In Defense of the Casual Gamer

NoShoes

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In Defense of the Casual Gamer

Here?s something that may come as a shock: casual gaming is not a crime.

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JUMBO PALACE

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There's certainly nothing wrong with waiting until games drop in price or taking the experience slowly, but the "casual" gamer the author talks about is not the type of "causal" gamer I think a lot of "hardcore" players malign. Personally, and I think many would agree, I take issue with the casual gamer who simply buys the yearly Call of Duty or Madden, thereby contributing to the stagnation and lack of creativity in the industry. The casual gamer who asks for directions towards the quality titles like Skyrim, Metro, or even shooters with a little more depth like Battlefield are more than welcome. Sheep are not.
 

Iosifavich

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The problem is that "Casual gamers" has become synonymous with "Bad Gamers", I believe this is wrong and i never ever confuse the two.

The history is Casual Gamers and when game developers started seeing them as a viable revenue stream and started developing games with casual gamers in mind. This is why you do not see Role Playing Games (RPG) with the 100+ hour play times or why most single player story's on games are less then 20 hours. This is also why MMO's gate everything by time so that you can pretty much do the same thing as the "Hard-core Gamers" as long as you play for 1 or 2 hours a day. Also the over simplification of game mechanics so that they are easer to understand and use makes better gamers feel like the games they love are consistently being dumbed down for casual gamers. Since they understand the game controls/mechanics it must mean they are bad gamers.

What has happens as much of the industry's consumers feels that they have been deprived of content or limited because of a large group of people that have never been and never will be dedicated to the game or industry like the "Normal" or "Hard-Core" gamer.
 

Imbechile

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I have nothing against casual gamers.

I do have a problem when complex games get dumbed-down to appeal to the casual audience, like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout.
 

Spiridion

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I feel like the definition of casual gamer being used here is different than the definition that I usually hear people using, or at least the definition I have on my head. Generally, I would see casual gamers as people that primarily play CoD or Madden, or perhaps people that only play Facebook/iPhone/Wii games. What's being described in this article just sounds like gamers that are strapped for cash or have to go to class/work in the morning. The thing is, everyone I know is this sort of gamer, but they're all still pretty dedicated to games/gaming, e.g. making a point to watch E3 press conferences live and 100% as many of their games as they can.

It seems like what you described here as casual is closer to just a generic gamer, not hardcore, but not casual either.
 

Covarr

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May 29, 2009
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I consider myself casual and a half. I follow all the gaming news, I'm acutely aware of what's out, what's coming out soon, what's popular, and what's good, and I game on a near-daily basis... but I also have no intention of buying a PS4 or Xb1 at launch, have never camped out for a game or console, and have been relatively uninterested in most of the AAA games to come out in the past few years. It's fun living on both sides.

P.S. Thanks
 

omega 616

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They get too much hate, just look at the top comments, so they like to play cod and Madden... And? Are you saying they shouldn't buy games they have no interest in to satisfy your want for less stagnation or so they aren't "dumbed down"? What kind of fascist gamer are you?

In my 24 year life, I've gamed for most of it, I don't party or socialize at all. I've bought all the cod games since MW2 on launch day and I've never bought one of your precious gaming greats (limbo, fez, brink, psychonaughts, okami, the originals of stuff like xcom, baldurs gate, fallout etc or mirrors edge) and I think indies are generally crap... What am I? I've spent thousands on gaming, spent thousands of hours playing through hunger and needing to piss really badly but half the stuff you love, I think is meh to crap.
Am I a filthy casual or hardcore... According to your definition

I have vastly different definitions.

"Dumbed down" is such a wrongly used phrase, complex games should be dumbed down... Why make things more complex for yourself? Sounds fucked up to me! In every other walk of life things are made more simple... Phones and tablets are idiot proof but games must be so complex only people with impressive deductive skills can play? Fuck off, that's just arrogance.

You all claim to want innovation but when something is innovative, nobody buys it but a sequel comes out and boom, it's the best selling piece of media ever! Don't blame the casual gamers for stagnation, if you want to assign blame you need only look in he mirror.
 

Phrozenflame500

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Imbechile said:
I do have a problem when complex games get dumbed-down to appeal to the casual audience, like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout.
/thread

Nobody cares how often you play games in a day or how you spend your money on them. That doesn't affect us and more often or not is not really your choice.

