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Casual, hardcore and everything in between

Although I don’t watch every year, I made a point of sitting through Microsoft’s Xbox briefing at last month’s E3 event. The potential for news about Fable 4 lured me in but I was sadly disappointed. Instead of hearing about the next instalment in the series, what we got was a bunch of CGI trailers, numerous mentions about Game Pass and an unexpected appearance from Keanu Reeves.

As I wrote in my post, the expo doesn’t really appeal to me because it feels as though it doesn’t cater for where I fall in the audience. I’m not what companies would call a ‘hardcore’ gamer because I don’t care about the specifications of upcoming hardware – I just want my consoles to run the games I’d like to play. But I don’t necessarily come under their ‘casual’ classification either, because I play video games four or five times a week and they’re my main form of entertainment.

Rezzed, video games, gaming, expo, Impact Winter, Kim

So what does that make me? An article by Joanna Nelius published on the PC Gamer website might just have the answer. This described the findings of research conducted by Newzoo, a global provider of games and eSports analytics: segmenting gamers the same way we did 15 years ago no longer paints an accurate picture. Things like Twitch, and hardware and peripheral ownership have all changed the market drastically and it’s no longer as black-and-white as calling someone casual or hardcore.

The company spent the last year developing its ‘Gamer Segmentation’ from scratch and this covers ‘all aspects of consumer engagement with video games: playing, viewing, and owning’. The result is eight modern personas that traditional segmentation doesn’t cover and each one is broken down further by statistics such as age distribution and living situation. The Conventional Player of yesteryear is now the least common and makes up only 4% of all gamers; while the Time Filler is the most common at 27%.

I took a simplified version of the survey used in Newzoo’s research and the outcome was pretty accurate. The All-Round Enthusiast isn’t as dedicated as the Ultimate Gamer but still plays for many hours and considers their hobby to be ‘serious business’; and they enjoy a holistic experience achieved through playing, viewing online content and owning dedicated gaming hardware. The only thing I didn’t agree with was that the profile enjoys watching movies – I’d much rather get stuck into a game!

I got my other-half to complete the Gamer Persona Quiz too but his results were not what I expected. He’s very into technology and specifications, and loves nothing more than having an excuse to purchase new equipment so I thought he’d be classified as a Hardware Enthusiast: someone who keeps up with the latest trends and whose love of gadgets typically extends beyond gaming. But no, it turns out he’s an All-Round Enthusiast also.

So what does this mean for us? Well, I can see two positive outcomes coming from the research. For gamers, it finally puts to bed the outdated discussion about what it takes to be a true member of the community; and for those who previously would have been embarrassed to call themselves gamers, it shows there’s no shame in doing so because you’re not alone. The new segmentations show there are a whole host of ways to interact with our hobby nowadays and each of them is valid.

Have you taken Newzoo’s quiz? If so, were the results accurate and what do you think of the new classifications? And hello to all the other All-Round Enthusiasts out there!

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

33 thoughts on “Casual, hardcore and everything in between Leave a comment

    • I thought I’d be Conventional Gamer because I rarely watch streams or videos, so I was a bit surprised by my outcome too. This survey is a cut-down version of the one used for the research though so it’s difficult to say how accurate it is!

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  1. I am also an All-Round Enthusiast, which I’d say is pretty accurate — the only part of the options I didn’t agree with was the fact it said I “enjoyed playing online with others”; I generally prefer single-player stuff.

    One possible additional piece of segmentation this didn’t take into account was the *type* of games you’re interested in — multiplayer vs solo, big-budget vs low-budget vs niche vs indie, artsy vs mechanics-centric… but, well, we could be here all day if we did that.

    Basically everyone can enjoy their own thing, and that’s great!

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    • Same here! I don’t mind playing online with friends, but I prefer a single-player experience over playing with strangers. That’s partly because I love a good story – and partly because I just don’t have the free time to git-gud, and would rather not have to deal with being the weak link in a team.

      I wonder what would happen if we did segment by preferred type of game… you may have just given me an idea for the theme for a future blog party.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hmmm, very interesting. I took the test too, and according to it, I’m a conventional gamer. I have a few problems with this test, the biggest one being that it seems to be very much centered around online competitive play. Almost each “very much gaming” answer is about esports or online games. One answer struck me as especially odd. It said something along the lines of “Gaming is a serious hobby to me, I like action-packed games, and play mostly online with or against other people” and the next possible anwer was “I only play occasionally”. Personally, I do not care about esports at all, and play online games only veeeery casually, often to the point of not interacting with other people alltogether (does this still count as online?^^). But on the other hand, I play a metric crapton of single player games all over the board – RPGs, Shooters, Walking Sims, Strategy Games, Puzzle games, Roguelikes, Arcard-y games, you name it, I play it! Not dividing this into seperate questions (not even differentiating between interest in online and offline games) makes it a bit hard for me to take this survey too seriously. Funny enough, merchandise buying habits are taken into consideration…However, it is a simplified version, so before I jump to any conclusions, I’ll check out the original one first.

