The term casual apparently has a lot of different meanings, but it’s treated as a four letter word when it comes to video games. Admittedly, I don’t fully understand or agree with what a casual game or casual gamer actually is. I mean, these are just video games after all, how can they be anything but casual fun? Yet somehow gamer’s use the term casual as a way to attack anything that they don’t enjoy or think is “hardcore” enough. At this point, it’d be easier to list the games that haven’t been called casual, rather than list the ones that have had that label applied. I’ve heard Call Of Duty, Halo, Uncharted and Super Smash Brothers all called casual at one time or another this generation. The question begs to be asked, Do we throw around the word “casual” too much when it comes to gaming these days?
I’ve actually said this before, but I believe people use the term casual only when it suits them in an argument, the vocal minority that visits gaming forums tend to dislike Call Of Duty, lately they’ve taken to attack that games fan base and label anyone who plays Call Of Duty to be a casual gamer, and those gamer’s are “whats wrong with gaming right now”. As someone who has been gaming for over twenty years now, I sort of took offense to this at first, but then I started to realize that people are just using whatever they can to attack something they don’t like, or they are attacking something they are just jealous of? Sometimes people just dislike whats popular at the moment. Call Of Duty has one of the most competitive communities I’ve ever played in, sure there are younger people who can be annoying, but when I play competitively, I almost always end up playing against players in their 20′s and 30′s. I think its far easier to remember a loud mouthed kid, than the quiet older gamer who is just gaming and minding his/her own business. How can Call Of Duty be casual when it’s on the Major League Gaming circuit? It has the most competitive teams out of any game on the market, and people take it very seriously. Now to me, that all screams hardcore, but if you believe the vocal minority, all Call Of Duty players are casual gamer’s and the game itself is casual.
What comes to your mind when you think of “hardcore gamer”? Do you picture a person in their 20′s who wears a sweatband and has Gatorade near him? Is it someone who plays games that aren’t popular? Can hardcore gamer’s only play one particular console? I personally think if you are playing a game competitively then you’re a core gamer. I also think it’s perfectly fine for someone who considers himself a core gamer to play motion controlled games. Wii, Kinect and Move are all gaming, and can be just as core as any other game. I think console gamer’s in general tend to be a little bit more on the offensive lately as well, the fact that there are so many more “casual” gamer’s, and the fact that more and more developers are leaving the console market for IOS and Tablet options. This news has obviously put some hardcore gamer’s in a rough spot, for gaming to survive next generation, the big three are going to have to offer a lot more than just gaming options. Entertainment, gimmicks, gaming and an inexpensive price tag is something that all of the console makers next generation are going to need to employ.
People often get a kick out of it when I tell them that my mother likes to play video games, she is 50 years old now and has been gaming since the 1990′s. The first thing people assume is that she plays Facebook games, which is true enough, but I wouldn’t be so quick to call my mother a casual gamer, she loves Tomb Raider and has beaten every single Zelda game on the market. She has a DS and plays games on a daily basis. Still think she’s a casual gamer? Trust me, I fight the urge to use the term a lot more as well, you cant just go around and call games you don’t like casual. I heard this whole generation that the Wii was casual, but some of the most hardcore gamer’s play games like Super Smash Brothers. How is Mario Galaxy or Zelda casual? Just because the Wii was an unquestioned success and won the console war in a blowout, doesn’t mean they didn’t attract the core gamer, it just means they did a better job at attracting more then the core gamer. I think people in general like having excuses to use, whether it’s for why a console did better, or why a game is casual or core.
Now what about games played on a phone or tablet? Well I think those people are gamer’s too. Am I the only one that likes to think of all gamer’s being in sort of a brotherhood/sisterhood? You could argue that mobile devices are taking gamer’s away from the handheld market, but these new handheld gaming devices are only good for gaming and cost more than a smartphone a lot of the time. People already have smartphones and the apps and games for those are cheap in comparison. Handheld gaming devices like the Vita shouldn’t be $250-$300, you are catering to a very niche crowd at that price, Nintendo learned that lesson early on with the 3DS, when they dropped the price sales picked up and now they have around twenty million 3DS units out in the wild. To compete with phones and tablets Nintendo and Sony will have to offer something for everyone, and offer it at an affordable price. You can’t blame casual gamer’s for the decline in the handheld market. Phones are catering to more than a single need, and while the gaming experiences aren’t as deep as some of the true handheld options, they are fun for short periods of time and most importantly, they are fun.
So at the end of the day I think I’ve decided what I’d consider a casual gamer, maybe its all gamer’s. We are all casual gamer’s, there…I said it, and I’m glad to have gotten that off my chest. So please stop blaming casual gamer’s and games for the decline in anything, if you want to see a casual gamer, just have a quick look in the mirror. I think this is the main reason we need to stop throwing the word around so much, when people ask me what type of gamer I am, I simply say I’m a gamer. I enjoy pretty much everything, from consoles, handhelds, tablets, Facebook and even retro handhelds. That Battletoads Tiger Electronics game is tight! So be a gamer, but remember to respect your fellow gamer’s in the process. Arguing with fellow gamer’s just makes the whole gaming community look foolish. Gamer’s game.