What we do care about is clueless marketing execs going "Hey, that Angry Birds thing is making lots of money. Let's release our next game easy to understand like Angry Birds, because that totally makes sense and doesn't show we have no idea who are target audience is!"

Of course, this being the internet, people tend to take it way to far and blame the wrong people.
 

LysanderNemoinis

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Nov 8, 2010
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Imbechile said:
I have nothing against casual gamers.

I do have a problem when complex games get dumbed-down to appeal to the casual audience, like the Elder Scrolls and Fallout.
2xDouble said:
Well... excuse the fuck out of me for having a life outside of video games.
Brothers (or sisters) I think we're conflating "casual" gamers with "CoD" fans. Elder Scrolls and Fallout getting streamlined is not the fault of someone like 2xDouble because they aren't as "hardcore" as some. And Miss Barefoot makes a perfect case. I buy games well after launch because I'm a really cheap bastard, but I play the ever-loving crap out of those gays. I never buy games at launch (though almost always new), and I consider myself a gamer, whatever that may mean. There's a difference between someone who's thrifty and likes their games to be fully patched and FAQed (and GOTYed) before they buy, and someone who only buys generic brown and gray shooters and only shooters (sports games are a niche unto themselves and thus free from my scorn), thus dragging down the entire industry. So go forth and play your mobile games and wait a couple years before you pick up new items, so long as it's not Call of Derpy, I have no complaints.
 

Therumancer

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The problem with casual gamers is not the gamers themselves, but when the industry starts designing games primarily for casual gamers, making the game so friendly to half hearted, occasional play, that it becomes a joke for someone who wants an experience worthy of the "hardcore" investment of time and effort. Simply adding higher difficulty levels to a game which has been inherently simplified for casuals is not the same thing as making a genuinely deep, and hardcore experience... especially seeing as difficulty has less to do with a game being "hardcore" than many might think, in many cases it's the depth of options (and not hidden depth) and/or the simple scope of a gaming experience intended to take hundreds of hours, rather than something a casual can complete in half a dozen hour long game sessions.

In theory both kinds of gamers should be able to co-exist, as long as enough titles are produced to keep both groups happy. The problem is that as the casual gamers outnumber the real gamers, and are also substantially less demanding in terms of quality, innovation, writing, etc... the gaming industry chooses to release titles almost exclusively designed for casual play. Something which has gone so far as to see ongoing series of games gradually dumbed down and simplified so as to be more approachable to casual gamers. An example of this would be how the available options in the "Elder Scrolls" series has gone down with each installment, or how despite massive demand which has been able to carry some indie companies, we haven't seen much in the way of AAA level RPG releases with turn based combat, full party creation, etc... It's all "simple, streamlined, real time". In general the hardest core gamers the industry caters to are the so called "Gun Bros" and really they are a form of casual gamer, with formulaic shooter games replacing clickfests like Farmville and the like.

To be honest the criticisms never really went away, it's just that the gaming media has spent a lot less time being critical of casual gamers for a long time, the message being one of acceptance or surrender from that direction for a while. Not to mention the tendency of some forum moderators in various sites (not really here though) being fairly militant in going after people who are anti-casual and express strong sentiment in that direction. Honestly though the biggest transition is simply that the whole casual gamer thing has seen most of it's energy directed at the gaming industry for catering to casuals to the extent they do, rather than at the casual gamers themselves, which is how I mostly approach the subject. I do not generally care how someone plays a game or what they enjoy, as long as I can find a steady supply of the kind of games I want, produced at an adequate level. Indie games are fine, but I myself want the bells, whistles, graphics, and other innovations attached to serious titles, as opposed to entirely being invested on casuals. Right now my choices largely seem to be indie games with a lot of depth that look like something my cat might have coughed up, or relatively high quality experiences that are also extremely shallow so as to draw in the casual market. Exceptions exist, but are very, very few. Also a big part of it is to produce enough games to keep the relative markets happy, simply put, even considering indie development, there just aren't enough games of the desired types to keep the hardcore gamers sated as they play them. Sure a hardcore gamer might put hundreds of hours into a worthy title, but when he's done, he wants to move onto another game, and it breeds anger when there aren't any, and even more anger when they are taking a much loved series and hyping how casual they are now making it.

