Whats The Difference Between Hardcore Gaming And Casual Gaming?

Written by Katie Allen on Wed, Dec 25, 2013 11:00 AM

The terms “casual” and “hardcore” gamer get bandied around a lot these days. The former tends to be used to decry a group of people who play games not considered “proper” games; games on social media sites, numerous handheld titles and games marketed towards young children and women.

For most, the lines are fairly clear on how we define certain games. Someone whose entire gaming life consists of FarmVille, Candy Crush Saga and Words With Friends probably won’t have much to talk about with the guy who just spent 4 days locked up in an adrenaline fuelled Dark Souls marathon. If your mum plays Cut The Rope on her mobile phone, you probably don’t consider her a “gamer” (and she probably doesn’t think of herself as one, either).

But outside this clear divide of social media games versus intense forty hour RPGs, these binaries become muddled, as “hardcore” and “casual” simply become a way to make games seem like an exclusive club: if you’re not in with the “hardcore” gang, it says, your opinion on games doesn’t really matter. Elsewhere, a myriad of games get thrown on an almost daily basis onto the pile of snobbery marked “casual” games. Mario has suffered that fate, as have most of the big Nintendo franchises, regardless of difficulty or time taken to complete. Even vast and momentous time-drain World Of Warcraft has been tossed under that banner on the (somewhat ridiculous) grounds that, as an online game, it is as much a “social” experience as a gaming one.

When you get into the nitty gritty of it, the subject is something of a minefield; when it brought it up recently with housemates, it sparked a pretty long and impassioned debate. So what exactly makes a game “hardcore”? Many would say a competitive edge, a game where a great deal of play is needed to get to a required skill level, such as StarCraft II, or League of Legends. But Call Of Duty is in many respects just as competitive, and yet two months ago, Infinity Ward’s Mark Rubin faced outraged Call of Duty fans after he was quoted as saying that COD players “aren’t hardcore gamers, or even gamers, but they play Call of Duty every night. And those guys are going to continue to play regardless of platform.”

Of course, Rubin was addressing the fact that many Call of Duty players play almost no other games, but the way in which he said it is notable in regards to the snobbery in the gaming community today. Taking it further even those who sneer at Wii-only owners, calling COD “not gamers” seems, among other things, factually wrong. I wouldn’t call someone who had a monthly subscription to Edge or Vogue magazine a “bookworm”, but neither would I label them illiterate for not being on their third reread of War and Peace.

Labelling someone a “Casual” gamer does, for many in the gaming community, bring forth highly negative conversations, there is an elitism involved that is not necessarily healthy for the community. It’s reasonable to want to surround yourself with those who have similar interests, with people who you can chat about the latest AAA gems or great undiscovered indies with. But if this is done in such an exclusive way, it risks alienating the media and non-gamers further over a medium that is already misunderstood and falsely blamed for the evils of society.

So should we begin to consider ditching these binaries and plumping for somewhere in the middle in which we are all just gamers with different interests? It seems to me that this is the way forward in getting more people interested in games: the artform we on GD are passionate about, and blurring the distinction between “casual” games and games of a similar genre that, for whatever reason, have been embraced by those who consider themselves hardcore. Your friend loves Cut The Rope? Maybe they’d enjoy World Of Goo. Obsessed with the low budget, micro-transaction laden puzzle games on Facebook? Maybe they would also appreciate some of the wonderful indie puzzlers of the last few years, from Fez to Machinarium.

Getting round this idea of “casual” versus “hardcore” isn’t just a way to be more inclusive. Breaking down the barriers between gamer and non-gamer also seems a great way to encourage more people to invest in rewarding, well made and well executed games. Where people go, money follows, and the more people want high-quality gaming experiences, the more money can be invested in such works.

So what do you think? Is the distinction between hardcore and casual gamers arbitrary, or a way of drawing together like-minded individuals?

Do you think that parallel releases of numerous games on PC and “casual” platforms like iOS is beginning to change preconceived notions of what “gaming” and “gamer” really means?

Tell us your opinion by leaving a comment.

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01:42 Dec-27-2013

If you have more than 1 monitor. You're hardcore.
If you have an after market cooler, You're hardcore.
Someone want to continue?

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03:10 Dec-27-2013

So someone who is better equiped is hardcore gaming? I dont think so. Gaming is gaming dont matter if you have the best technology or the most impressive rig. To me a real hardcore gamer/gaming is a 40 year old virgin loll. Just kidding

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03:15 Dec-27-2013

For me hardcore gaming/gamer is someone who will enjoy the game for hours and hours no matter what gpu or cpu or ram he got as long as he can play the game and IS REALLY GOOD at it. I dont think its a contest on who got the better set up.

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08:55 Dec-27-2013

I definitely agree with u.

