Title: Casual gamers VS. Casual games. Is there a difference?
Posted: March 03, 2008 (03:29 PM)
Yes! There is. Which is why I'm confused. Lately there seems to be a number of debates circling the web based around comparisons of systems and their titles based on which is better for the casual gamer, or whether the system is intended for caual gaming or not. I'm confused because the two are completely unrelated. Casual games and casual gamers are not the same thing, but it would appear that one is being lumped with the other in some circumstances. This doesn't make sense.
By definition, a casual game is usually a small, budget title. They retain a minimal learning curve, becoming accessable to a larger number of people. And yet the best ones still take time and skill to master. A person can pick up a casual game, be in the game in seconds, play the game for 5 minutes, and walk away with a measure of progress or development. Casual games are titles like Solitare, Wario Ware, Nintendogs, Peggle, etc.
A hardcore game is wholly different. Hardcore games can not be completed in a couple hours. If a person were to play a hardcore game they might be able to make a small amount of progress in five minutes, yet in the vastness of the game's objectives this means very little. There is usually a strong amount of depth to the game's strategies or understanding that cannot all be learned in a matter of minutes. Hardcore games usualy have far higher level of progression than casual ones, requiring more time and effort to make advances. They are also usually more involved where control and concentration is concerned, and they might require the learning of unique boss patterns or enemy strategies, etc. Hardcore games are titles like Final Fantasy, Rainbow Six: Vegas, Madden, Mario Galaxy, etc.
So if we have games like Nintendogs and Madden, both polar opposites, obviosuly the casual gamer is going to play nintendogs and the hardcore gamer is expected to play madden. And yet that couldn't be farther from the truth. Both games have sold well over a million copies, and both games are being enjoyed by both sides of the fence.
The thing is, casual gamer or not, the games you play do not always fall into the category of gamer you are. Games like the two above are so well advertised and known that a large number of gamers, casual or not, usually find themselves buying them.
It's fair to call anyone who only buys a few games of a type a casual gamer or a harcore gamer sure, but just because say you're a casual gamer does not mean you always play casual games. The 30 year old mother/father, secretary, security officer at his desk, etc. who plays peggle and solitare for 2-4 hours every day may only really play an abundance of casual games but, by definition, they're a lot more hardcore than the guy who plays Halo 3 maybe two times a week for a couple hours.
There is a split there. Casual gamers do not always play casual games, and hardcore gamers do always play hardcore titles. Trying to define a game or system by the number of people who play it or not is silly. Gamers of all types play a variety of games, not just one category or another.
So don't be so quick to judge a game or gamer just because of their playing habits or quickly judge a game based on the audience it was created for. Chances are your grandmother who plays card games online for three hours a day is mroe hardcore than you are. And chances are that not every guy who owns Halo 3 plays more than a couple hours a week.
Posted: March 03, 2008 (05:40 PM)
You said that very well, I think. It's absolutely true. I'll play games of all types and I don't think most would consider me a casual gamer. In the same week, I might work through a puzzle game then sit down to something like The Club or an involving RPG. Casual and hardcore gamers are defined not so much by the games they play as they are the passion they bring to the table when playing.
Posted: March 04, 2008 (01:29 AM)
I normally differentiate between Hardcore and Casual gamers by their devotion to the gaming scene as a whole. To me, a hardcore gamer could be someone who blows through every 360 game when it comes out, someone with a massive Commodore collection, or someone who checks out websites to keep up with the latest "casual" games.
Most of my family plays games very regularly - my sister wants her own PC for World of Warcraft, my dad plays Battlefield 2 until 3am, and my brother just bought a Wii. I wouldn't call any of them Hardcore though, because they each have one or two games that they stick to. When they want something new, they call me for a recommendation.
Is the guy who buys a PS3 and constantly plays Madden throughout the off-season hardcore? No. What about the guy who gets a PS3, Madden, and can't wait for Haze to come out? Quite possibly.
Honestly, distinguishing what's hardcore and what isn't is fairly pointless to begin with, as you pointed out. I still do it though, because it's easier than trying to explain the nuances of a particular game and the crowd it might appeal to. Instead of saying that God Hand gets frustratingly difficult, has a complex fighting system, with some brutal moves, I can just call it a hardcore beat-em-up.
It's a fine line with plenty of blurry smudges, but it's useful to have the distinctions when you need them.
Posted: March 04, 2008 (08:25 AM)
If you own Jimmu Denshou, you're pretty hardcore, especially if you knew how bad it was before you bought it.