Casual gamers: An outdated and bygone group

9 min read
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mobile-gaming

Gaming has wrestled with the idea of casual gamers vs hardcore gamers for as long as I can remember. Improved technology, which led to more powerful mobile devices, created new platforms for gaming that resulted in an even murkier distinction between these two types of gamers.

What exactly is the definition of a casual gamer? Well, there are many. Some define casual gamers based on their platform of choice. A humourous comment by Hammersteyn (on Zoe’s article tackling this topic) sums this up quite well:

Ask any PC gamer, XBOX and PS people are casual gamers.
Ask any of those gamers and they will say Nintendo is casual.
Nintendo gamers will say mobile gamers are casual.
Mobile gamers will say whats this gamer thing you refer to?

Other definitions of a casual gamer use metrics such as hours played, rankings or knowledge of a specific game or genre. The rise of eSports and how large it has become has served to create another layer in this contentious issue.

Now, hours played isn’t enough. It’s about how closely you follow the competitive scene around your favourite game, it’s about knowing all the pro teams and casters. It’s about whether you read all the patch notes before they came out and if you play ranked/competitive queue or you stick to casual/normal queue.

So why is it that casual gamers seem to draw the ire of the hardcore community?

The hated ones. The Casuals. 

LAN

It goes without saying, but as a community we can be pretty competitive. It comes with territory. Who has the best rig at a LAN. Who has the highest rank amongst friends and beyond. Is your Steam catalogue or gaming collection the biggest? 30fps vs 60fps.

So when people come around who seemingly don’t care about any of that and are merely focused on having fun, it’s a shock to the system. History has shown us time and time again how humanity reacts to differences amongst itself.

This competitive nature leads to another reason that casual gamers are given so much contempt. They are seen as taking up space when it comes to the attention of devs.

There has been a growing discussion around the idea that games are not as hard as they used to be. Pandering to casuals is seen as a large reason for this trend. Whilst the topic of games becoming too easy over time is definitely a worthwhile discussion to be had, putting the blame solely at the feet of casual gamers seems rather shortsighted and misguided.

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This concept that games are made easier for casual players is complicated because the idea of what is hard and what is seen as overly complex is a contentious issue even amongst so called hardcore gamers.

Dota2

For example, if you look at Dota 2 in comparison to League of Legends, it’s undeniable that Dota 2 is a more complex game. There is last hitting, there are model turn rates, the number of active items is far larger than in League of Legends, but does that necessarily make it a hard game or is it just unnecessarily complex?

The point is, the discussion of what makes a game hard or not is an intricate topic and one that cannot just be dismissed as casual gamers are the cause for games being too easy.

Continuing with eSports intensive games, casual gamers are often disliked as they are considered the weak points when hardcore gamers are trying to climb competitive ladders. The problem however is that even gamers that would be considered hardcore (they play the game a lot and practice to get better and climb the queue) are called casuals as an insult.

The language used in eSports often establishes being a casual player as a lesser gamer, so much so that it is the new term for being a “noob”. So with the distinction between casual and hardcore more blurred than ever before, does the term still hold any relevance? Does it belong in our gaming lexicon?

Does it matter that you’re a casual gamer?

clash-of-clans

Before writing this article, I would have argued that yes, it matters if you’re a casual gamer, but not for the reasons it currently does. I would have said that the reality is that there are casual gamers and hardcore gamers and pretending otherwise would be disingenuous.

I’d have said that it’s really important that devs, especially those with eSports driven games, keep in mind that they have two kinds of gamers when making decisions and introducing features. But now, I really don’t see the need for the term, nor do I really believe in the concept at all.

Firstly, this idea that there is a right and wrong way to game, as is so often implied by the casual vs hardcore distinction, is ridiculous. You’re not more of a gamer because you know that the dev behind the latest AAA game got married last week and that they’re expecting a second child next year March.

You’re also not less of a gamer because you choose to play games primarily on your phone or because you bought a Nintendo Wii instead of going the Xbox/PlayStation route. Gaming has enough social barriers to entry as is, there is no need to add more.

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Additionally, gaming has changed so much over the years that the traditional idea of what a casual gamer is, has become so outdated. As mentioned before, eSports has added another layer to the discussion of what it means to be a casual gamer. If you only play once a week but you’re a high ranking player, does that make you less or more of a hardcore gamer compared to the other person who plays 5 hours a day and knows all the pro teams but has a bottom of the barrel ranking?

