Casual vs Hardcore Gamers


In recent years there has been the discussion of what is a casual gamer and what is a hardcore gamer. Of course there have been simple answers to these questions such as, casual gamers being those who play in their spare time with the majority of the games being played on their phone. Hardcore gamers have been painted as the Call of Duty or World of Warcraft players who sit at their consoles or computers for at least 6 hours everyday. But then, where does that leave the rest of us?

Sure, you can call yourself casual or hardcore, but unfortunately these terms are just relative in my eyes. For example, someone who plays 5 hours a week on a console is more ‘hardcore’ than someone who played Words with Friends on and off all weekend. Conversely, someone who plays for 12 hours in two days is casual compared to some League of Legends pros who probably average about 8 hours a day of practice. It’s hard to gauge just exactly where the terms start and end with a fairly big gray area in between, but that grey area is where I feel the majority of gamers lie.

casual-gamer-300x228For a while now I’ve been struggling to find a term for those who don’t fit into either of these categories. A ‘causal hardcore gamer’; a ‘hardcore casual’? What name should we give them? Do they even need a name? Well, how about, ‘gamer’. Yes, just ‘gamer’. The terms ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’ have been created to separate gamers into different fields because of the change in the way people see and play games. These fields were created when mobile gaming became a bigger market and has continued to grow in recent years. Some gamers these days are dissatisfied with being clumped all together and want to be recognized as perhaps ‘special’ or ‘different’ from their mom who played Tetris this morning. girl gamers

I propose the use of the term ‘gamer’. Why should what you play and how long you play it matter so much? So you play 6 hours more than someone who plays Angry Birds on the way to work, who cares? You are both doing fundamentally the same thing, you are interacting with a digital interface that allows you to take part in a function that was created for entertainment purposes. It’s all fine if you see yourself as a ‘hardcore’ or ‘casual’ gamer, but remember there are other people who are most likely above and below you who are all doing the same thing, playing games. We are all just ‘gamers’, I see no reason to divide ourselves into categories such as ‘casual’ or ‘hardcore’. 

Do you consider yourself to be ‘hardcore’, ‘casual’ or something in between? What would your friends label you as? What do you think of these established labels?

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After her first gaming memory of playing Final Fantasy 7, she became a lover of JRPGs, RPGs and even MMORPGs. Her backlog keeps getting longer as she finds more games from the retro side of video games to play alongside the new. Over the years she has been expanding more into the action side of video games with the purchase of her PS3 however still has a insatiable craving for everything RPG. Introducing the often sarcastic Canadian RPG gamer, Charnelle.
  • Mat

    The two terms are total marketing BS. There’s so many types of gamers that it’s silly to try and categorize them with a bool.

    I use the word ‘hardcore’ when I’m describing a challenging play style that I do sometimes, like getting as far as I can in Super Metroid with zero energy tanks and five of each sub-weapon, or maybe playing through FFIV only fighting bosses, being level thirty rather than fifty by the end of the game. You know, like ”I play MMX2 hardcore, it seldom takes me more than an hour to beat it”, or ”I’m so hardcore at DKC2 that I don’t even save and I never run out of lives”. Something like that.

    Anyway, people need to calm down and stop judging. In simple terms, I call myself a hardcore old school gamer.

    Cool article 🙂

  • I completely Agree with your sentiment about hardcore and Casual being terms that do not really matter, but My belief as to why this separation has occurred is a bit different yet the same! I believe its due to People wanting to be special as you said, but IMO it goes much further then that! IMO these People have low self esteem, and such labels allow them to say there better then others! For the Same reason there are Terms like Fake Gamer, Fake Gamer girl, Fake Geek, and Poser! Some People just Feel the need to feel better at others expense, and No matter what we do there will always be people like that! Sad, but True!

  • Very good article, Char! I see myself as a person who is very flexible in my “label”. Sometimes I’m hardcore, on the weekends when there isn’t much to do, and sometimes I’m casual, like when I play Pikmin for 1 or 2 sessions during the work week before I hit the sack. Like you said, these terms are all very relative and at the end of the day, it honestly doesn’t matter. I think that people who play Angry Birds all day are just as hordcore as people who play Xenoblade Chronicles everyday.

