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  1. #1
    Network Hub thesisko's Avatar
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    Does the gaming press use "casual" as a synonym to "idiot"?

    So I just finished playing "Limbo". Nifty little game, if a tad too easy and short (took me about 3.5 hours).

    Anyway, I looked at some reviews for the game, and Giant Bomb has this to say:

    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Shoemaker
    In case it's not clear already, Limbo is a really hard game, probably too hard for casual players to make it through.
    Considering the game is extremely pick-up & play friendly due to no learning curve, short length and accessible controls, does Giant Bomb simply mean that gamers unable or unwilling too use their brains need not apply? Has "casual" lost its original meaning and is now simply used as a gentler way to say "idiot"?

    What do you guys think?
    Last edited by thesisko; 03-08-2011 at 04:08 PM.

  2. #2
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    Well there's two types of idiots really. People who are just dumb, and people that don't have the gaming shorthand to get certain things.

    Limbo is accessible but some of the puzzles require a bit of knowledge of platform genre conventions, and the distinct visual style means the game doesn't really have the chance to teach those conventions to you.

  3. #3
    Network Hub Splynter's Avatar
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    Addressing your point in a casual manner: yup.

    Edit: More seriously, I'd say casual really refers to games targeted at or accessible to people who do not have significant experience with games. It does not necessarily mean that the game is easier. In fact, I argue that it is simply a shift of difficulty away from the sorts of skills that come easily to a gamer. Instead of wrestling with controls, the difficulty lies in some core aspect of the game design.

    Look at World of Goo for instance. It's not really that hard of a game, but it does have some challenging points. The difference here is that the challenges are faced without having to worry about super fast twitch reflexes and instead are of an intellectual sort. Angry Birds is another example. Though I find the game incredibly boring, the interaction with it consists of an easily understood finger swipe and taps. The difficulty lies in using basic tools to accomplish a task that is not always as easy as it seems.
    Last edited by Splynter; 03-08-2011 at 04:21 PM. Reason: Discussion

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    I think it's a vestige of old gaming formats. Let's propose, at this moment, that "casual" and "hardcore" are split in terms of time invested and attention paid.

    Fighting games, for instance, require knowledge of (largely undocumented) combo moves ingrained through muscle memory. To be competitive, they need a hardcore mindset, as you have to have the will to figure out the moves and then the time to train them over and over until you get the timing right.

    MPFPSs need a finely-honed twitch reflex as well as map knowledge. A good gaming rig and connection, complete with the right peripherals, also lend an edge. Thus, through time invested via learning the maps and the hand-eye coordination from playing years of older FPSs, a hardcore mindset will beat out a casual.

    Puzzle games of the old-school variety - I'm talking text games here like Zork - also needed a specific frame of reference to understand and beat. You fought the user interface, and once you mastered that, you fought the idiosyncrasies of the programmers. Against, hardcore beats out casual, who would be frustrated and turned off.

    That's not to say the games themselves are hard. Just that you're tangling with the UI more often than not, and as such there is a learning curve involved. As games nowadays get streamlined and more intuitive, that learning curve in terms of the UI is flattened, and thus the divide between hardcore and casual is diminished. As such, to use "casual" as a dismissive epithet, in this case, is somewhat outdated.
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  5. #5
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    LIMBO has some pretty mean trial-and-error sections. I can imagine casual players (by definition) getting frustrated at having to "lose" over and over to figure out how to proceed.

  6. #6
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    Well.. most people seems to think these words are ugly, and don't want then to exist. But I think are usefull.

    There are people that work, and have kids, and don't have much time anymore. Can play a game for maybe 20 minutes, and must quit. So.. "of course" want these 20 minutes to be "complete". Maybe even finishing the game with a big "You are a winnar!, you wins everything forever".

    Then you have the hardcore. People that can play 40 hours straight to finish a VVVVV or Meat Man, and die 10k times in the process.

    Maybe one person can be hardcore in 2010, then have a children, and become a casual in 2011. So It can be about inteligence, is more about dedication and what you expect from games. People that expect to WIN putting in a game 10 minutes, can't realistically get a very hard game with lots of deep. (Except a game like Dungeon Desktop or some similar puzzleish game)

  7. #7
    Network Hub thesisko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giaddon View Post
    LIMBO has some pretty mean trial-and-error sections. I can imagine casual players (by definition) getting frustrated at having to "lose" over and over to figure out how to proceed.
    So are you saying it's a presentation issue, that "casuals" don't like their gaming avatar to die or do you mean that they are unwilling(or unable) to figure things out?
    Last edited by thesisko; 03-08-2011 at 04:26 PM.

