There Is No Such Thing As Casual Or Hardcore

Syncaine posted a good article about his return to Warhammer Online and how it’s casual PvP. It made me wonder exactly what the definitely of ‘casual’ or ‘hardcore’ is. Personally I believe they really don’t exist as concrete definitions but are rather abstract terms we use because of their implied connotations.

Time

Time is certainly a factor when we talk about casual or hardcore. Syncaine talks about it himself and the ability to enjoy a 30 minute PvP session in WAR. But where exactly is the line drawn? If I play a MMORPG for 1-2 hours every day the MMO community would call be a casual player yet all of my RL friends, who don’t play MMOs, would call me a hardcore gamer. It would be easy for me to switch to being hardcore too as all I have to do is remove an obstacle from my RL and create more game time. There is no challenge there.

Difficulty

MMORPGs are not hard to play. They aren’t Street Fighter or Unreal Tournament. The most challenging aspect is probably interacting with other players and organising a large number of them to tackle raids. That being said, any player, given enough time, can achieve anything because all they need to do is tag along for the ride. I’ve seen this a lot in raiding with DPS classes especially. Most guilds don’t hand out rewards based on skill (because it’s almost impossible to measure and, no, I don’t believe topping a DPS chart is a huge sign of talent), they hand them out based on attendance. Again, time wins over skill.

Design

MMORPG designers create elements of grind in order to achieve the illusion of challenge. They say it’s a challenge to get to level 80, I say it’s just an investment in time. Progressing through raid encounters and gearing up to take on higher tier raids is not skill, it’s time. The whole MMORPG philosophy revolves around this concept though. They longer you play and the longer it takes you to succeed, the more money the developers make.

Conclusion

MMORPGs revolve around time. They reward time over skill and the bottom line is that almost everything can be accomplished given enough time. ‘Hardcore’ players are reluctant to recognise this as it requires them relinquishing their status in the game world as the ‘best’ players. I believe this is why games like Darkfall create a stir because certain players want to feel elite and the only barrier between them and the ‘casual’ players is their investment of time. Games like World of Warcraft are trying desperately to remove this time barrier though and thus friction starts and the ‘carebear’ and ‘wellfare’ arguments occur.

Ultimately, there can be no such thing as casual or hardcore because, regardless of whether it takes a player 1 month or 1 year to hit max level and complete the top tier raids, the end outcome is always same. The connotation simply stems from the involvement of time which has been used to create the illusion of challenge.

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Related Posts

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8 Comments

  1. Beej says:

    I agree. The number one reason that I stopped even playing WoW was because of time investment. I did not have time to raid with my friends, so when I played, I was getting left behind. I could barely make Naxx raids, and when Ulduar progression started, I simply could not work the nights into my schedule.

    If I wanted to hit a 5-man or Archavon, I was spending hours in the channel looking for a PuG because, even though I was a healer, I didn’t have the raid epics to make the run too easy. I could spend the hour in the instance, but the hour before that made getting to the instance itself impossible.

    I wanted to get back into PvP, and again, I could not justify the time investment for the grind in regard to Honor to even be on a level playing field, much less competitive.

    So I quit, and I hope that maybe a new game like The Old Republic will find a balance between time investment and progression that does not alienate players.

  2. Andrew says:

    I disagree with your “difficulty” section rather vehemently. A full response is here:

    http://teethandclaws.blogspot.com/2009/06/is-raiding-only-matter-of-time.html

  3. Bart says:

    Totally disagree. There is hardcore and casual and you know Gordon you are hardcore player. Come on, you play every day, you say. Today I’ve played (my personal favorite – Call of Duty) first time in last couple of weeks for around 30 minutes – this is casual. I don’t have that much of experience in MMORPGs, but I believe you have all your spells, potions, combos etc. bound to your keys and you know your shortcuts very well. Me, I’ve always used mouse to click on these little icons. Again you are hardcore, I’m casual. The same is with any type of game. Because you are so deep in this particular gaming world you no longer see the difference between casual and hardcore.
    I’m just thinking does reading blogs like this one, or talking with people about games I’ve never been playing and taking pleasure from that, does that make me at least hardcore in a tiny little bit?

  4. Syncaine says:

    Just to start, no amount of time will make you a good PvP’er in DarkFall, hence why those who play like it, and why PvP in WoW is a joke from a player skill perspective.

    As for the rest, a ‘better’ player will accomplish something faster than others. Since time is usually not infinate (it is in WoW now, since content is so slow to release and the bar is so low), player skill comes into play. If my raiding guild clears AQ40 in a month, and it takes yours three, we will have more time on Nax40, and be further ahead. Had Blizzard continued to add raids, the gap would increase.

    Finally, if player skill is not a factor and only time matters, why do so many players try and fail to join top guilds, be it in PvP or PvE? Why do those guilds have waiting lists of players, while average guilds struggle to fill raid spots with whoever?

  5. itscrackerjack says:

    “but I believe you have all your spells, potions, combos etc. bound to your keys and you know your shortcuts very well. Me, I’ve always used mouse to click on these little icons”.

    Wrong you cannot do this. You have to click each icon with your mouse.
    EQ2 hardcore= someone that raids at least 5 nights a week for normally 4 hours a night or pvp’s for that same amount of time.

    Casual= someone that logs on for maybe a few hours each week which in experience i’m quite sure Gordon falls deeply into this bracket.

  6. itscrackerjack says:

    Ps i cant believe i posted here. Im coming up to kill you Mantooth lol

  7. Jeremy S. says:

    I agree with what you say about difficulty. I think the hardest aspect is learning to operate smoothly in a group, That bleeds into real life as well.

    I had a similar thought months ago while playing WoW. My friends were debating over toughness of some quest, and all the sudden it dawned on me.
    “Guys! you’d have trouble trying NOT to level in this game. What you’re really arguing over is personal goals as to how fast you can level and how fast you can achieve a high level uber-geared character. Sheesh!”

  8. [...] We fly spitfires Reductio ad absurdum [...]

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