Additionally the extent to which games, on what have traditionally been considered casual gaming platforms, have improved and grown adds further weight to the argument that the notion of casual gaming is a thing of the past. You can play San Andreas on your phone for goodness sake.

The gaming community already suffers from a lack of inclusivity that arises from a plethora of reasons, one of which is this predetermined idea of how one should game and whether this gives you the right to comment on or engage in the community.

rdr2

Not too long ago, some gamers were mocking Brianna Wu for not knowing that the Rockstar logo on red signified the coming of Red Dead Redemption 2. She wasn’t enough of a gamer for not knowing that and therefore had no business talking about the industry. All her past work, which already receives intense negative backlash, was discredited by these same people purely because she didn’t understand the significance of the Rockstar teaser art.

At the end of the day, the phrase “you do you” should really be all that matters. Play games how you want to play games. If you don’t read reviews before buying a game, you do you. If you know every single pro team in each league in every region across the globe, do you. Are you 1k MMR in Dota 2? Do you. Is Clash of Clans your favourite game ever? Do you.

Everyone, regardless of how they play games, is contributing to making the industry and the overall scene better and that’s something we can all get behind.

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Last Updated: January 4, 2017

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Glenn Kisela

I've always loved video games as well as writing, so mixing the two together was inevitable. When I'm not doing that, I do photography and design.

  • Pariah ???

    I’m proudly a casual gamer. I don’t have the patience to be a hardcore gamer. I like to have fun, chill do mah thang.

    And end up spending hundreds of hours in games where I can do just that.

    • For the Emperor!

      I sometimes actually play a new game on easy like the “filthy casual” I am just to have fun and experience the story. But if I really like the game and play a second time, I will up the difficulty because it is worth it. For example I played Mass Effect and Space Marine on easy so I could experience the story, but each subsequent play-through went more difficult as the game was a proven commodity and I felt extra value could be had 🙂 Also Deadpool, not my type of game but played on easy to have fun and get the story, then passed it on to a colleague.

  • miaau

    “you do you” – sounds like my sex life, badummm – tsssshhhhh

    • Pariah ???

      Also a nice way to say to someone “go fuck yourself”.

      • miaau

        I had not considered that as yet.

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      You singular or you plural?

    • Hahaha

      *slow clap*

  • miaau

    More seriously, I am bewhiskered by all this, truly.

    Play games to have fun, for some that will mean the ultra competitive, 150 actions per minute or whatever, focused game-play. For others, fun means, shooting a few zombies or something and then going to bed.

    Neither is incorrect or wrong. I think the core issue here, as alluded to by Glenn, is that humans want other humans to like the same things, with the same intensity as them, particular in groups. AND then humans start to somehow distrust those that do not, that are different. And on and on and on.

    Apathetic bloody species, truly.

    • Pariah ???

      tl;dr

      • miaau

        Me good, you good, is ok if me and you do different things

        • Pariah ???

          NO WAY! WUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT

          • miaau

            WAAAAAY

    • What you said rings true. The only thing that matters is that every single person must love the Mass Effect franchise! Nothing else matters. 😛

    • “humans want other humans to like the same things, with the same intensity as them, particular in groups”

      Exactly this. It’s a really frustrating character trait we seem to share as a species. Like ugh.

  • I have a monster rig yes. No I don’t play lots of AAA games… This year my 980Ti was used to power Terraria and Warframe mostly.

    • Pariah ???

      But hey, Terraria 4k 60fps must look grand tho right?

    • Dungeon of JJ

      * “AAA”

      • Admiral Chief – Dragonborn

        Say AAA

        • Dungeon of JJ

          heh?

    • Dungeon of JJ

      Game for yourself, who cares what they call it?

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        What if they call it co-op gaming? 😉

        • Dungeon of JJ

          Then you help a brother/sister out 🙂

          • Lord Chaos

            O_o
            I’m just gonna leave…

      • Lord Chaos

        I have a gutter comment on this that should best not see the light of day.

      • I kinda do that xD

        I play whatever I want all the time

    • Is Warframe still going strong? I played that game like 3 times & never touched it again. Felt like such a grind.

      Mind you, this was a few years back so I’m sure it’s a completely different game now.

      • Yea it’s totally revamped. Lazzy gamer has a very vocal Warframe community 😛

        We are small in numbers but we play the game almost daily.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    If being a hardcore gamer is all about your K/D ratio, esports & watching twitch – then fuck yeah I’m a casual gamer & proud of it. Stuff that noise.

    • Pariah ???