    The second odd thing was that the interest about content was strictly centered around other people playing games (Let’s plays, walkthroughs, esports…). There is absolutely no options for taking a “deeper” interest, behind the scenes. COntent about narrative, gameplay modes, artstyle, soundtrack, or game design in general. Once again, my stance on that question was not able to be selected. I do not enjoy watching others play games at all. Either I play them, or I don’t care about it. What I do care deeply about is the aforementioned stuff. I like to find out about what the developers thought while creating the game, I find it super interesting to see how games manage to convey emotions with the simplest of tools, or fail hilariously at evoking any reaction at all, despite having fully fleshed out graphics, sound design and narrative. I love to retrace technical milestones and gaming history. I’d argue that most of the Indie scene is centred around those ideas, yet that survey does not even hint at this (there is not even an “other” option and you can’t select nothing). But again, I’ll check out the full research, before deeming it unfit to represent gaming.

    I’m not even sure if reliable research about the community around video games can be done at this time. There is simply too much going on. The whole PC vs. console “war”, the hate towards mobile gamers, the explosive rise of esports, the Indie scene slowly becoming more and more mainstream. Video games slowly but surely change their image from “distraction for kids” to a real source of art, philosophy, skill or simply being an accepted hobby for adults. If we compare video games to any other medium, their evolution towards being taken as a serious contribution to society has just begun. Each year, more and more changes happen, so at this point of time, every attempt at a meaningful classification is probably futile.

    Another question is, if we even need any classification. What do we gain from that? I understand that a general term, like “gamer”, can be desireable to help its acceptance and people’s identities. But I fear that any further amount of classification could be harmful and divide the community even further, with now “official” differences between casuals, hardcore gamers and everything in between. Compare it to sports, for example. People who play football, are footballers, no matter if they play professional, gather in clubs or just invite a few friends every sunday to play in someone’s backyard. Everyone loves the hobby and they are seen as equals. Now compare it to video games, where the “hardcore” gamers look down on the “noobs”, tell them to “git gud” and sometimes even intentionally try to get grouped with them to make their experience miserable. On the other hand, a lot of more casual gamers see the people that take their hobby more seriously as try-hards, and/or neck-bearded nerds who dwell in their mothers basement, have no social skills and will stay alone for the rest or their lives.

    So, in this regard, I’d advocate for not erecting additional (and very much fictional) barriers between people and try to stand united and treat each other as equals.

    Damnit, once I again, I went completely overboard, sorry to everyone who has to read through all of this 🙂 Like I said, I’ll take a look at the full research article and maybe I’ll post something of my own.

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    • Nothing to apologise for! It’s great when someone has an opinion they want to share and furthers the discussion. 😃

      With regard to the first issue you mentioned above, I know exactly the question you’re talking about. It struck me as strange that the options provided were so narrow here because they seemed be trying to guide you down a certain path. For example, that ‘Gaming is a serious hobby to me…’ answer appears to be pointed directly at the hardcore gamer stereotype.

      You also picked up on the indie scene, and I wonder if the sort of games produced by these creators had been taken into account when the survey was created. Most of the questions seemed to be more focused on triple-A-type releases. Are you a different type of gamer if you prefer indie over big-budget, experimental over traditional games? Or does that even matter?

      I understand the reservations that come from further classification of the community but for me it was almost a relief. I’ve never identified with the casual or hardcore categories of yesteryear so finding out I’m somewhere in the middle, and that that’s perfectly valid, is kind of comforting. I do agree however that titles aren’t necessary and it’s much more important to treat all members of the community as equals!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alright, I have done a bit more “research” now and I believe I have a better understanding of where they are coming from and why a few of these questions sound odd.
        It seems that they do not take the type of content into consideration at all. A game is a game, no matter if it is an open ended subscription-based RPG, a Triple-A Action-Adventure with a playtime of 150 hours or a prototype built by one single person. What matters is the time and money spent on gaming.
        For media consumption it is similar. Not the type of content is what matters, but the regularity, time spent and variety of content. That is the reason why these questions looked so oddly, but at the same time, asked you to pick the option you agreed with MOSTLY.
        Although it may seem that this trivialises certain sub-groups of the community, I think it was the right thing to do because it does exactly what I wanted: to treat everyone as equal. The guy that only plays the newest Call of Duty and Battlefield? He has the same right to be a part of us as someone who prides himself to play only the most obscure titles. Likewise, people who dabble in all genres without any preference, are still no different in terms of “gamer worth” as everyone else. A game is a game is a game.
        I think the reason for the questions about media are a bit different. I got the feeling that they focused on content that is used as a substitute to play yourself (Let’s Plays, eports, etc.). Watching content about narrative and/or game design does not “actively” take away your time from playing yourself.

