"What video is to TV, games are to the Web," says Steve Youngwood, executive vice president for digital media at Viacom's Nickelodeon channel. We're not sure about that, but "casual gaming" is definitely big business — Nickelodeon is spending $100 million on new gaming initiatives including 600 original games for its websites, branded with its various entertainment shows. The appeal is obvious: For a 9-year old girl, why watch Dora the Explorer when you can be Dora the Explorer?
"Casual games" are small, easily mastered games frequently offered for free at sites like CandyStand and Kongregate. These compare with traditional action games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto, played on TV-attached consoles like the Xbox 360. Nickelodeon hopes to capture eyeballs as users spend less time watching TV and more time looking for entertainment online. Casual gaming is probably a good start, but $100 million? There's nothing "casual" about that.