      Don’t hate on Twitch. If you find a decent streamer (or a few, keep looking) – it’s a nice way to chill and switch off for a while. Beats TV by a long shot.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        No, no it doesn’t.

        • Pariah ???

          It really, really does.

          At least on Twitch I Don’t have to deal with stupid. Or ads while I’m watching. Or you know. Idiots. And more stupid people.

          Because if a streamer is dumb, I close and find another. Not like TV where SABC 1 is dumb. SABC 2 is dumb. SABC 3…. YOu get the picture.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            tl;dr

          • HvR

            But does is beat DUBLE-JA DUBLE-JA EEEE RAEWWWW TONIGHT ON E!!!!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Nee pappa.

        • miaau

          It beats what Pariah is calling TV, in the response below

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            twitch.tv 😉

    • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

      Ditto

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I’m sommer gonna get a console now.

        (Just kidding :D)

        • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

          😀

    • Dungeon of JJ

      K/D means nothing unless you’re gaming for a profession.

    • To be fair, you have people that barely play games but watch a lot of streams.

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        I’m too lazzy to be faire.

  • I am a soft-core gamer. PG18.

  • If you think gamers were having a go at Brianna Wu because they think she’s a casual gamer of any kind, you must not know the kind of shit Brianna Wu has pulled (like sending herself death threats and getting caught doing it, I could go on for an entire day). 😉

    • Luckely I don’t care enough to know who Brianna Wu is.

      • Dungeon of JJ

        No idea here either.

      • Admiral Chief – Dragonborn

        Does she rap?

        • Dungeon of JJ

          I bet she’s been on a wrecking ball.

      • Lord Chaos

        W(ho)u?

      • Lu

        Wuuuuu are you. Wu Wu. Wu Wu.

    • I know the saga around her but that wasn’t the point of bringing her up. There were a ton of tweets making fun of her not knowing the significance of the RDR2 teaser & then trashing her for it by stating she’s a casual that doesn’t know anything. That’s really the point I was making from that.

  • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

    Wow, quoting a comment I made three years ago. And here I thought I’m just commenting for the lulz. I am honoured

    • Means you stay relevent even after all these years.

      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        Feels surreal O_o

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          That’s hardcore commenting. 😀

          • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

            ROFL

          • But was meant as a casual comment. 😛

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Shakespeare is the casual now!

    • miaau

      It was a damn fine comment

      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        Thx! XD

      • HvR

        It was but still not close to:
        “Ah, yes, but who remembers the person who came in 2nd, 3rd and so forth? Let alone 7th” -miaau

    • miaau

      Are you concerned you may have peaked?

      Then?

      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        Could be… Now I’m scared

    • Admiral Chief – Dragonborn

      Better lock your windows and doors, influx of wimmins are going to overwhelm you!

      FAMOUSSTEYN

      • miaau

        you do not think that, if that were likely to happen, it would have already?

        • Admiral Chief – Dragonborn

          Floodgates opened today.
          He is a legend, now, that status is in the public domain.
          And now, by talking about it, we are making it worse (better?)
          JUST WEAR PROTECTION DAMMIT HAMMER!

          • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

    • I’M ALWAYS WATCHING. READING ALL YOUR COMMENTS. BE WARNED.

      • Hammersteyn_hates_Raid0

        XD

  • HvR

    Glen out FFD’ing the FFD

    • Admiral Chief – Dragonborn

      Not yet, still a few more comments to go

  • Dungeon of JJ

    Honestly. I’m not gaming because I enjoy it. So they can call it what they want. Twitch, esports. All of that. They can have their fans, and I respect that. But none of that’s for me. I enjoy the art of a game and how it makes you think and feel, and how it lets you engage in a way that movies cannot.

    • Admiral Chief – Dragonborn

      You don’t enjoy it?

      *GASP*

      • Dungeon of JJ

        I edited that a second after I posted it.

        • Lord Chaos

          Screenshots already saved for future reference.

          • Dungeon of JJ

            I bet you my screenshot archive is bigger 😛

          • Lord Chaos

            It all makes sense now. You were trying to take a screenshot (selfie) and the weight just “fell” 😛
            *runs

          • Dungeon of JJ

            Bastard! XD

    • Alien Emperor Trevor
    • Pariah ???

      Have you tried Beyond Eyes? It sounds right up your alley.

      • Dungeon of JJ

        O_O
        *adds to wishlist*

  • 40 Insane Frogs

    Damn dirty casuals… ruining our games and taking our wommin!

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/1a/0d/c7/1a0dc7afd33f0bef497a031959a3ba64.jpg

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