Editorial: Hardcore or Casual

I was going to review Suikoden Tierkreis this week; however, I have only spent around ten hours in the game. I do not feel that ten hours is enough to review a game that is more than sixty hours.

Instead, I want to talk about the use of the terms ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ in the video game industry. This idea came to the forefront of my mind after a recent discussion with Lusipurr. A dictionary definition of hardcore is ”unswervingly committed; uncompromising; dedicated: a hard-core segregationist”, whilst the definition of casual is given as “irregular; occasional: a casual visitor”.

The two definitions above fit best with the idea of casual and hardcore in the video game market. I feel that I fall under the casual tag. However, this is when I feel that the terms hardcore and casual fail in their usage in the gamer idiom.

Halo 3, Killzone 2, and Persona 4 are hardcore games. Games such as Buzz, LittleBigPlanet, and Rock Band are casual. What is the term for a person who likes to play games from both groups? I do not know the answer and in not knowing the answer, I begin to think that people who use the terms ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ may not know the true definition of either word!

So tell me what you think: do the words ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ have a place in the dialogue of gamers?


  1. Sure they do! We just need to introduce the term “softcore” gamer!

  2. Both hard and softcore(the occaisional Halo3 crowd or social gamers) gamers are similar in one respect, the playing of games is viewed as an end unto itself. Casuals on the other hand are people who are not dedicated to the notion of gaming, they do not involve themselves with the culture of gaming nor would they ever call themselves gamers. Casuals tend to only buy supplimental software which is designed to some other end then to function as a game, thus they will tend to have a library comprised of self-help software replete with a cache of the most ridiculous dildo peripherals.

    @Lee- You really don’t fall under the heading of casual. How many self-medicating house bound soccer moms do you see writing weekly gaming articles? Did you buy your consoles because Operah told you to? There are degrees of hardcore and I would imagine you fall somewhere along the spectrum.

  3. Do people really consider Rock Band “Casual”? With the whole game complete being near $200, Not counting DLC and such?

    “Nintendo knocked down the Gates of the Netherworld,
    They smashed the door posts, and left the doors flat down,
    and they let the casual go up to eat the hardcore!
    And now the casual outnumber the hardcore!”

  4. Rock Band erm I think it can be hardcore or causal. You do have a valid point about the cost and the DLC mind.

  5. I hate the terms hardcore and casual. Those you’d call “hardcore” or “casual” enjoy games for playing, as SiliconNoob said. The people who are mostly buying Wiis are not gaming, as is evidenced by the very few titles they buy. I wouldn’t dare insult casual gamers by lumping them in with Wiiers.

  6. Cost is irrelivent as I don’t see too many soccer moms worrying about the cost of Wii fit. If all you played was rock band then I would say you were casual, but I know there are also many hardcore gamers that play it, so the fact that you play it is not sufficient to tar you with the casual brush.

    @Mastercheif- Whether or not the label of “casual” was appropriate to refer to non-gamers at the time of the terms inception is almost irrelivent, whether rightly or wrongly it has been appropriated to mean just that. I don’t see there’s any stopping the term now, you’ll just frustrate yourself.

  7. When someone says, ‘so and so is a hardcore gamer’ to me, I honestly do not know what to think. The term is so burdened with definitions as to be useless. It is used in so many different ways by people that of itself it seems to have no real meaning. Am I a hardcore gamer? I don’t play video games every day–indeed, quite often weeks will go buy without any gaming at all. Then, when I do play them I will often only play for a short time. I may play an hour of TF2 in a week. Am I hardcore? Still, people would argue yes.

    Such people would use the terms Hardcore and Casual to separate the people who care about games (collectively) from the people who care about games (individually). To put it another way, the hardcore gamer cares not only about games, but also about what games are made of. He cares where they are going. He cares where they have been. Even if he hasn’t played a game, he cares about the impact that game will have on the industry.

    In contrast, the casual gamer is not aware that there is an industry, or simply does not care. The casual gamer is interested only in the games he has, and that interest does not go beyond it, nor does it extend to any deeper appreciation of what makes the games good or bad.

    This definition of hardcore and casual seems to place people firmly in one camp or the other. Provided that this is the sole meaning (i.e. people who care about the industry and ‘depth’ of gaming, as opposed to those who simply care about their own individual games) it is not entirely valueless.

    Unfortunately, not everyone means this, and therefore the terms hardcore and casual must needs remain vexed.

  8. Whenever someone says hardcore I immediately think of porn.

  9. Hardcore Porn = good

    Hardcore Gamer = Men playing games in there basement.

    Hardcore Gamer Porn = Kill it! Kill it with fire!

  10. Wait…

    Casual Porn… I’m never going to look at Soccer Moms the same way again.

  11. Lusipurr – This right here is my problem with the terms. There’s no nuance there, and the words are ultimately useless.