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Video game makers seek more fun

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Deanna Lockard is not a gamer, at least not anymore.

"Games are boring, because I am constantly losing," said Lockard, a 23-year-old student who thinks today's titles are too difficult and longs for the ease of classic video games such as "Frogger" and "Super Mario Bros."

As the video game industry braces for another quantum leap in technology that promises to inspire a new batch of games, some alienated gamers like Lockard lament a missing element to current software titles -- good, simple fun.

The video game industry gathered in Los Angeles this week for its annual trade show, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3. There, the problem of alienated gamers inspired a workshop entitled, "Is my game fun?"

"We've been going down a road where games have become very complicated and complex and people have been missing that fun factor," said Ankarino Lara, director at the online gaming site GameSpot.

Reflecting its origins as a manufacturer of playing cards and toys, Nintendo Co. Ltd. has been the most vocal about how the complexity of today's games are limiting the $10- billion-a-year video game industry's full potential.

"Core gamers have a huge appetite for challenge and casual gamers want less difficulty," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said in a speech earlier this year.

"At Nintendo, we believe it is our responsibility to make games for all skill levels," he said. "And that includes people who are not playing our games now."

Industry watchers said titles like Nintendo's "Donkey Kong Jungle Beat" -- a game in which players control Donkey Kong using bongos -- and "Nintendogs" -- a game in which players train and raise a virtual dog -- could open the flood gates for more fun and easy-to-play games.

The movement to reach out to more casual gamers is already gaining traction within the video game industry.

"It's an important issue to discuss for the industry if it wants to take games to an even bigger mass market," said Doug Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, an industry trade group. "You need to make a lot of games that a lot of different people like." Continued ...

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