- Possibly my favorite column in all of gaming website-land is Vinny Carrella's semi-regular article series for casual site Gamezebo, and his latest discusses why games like the iSpy-esque Mysteryville and Mystery Case Files series continue to enjoy such immense popularity among casual gamers.

Carrella explains: "Based on what I know (intuitively not scientifically) about the behavior of mature gamers - what they want and what they gravitate towards - these find-the-needle-in-the-haystack 'mystery' games are the tip of an iceberg I saw looming in the icy waters of the gaming ocean more than 15 years ago.... Searching for your lost car keys can be an agonizing and frustrating experience. But if someone were to hide your car keys and then tell you that they were somewhere on your desk, it becomes a game, especially if they give you clues."

Thus: "The same [principle] is at work in games like Mystery Case Files. We are shown an image and told that somewhere within that image are several items. The more we find, the more we trust that we're not being duped and if the game is well-designed we'll spend hours searching for what we know must be there. There is an innate sense of empowerment in this activity, an affirming satisfaction that our powers of perception are indeed strong. Such games pose no risk of failure and offer us the pleasure of finding hidden things under conditions where the stakes are low. That appeals directly to our primal primate perception; which many believe evolved to find brightly colored fruit amongst the dense foliage of the forest canopy." Awesome writing.