Games for Non-Gamers: Cart Racers

Humans are wired to play.

There is a game for every person, if you (or someone you know) hate games, it may be because that person just hasn’t found the right game OR something else made the game unpalletable. This series explores games for non-gamers. This week is Cart Racers.

The first console games that I remember playing, enjoying AND had some measure of success were Cart Racing games. While cart racers didn’t turn me into a self identified gamer, I enjoyed playing games as cheap entertainment on a Friday night with my boyfriend.

Who Is It For?

Non-Gamers who have said the following:

  • Controls are too hard.
  • Games are too bloody and violent.
  • Games are too hard to learn, it will take forever to win or do well.
  • I don’t want to play on-line to have fun, BUT
  • I want the opportunity to play WITH someone.
  • I like something that is a bit fast, but not TOO fast.
  • I want something that I can pick up and play…. and then put back down.
  • I am a bit competative.

What is it? The Game Defined for the Non-Gamer.

Cart racing games are a genre, where you race cars (or something like it) around a track.

Cart Racers often are more “cartoony” and less serious than their straight racing counterparts.  Players can often pick up “power ups” that will do everything from shoot the guy in front of you, to make the player temporarily faster or even make the player temporarily invincible. Tracks are often silly, and couldn’t exist in real life.

Win games, get new tracks and cars to race.

You can play local coop (someone in the room with you) or on your own against the computer.

Why Would Non-Gamers Enjoy This Game?

1. Controls are easy.

The controls are usually extremely easy. Press “X” to go. Turn left or right to go left and right, just like a car. Triggers usually trigger your powerup. Powerups tend to work even if you don’t use them exactly when or how you wanted to.

Yes, there are brake buttons, and sometimes even reverse… but why use “brake” if you want to go fast? Okay, you need to brake to get really good, BUT you can still play and do decently without using anything other than accelerate.

It’s also intuitive, because we know generally how to drive a car. Go forward, try not to crash. Our eyes already know where to look, and we know what to do.

2. Cart Racers are Somewhat Forgiving

What separates cart racers from other racing games, is that cart racers seem to be more forgiving. Half the fun in a cart racing game is crashing, or more importantly (?) causing your friends to crash.  It’s rare to find a game where a mistake (crashing) is meant to be fun and is incorporated into the game.

Cart Racers typically use the “rubber band” method of keeping things exciting. So instead of forcing the player to be great at the game (develop skill), the game adjusts itself so that there is enough of a challenge, but no one is getting trounced. Fall too far behind, all of the sudden your AI partners fall behind too. Get WAY out in front, lo and behold they fall in right beside you. Players can still win, but new players never feel like it’s hopeless. You can pick up a game and within 10 minutes of practice feel as though you have a shot at winning.

3. They are Non-Violent and Just Stupid Fun

Cart racers are meant to be fun in the giggly, sort of way. They are designed to pick up and play. They are designed so that even when (not IF) you crash, it’s still a great time. Even though you “shoot” your competitors, it’s  non-violent.

Advice for the Non-Gamer

Press “X” and go. Have fun.

Other Ways to Make the Game Fun

When I first played cart racing I could barely hold a controller. My boyfriend and I played “cooperatively.”  He would win games to unlock tracks, my job was to play spoiler. I took care of the AI that was threatening my boyfriend’s win. I am not sure if  I could have won on my own in the time that we did, but I felt like I was contributing.  It’s contributing without being condescending.

Games that Fall in this Category

YellingAt Pixels Favorite Pick
I am the only person in the WORLD who loves this game, and considers it the BEST CART RACER EVAH. So take this with  a grain of salt. But I loved Chocobo Racing for the PS2.  Powerups were not random (you could choose them,) you could powerup your powerups and each character had a special ability along with power ups.

Eventually you could make your own custom “dudes.” That I liked.

Important Last Words

While games can be fun in and of themselves, it’s also important to have the right atmosphere. Every non-gamer is a unique individual, and can’t be described in a monolith.  All girls do NOT like pink and cute for instance. Listen to the non-gamer, to find out what she or he really enjoys. Try something out, get feedback, try again.

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