        Look at that, it was a good idea not to judge too quickly, after all!

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        • So the research only took into account regularity, frequency and variety… that’s really interesting! I do wonder how adding ‘type of content’ into the mix would have affected the results but I agree it’s a good thing it wasn’t; as you say, you’re a gamer whether you play Call of Duty or something niche. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t despair! As mentioned in the comments above, the survey provided in this post was a cut-down version of the one used for the research so there’s every possibility you’ll have received a different outcome if taking the full test. And regardless: you’re a gamer regardless of what you play or how often, that’s what matters. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is really interesting! I totally agree about feeling like you don’t fit into either the hardcore or casual category. It sometimes seems like the wider internet perceives these to be the only categories which exist.

    I got The Conventional Player which is described as “I do not watch other people play games much. I own plenty of hardware so would be rather playing myself” and I have to say that sums me up pretty well.

    Something which really comes across from the 8 possible categories you can get is that it isn’t a ladder system – one is not better than the other, they are all just different ways of enjoying games, which is how I feel it should be.

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    • There seems to be two main opinions in the conversations I’ve had with people since writing this post. Those who agree with their outcome think the new classifications are a good thing, showing that there’s more to gaming than ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’; while those who don’t agree feel the categories will further divide the community.

      The point you make is more important than any outcome: one category isn’t better than another and it’s not a ladder system! The community would be a boring place if we were all the same, liked the same kind of games, always had the same discussions – so keep that variety coming. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Welp. Took the test and apparently the old labeling system would have worked just fine on me as I scored an “ultimate gamer” from the test.
    Woo, gamer power! /s

    That said, I do like that Newzoo came up with labels and categories for different types of interest levels in video games outside of casual and hardcore. I’ve taken issue with the terms because I didn’t feel like they correctly describe the varying level of interest I’ve observed in others with this hobby. If you spend 1000 hours a year playing Minecraft you’re not really a casual player, but some people would say you are because you don’t play online games or watch e-sports.

    Either way, neat read. Thanks for sharing, Kim.

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    • The conversations I’ve had since originally writing this post have made me realise just how many people felt they didn’t fit into the traditional classifications of ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’. I know some believe additional categories could potentially divide the community further, but for me it was great to see the fact that there are all different kinds of gamer officially recognised. 🙂

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  5. I got all-around, which makes sense. Probably because I’m too busy with work now to obsess over it like I would if I had the time/money.

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    • Oh I know that feeling! If I knew what I knew now about video games, but had fewer adult responsibilities… youth is wasted on the young and all that. 😉

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  6. Though the results of the study are as you say and can be viewed in a positive manner, I’ve honestly grown to dislike these terms or labels that only serve to split people and make them focus on what makes them different instead of what brings them together, the love for a good game. If we use the two of us as an example, instead of contextualising our conversations on how much we put into the hobby, I’d rather spend the time discussing the hapless adventures of a struggling novelist that refers to some of his loved ones as chairs.

    Lately, on both the tabletop and video games communities I’ve seen a rise in focus on just how much of a gamer people are, followed by the usual sexist elitism that seems to inevitably come with such discussions and it’s sad because these communities can be so wonderfully inclusive when given the chance to be. But people love their damn labels way too much. I won’t lie, once upon a time I wore that proud hardcore gamer badge, but with age comes experience (see what I did there?) and I learned to let go of it, since it never adds anything productive to a conversation, only serves to create barriers.

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    • I can understand why some feel additional categories will divide the community, but for me they were somewhat of a relief. I’ve never felt as though I’ve truly belonged in the ‘casual’ and ‘hardcore’ camp so having somewhere I fit is comforting – although, as you point out, it wouldn’t be necessary for me to feel that way if there were no classification at all. 😉

      Sadly there’s always a danger of any kind of category being misused. We can choose to understand and respect the differences between each of them, using that information as a way to better communicate with each other and see the points of view of alternative labels; or we can decide to use them as material for building up walls. Unfortunately that’s something the community has been too good at doing in the past so we need to keep chipping away at them.

      You mentioned in your comment that you’ve seen a rise in elitism. That’s interesting… where do you think this is coming from?

