The term “casual gamer” is pretty self-explanatory and benign on the surface. These are people who just play games casually. People who don’t necessarily want to invest huge amounts of time to the hobby, or make long term commitments to a specific game or genre. Unlike “hardcore gamers” who view games as something to master and perfect, casual gamers seem them simply as a fun way to pass time when there aren’t more important things to do. Kind of like how Taylor Swift views boyfriends.
However, within the gaming community there are few terms used as dismissively as casual gamer (aside from “girl” because OBVIOUSLY they have cooties which makes them suck at games.) I never quite understood this. Why is casual an insult? In almost every other instance casual is great. Everyone loves Casual Fridays, and casual sex, and casual enemas. Why is a casual game or a casual gamer looked down on? This would be like Joey Chestnut watching you eat your two hot dogs on the Fourth of July and go “Ugg, you casual eater.”
I get more hardcore gamers wanting to distinguish themselves for the time and Mountain Dew fueled energy they put into their games. I also get that the surge of “freemium” games that has capitalized on the increased presence of casual gamers in the market has a lot of dangerous implications for video games as a whole. I just think that if you’re going to be so dismissive, there needs to be a different name applied.
I certainly put too much time and love into my games to be considered casual, but I play primarily for fun, and so can’t, in good conscious, call myself a hardcore gamer. Also they’d call me lots of slurs if I tried. Most of the “casual” gamers I know fit into this kind of category; we don’t take games so seriously as to be hardcore, but also think Zynga is just as evil as Wal-mart.
There’s nothing wrong with “casual,” so I have compiled a list of possible replacement terms to use when degrading aunts who enjoy playing Candy Crush while pooping. Instead of bemoaning “casual gamers” let’s fight against:
- Kiddie Gamers – There is a whole industry of mobile games that are designed to prey on parents who hand over the iPad to their young children without supervision. These are the worst offenders of the freeemium games. Fucking kids! They’re ruining gaming!
- Franchisees – These are the people who buy the new Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed every single year. Sure, there are new maps and weapons, but we’re just encouraging them to continue shortening the lifespan and playability of games in order to make more money. Stop buying so many things!
- Your Mom – She’s just the worst.
Basically, taking on the actual issues and railing against those is probably going to be a lot more productive than going after players who don’t love games as much as you do. But if there’s one thing I learned from Gamergate, it’s that gamers as a whole tend to be really bad at directing their dissatisfaction and anger at the right target.