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Bladewir's Bellowing Blog

I'm back! I usually blog about MMORPGs and my experiences with them here, as well as other topics at my other blog located at

Author: MMOPlaya

Clearing up The Terms "Casual Gamer" and "Hardcore Gamer"

Posted by MMOPlaya Monday November 5 2007 at 10:47PM
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It has been brought up in replies to my Blog and in other people's Blogs that the terms "Casual Game Player" and "Hardcore Game Player", both in reference to MMORPG games, have become skewed over time.  I want to address this issue here in my blog, and in fact, have decided to change the name of my blog due to my inferrence to the word "Casual MMORPG Player". defines the term "Casual" as such:

cas·u·al  [kazh-oo-uhl] adjective  without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing: a casual remark 1  defines the term "Hardcore" as such:

hard-core  [hahrd-kawr, -kohradjective  unswervingly committed; uncompromising; dedicated: a hard-core segregationist 2

For my definition as outlined multiple times in my blog, I took the literal definition of the term "casual" when I referred to how I played, and added an element of roleplay and immersion.  Meaning that I enjoyed the game for what it was, and was not interested in racing to the finish and hitting max level in the least amout of time, and striving at all costs to acquire the best of the best of the best items in game.  Instead I took my time and enjoyed.  That's all I meant by using the term "Casual".

However, there appears to be a mantra (unbeknownst to me at the time) that MMORPG gamers have followed, taking on the terms "casual" and "hardcore" in a whole new manner.  Therefore I default to Wikipedia for further analysys:

Wikipedia has an entry for the term "Casual Gamer" and defines it as such:

"Casual gamer is a term used to describe a type of video game player whose time or interest in playing games is limited compared with a hardcore gamer. They can be found playing games across all genres and of varying levels of complexity and difficulty. However, they do not devote the amount of time or practice to video games spent by hardcore gamers. Whereas a hardcore gamer may approach gaming with the mindset of a professional, a casual gamer would think more like a hobbyist.

Casual gamers can conceivably consist of any people who show more than a passing interest in video games, therefore it is difficult to categorize them as a group. For this reason games which attempt to appeal to the casual player tend to strive for simple rules and ease of game play, the goal being to present a pick-up-and-play experience that people from any age group or skill level could enjoy.

Not all gamers who play casual games are themselves casual gamers.

Usage of the term

The term casual is often misleadingly used to describe a class of hardcore gamers who play massively multiplayer online games, a type of game which is generally not casual by definition. In that case the term is used with various meanings, most often to differentiate players between 2 or more specific gameplay preferences. For example, the term casual is sometimes used to identify a player who spends significantly less time playing than other players. Alternatively the term is used to identify a player who spends a significant amount of time playing but prefers less competitive or time intensive activities to productivity maximization (rapid character development, rapid income production, acquiring the best possible equipment etc.)." 3

Wikipedia has an entry for the term "Hardcore Gamer" and defines it as such:

"Hardcore gamer is a term used to describe a type of video game player whose leisure time is largely devoted to playing or reading about video games. This type of gamer prefers to take significant time and practice on games, in contrast to a casual gamer. Many hardcore gamers pride themselves on mastering the rules or use of a game, although this is not a strict requirement.

Usage of the term

There is often confusion about what a hardcore gamer is. The term is often used to differentiate between types of hardcore gamers by such things as the amounts of time invested playing, how competitive the player is, preference for player versus player or player versus environment, game style or gameplay preference, or even the type of computer or console equipment used. Certain hardcore gamers are sometimes inaccurately labeled as casual gamers, often derogatorily, because of this differentiation even though they prefer playing games which are designed for hardcore gamers. This is common among MMORPG players where there is a demand for many different gameplay styles (e.g., solo play, quests, PvP, raid content, crafting) within a single game but limited developer ability to deliver all of them." 4


So it appears that I was unaware of actual definitions in use, and that I was mixing up definitions and folding them into what my personal definition of the terms "casual" and "hardcore" gamers were, and potentially confusing my readers.  And for this I apologize.

Just for clarification I shall no longer use the terms "casual" and "hardcore" in my blog entries when referring to a particular playstyle.  MMORPG's are a melting pot of multiple game styles and game types, all rolled into one package, making a true definition very difficult.

The way I approach MMORPG's, and the way I have been playing them for years on end now, may be 100% different than the way you play them.  There is nothing wrong with this, so I just want to document how I play  the games and interpret them.  If you play the same way as I, I'd love to hear from you as we have something in common, and perhaps can exhange ideas on working on immersion and roleplay.

Thanks a bunch for reading and hope you enjoy my blog!








safwd writes:

While i would never argue with Wikipedia i tend to agree with your original definition of Casual. At my highest play time i would play EQ maybe 5-6 hours a night. Some would say that could be hardcore, but alot of that time was just roaming around, buffing newbies etc. I pretty much soloed most of the time, never raided, rarely did full group runs like Karnors. I would definitely say that i was, and am even more now, a casual gamer.

I dont think it can be decided on just time in game alone, i think you have to throw in intent and playstyle.

Tue Nov 06 2007 12:53AM Report
badgerbadger writes:

Well MMOplaya -

  Not to be an ass; but it seems to me that your intent was pretty clear anyway and quibbling over precise definitions of such terms was never so much about not understanding you but about arguing for arguments sake... Or maybe i just perceive people as argumentative.

