If games like Grand Theft Auto are the gansta rap of videogame genres and Quake the death metal, then Luxor would fit, ahem, squarely in the niche for adult contemporary music--polite, nonviolent, familiar and comforting.
Sorta like the Eagles or Jackson Browne.
All of which is just fine for MumboJumbo, a game development house in the West End that created Luxor, the leading game in the "casual" category of videogames--the sort of programs that allow you to kill a few minutes (or hours) at your desk when you should be working. Serious video jocks may scoff at casual gaming, but the casual games market represents between $600 million and $700 million in annual revenue, says Paul Jensen, president of MumboJumbo. Luxor, an Egyptian-themed hybrid of Tetris, Snood and the old Caterpillar game and its follow-up Luxor Amun Rising have been downloaded more than 40 million times since the original's debut in 2005, according to a company press release. MumboJumbo is privately held, and Jensen wouldn't say what 40 million downloads represents in terms of green, but Luxor Amun Rising sells online for $19.99, so ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching.
Yeah, but the boys at id, creators of Quake, get treated like geek rock stars and get the girls, you say. Maybe, maybe not. The typical player of casual games is a 30-year-old woman, Jensen says.
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Does he ever feel any remorse for the countless hours of workplace productivity lost to games like Luxor? Not really, Jensen says. Casual puzzle-solving games, designed to be played on older, lower-end computers, can "stimulate the mind" and keep it sharp, Jensen says. Right. Try that one on your boss the next time you're caught not looking at that spreadsheet. --Patrick Williams