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09:20 Dec-27-2013

So I should say Iam a hardcore gamer

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09:45 Dec-27-2013

I will say I am a really desperate gamer who is dreaming of new and awesome hardware...

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10:27 Dec-27-2013

I'd say hardcore gamer is someone who plays games seriously, for hours, doesn't care about visual quality settings...
I have 3 monitors and don't feel as hardcore gamer at all :Đ

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11:36 Dec-27-2013

Everyone have there own views about stuff and my pc is lagging like hell so bye XD

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15:56 Dec-29-2013

Your GPU is still better than mine so look who's talking :D

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22:07 Dec-28-2013

If I can beat you in a video game with the cheapest mouse and a single monitor who is casual and who is hardcore? Think about it ; )

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03:08 Dec-29-2013

I dont see why anyone would limit themselves like that. If you want to do something at a pro (hardcore) level then you should be rocking some hardcore/high level gear. I dont see athletes running around in old shoes and torn uniforms.

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08:52 Dec-29-2013

For example, what if someone is that poor that he can barely afford an entry level PC/console but is a true fan of gaming and takes games seriously isn't a hardcore gamer because he cant afford the high end gear?

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10:04 Dec-29-2013

You don't at all need high end gear. A good mouse like mine costs just about 40 bucks, a keyboard? Well, you can make do with a standart keyboard just fine. And you only need one 16:9 screen, preferably 1080p or higher. It's not that expensive to buy this, and with a setup like this your skill is hardly affected by your equipment.

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15:51 Dec-29-2013

emilsz, you're forgetting the most expensive part, the tower :p that's what a lot of people would have trouble with. Plus with the mouse, I got mine for 2 bucks and it works fine XD it's not a gaming mouse, but it works.

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21:25 Dec-29-2013

BT a hardcore gamer would do what is necessary to get good gear. I worked a factory job over summer in 120F heat to build a gaming computer. 10 hour shifts for 8.35 an hour. All because my old computer wasn't cutting it.

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00:51 Dec-30-2013

BT, yeah well, I was assuming that the PC itself ifs already present. There's not really that much of a difference between a 600$ rig and a 2000$ rig, if you build it using your head, that is. :)
You might want to say that even 600bucks is a lot, and, well, I certainly agree, but if one isn't willing to pay what it costs, his hardcore-being is rather questionable, I would say. IMO, one of the signs that you've gone hardcore is that you're willing to make money to buy some decent gaming equipment.
Well, that's what I think.. ;)

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16:00 Dec-29-2013

Insane, imagine a person who is a pro at Halo. I don't think you can have a better Xbox than anyone else :D

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16:12 Dec-29-2013

unless you have an Elite, although performance is the saem more or less.

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16:12 Dec-29-2013

unless you have an Elite, although performance is the same more or less.

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16:52 Dec-29-2013

I've never heard of that... Care to explain further? :D

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17:14 Dec-29-2013

The difference is that elite version shipped with some extra accessories and had bigger HDD.

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17:44 Dec-29-2013

Oh. So pretty much the same performance...

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21:23 Dec-29-2013

Well for console you cant really change that. But you can get a better headset or controller and accessories like that. The small things make the biggest difference to hardcore players. Try playing halo on a used up control.

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21:34 Dec-29-2013

The only thing that is different between a stock controller/headset and an aftermarket one is the price and maybe the look. You can't even have too many modifications since some controllers are banned. If you're telling me that spending more money makes you a hardcore gamer, you're wrong. That only makes you wasteful and nothing more.
And playing a game on a "used up" controller won't make a difference to playing it on a custom controller, unless the former is broken.

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21:52 Dec-29-2013

A true hardcore gamer doesn't need an ultra expensive gear! He needs the gear that is most suitable for the game he/she wishes to master. You don't need too much expensive stuff since graphics don't matter when you play to be the best . Now lets be honest: if you judge a gamer how hardcore he is based on the rig he has then you obviously are not a hardcore gamer and never actually tried to play a game in a hardcore and competitive way

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21:54 Dec-29-2013

Oh and pro players or people who want to play a game at a higher level always lower the details since he doesn't need the eye candy to distract him. That's a true hardcore gamer so you don't need a gtx titan and 2 monitors since that will just distract you from your true goal: to beat the crap out of everybody and show them who is boss : )

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02:05 Dec-30-2013

It depends, some may not be able to put forth the effort, Insane, some may spend all their time gaming, but be unable to get a good gaming PC for some reason or the other, honestly, in my opinion, the effort they put into their games is what matters, not the hardware they use, to classify them by hardware is like classifying people based on what they wear, not how they act.

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20:26 Dec-30-2013

My point exactly!

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23:48 Dec-29-2013

I guess no one here actually got the joke that I was making in this post.
You know you're a redneck when
Anyone?

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02:55 Dec-30-2013

a hardcore gamer can even play Minecraft
on raspberry pi

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03:59 Dec-30-2013

Someone gets it.

