Borg that is Cozy. (Except these Borg are pastel pink robot kittens wearing tutus and holding lollipops.)
Post Reply