Casual gamers and other tales Pt II

In the good old days, it was easy to tell who the casual gamers were. They didn’t really know much about games, and generally only had one or two titles in their collection. FIFA of some sort, and a racing game. Casual gamers weren’t good enough at games to ever threaten you but had just enough know-how to make you feel good after you beat them supremely.

But that was then. Nowadays, casual gamers are a group who’s boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred. What makes a casual gamer? Literally, it’s just someone who plays video games occasionally, not enough to warrant the term ‘gamer’. With the power of the Wii and DS bringing in more and more of these so-called ‘casual gamers’, I think it’s necessary for us to find out what we mean.

Most people who are buying the Wii purely for its universal playability are being labelled casual gamers, but I say that they just don’t cut it. A casual gamer is still a gamer. They’ll have a bit of background knowledge on a range of games, and the consoles to play them on. Chances are your grandmother probably won’t. A casual gamer could pick up a PS2 pad and instinctively know what to do. Your three year old sister would probably cover it in orange juice and sticky finger marks before moving on. So why are we calling them all casual gamers? Why do people insist on saying that things like the Wii are aimed at the ‘casual-gamer market’ when clearly the people they’re thinking of aren’t casual gamers at all.

A new term is needed to describe these people, be it ‘hardly-gamers’ or ‘barely-gamers’. Maybe even ‘rarely-gamers’, it doesn’t matter much. What does matter is we reinstate the divides between the different groups of gamers, so we know who we are talking about when we use the terms.

That isn’t to say the walls between should be rigid, unmovable things. People are free to interrupt World of Warcraft sessions with a quick round of Golf on Wii Sports. But knowing the differences between a casual, hardcore and rarely-gamer helps us to understand the reasons behind individual games, and their effectiveness. Unless we know who a certain game is aimed at, we may never discover it’s true value.