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      • Lately the biggest bout of elitism (and sexism because of course) I’ve seen has been in the Tabletop RPG community, where people have begun comparing the years they’ve been playing X or Y game and making broad claims of how better they are at it than others, often denigrating those who are just discovering the joys of the hobby.

        In general I’ve seen that the predominant cause, in both the video game and tabletop communities, is this misguided perception of ownership of the hobby. This is often pointed at women, the LGBT community and people who are not necessarily “geeky,” with the claims that they are invading the space and are not real gamers.

        With how inclusive the tabletop community usually is, this new rising attitude is concerning and I don’t have to tell you how many times we’ve seen the same in the videogaming community, often rationalised in ways that sound reasonable, but which are just thin veils for hatred.

        There are hundreds of causes, from antiquated views of what certain types of people should and should not like or enjoy to simple misogyny and intolerance.

        And of course, the anonymity of the internet emboldens those that think this way and brings out all the worse aspects of their personalities, as they know no one can do anything about it.

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        • Perhaps I’m getting too deep into the subject here, but could the root cause be related to everything else going on in the world right now? All that negativity is causing divides to be built all over the place and it’s natural (although saddening) that some of it would spill into the gaming community. I read a news article recently which said acceptance of same-sex relationships has dipped for the first time in more than a decade…

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          • A link is perfectly reasonable. Not just a decline in acceptance of same-sex relationships but there’s been a rise in intolerance all-round, of the “us vs them” mentality.
            When we see things progress, when the world takes steps towards brighter futures, those with extremely conservative or backwards ideals always seem to come out of the woodwork and make their voices heard the loudest.
            It’s no surprise that some of the worst elements of world politics have seemingly become cartoonishly vile. How many times have you read headlines that you would have once thought only possible in satirical works, but now completely real?

            And this is a subject that is pretty much a rabbit hole

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  7. I just took the quiz and got all round enthusiast as well. I mean it is probably right as this is my main hobby, like you I only want the hardware if it plays the games I want to play and I appreciate eSports but I don’t have much interest in them.

    I think it’s definitely a better system rather than the casual or hardcore. As I don’t think those really covered the range of gamer types there are. Plus one persons casual might be another persons hardcore depending on their viewpoint (1 game for 1000 hours a year versus 50 games for 20 hours a year).

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    • Oh that’s an interesting point: I wonder how many hours (or other factors) the researchers used to classify their most ‘hardcore’ type of gamer? Are ten hours of Call of Duty more hardcore than 1,000 of Minecraft? 🤔

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      • That would be interesting to find out. People can have such strong viewpoints on what counts as hardcore so how an objective person looking at this would classify hardcore would be good to see. I’d like to think there were a few factors that lead into a hardcore type more than type of game as that is subjective and even hours played might not show the full picture without other factors being brought into consideration.

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        • It’s almost strange now, when you think about previous years and how strongly some people held onto their ‘hardcore’ label. It’s good to see the community become more accepting of all kinds of gamers, even though we do still have a way to go yet… perhaps these new classifications might help us with that. 🙂

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  8. I’m an all-round enthusiast too! I quite like that description as I never really put myself in the hardcore or casual camp, if I’d had to choose I’d have said hardcore but then I’ve always been very into games but only select games and have never been able to compare myself to ‘proper’ hardcore gamers… Then I’ve had more casual gamer friends that have stared at the time I’ve logged on some of my games in pure horror!

    I think all-round enthusiast is very accurate, I’ve noticed recently that maybe because of ‘geeky’ becoming more mainstream or maybe because of all the different genres of games available I feel a lot better when I talk about games, I always felt like I had to prove myself in conversation with ‘hardcore’ gamers before and I exaggerated my skills a lot because I felt like I wasn’t taken seriously if I didn’t, but now if I say that I like a bit of everything, which is the truth, then there doesn’t seem to be as much prejudice as before and people tend to be more open-minded.

    Great post!

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    • It seems as though there are quite a few of us All-Round Enthusiasts out there! Maybe this has something to do with our age? We don’t have enough time to be Ultimate Gamers due to more adult responsibilities, now, but we’ve got enough disposable income to make the most of our hobby so we’re more into it than Time Fillers perhaps? 🤔

      I work in a very male-dominated environment and in the past, some colleagues have found it difficult to believe I played video games so I mostly kept quiet about it. Now it’s easier and I talk about it more frequently, but you do still get that twinkle of doubt in certain people’s eyes when you say you’re into a bit of everything or mention indie games they’ve never heard of!

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    • That sounds pretty appropriate then! It would have been interesting to take the full survey, to see if the other questions would have changed the outcomes at all.

      Liked by 1 person

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