Friday, July 17, 2009

The casual/hardcore paradigm

I was reading Gevlon’s post about “the tank problem” and there were a lot of comments regarding his definition of hardcore vs. casual. I really liked his post and agree with it. I think when people talk about hardcore vs. casual, they tend to categorize players like a lot of people categorize Democrats vs. Republicans. To a lot of people, Democrats are all bleeding heart liberals and Republicans are evil cold hearted conservatives. What they all DON’T realize is that those generalizations are very unfair and often completely wrong. I won’t get into the many facets of political ideology, but I will make the comparison between the Democrat/Republican and the hardcore/casual spectrum. Just as there are more than two dimensions to someone’s political beliefs, there are more than two dimensions to WoW players. In the case of WoW, the dimensions are Play Style and Time. One can be hardcore in both, one or none of those dimensions. Imagine Play Style as the X axis on a graph and Time Spent Playing as the Y axis. Hardcore is on the right side of X and the top of Y. Casual is left of X and bottom of Y. Is it making more sense now? Here are some examples:

Me (Rorik) – I’d classify myself as hardcore both in Time and in Play Style. I usually play more than 14 hours a week which I’d say is hardcore in time playing the game. I do exhaustive research on my class (paladin), both talent specs that I have (healing and dps) and I research the same for all 3 of my wife’s level 80 characters and their class roles. I’m pretty good with navigating the forums ;) I think that makes me a Hardcore Play Style player. That makes me Hardcore/Hardcore or if plotted on the X Y graph, I’d be in the upper right quadrant.

Real Life Friend – I have several high school friends who play WoW. I’ll pick on the one who was the best man at my wedding/I was best man at his wedding. He is definitely Casual in Time as he played less than 5 hours a week and definitely Casual in Play Style as he didn’t have a clue when it came to how to play his character. He’s in the bottom left quadrant, way, way in the corner.

Alt-o-holics and farmers – There’s at least one alt-o-holic in every guild. The guy/girl who is always playing and always leveling a new alt. This player would be Hardcore in Time as he/she plays more than 14 hours/week but casual in Play Style as he/she has never focused enough on one character to figure out what all those spells really did. The farmer is similar in that they play all the time but usually on the same character but they just don’t really know how to play their character very well, so they are casual in Play Style. This would put them in the top left quadrant.

I think expanding the definition of hardcore and casual like this can lead to a better play experience all around. I’ve seen too many guild recruitment threads say things like “hardcore raiding guild” or “casual guild with relaxed atmosphere”. What does that mean? Does it mean you spend 20 hours a week in a raid? Does it mean you do nothing but farm while talking in gchat? Describing your guild as casual in time spent but hardcore in play style could really help potential recruits to figure out if they would be a good fit with your guild and vice versa. I know if I saw a guild recruitment post that read “casual play time/hardcore play style guild looking for raiders for Wednesday nights” I’d know that these guys don’t have the time to spend raiding 3 nights a week, but when they do raid, they know what they are doing and get it done.

Where do you fall on the hardcore/casual graph?


  1. I'm with ya man as this is a serious problem within many guilds at the moment. Some are falling apart due to a casual style atmosphere when the guild leaders really wanted a hardcore one. This is the wow grey area and thus needs some clarification. I would consider myself in the quadrant that is to the hardcore/hardcore section that is so far off the paper you actually started writing on your table :)

  2. Good post, I agree with Dagr. I see the guild posts all the time 'oh, we're casual, but raid 4 x 4 hrs' That's pretty hardcore to me. Main problem is that guilds don't know where they are; if they are hardcore, fine, say it and act it. If you are casual, then fine, don't expect maxed toons and uber dps for hardmodes. Hardmodes aren't really for casuals. (I've been both,now i'm casual).

    Guilds that have died out, its because they are too hardcore for their population. The expectatinos are too high, and if they dont raid for a week or two they collapse. Seen this over and over. If you can't handle two weeks of not raiding, you are hardcore, no question (and extremely impatient). Our guild hasn't done naxx in two months, and the break was really nice and we're all really looking forward to starting it again.

  3. I see myself as casual in time, but hardcore in playstyle. I know how to play and I keep up with many class specific sites/forums. I read up on strats for each boss and know how to follow instructions and provide constructive feedback.

    That's also my problem: my current guild is not as good as I want them to be. And better guilds don't accept a person who only plays once a week.

  4. I see myself as being casual in time, but fairly hardcore in PvE playstyle and casual in regards to PvP. I only raid 2 days a week, but we have downed Yogg are are going to start hard-modes soon and our ten man is down hard mode FL+4, XT, IC, Hodir, Thorim). I have hit 1700+ in Arenas before, but only arena for fun not for rating, where I raid to make progression.