Wasting Time at Work is Getting Sexier: PopCap Games Gets a Challenge From Eastern Europe

For the last few years, Seattle has been Mecca for people designing games for laptops and iPhones. PopCap's Bejeweled was one of the first so-called "casual games" (no fancy controllers or memory-hogging software required). But now PopCap has some international competition, bringing with it a whole new facet of play: boobs.

Game designers, software makers, and marketers are all are vying for attention at the 2010 Casual Connect game conference at Benaroya Hall this week.

But it wasn't an innovative new idea for a puzzle game that Thomas Grove, spokesperson for the San Francisco-based game design software company Unity, noticed. "There are a lot of Eastern Europeans here," he observed.

The games coming out of the former Soviet Union have a very different look. Most casual games being churned out by Seattle developers consist of adorable cartoon characters solving puzzles. PopCap's Zuma's Revenge, which took home Game of the Year at the conference, consists of a frog dashing its tongue at matching sets of jewels. In the company's other big award winner this year--Plants vs. Zombies--you plant wide-eyed pea shooters and watermelon launchers to defend a yard against an invading oh-so-cute zombie horde.

Eat your heart out, PopCap.
In addition to hailing from a very different part of the world, the games being promoted by Riga, Latvia-based Amber Games had a noticeably different look than their American counterparts. Amber does have its own line of cute and simple games about growing things on farms and running a restaurant. But then there is the just-released Islands, featuring the pirate to the left and the coming-soon Shards of the Dream. The siren above is fighting her way through a post-apocalyptic world filled with monsters and the undead.

It looks like PopCap and other local companies devoted to helping you waste your day have some stiff competition.

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