Casual Gamers are Gamers, too

I am so sick and tired of this whole ‘casual gaming’ debate. Plus, I am never quite sure whether everybody involved in the debate even knows what they’re talking about. See, it all depends on point of view: To my friends who don’t play a lot of computer games or don’t play at all, I am teh h4rdcorezt player ever. The fact that I went to do an internship at a gaming magazine only confirmed that impression. To the people I met at the magazine, however, I must have looked like a right noobiekins. I hardly played half of the games they talked about, and many times I kept sheepishly referring to my “to do” list of games. (This list only keeps getting longer. I seriously don’t understand whining “pro gamers” who have nothing left to play. Seriously don’t.) 

So yeah, that’s the point of view thing – pretty straightforward. But there is more to the “casual” debate than that, of course. It’s also a question of how we play games. For example, I played Diablo 3 from the start (when it let me..) and enjoyed it for a time. A short time, since that was exactly the time I needed to finish the story in Normal Mode. After that… meh.  I just couldn’t get into the whole treadmill of playing it again and again on harder difficulties. I wish it had been a little harder on Normal Mode, but beyond that, adding the numerous issues with loot and balancing, I just couldn’t be bothered. I suspect I’m not the only one, but again, this was a less “h4rdcore” and more casual move of me. The same goes for all other games, too. I don’t think it’s the game that makes you hardcore or “pro”. It’s just a measure of how much time & effort you’re willing to put into it – really the same  kind of measurement we encounter in ALL hobbies.

Now think of it: There’s a gamer who plays so-called casual games all day long. Who is “pro” at, I dunno, Plants vs. Zombies or some browser game. This gamer would be labelled a “casual” even if they spent much more time playing than for example, me. Why this labelling? What is a casual game and what isn’t? Take games like Heavy Rain or L.A. Noire, for example. I would say they are “living room compatible” games. When my brother and I played Heavy Rain, my sister in law mostly watched, and later said it was pretty much like watching a long movie. So imagine a family sitting together, playing console games together like this, does that seem hardcore to you? No, of course it doesn’t. But are these casual games? I wouldn’t say so, either.

So why don’t we lose that label altogether? Do we really need it? Are gamers so afraid that someone will contest their “eliteness” with all these iphone and browser games around? To be honest, I am not a huge fan of the extreme free2play fad that seems to be sweeping the games market. But I don’t think it will “kill” good games for all eternity. Jeesh, people, it’s only games. Relax. There will always be another good game out there to challenge you, no matter how hardcore you are.

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