No more casual vs hardcore?

I think we need a better set of terms for players than Casual vs Hardcore. The two terms cause constant arguments and are about as subjective as calling somebody out for not being ethical.Your ethics are not mine, just like your version of Hardcore will be different from mine.Is it time spent, completion-ism, performance, consistency, background knowledge, or what..? Well its all those things and more.

Once its (obviously) recognised as being subjective, the problem then becomes that the same vague interpretation and personalisation that affects the terms Casual and Hardcore also apply to almost every other set of words you’d use. Viewing any of the options as definitive extremes poor and it becomes an absolute disaster when you try to use one word to surmise a person’s goals.

There is also the problem of viewing the terms in isolation within a single game like World of Warcraft, or broader to all MMO’s, or even to open as wide as possible to any type/style of gamer. For this measurement I’m sticking to Warcraft. The reason is that a measurement of games is too wide, and the same person might play 12 different games, and play each in a different manner. By way of example I play WoW, a few iPhone games, and some basic strategy and card games. I cannot think of a way that the play styles and dedication could be rationalised in a cohesive manner. Solitaire is too different from Warcraft; its comparing Apples to Spacecraft.

Basically its a huge mess, so as a solution I’m offering this post into the already overly populated sea of opinions; in the hope that it somewhat floats.

Joystick had a very logical summary last year, which covered the basics as far as WoW was concerned. If you’re hunting for a reasonable compilation of the basic issues, or a perspective of what the wider community was thinking around the mid-Lich-King days, then its a darn handy resource. Also check out some of these other links, which all cover the types of gamers in the Casual vs hardcore debate in some way. Even a post from the official forums. They’re all good. These linked posts also identify that many of the community fell outside the range of classifications in these posts too. Commenters offered up new types such as “Serious Hobbyists”, or “Definitely Time Crunched”, and so on. The posts, terms, and comments were all fine, but still missed the mark.

I also commented and linked a post many years ago (whoa – in 2008 no less) by a mate of mine who also had a perspective, mainly born from the conflicts found within a guild for the more casual members vs the more dedicated players. My take at the time was based around the amount of time it takes to explain to somebody else:

  • If you have to explain why you’re not hardcore in more than one sentence; you’re talking to a softcore or hardcore.
  • If it starts an argument or takes 15 minutes, you’re talking to a hardcore.
  • If you grief somebody for non-attendance you are hardcore (and a wanker).
  • If you have sacrificed a good time out of game for WoW, then you’re at least softcore. If you didn’t view it as a sacrifice, then you’re hardcore.
  • And if fun is more important than any of these questions; then you’re casual. In which case I’d like you to consider finding a great casual (not softcore) guild on your sever, or join ours.

Three years of time has only slightly changed my perspective, and generally I still hold those comments as true. They are though as lacking as the other posts.

For this alternate definition I’m mainly thinking of World of Warcraft, but I think that some of the logic should apply very widely. What I was thinking was changing from having two binary options to chose from, to creating more a Myers-Briggs personality type play-style measurement, which details what a person is using a short acronym (AELOSF – see below). A few of the pages above offered stylistic templates rather than binary choices too, much like a horoscope; where a player could read the description and pick one that matched them the closest. I guess I’m trying this as I fell through the definitions of both those approaches.

The Myers-Briggs style picks a set of paired terms that are fairly ambiguous, that can also be placed diametrically opposed to each other with a fair degree of logic – and then has the reader pick which they match better to. In effect they pick between the two extremes in the same manner as the Casual vs Hardcore, but where they sit is expanded due to the range of options in the definition.

These are some of the ideas I had for the juxtaposed measurements:

  • Professional vs Amateur – where a Professional is being paid money to participate, and an Amateur is unpaid. There is a very clear difference, although not overly useful to most of the community as I’d bet most people are not paid to play games. I’m not sure if this has practical application or not, and if it was applied, if it should be applied to a game on a case by case basis.
  • Experienced vs Newbie – where a Experienced player is one who is very familiar with the game, and a Newbie is learning the basic concepts. Now this is a far more subjective range, where there is a much greater range between the two ends. As terms they’ll create debate unto themselves, but I hope when added to the rest of the mix the terms themselves will become more descriptive of the player’s goals.
  • Unlimited time vs Limited time – where the unlimited person has high availability to play, and the limited person has almost none. This could also contain a sub-range of people who have interruption free vs constant interruption, but I’m not sure yet if that level of granularity is needed.
  • Optimal vs Relaxed – as to their use of their time and their resources. This is an interesting one, as the style of use of resources is the focus of many blogs and websites, and they themselves are often focused on maximum efficiency. The gold per hour type measurement, kills per raid, and if the player cares how long it takes to get a dungeon done. Some players are very relaxed and are not overly fussed if a dungeon completion takes 20 extra minutes, but others are excited by the prospect of beating a record, or even frustrated by 30 seconds of dead time after a boss kill.
  • Social vs Hidden – is a measure of how important the interaction with others plays is for their valuable gameplay. There are players who raid (which obviously requires other players) but would not otherwise interact with anyone. There are also the players who only play due to the social aspects, and there are players who may as well be playing a solo game, as they talk to nobody.
  • Focused vs Wide range of focus – are you a player who seeks to complete all your chosen activities? Professions, archaeology, or participate in both pvp and pve content, or have a range of alts vs. just one character.

So we end up with a set of choices, still somewhat binary, but not as restrictive as a single word.

I would be: (A)ELOSF.

This is because I’m an unpaid Amateur but Experienced WoW player, with very Limited time, who always plays Optimally. I highly value the Social aspects of the game, but tend to Focus on pve for a few characters only. The Brackets are there as I think almost everyone will be an “A” as far as World of Warcraft is concerned.

So what are you? What type of gamers are out there?

ps – The Dead Good Tanking Guide as a great comment:

I know, I know – why would you bother reading yet another diatribe about who falls into what category? But I’m working from the knowledge that the same could be applied to EVERYTHING I write, so I’ll continue safe in the knowledge this piece is no better or worse than my usual offerings. 🙂

He’s spot on, and added to my feed reader.

3 thoughts on “No more casual vs hardcore?

  1. Pingback: WoW Code – show and share your passion | TyphoonAndrew's – Eye of the Storm

  2. I wrote a long while ago, around patch 3.1 – “WoW needs a churn in the player base to keep breathing. Like a shark if it is still too long, or does not feed – it dies.” Still darn true.

  3. Hahaha I can’t believe you linked that old post! Looking back over it, by the time Wrath started our raid and our management of the raid had further evolved to be somewhat more ‘hardcore’ (please forgive the term!) in the sense that we had attendance requirements, loot rules and an application process. We were also more interested in pushing progression in terms of comparing ourselves to how the rest of the server was doing. Looking back I think I enjoyed those earlier days more…. but we also had more efficiency and better progression once we instituted more structure.

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