Ok, guys, let's talk about some heavy conceptual indie things, not about how to increase the amount of orgasms of a housewife playing another match3 clone by fine tuning the action-reward gameplay chains. Just kidding - I don't want you to feel that I'm trying to bring some elitist attitude towards some kinds of games like casual games. First of all, what kind of games I'm talking about. The games that enrich your life, that provide you with positive emotions, that provide you with enthusiasm in solving your life problems or achieving your life goals. The games that make you better. The games that help you grow. Ok, it's difficult to pack all these features in one game, but it's possible to have some part of them. Let's remember that the games are a form of art. And there is a common opinion that the purpose of art is to make you a better human. Ok, maybe this sounds a bit too theoretical, so let's continue with examples. There are a lot of obvoius ones. First, good examples. Let's take some other art forms like music or movies. I bet everyone can name some movie that had influenced him, provoke him to think over his life and maybe even caused some life changes. In other words that movie made some difference in his life. Music is another obvious example - most of us have some favorite music bands to listen during the work, doing excercise or just relaxing. All these art pieces help us to live. Sometimes art help us to cope with emotions. Sometimes it helps us to believe that we're capable of doing some amazing things in our lives. Now the bad examples. There are some art 'products' that doesn't help you in your life. Actually they are ruining it. I guess everybody heard of guys who wasted thousands of hours on something like World of Warcraft. They don't have a social life, they don't care about their career, their families are suffering from their _addiction_. Surely it's an extreme example, but it's good in defining the problem with such products. We can name examples from other art forms, like tv-series. I heard that casual games are winning over tv-series as a form of spending free time for housewifes. And it's not surprising, as playing another match3 is a similiar experience - something like mental masturbation. You spent a couple of hours playing match3 and all you feel that you just wasted these two hours and gained nothing. You can say that it can be used as a stress reliever but it's a bad tool for this job. It's not about coping with stress. It's about running away from your life problems instead of solving them. Escapism. I'm not going agitate against this kind of products. There are plenty of them and there will be plenty of them. But it's just like a fast food. Many eat it, but it's still unhealty. So I would like to talk about the games that are 'healthy food'. Is it possible to design such games? What guidelines should we use? Oh, I need to state clearly, I'm not talking about some kind of self-help/personal development products. You see, when you're listening to Rammstein in gym and achieve your new personal sport record there is nothing in Rammstein of a self-help product. You won't find something like "improve your sport results!" on their album cover. Their art helps you just because it is the very nature of this piece of art. So what are the possible guidelines? *First of all these games must not be addictive. I know this sounds a little weird as we all are TOO used to games that ARE addictive. But actually it's not a must! You listen to your favorite music and it makes your day WITHOUT being addictive. *One game session must be short. Something like 5mins-50mins. And there must be a sence of completeness after the game session not an urge to 'play-it-just-one-more-time'. That doesn't have to be SO strict but as with your favorite song. You may enjoy it a couple of times at once, but I doubt you'll listen to it 20 times in loop. *High replayability is a good option. On the other hand - linear games ('storytelling' ones) are also possible. *Competing with other human beings is a good option. Even if it is just through a highscores table. *The game can raise some serious questions. Life and death, human relationships, world hunger, terrorism, etc. Something to think about. *The game can help you to relax. But there is a fine line between relaxation and escapism. If you take a meditation as a classic form of relaxation you will notice that in meditation guidelines there is a point that you should keep your eyes open during the meditation to acknowledge the world around you. Not to run from it. Ok, as I already mentioned most of these guidelines are not a must, but just are options for designing a game. The important point is that these games must not be boring. They must be what they are - the games. Rammstein helps you to lift 100kgs without being boring, also as WoW ruin the life without being boring, too. I believe that this approach to designing games brings just amazing possibilities. There are a lot to explore as currently we have just a rare examples of games that follow some of guidelines I've mentioned. And I believe it's possible to find more guidelines and rules that will help to design such games. Let's find them! After all, if anybody should open this new page in computers games history, it's definitely us - independent developers!