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Hidden Object Game

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A Hidden Object Game (often abbreviated HOG) is a subgenre of Casual Video Games where the player has to find a series of objects in a cluttered scene, which are almost always photorealistic.

In most cases, expect objects that have no business being anywhere near the scene pictured, and a good helping of Anachronism Stew (a jumbo jet inside the depths of an ancient Egyptian tomb, for example). After getting the objects, you'll be given one of them to take with you for use in your exploration of the game's setting (for instance, if you get an axe, expect to find a door with a busted lock somewhere).

A subgenre of this subgenre are Interactive Hidden Object Games (IHOGs), also called Hidden Object Puzzle Adventures (HOPAs). In these, the regular hidden object screens are mixed with other types of puzzles. There's usually some connection between the hidden object parts and the puzzle parts. For instance, you may collect a set of items by finding them in hidden object screens, then assemble them to get through a puzzle screen. Nearly every HOG has puzzles to solve.

Fragmented Hidden Object Games (FROGs) are another subgenre. Each item to be found is broken into several pieces. Fortunately, there usually aren't as many items to search for as in a "straight" HOG. Normally each item will automatically reassemble once all the component bits have been found.

Most current games are primarily horror games, although there are a few mystery ones (sometimes, they're both). Basically, they're Survival Horror titles with hidden object levels replacing the monsters. Although most of them have subtitles, they're either a standalone game or part of a long series.

The hidden object scene is dominated by Big Fish and Alawar, but other, smaller companies are starting to make names for themselves. All games on the top 5 list of 2012 HOGs on Gamezebo (the website for HOGs) are available at Big Fish. (It's worth noting that Big Fish distributes many games for other developers, in addition to the ones they personally produce.)

The non-electronic counterpart has been around for ages, those little "spot the difference" puzzles typically in newspapers, especially the "kid's section", or on TV, where they show two almost identical pictures next to each other and you have to find the little differences.

Of course, not all hidden object games are able to get sequels beyond the first game, but nonetheless will be given their due acknowledgment.

Notable games in this genre include: