Last night at the Montreal IGDA chapter meeting, we had a roundtable discussion of how the Long Tail can apply to games. I hosted one of the 6 tables and the topic for the night was 'Connecting Supply With Demand'.
Most of the discussion centered on the idea of an 'iTunes' for games -- an aggregation of unique games so large and diverse that Long Tail tools (user recommendations, etc) could apply. I pointed to Manifesto Games as an example of this in action (although granted still in its infancy stages). Someone else mentioned Newgrounds, which I hadn't heard of.
One of the points brought up at most tables is that games are much harder to create then many other forms of Long Tail media (photos, writing, music, etc) and so we might not ever see a database of tens of thousands of games created by the masses. The barrier to entry is just too high. Some countered this point with the 'it's just a matter of time' argument -- that today's children are growing up with interactivity as an integral part of their entertainment experiences, and so will be much more comfortable with creating their own games given the incentive to do so. Others proposed that we have no way of knowing now what sort of tools will eventually be available to the casual game developers of the future. Perhaps one day creating game X will be possible as an extension of playing game Y in a certain way. Spore's polinated content taken a few steps further.
I think, however, newsgrounds (and similar flash game aggregators) is proof positive that the long tail for unique game content is already there, one just has to think beyond the big budget titles. All these great flash games aren't yet aggregated into a single place, though, so for the time being, google and blogs will have to serve.
With that, three flash games that I have been introduced to over the last few days that deserve your time:
Dice Wars -- Like 'Risk', only much easier to grasp. Click your land, click an adjacent land, and if the sum of the dice when rolled in your land is greater then the sum of the dice when rolled in your opponents', you take over. When you control the whole continent, you win.
Jeu Chiant -- The instructions (in French) roughly translate to: "can you control the two separate hemispheres of your brain?. Keep both balls in the air for as long as possible".
Line Rider -- This is ''not a game, its a toy" (according to the developer). No goals, no scores, just hours of fun and creativity...sounds like a game to me.
Update: Clint Hocking linked here, and in the comments section to his post Patrick (who I've never met, but his blog made an immediate impression on me) linked to the 'youtube of games', Pjio.