Most of us have used the term hardcore gamer for quite some years. It’s used in the media, in industry, and among gamers themselves. We all sort of have this vague notion about what one might be and we use it as the approximate antithesis of casual gamer, but a definition of it has eluded me for years — at least until now.
Simply put, a ‘hardcore gamer’ is someone who spends as much or more of their time on ancillary gaming-related activities than they do actually playing and enjoying the games.
If you’re spending 10 hours a week on forums about a game or a platform, and only two hours a week playing it, you’re definitely hardcore.
If you spend days or weeks tweaking sliders in a sports game and running simulations, but less than that time actually playing and enjoying the game, you’re clearly a hardcore gamer.
There’s still room for twiddling and tuning the definition. Maybe it’s when those other activities start to approach the amount of enjoyment-based gaming-time, but if it is as much or more, I think we can conclude that the gamer is a hardcore gamer.
While there’s also an implication that the casual gamer prefers shorter, and more simplistic kinds of games than the hardcore gamer or spends less money on games than the hardcore gamer, I don’t believe that that is necessarily true. The term casual gamer strongly implies someone without any such ancillary gaming-related activities (or perhaps only the slightest amount), which obviously leaves us with an excluded middle.
There are clearly hardcore gamers who spend much (or even most) of their time on these ancillary activities. There are casual gamers who spend none of their time on anything game-related other than playing and enjoying their games.
What, then, do we call the folks in-between? Smart casual? Business casual? Informal?
Whatever name we put to this middle-ground group, it seems to include quite a lot of gamers, leaving a fairly wide gap between hardcore and casual.