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09:49 Dec-30-2013

You're a redneck when you buy condoms for a family meeting, but what's that got to do with anything?

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10:49 Dec-30-2013

Someone who can continue this post is hardcore XD

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11:20 Dec-30-2013

what ?
lol

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11:25 Dec-30-2013

Yeah...just keep replying to people to make this tread longer..Longest rather

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12:09 Dec-30-2013

someone will spam up

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15:16 Dec-30-2013

Absolutely...Maybe someone might just come up with a Nvidia V/S Ati or Intel v/s AMD or smth....or some one will start up a swearing war :|

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15:34 Dec-30-2013
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17:07 Dec-30-2013

vivek...don't give anyone any ideas, the last thing we need is a flame war, and you have them mixed up, ATI is the processors, AMD are the graphics cards. But anyway, yeah, it would be a bad idea, and we DEFINITELY don't need a swearing war.

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18:12 Dec-30-2013

Please tell me you were joking when you said ATI made processors...

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18:44 Dec-30-2013

AMD is both prosesors and graphics cards. And ATI was graphics cards NOT procesors

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17:06 Dec-30-2013

I actually get the joke after reading the first post, PC gamers are the hardcore bunch, however I myself was just replying to some of the other comments that I disagreed with ^^;

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02:19 Dec-31-2013

lol,make it longer!

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06:36 Dec-31-2013

yes i was first confused between ati and amd who made processors and who made graphic card but amd is best for price/perfomance ratio and intel is for people who spend big bucks anyone who agrees comment . as i still have another 100 characters left i dont know what to write now.so everyone please watch my benchmarks.

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12:05 Dec-31-2013

Which is beter

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13:58 Dec-31-2013

Dude. Stop.

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15:12 Dec-31-2013

lol

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15:12 Dec-31-2013

800th thumbs up btw

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16:18 Dec-31-2013

Thanks!

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16:08 Dec-31-2013

Half of this thread is just rubbish, not even related to this article.

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16:17 Dec-31-2013

It's still a debate related to gaming though, so I guess it's kind of related to the site :D

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00:45 Jan-01-2014

I'm not judging, although a lot of information here could be considered towards spam or flood, or whatever it's called :D

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01:25 Jan-01-2014

atleast it is longest thread on GD

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06:27 Jan-01-2014

no the longest thread was by someone whose name started by j i guess i dont remember

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06:37 Jan-01-2014

wow

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08:28 Jan-01-2014

All of this attention because I made a joke about gamers with Over powered machines who think they're hardcore.

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11:35 Jan-01-2014

what i thought the blog was about the longest thread :P

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16:36 Dec-26-2013

I would say i'm something between...

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07:31 Dec-26-2013

well, i have always seen hardcore gamers as those who play with a mouse and keyboard. I've played a ton of xbox and i never really saw myself as hardcore. I guess it's a skill thing, controllers are so imprecise comparatively that it just seems casual to me. That being said the games have to be fps.

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07:51 Dec-26-2013

especially auto-aim

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04:56 Dec-26-2013

I thought hardcore gamers are those people who can play games in their hardest difficulty and they keep on trying no matter how many times they die and they will finish the game.
P.S I just defeated the 4 legendary ships in AC4 and I didn't even fully upgrade my ship. :)

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00:21 Dec-27-2013

I defeated them too :P i didn't even know you could upgrade your ship.
found out after a week of playing, My little brother played the first couple of hours that's why i didn't know :P

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04:12 Dec-26-2013

For me it is
Casual: People who just play mobile/facebook games and don't take it seriously
Hardcore: People who care about what and how they play, trying to play the games the best way they can, staying tuned to the news and unde

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04:13 Dec-26-2013

undestand the concepts of gaming, and take video games as a very important part of their lives

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03:09 Dec-26-2013

Being a Hardcore gamer for me is devoting lots of hours playing games regardless of genre. The game doesn't need to be super hard like dark souls, any game is fine as long as you're playing it because you like it and not just because everyone else is playing it.

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22:04 Dec-25-2013

Honestly, I must agree with this article, gaming as a whole, is just gaming, regardless of if you get your fix by playing Farmville, or Dark Souls, we're all gamers, and really these labels of "hardcore" and "casual" gamers are stupid. alas things will never change, but I wish we could all just get along and say "we're gamers, just gamers," instead of the types of people mentioned in the article.

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22:07 Dec-25-2013
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21:05 Dec-25-2013

I would like to be hardcore games but I spend a lot time doing something. My summer holidays are filled with work, also school takes a lot of time. Basically winter holidays like these now are my chance to nolife as much as i can! :D Also I like to spend as much as free time I get for gaming.

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20:35 Dec-25-2013

I hate the "hardcore"/"casual" gamer labeling!
Some people forget the purpose of playing a game, and that is to be entertained!
Everything else is just pure hypocrisy!
Have a good night and Merry Christmas!

