The Truth About Hardcore and Casual Gaming

If you game at all, you will either be labeled a “casual” or a “Hardcore” gamer. I have never loved the terms, because I think those titles don’t accurately sum up what type of games a gamer likes. I’ve been gaming for a very long time, and have been active in many forums that create fandom of specific games, so let me explain the point of view of the majority of the gaming community that I’ve seen for many years.

A “casual” is usually considered to be someone who doesn’t play very often, and is drawn to ‘casual games’. Some of the demographics included in the “Casual” column include, but are not limited to: soccer moms, dads, children, mobile gamers, etc… The ‘casuals’ supposedly only play Super Mario Whatever, Candy Crush, or anything rated E; you know… ‘kiddie games’.

The Myth of the Hardcore Gamer

A “hardcore gamer” is usually associated with games like Call of Duty, Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and Bloodborne just to list a few. The demographic here is usually those in their mid-teens up to the early 30s range, maybe they’re single, live in college dorms, and such. But that’s just a stereotype.

Okay, so I’ve now roughly established the majority of the gaming community’s perception of the ‘only’ type of gamers out there. Just remember these are not my perceptions. Are you still with me?

I’m going to tell you that this labeling system is seriously flawed, and let me explain why.

I’ve already used Call of Duty as one of the examples of a ‘hardcore’ title that ‘hardcore’ gamers play, but if you think about it, there are a lot of guys out there that only play Call of Duty, Madden, or maybe the Assassin’s Creed if they’re feeling a little spontaneous.

I have a cousin who has a PS3, and when my wife and I stayed with him, I noticed that he only had CoD titles and a couple of Madden games. He doesn’t play that often, because he goes to work a lot. I know he probably likes to “shoot the man” after a long day of work or during the weekend, but would we call him a Hardcore gamer? Or a Casual gamer? Hmm… interesting right? There is still some truth to casual players playing games like Mario Kart and Candy Crush, but I think it also applies to guys like my cousin who may dabble in “shoot’em ups” as a way to unwind. Now here comes the next half where I explain what a hardcore gamer is.

If you look at the definitions that I pulled from, you’ll see the one thing that comes to play with these two titles is time.

Let’s flip to the other side of the coin here. Some may play mostly Nintendo games such as Splatoon, Mario Kart, or Pokémon, but they will play as long as they can, maybe even too much… Would these individuals be casual or hardcore?

I used to be in a Mario Kart clan back in 2008, and it was anything but casual. We would grind and perfect every turn on the race track because even though items were in play, you still couldn’t easily foil an expert racer.

Appreciating Gamers of All Kinds

Another example I like to use to advocate for ‘casuals’ that are hardcore, is by speaking of the difficulty of Super Mario Bros. 2.  No no, not Super Mario Bros. 2 with Toad and Princess Toadstool, I’m talking about Super Mario Bros. 2 from Japan! This game is also known as “The Lost Levels” in the United States, which is a hard version of the original Super Mario Bros. If you can beat Lost Levels without getting Game Over, you are a beast!

I love games of all shapes and sizes, from Zelda to Final Fantasy, from Gears of War to Splatoon! If the game plays well, looks good, tastes good (what!? j/k), I’ll play it, and may even add it to my collection if I hear enough good things about it.

The point of this article wasn’t to pick on anyone who liked any specific game; I just wanted to flesh out the labels that our community uses a little too liberally in my opinion. I hope this kind of helps you to have a fresh perspective on the diversity of gamers and their gaming choices.

And if you’re at the point where you are playing a little too much, that may be the level of hardcore that’s not good for anyone. Make sure you prioritize enough time for God, and your family, and try and be a Moderate Gamer! Do you like that? That should be a new label right there.

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