There’s an issue I’ve noticed within the video game community, a sentiment shared by nearly everyone that states those who play casual games are not real gamers. But what does it really mean to be a real gamer? Does it mean you have to have logged x amount of hours in the Call of Duty or Halo franchise? Does it mean you are one of the top 1,000 players in CS:GO or Overwatch ? Does being a real gamer mean you have to have a powerful gaming PC or the latest in console releases? As far as I’m aware, there isn’t a holy text that explains exactly what a “true gamer” is, so why do we shame those who don’t fit that illusive description?
Casual games have a definition. They are games with simple rules that don’t take a lot of time or skill to play. Does that make them any less valuable? Here’s a great example. I went over to Steam and searched for games with the tag “casual.” The top sellers were games like Stardew Valley , NBA 2K18 , Cities: Skylines , The Sims 3 , and Jackbox Party Trilogy . I don’t know about you, but I’ve put innumerable hours into Cities: Skylines , any game from the Sims trilogy, Stardew Valley , and the Jackbox Party packs. Does that make me a casual gamer? Does that make any of you who play these a casual gamer?
I’d say for the vast majority of us, we play plenty of things that wouldn’t be considered casual in addition to those that are. On top of those, I also play first-person shooters like Mass Effect , fighting games like the BlazBlue or Soul Caliber series, adventure games like Dreamfall Chapters, and survival horror games like The Evil Within 2 . I also play RPGs like The Witcher , Fable , or Divinity: Original Sin series and MMOs like Riders of Icarus or The Elder Scrolls Online . Having a few casual games in my library doesn’t automatically make me a casual gamer. There are plenty of other genres and titles that I enjoy. This is most likely true of the average gamer. Some may enjoy sticking to a specific genre, but that’s all right too.
Those that enjoy specific genres generally call themselves that type of gamer. So someone who enjoys only casual games would inherently be called a casual gamer. But there’s a negative association with that. Why don’t we react negatively when someone calls themselves a FPS or RPG gamer? Why is it only overpoweringly bad when someone says they’re casual? Just because the games might not take as much time (which is arguable) or as much skill (which is also arguable) doesn’t mean they aren’t still good gamers. Titles like Cities: Skylines can suck entire days worth of hours of gaming from someone’s life. And to be fair, games like that take a lot of skill to play as well. You can’t just start plopping things down willy-nilly and hope it works out. There’s a lot of strategy and planning involved with simulator games. Yet, Cities: Skylines still shows up when you type casual into Steam.
We have to stop assuming that casual games means someone is dumb or that they don’t care enough about games to devote time to it. Not all casual games are made alike. And frankly, even those that are stupidly easy to play, like those dime-a-dozen dress-up mobile games, are still games. They’re still a form of entertainment that someone is playing. The casual gamer is still a part of the video game industry, even if they’re not playing on multi-thousand dollar PC rigs or expensive consoles. If you game on your phone and that’s it, you’re still a gamer.
I admittedly fell into the negative casual gamer trap myself recently. I was considering a gift for my younger sister and I thought about possibly getting her a Steam gift card. She told me that she only really plays video games on her phone nowadays, if at all. I immediately started questioning whether she was adopted (kidding, sis) and couldn’t fathom why she wouldn’t want to play “real” games. But then it dawned on me; her way of gaming is just as valid as mine. So if you want to be a casual gamer, then let your casual flag fly. The rest of us will eventually come to our senses and realize that we can’t bring you down for doing something that you find fun. It’s the same as a casual gamer not giving an MMO player crap for putting hours into something that’s “not real.” We’re all gamers no matter our genre or platform, so let’s respect each others choices!
This is of course simply my opinion on the matter, and I’d love to hear how you feel. Do you agree, or do you think I’m full of it? Let me know either way in the comments!