The term “casual gamer” is a trendy label that’s being thrown around a lot recently. Typically, this title is used to describe the type of person who buys a popular console for a few games that is played sparsely outside of parties.
These players are the mass audiences that drag out the old plastic guitars for Guitar Hero to play after a few drinks with friends. On the other side of the spectrum is the “hardcore gamer,” the gamer-type that spends a surprising amount of leisure time playing video games. The dedication the hardcore gamer gives to their games is what separates them from the more dismissive nature of the casual gamer.
Putting this into consideration, let’s consider the idea of an “intermediate gamer” that plays games consistently, spending more time than casual gamers, but far less than the hardcore.
Many analyses only break consumers into the two major groups, but I feel that there are probably more intermediate players lumped in with their hardcore counterparts.
Take for example the popularity of first-person shooter games on consoles. Whether it’s a Halo, Call of Duty or Gears of War, these games have a long shelf life due to online multiplayer and downloadable content of extra maps for players. Gamers can play these types of games for months without having to purchase another title for further amusement.
Then there are the action adventure games such as Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed” which have strong single player game-play with a strong story line. Granted, side quest and hunting for achievements or trophies can keep a gamer entertained for a bit, it doesn’t have the re-playability that shooter possess.
The gamer who buys two action adventure games to get the same longevity of a shooter doesn’t necessarily mean they are a more hardcore gamer. However, there could also be the gamer who enjoys only playing Assassin’s Cree for the sense of place and cutting Templars with swords bring them a lot of satisfaction.There are also the gamers who just play the newest shooters for online multiplayer with their friends and once their friends move on to a new game, stop playing entirely. I believe these types of players are the intermediates; they’re aware of the big-name games that are released for consoles, play them seriously, but the games do not take up the concerning amount of their time, like the hardcore players.
It’s unfair to say the casual player is only an older adult who only plays Farmville and Wii Sports. What separates casual from hardcore and intermediate is the amount of knowledge they possess on games as a whole.
Take my mother for example: a woman who hates Facebook games of all sorts, and doesn’t find the Wii enjoyable since it becomes too exhausting. However, over the summer she sat up until the wee hours of the night playing Sony’s baseball title “MLB: The Show.” She spent her time playing games, building her own franchise and unlocking trophies. While my mother had the dedication of a hardcore gamer, it was only for this particular title. There are gamers, especially those on a tight budget, who buy one game and become a hardcore player of that certain game.
Whether it’s World of Warcraft, Pokemon, or Starcraft, the ability to be seen as a hardcore player is there, but it isn’t being acknowledged.
It appears the gaming community is getting too attached to being labeled, as if it’s some sort of elitist social status. It seems labeling a gamer “hardcore” gives experienced gamers and excuse to hate a genre of games that they believe are beneath them. It’s becoming more apparent now that motion control is being used to lure a mass audience to video games, and these “hardcore” gamers are the first to poo-poo such additions. Not only does this make hardcore gamers seem like arrogant jerks who just sit around all day level grinding, it makes casual gamers seem like lost sheep being controlled by marketing to buy 15 different kind of plastic instruments for Rock Band.
The addition of this middle gamer can level the playing field, making it more acceptable to like more kinds of games on a less intimidating level. There’s also a chance that some of these casual gamers will move beyond their basic games and become curious of new types of games.