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Beer and pretzels is a slang term used to refer to a video game that is considered to be easy in terms of strategy and rules, but is still entertaining. Beer-and-pretzel games are designed to be completed in a short time (less than a day) and generally involve multiple players. These games get their name from the custom of drinking beer and eating pretzels while taking part in such games.
Beer-and-pretzel video games marked a sharp departure from the previous trend where games where getting longer and more immersive as technological capabilities increased. Immersive games still make up the majority of games produced, but beer-and-pretzel games have become a popular subgenre within gaming. Moreover, some immersive games have introduced beer-and-pretzel elements, so they can be enjoyed in groups or by a single player. These elements include time trails, mini-games, kill-count challenges, and so on.
Beer and pretzels was originally used to refer to board games that could be played in a group whileenjoying – you guessed it – beer and pretzels. Essentially, these games required very little mentaleffort compared to in-depth strategy board games that are played over days and months. Theconcept of beer-and-pretzels gaming has expanded to include console-based video games. "Spaceward Ho!", a science fiction computer game set in space, is considered to be one of the mose famous beer-and-pretzels PC games.
In 2006, the Nintendo Wii was released with a number of titles that became classics of beer-and-pretzels gaming. These games emphasized intuitive controls and group participation. The success of the Wii encouraged more game designers to focus on group games with easy-to-learn gameplay and shorter playing time per round or level.