Swap Adjacent Gems to Make Sets of Three - A History of Matching Tile Games

The article aims to write the history of a video game genre. The genre is that of matching tile games, video games where the object of the player is to manipulate tiles on a grid in order to create matches. For a few years, the best known and best selling matching tile games have been the Bejeweled series from PopCap games.

The author's interest is in how matching tile games have developed during the past 21 years, in how new design and innovation has happened, and in the relation between game design and player experiences. The history of a game genre is also a mapping of the issues that face game developers as well as players.

Matching tile games are today mostly sold via the distribution channel of casual, downloadable games, a channel that puts conflicting pressures on game developers: Innovate enough to differentiate, but make the game sufficiently like other games that players find it easy to pick up and play1. When developers claim that their game is the original game that inspired other games (rather than the other way around), they are also writing their version of game history. When player picks up a game, they are also using their conception of video game history to understand the new game.

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