Time to (Not) Kill

Just looking at a screenshot of Luxor makes us want to play it.

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.

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

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