So here’s the thing. If you want to know why cartoon games are so popular among people of different age groups, you first need to know why cartoons are so popular amongst people of all ages, because the answer is essentially the same.
Cartoons are brighter, more colorful and more endearing than the real world. Crazy things can happen in them with no real consequences. We can get lost in the zany world of Adventure Time, for example, or enjoy a few retro hours with Scooby Doo – who has mercifully changed hardly at all since the mid 1970s.
In other words: cartoons are the purest, easiest form of escapism. They’re also pretty unique in that they appeal to both children and adults – kids normally for their crazy characters and zany stories, adults either for nostalgia value or for the off the wall take they sometimes deliver on the world around us.
The best cartoons, the ones you still love when you are 50, are the ones that work well for both. Like Foghorn Leghorn or Tom and Jerry, for example, where there is humor at work that only adults really understand – but a world view that is exclusively childish.
Cartoon games have much the same effect – only here the player gets to actively participate in the world of the cartoon.
When you think about it, the cartoon readily lends itself to the computer or mobile game. Because the cartoon world is so colourful and simple, it makes a graphically easy and interesting backdrop for gameplay – which let’s face it is much the same as simple games have always been.
Like novels, which have only seven plots, most classic games have only one or two modes of play. Platform, shoot em up or puzzle. So lots of cartoon games are variations on those themes seen through the lens of the cartoon world in question.
As cartoons are themselves timeless and essentially simple, it seems to make sense that cartoon games follow the same pattern – taking the simplest forms of computer game (which also tend to be the purest, the best and the longest lived) and using them to make those beloved cartoon worlds and characters come to life again.
Essentially, cartoons and computer games are both a form of easy, pure escapism. So it’s little wonder that cartoon games are immensely popular with all age groups – specifically with members of those age groups who still find computer games to be fulfilling and rewarding.
The ultimate nostalgia trip and often free, a cartoon game can while away the minutes waiting for a train (on a mobile phone); it can snatch a little break from work (on the boss’s computer); and it can be a fun way to spend an afternoon when it’s raining outside. Or it can be a way for confirmed fans of a show to get more out of its characters and its world.
In other words: cartoon games, like cartoons, are all things to all people, hugely enjoyable and largely innocent.