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21:32 Dec-25-2013

There are people who play games to relax and others to increase their skills and become as good as possible. I don't mind the hardcore and casual gamer labelling since is just a matter of opinion and hobbies.

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20:23 Dec-25-2013

Actually, a casual gamer has a life. Spending 24 hours infront of a tv screen or a computer, is not healthy and is absolutelly wrong. Now not all hardcore gamers are like that, but the majority is. I love gaming but I draw a line. I think 4-6 hours a day is long enough.

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21:10 Dec-25-2013

depends bro, in my country practicularly in my town, there is no place to go out except the mall, where it's just stupid if you are not going to buy anything and in my case the only time I can go out is when I'm at my village in the summer

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17:57 Dec-25-2013

Difference between a casual and hardcore gamer...? The latter has a smaller balance remaining in their bank account and greater Vitamin D deficiency...

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18:52 Dec-25-2013

Would thumb you up again :D

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20:45 Dec-25-2013

Stop looking in my bank account :P

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23:47 Dec-25-2013

I do need to get some vitamin D supplements.... ;)

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16:42 Dec-25-2013

hmmm i don't know..i play the video games because i love it and adore it, not counting how much time i spend on video games..i just want to finish the game, see the story,watch the ending and move on to another new game, if there's no new game i just play my old game, over and over again..hehe

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15:08 Dec-25-2013

Its christmas holidays so Iam playing 7-8 Hours on PS3 and PC!

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15:12 Dec-25-2013

I'm playing 9-12hours a day when I'm going to school and now I'm just being on the pc 20-36hours.
But in the summer I don't even touch the pc xD

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16:15 Dec-25-2013

um there arnt 36 hours in a day

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16:23 Dec-25-2013

he didnt say "20-36h a day", he just said "20-36hours", he is more than one day on pc in piece i guess...

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18:33 Dec-25-2013

yeah I have friends from my country and a friend from denmark, so I have friends 24 hours a day to play with and I play more than one day before I take a break and sleep or go out.

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14:53 Dec-25-2013

I only spend 1-2 hours a day gaming, so I consider myself to be a casual gamer. I feel no shame in NOT being a hardcore gamer.

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14:31 Dec-25-2013

I always thought that was determined by the amount of time you spend gaming :D

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14:51 Dec-25-2013

Same here. Casual gamers (like me) spend 1-2 hours a day gaming...at the most. Hardcore gamers spend every spare second on a game!

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14:55 Dec-25-2013

Yeah. I'd only call 3+ hours every day hardcore. That would mean pretty much every spare moment, if you are a working man/ woman.

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15:04 Dec-25-2013

3+ then what would you call me i game like 8-10 hours a day..i.e when i have games to play..:D

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15:25 Dec-25-2013

@aatire80: A gaming enthusiast.

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16:11 Dec-25-2013

Hardcore or an enthusiast, like Warrior said. 3+ hours per day is a lot of time spent gaming, let alone 8 :D

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14:26 Dec-25-2013

my routine-------
waking up in morning- gaming
around 11 am- gaming
4 pm- gaming
8 pm- gaming
12 am- gaming .................. :)

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10:04 Dec-26-2013

dont you have a job ?

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14:21 Dec-25-2013

I don't see being a casual gamer as offensive. To me it's simply a matter of how you look at games. If you take gaming seriously, you're a ''hardcore'' gamer in my book. If you just play for the fun of it you're a casual gamer.

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14:21 Dec-25-2013

I would say most console gamers are casual gamers because most them really aren't gaming enthusiasts. They're mainly gaming just too fill up some of their spare time. Nobody who plays RPG's or FPS (or any other genre) only is not a hardcore gamer. Hardcore gamers are those who play all kinds of games and they're good at it and well experienced. I would also think that you're not a true gamer if you haven't been gaming for at least a couple of years. Those 'gaming' on phones, tablets and such gadgets only shouldn't think of themselves a gamers. A hardcore gamer,in fact, should be gaming on lead platform -PC, or at least on as console. That's my opinion, lads

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14:26 Dec-25-2013

"Those 'gaming' on phones, tablets and such gadgets only shouldn't think of themselves a gamers."
Oh but they have every right to, a gamer is a person plays games a lot. Platform is irrelevent.

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13:49 Dec-25-2013

my routine
6:30a.m wake up
6:45a.m really wake up
8:00a.m school
2:15p.m back from school
2:15-7:00p.m gaming (battlefield ,crysis,dirt,tomb raider,assassins creed etc)
7-10:30p.m tv
10:30-11:00 p.m just roaming around
so what am i a gamer , a casual gamer or a hardocre gamer.(i

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13:28 Dec-25-2013

I would say... I am a gamer... Just gamer..

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