  • ragingnucleus

    I’d say casual and hardcore are more mindsets, and you can have different mindsets for different games. A casual gamer plays for fun while a hardcore gamer plays for achievement. I play certain games like Saints Row 3 and Minecraft for pure relaxation or catharsis and I consider this type of play casual. Metro 2033 I play hardcore, and I say this because I turn it up to the highest difficulty and try to stealth through every level. It would be much easier and more cathartic to just normalize the difficulty and gun my way through every enemy but that’s just not fun to me, I need more challenge. Same deal with Binding of Isaac, a game I have played for about 400 hours and unlocked 98% of the achievements (one of them I can’t get because of a glitch). I couldn’t care less about achievements or anything other than personal enjoyment in minecraft or SR3, so I consider those casual. In the end, the label of hardcore or casual to me is just about the mindset you enter when playing. If the CoD player on his / her couch was playing for 6 hours just to shoot noobs online, while the person playing word with friends was legitimately concerned about winning then I would consider the labels reversed. Just my two cents.

  • about time someone did an article like this! It’s so true. In the gaming communities I’m in, its all about casual vs hardcore trash talk. Hey, I just got a new Android phone and since I downloaded some of those Google Play games, 2 RPG and 3 social adventure, I’ve been spending a lot of time playing them more than my consoles. Does that make me a casual? And see there’s the dilemma. By using their terms, I’m labelled a casual even though I have over 350 games in my games library for all the systems. And by that statement, I’m a hardcore. I could play 6 hours a day if I wanted but I don’t have the time, I’m trying to build an empire and gaming took a backseat for a little bit.

    Anyway, great article. Excuse my mini rant.

  • Man, I dunno. Those guys that come in and only buy COD or Madden each year are casual gamers IMO. 😛 I don’t actually care if a casual player calls themselves a gamer. I am welcoming to all, but I do consider a more ‘core’ gamer to be someone who plays many kinds of games across many systems. Basically someone whose main hobby is games!

  • this article is very good, it really describes the modern society stupid idea of adding labels to each other just to feel more special.

    I remember that in the atari,nes and super nes era all that existed where only gamers, and there was no casual,hardcore,poser,fake or anything like that. right now as the gaming and electronic development advances it is us humans who are going backwards instead of going forward

    I welcome the people who like to play angry birds ,COD, super mario,tales of ,battlefield etc;etc; and i also welcome ppl that have nintendo,sony or microsoft consoles and also those that play on their ipad or pc because for me they are gamers no mater what

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  • mytruepower2

    The problem with the terms “casual” and “hardcore” isn’t that they’re labels. It’s that they don’t describe anything definite.

    If we were to take the term “casual gamer” literally, to mean “a gamer who has a casual attitude about games,” and therefore “hardcore” to mean “a gamer who does not have a casual attitude about games,” then sure, that would be a definite thing to describe. One just wants to play and have fun, and to the other, it’s serious business. These would be real things.

    However, unless you can measure the *precise amount* of hours that one needs to spend on gaming weekly, in order to be a “hardcore gamer,” it’s hard to define it on this basis, and is therefore a less-than-meaningful label. We’d be better off classifying ourselves by gaming-hour-averages,” like “2-hour gamer,” “8-hour gamer” or “16-hour gamer.”

    I love labels, personally. They tell us what something is and what it isn’t. What I don’t love is a lack of meaning in the way we use words. I’d much rather everything be clear, cut and dry.

    That said, I really think that there are some kinds of gamers who are able to enjoy some kinds of games, and others who can’t enjoy those same games, so the solution, I think, is *more* descriptive terms for the kinds of things a person can enjoy, and *more accurate* descriptive terms. After all, we’ve got to do something to convey the notion of whether a game will be liked by a specific type of gamer, now that video game rental stores are so hard to come by.