Ideally, it should be a simple matter of "you play your games, I play mine" but the gaming industry just isn't willing to do that. The industry has increasingly been taking the role of villain here, but there is still a lot behind the basic idea that if casual gamers can be forced out one way or another, the gaming industry will produce for it's remaining consumers. Something which has increasingly become less and less likely with the gaming media being friendly towards casuals, as opposed to siding with the hardcore gamers in trying to force them out, into other hobbies. In general you'll see tons of articles like this defending casuals on gaming sites, but very few people vilifying them, not to mention I can't remember the last time I saw someone chased off of major gaming sites for being too casual. None of which is a bad thing of course.
 

siveon

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Eh, I agree with the Facebook comments. The definition got a bit skewed. Simply put, the Casual Gamers the author is talking about aren't Casual Gamers. Just, regular Gamers I suppose. What the Hardcore types refer to as "Casual Gamers" are the like to love having everything given to them easily and have nothing complicated at all. Or at least that's what I think they're referring to, and what game companies try to adhere to.

2xDouble said:
Well... excuse the fuck out of me for having a life outside of video games.
I'm not sure what you're talking about to so I'm just gonna assume it's people being negative against "Casual Gamers" on this post. If you are, then I have to say you aren't gonna be changing anyone's opinion anytime soon. You (again, if you're referring to the previous comments), in other people's eyes, are making things worse. Though I would mostly put the blame on companies such as Activision or EA.
 

Xman490

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May 29, 2010
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"Casual gamers could pick up a release anywhere from a few months to a few years after the release date, play leisurely in small groupings of time, and probably would pause the game to go grab dinner."
If by "small groupings" you mean 1 or 2 hours, then I'm definitely a "casual" gamer as you define it.

I thought that "hardcore" was about AAA high-end graphics games, while "casual" was about little games on smartphones or tablets. I may be "casual" under Heather's definition, but I have allotted over 90 games on Steam over the past 2 1/2 years. I have over a dozen Wii, Gamecube, Nintendo 64, and Xbox 360 games each. I don't consider myself "casual" compared to the majority of gamers.
 

Sean951

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"But they aren't marketing to ME anymore!" seems to be the primary complaint. Well, welcome to media. It's happened to books, which used to be only for academia and governance but now are used for pretty much any form of entertainment. Has to some extent to movies as well, though those have often appealed to all audiences and dedicate time to all profitable niches. It's just part of loving something with an ever growing fanbase that leaves smaller minorities behind.
 

Goliath100

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I got a problem with this artical and it's the obvious one; the definitions of "hardcore" and "casual" are just wrong. They seem to be based on time commitment and not a deeper interaction/ understanding. A " harcore gamer" should not be someone that plays 8 hours a day, but someone that explore the gaming medium. Same goes for "casual", playing 8 hours(or 6 or 4 or 3 or any time requirement) a day does not make one a hardcore if all one is doing is playing with an surface level understanding.
 

SageRuffin

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Dec 19, 2009
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I was a bit confused by the content of the article itself here. As I see it, a "casual gamer" is one who exclusively plays games on such devices like an iWhatever or an Android device - people who do such things to pass the time on the bus or something. These are folks who could give zero or less fucks about the finer intricacies about the gaming industry, and while that's not a bad thing in and of itself (hell, less worries), these are the folks that "big publishers" keep trying to target despite the fact that it often fails for the reasons I already stated.

There's an interesting dichotomy within the "Gaming Republic" as I like to put it (example: try to start a thread about any action game other than Dark Souls and see how far you get), but most of us agree that more gamers is an all-around good thing. If nothing else, who doesn't enjoy the fact that there are more people that share similar interests? Just now getting, say, Skyrim, Saints Row, or Prototype? Sure, you're a little late to the party, but there's still plenty of booze, finger foods, and potential friends left. Feel free to mingle and enjoy yourself!
 

Adventurer2626

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Ineffective labeling system is ineffective. Leave to humans to categorize and polarize anything at all. Just stop using labels and describe things. It will take forever but at least we'll be on the same page. Now if you'll excuse me I have an entmoot to convene.
 

