If you spend even a short time in the gaming community, you’ll eventually hear some gamer putting down the “casual gamer”. The casual gamer, of course, is one of those people who spends a few hours a week playing video games or who plays the ‘casual games’ that companies like Big Fish Games put out every day. To the hardcore gamer, they’re not a ‘gamer’ at all.
To the hardcore gamer (read — the guy who plays computer games 30-plus hours a week and not just any video games, oh no, they have to the be hardcore type — Battlefield, StarCraft, Minecraft, Diablo, WoW, the Civilization games, Borderlands 1 and 2, Guild Wars etc), if you can’t hold your own in a ‘real game’ (read — with lots of big weapons, huge open RPG worlds, or so much difficult lingo to remember the three-hours-a-week gamer would never have time to learn it), then you’re not a gamer at all. Casual gamers aren’t gamers at all. In fact, casual gamers suck.
But, do they?
Of course they don’t.
I’ve been gaming for around 20 years. I started off in the early 1990s with games like Myst, Gabriel Knight, Quake and Doom, and I spent a few years playing 40 hours-plus a week through Baldur’s Gate, Stonekeep and Zork Nemesis . In the early 21st century, I tapered off gaming as life got in the way until I ended up buying only a couple of games a year and not always finishing them at that.
Finally, a few years ago, I got into casual gaming for a while — the real casual gaming a la Big Fish style — the Dark Parables games, Hallowed Legends: Samhain, Midnight Mysteries and, of course, the Drawn series.
These types of casual games I could pick up and finish in six hours or so were perfect for my busy schedule. They kept my hand in gaming, they entertained me, the graphics were gorgeous, and the gameplay challenging enough for someone who just spent all day teaching fifty Thai kids how to speak English. Were they games a true ‘hardcore gamer’ would play? Hell no. Were they games I was embarrassed to be known to play? Hell no.
All games have a place in the world and so do all gamers, including casual ones. I don’t give a flying fig if you’re a hardcore gamer or one of the more casual type. Games are supposed to be entertaining, fun and, for most people, challenging. (If you don’t want challenging, that’s alright too). So don’t let any ‘hardcore gamer’ tell you otherwise.
Think of it like this — games are amazing. They are a combination of everything we love – stunning graphics, incredible stories, cool voice overs, interesting puzzles, some shooting and killing if you want and, oh yeah, awesome music. When you factor in how little we usually pay per hour of gameplay time, most games (casual and hardcore) are the best deals around.
So whether you are a casual gamer who loves playing The Sims three hours a week, or a hardcore gamer whose usual schedule means not going to sleep until the birds begin to sing because you’re not done grinding in Guild Wars, who cares? As long as you’re having fun, I don’t.
And as for me, I’m now back playing the type of hardcore games I used to play — Divine Divinity, Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, Borderlands 2, Mass Effect — but that doesn’t mean I won’t play a few casual games – when the mood strikes.