There is nothing casual about the way my spouse plays Scrabble. She stands above the steaming corpses of her opponents and nods graciously at their efforts, futile as they may be. She checks her stats and her turns every day, she works on strategies and learns new ways of winning. She doesn’t cheat, and takes the ethics of the game seriously. The very thought of a “hardcore” fifteen year old gamer looking down on her and calling her skills “casual” is offensive.
I’ve seen “hardcore” players. Their skills seem to entail jumping a lot, strafing side to side and memorizing maps so they can get a slight advantage over the other on hundred online gamers that play exactly like them. I would like to see them raise children, run a household, have a full time job and maintain their leaderboard status.
When my wife started playing Mass Effect she had a bit of trouble transitioning to the vastly different control scheme on the Xbox 360, but so did I. The difference between mouse aiming and using the control stick is enormous and takes a lot of getting used to. In short order she was solving puzzles and knocking off robots with no issues. The story is compelling and helped her over the parts that were not natural to the way she plays games. This transition is not difficult, and the key was the quality. Quality drives people past uncomfortability and unfamiliarity.
When I have two hours to spare, I will play Half Life or Bioshock, when I have twenty minutes to spare I will play Peggle or Plants VS. Zombies. What kind of gamer does that make me? I enjoy Elite Beat Agents as much as I enjoy Dead Space. I enjoy games without classification. My entertainment money is spent on games first before movies, before recreational books and sometimes clothing to my own detriment.
I declare the gaming culture war over. Publishers, you should no longer market game genres specifically to me to my spouse or to my children. Chances are you will be wrong and miss your targets. Sell me a good game that is fun, interesting and challenging. If I like it I will probably purchase it. If I really like it, I will recommend it. If I love it, you will hear about it in a blog or on Facebook. Stop artificially creating gaming demographics and start creating gaming evangelists. They will sing your praises and pass their passions on to their children.