Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Guest post: who can be counted as a casual MMO gamer? (part 1)


Today The Trollish Delver is excited to invite Liam Harper to share his thoughts on casual gamers in MMOs in the first of a two-part series of posts.

“Casual Gamer” - it’s a term that is thrown around more often than a cricket ball, one that has seen more use than your local taxi service. Once it probably had meaning but now, it’s thrown around way too liberally and seems to be used whenever someone can’t get their own way. What do I think is and isn’t a “casual gamer?” Well here are my definitions and as you can see, even these get a little blurred as we move on.

When I used to play World of Warcraft religiously (I didn’t get on my knees and pray, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to see the screen properly) I would frequent the EU and US forums. Yes I realise that I’m lucky I still have a hand left after all the facepalming I did, but at least 5 times a day I would see the term “casual gamer”. A casual gamer for me is someone who either chooses to or is unable to play videogames for more than 2 to 3 hours each day and not every day. This could be due to a demanding job, a busy family or simply that they don’t wish to play any longer. For me that is the SOLE definition on a casual gamer. Topic over then right? Well not quite.

I don’t raid there for I am


One of the common reasons you will see for a casual gamer is “I choose not to raid therefore I am a casual gamer”. Here’s a revelation to you. That does not make you a casual gamer.

Speaking from experience as someone who quit raiding in World of Warcraft back in Wrath, you can still play all day and choose not to raid, but that does not make you casual. In fact, that makes you as much as a hardcore gamer as those who raid and in some cases even more so. The fact that you’re choosing not to raid has absolutely no bearing on whether or not you are hardcore or otherwise. Despite having the obvious time to do what is required, you are choosing not to. Whether that’s because you don’t enjoy raiding or just can’t be bothered is neither here nor there. If you play all day, every day, then you are a hardcore gamer. In my eyes there are no two ways about it.

Earlier on I said that raiders can be more casual than those who stay on all day and don’t raid. “But raiding is for hardcore only”. Again, I totally disagree with this. There are hundreds of guilds out there who raid three times a week and only three hours at a time. On top of that you also have the option of using the Looking for Raid feature. You DON’T need to be a full time professional gamer to raid. You just need some willpower to actually do it.

I have a family to look after! I should still get stuff!

I’m sorry but say what? That’s like (and I know analogies are normally frowned upon) saying “I’m not going to work today, PAY ME ANYWAY!” It doesn’t work like that. This is going to sound harsh but I have to wonder. If you pay for a subscription game that is designed to take at least an hour or two out of your day and you don’t have time to do that. then what are you paying the money for? Surely that could be better spent elsewhere?

As for people complaining about the content and level 90? Here’s my thoughts.

Everything is too time consuming! There’s too much to do!

I must admit on this one, at the start of Blizzard’s latest expansion this is totally how I felt. You have about six million and three dailies, pet battles, scenarios, dungeons, battlegrounds and so on, but only a few hours in the day to squeeze them all in. This is what I would do. For the first couple of days I tried to squeeze everything into the little time frame that I had. I felt myself getting stressed and nearing burn out. It’s an old school mentality that people really need to get out of and let me explain what I mean.

Back in vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade expansion, you felt like you had to do dungeons, you had to raids, you had to do PvP and near the end of The Burning Crusade, you had to do dailies so that your character could stand a chance in even participating in the world. This got engrained into a lot of us, and when Mists of Pandaria hit we saw everything that we can do and our brains suddenly thought “oh my god! We need to do all these things.”

That is not why Blizzard have done what they have done. They’ve given us options this time. Want to raid? Go ahead, Want to do dailies? Sure. Pet battles? Why not! PvP? Go get pummeled by the warrior. What they’ve done and really for the first time in the history of the game, is that in my opinion they’ve made the game non-linear. You don’t have to do X-Y-Z, you can just do X, or Y, or hell even J if you so choose. Each path has it’s own progression. Some are titles, some is gear, some are vanity rewards. You don’t have to do everything because it is there.

I, myself, gave up on dailies pretty quickly. I found them to be monotonous, cramped and just downright tedious. What did I do? I tried the other sides of the game and found that I became ridiculously addicted to pet battles. Everyone has their own opinion of what they find fun. For example, when I do log onto the game, my guild master loves doing as many dailies as he can, he just loves them, and that’s fair enough. One of the officers spends all his time doing challenge modes and again, that’s ok too.

It’s kind of worrying to me when you see some people in the player-base who seem unable to make their own decisions about what they need to do. It seems to me that unless it’s clearly laid out with a big sign saying “THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO DO”, then they will just run around in circles chasing their tails. Word of advice. Figure out ONE thing you want to do today and do it. If you have time after that to do something else, then great! If you don’t, then at least you’ve accomplished your main goal for the day. Get out of the mindset of “everything is there, so I must do everything, and I must do it now”


by Liam Harper

Follow Liam on Twitter @Guillin 

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