  8. #8
    Network Hub thesisko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tei View Post
    There are people that work, and have kids, and don't have much time anymore. Can play a game for maybe 20 minutes, and must quit. So.. "of course" want these 20 minutes to be "complete". Maybe even finishing the game with a big "You are a winnar!, you wins everything forever". Then you have the hardcore. People that can play 40 hours straight to finish a VVVVV or Meat Man, and die 10k times in the process.
    Did you read what I wrote? No learning curve, accessible controls, short length, frequent checkpoints. Having little time for gaming won't stop anyone from finishing Limbo.

  9. #9
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    I think the OP underestimates the unwritten rules and muscle memory acquired during years of gaming. When the game first came out on the Xbox, my ex-girlfriend tried playing it and she got stuck a lot, both having difficulty with some of the physics puzzles (she did not expect stuff in a video-game to act similarly to the real world) and some of the trickier jumps.

    While Limbo has little to no difficulty curve and is very short, I think it's fair to say that it expects the player to be literate in games, and that is the opposite of casual.

    So, to answer the starting question in a fashion: casual does not equal stupid, it is more akin to lack of experience / practice.
    Last edited by Ash_firelord; 03-08-2011 at 04:28 PM. Reason: spelling

  10. #10
    Network Hub thesisko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ash_firelord View Post
    So, to answer the starting question in a fashion: casual does not equal stupid, it is more akin to lack of experience / practice.
    Okay, going by this definition, can we expect the amount of causal gamers to decrease going forward?

    Since everyone and his brother is targeting "casual" gamers since there's so many of them, one would think that they would gain experience and practice after a few of those games have sold a billion copies. Unless those games don't teach them anything...

  11. #11
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thesisko View Post
    Okay, going by this definition, can we expect the amount of causal gamers to decrease going forward?

    Since everyone and his brother is targeting "casual" gamers since there's so many of them, one would think that they would gain experience and practice after a few of those games have sold a billion copies. Unless those games don't teach them anything...
    You are assuming that casual gamers will devote significant time to gaming in order to become "core". This should not be a given.

    I am a casual runner. I run 3-4km almost every day because I enjoy doing it. I will not become a marathon runner if I keep doing this for 5 years, I will just be a guy that is good at running 3-4km. If I want to become a marathon runner, I need to devote more time to running.

  12. #12
    Network Hub thesisko's Avatar
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    Oh and note that Giant Bomb isn't saying that the game is casual-unfriendly due to lacking a tutorial, he's specifically saying it's "probably too hard for casual players to make it through."

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus laneford's Avatar
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    On another note, regardless of length, difficulty, or format, nothing about Limbo's tone, atmosphere, or presentation could ever be described as casual.

    It's like telling someone the latest David Lynch film is a casual watch because it's short.
    Last edited by laneford; 03-08-2011 at 04:50 PM. Reason: ENGLISH IS HARD

  14. #14
    The distinction between hardcore and casual gamer is completely artificial and I don't think it adds any value to any form of discussion. Since when did gamers become such elitist snobs?

  15. #15
    Network Hub Ash_firelord's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BobsLawnService View Post
    The distinction between hardcore and casual gamer is completely artificial and I don't think it adds any value to any form of discussion. Since when did gamers become such elitist snobs?
    When the internet was invented.

  16. #16
    Network Hub Splynter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thesisko View Post
    Oh and note that Giant Bomb isn't saying that the game is casual-unfriendly due to lacking a tutorial, he's specifically saying it's "probably too hard for casual players to make it through."
    Alright then. Look at playing an instrument. I know a lot of guys who picked up the guitar in an attempt to score points with women. They can play a few chords, work their ways around some songs and generally sound okay. They play the guitar casually. What they would not be able to do would be to learn, say, a complicated piece written for the classical guitar. This has nothing to do with their innate talents, simply with the amount of effort put into their instruments. You need to practice to learn a skill, and video games share some parallels with music here.

  17. #17
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thesisko View Post
    Okay, going by this definition, can we expect the amount of causal gamers to decrease going forward?
    The only thing stopping that from happening is the fact that the gaming market is enlargening far faster than it takes for gamers themselves to become savvy.
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  18. #18
    Moderator Anthile's Avatar
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    The difference is simply a matter of experience. When I see a waterfall in a video game, I know from experience that there is a cave behind it. When there is a pile of ammo and/or health, I know there is a big fight ahead. There is a lot of this game-y knowledge that is absolutely contra-intuitive and that you only get from playing lots of games.
    A hardcore gamer is someone who can solve the Tower of Hanoi in his sleep.

    Quote Originally Posted by BobsLawnService View Post
    Since when did gamers become such elitist snobs?
    Since always?
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  19. #19
    Network Hub thesisko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    The only thing stopping that from happening is the fact that the gaming market is enlargening far faster than it takes for gamers themselves to become savvy.
    Oh well, atleast the number of non-casual gamers should increase.

  20. #20
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thesisko View Post
    Oh well, atleast the number of non-casual gamers should increase.
    Along with their egos. Dear god, we're so our worst enemy.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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