 Nice of you to clarify and no less to be willing to take a step back nonethelss.

 My personal opinion; if you are interested; is that isssues of immersion  and role-playing get the shaft from most games; no doubt because the market seems to indicate this is not a priority ot most players...  I think graphics are the single main attempt to create immersion - and as your previous blog post shows; some of the worlds are in fact awesomely beautiful.

Tue Nov 06 2007 3:38AM Report
BadSpock writes:

I think there needs to be a third distinction beyond just casual and hardcore.

1. Casual Gamers are playing Bejeweled and Solitare at work.

2. Gamers play PC games at home, and some may even own a gaming console.

3. Hardcore Gamers will pay fees to access online content (MMO, Xbox Live, etc.)

In my opinion, no one who pays for a monthly subscription to a MMO is a "casual" gamer. Playing 2-3 hours a night is not casual. That's a hobby / daily routine.

I don't think "casual" gamers would pay for a video game, period. These are the Yahoo gamers and such.

Purchasing a game for PC or purchasing a console makes you a "gamer."

Paying for access to online content in a game makes you "hardcore" no matter how often you play.

Tue Nov 06 2007 8:28AM Report
Krylos writes:

It also depends on the situation heerobya.  You are talking about casual/hardcore in the broad spectrum of gaming.  I get the feeling that the original blogger was talking about casual/hardcore within the MMO/RPG world.

Tue Nov 06 2007 11:04AM Report
BadSpock writes:

True Krylos, true.

So if we assume we are talking about "casual" vs. "hardcore" gamers in specific regards to MMORPGs...

bah there are just too many fine lines. Some casual players love PVP, or like raiding, but don't go crazy about it... Some like to RP, I'd say most casuals don't...

I think it's all about how you approach the game. Play when you have time, do whatever happens to be going on at the time? Casual.

Set times and tasks as well as playing the game instead of other real life activities (work sleep food exercise social etc.) then you're Hardcore.

Tue Nov 06 2007 11:53AM Report
Kordesh writes:

Useless labels created for flame wars and self aggrandizement to suggest that one group is more worthy than the other. It would be best if we just stopped using them PERIOD.

Tue Nov 06 2007 12:53PM Report
openedge1 writes:

An interesting discussion...

I always considered myself a "casual" player with maybe 1-2 hours a night in any game...

But, then most of my games I play are RPG's or MMO's...and 99% would this not make me "Hardcore"?

What a conundrum. As to the aspects that started this conversation..I have ALWAYS been the.." level please" type of player. It was the sense of accomplishment...but, after LOTRO, I finally started to get sick of this format of play...and thought for sure I was done with that type of game ..........period.

Then I played EQ2, and got the whole"adventure aspect" back in my life that I felt with my old games..(Baldurs Gate, Final Fantasy, NWN)

It felt more fun to accomplish tasks and explore the world, than the next level...I do not even really think about it now...and when I ding is pretty cool.

Now, I am also playing the Witcher, which has a sense of explore, discussion, and more RPG goodness...that I have finally left that "levelling" mentality behind...and all of my future games will depend on if there is more to it than level and Vanguard, which does sound like the right fit.

Call me a "Casual Hardcore" RPG player...


Tue Nov 06 2007 1:55PM Report
Maelkor writes:

All the definitions of Casual gamer and Hardcore gamer to me seem to all reflect the same thing merely said in different ways.

For instance a hardcore gamer is one who plays a lot of hours in a given week on a game due to the fact they like to really master a game in all of its aspects. Trivial games made for "casual" gamers are usually avoided by the hardcore gamer as there is no real challenge and the game can be mastered long before the $$ spent on the game pays for itself.

Casual gamers on the other hand are like you said - people who are willing to float through a game - occassionaly they will go for a challenge but the main point of thier expierience is to simply enjoy the game in its simplest forms and to interact with others rather than beating the game itself. These people usually play more for the social aspects and overall spend less time playing the game.

The real difference boils down to playstyle - do you go to "beat" the game and get all the best of the best at whatever the cost and to be first in everything in the game


do you float through the game taking your time to enjoy each challenge being satisfied with average gear and not worrying about who beats whom to any particular content knowing you will probably get there eventually.

The first playstyle usually involves long hours in a single stretch - 6+ hours at a time is not unusual and for some 10+ hours at a time is not out of bounds.

The second playstyle will see people playing for an hour here an hour there and sometimes 3-6 hours on the weekends or holidays.

The first playstyle also usually demands difficult to master settings/rules and environments that can require multple contiguous hours to complete an objective(think 5 hour raid in a big dungeon) vrs the second playstyle that likes dungeons that can be entered at any point and segregated objectives that can be completed in short stretches and strung together for the same result as the single long 5 hour dungeon raid.


Anyways just my 2 cents :)


Tue Nov 06 2007 4:26PM Report
MMOPlaya writes:

Hi everyone.  I'm for dropping the two terms from my blogs as they do nothing but stir up trouble and arguments...which is why I decided to change the name of my blog, removing the term casual from it.

Looks like we'll have to coin new terms now :) Fire up the Wiki!

Thanks for reading folks!

Tue Nov 06 2007 9:07PM Report writes:
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