INF1NIT3 D00M

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Goliath100 said:
I got a problem with this artical and it's the obvious one; the definitions of "hardcore" and "casual" are just wrong. They seem to be based on time commitment and not a deeper interaction/ understanding. A " harcore gamer" should not be someone that plays 8 hours a day, but someone that explore the aming medium. Same goes for "casual", playing 8 hours(or 6 or 4 or 3 or any time requirement) a day does not make one a hardcore if all one is doing is playing with an surface level understanding.
This guy's got it all right.
And another thing, your buying habits aren't necessarily a better indication of your interest in the medium. In any given year, I've played just about every "major" title released. I'm also heavily invested in Independent games. But by the "when did you buy it" rubric, I'd be a casual gamer. I almost never buy things at launch, and I'm generally the guy who swoops on Steam Sales or Humble Bundles. Compare this to a couple good friends of mine, whose gaming purchases total up to one xbox 360, one copy of Black Ops II, and one copy of Grand Theft Auto V, purchased at announcement. They would be the "Hardcore" gamers, and they play maybe 20 hours per week between them. They purchased GTAV largely on name alone, they're not the types who read gaming forums or magazines. I came to them, telling them about GTA:Online. It's not that they're "bad" in any way, I'm just trying to point out how these labels can sometimes be a bit misleading. There's not a solid definition of "Hardcore" versus "Casual". For the purposes of my own discussions, I try to focus more on a person's attitude toward gaming. There are many different types of gamers along a spectrum, to label them simply "Hardcore" or "Casual" doesn't do you much better than labeling someone "Liberal" or "Conservative" politically. Not everyone conforms to that label in every way, or in every situation.

I don't think that casual gamers need "defending". I think that we need to leave the labels behind entirely, because there's not much reason to distinguish between types of gamers anyway. I can't think of any positive context in which you would need to point out that someone "only" plays Call of Duty, or "only" plays 6 hours per week. I don't think there's any way you could sell me on the notion that someone paying less money for a game makes them somehow inferior. When you buy a game, you join a new community. If it's your first game, you join the gaming community at large. If you've just downloaded Warframe, you've just entered Warframe's community. Even if you're playing obscure games by Cactus and other "who's that?" developers, you're part of a niche art-game community. That's what's great about games. Whatever you play, however you play, however long you play, somewhere along the line you're going to be able to relate to another gamer regardless of what they play, however they play, or however long they play. You both like to sit down and occupy a virtual world. You both press buttons to make things happen on a display. Somehow, somewhere, in some way, you have something in common. It's best to get out of the mindset of "us" and "them" entirely, and simply focus on validating each other's passions for games, whatever they may be. That shift in focus is something you see primarily here on The Escapist, where we all come together over a passion for gaming, regardless of what each individual member actually plays.
 

Iosifavich

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People commonly mistake the differences of Dumbing-down a game and Streamlining a game they are vary different concepts. Making a game mechanics so simple that they lose depth or removing interesting and/or fun but easy to understand mechanics is considered "dumbing-down a game". This is vary different then removing, simplifying or clarifying a overly complicated/unnecessary game mechanic or making a game mechanics easer to understand and use is "Streamlining a game". You can have streamlined games that have lots of depth, you cannot have a dumbed-down game that has lots of depth.
 

NiPah

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I'm not sure who this article is really aimed at...
The way I see it there are several different types of people who will differentiate or call someone out on being a casual gamer:
The way too obsessed individual who validates their hobby by falsely inflating accomplishments (IE spent 10 hours in line to buy game, spent 400 hours in game, knows every macro for a race in RTS).
The individual who just wants to harass you by calling you names (IE trolls).
The individual who makes up stuff to look good (IE that kid who won the Utah regional Halo 1 championship that never existed).

All of these camps aren't really filled with stable individuals, respect is not self appointed and most who seek it deserve none. The creepy guy on the internet is calling you a casual gamer because you ask a question on the internet? Welcome to life. Every hobby is filled with assholes that should be ignored, hell this is true for humanity as a whole.

And don't worry, if you're actually worried that you're not respected as a casual gamer you're not actually a casual gamer, you are full on hardcore gaming goodness, with all the creepy awkward false sense of accomplishment labels that go along with it...

Reality time, we're all on a gaming forum devoted to our weird little hobby, we're hardcore!