OPINION: What is a Core Game?

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Share this page

We are proudly a Play-Asia Partner


Ads support the website by covering server and domain costs. We're just a group of gamers here, like you, doing what we love to do: playing video games and bringing y'all niche goodness. So, if you like what we do and want to help us out, make an exception by turning off AdBlock for our website. In return, we promise to keep intrusive ads, such as pop-ups, off oprainfall. Thanks, everyone!


Last week Nintendo started a new ad campaign which featured various celebrities proudly holding up their 3DSs and stating with confidence, “I am not a gamer!” This sparked outrage amongst the gaming community, as the ads seem to place stigma on the label of “gamer” and on anyone who associates themselves with it.

It is stated in the ads that although these individuals play games, they are not “gamers”. I, personally, believe that Nintendo intended no harm with this campaign; they were merely stating that anyone, regardless of gaming experience, can enjoy games developed and published by them. However, it was poorly executed and as a result Nintendo have received a  lot of backlash from the gaming community, and we at Oprainfall have had our say. But these ads got us thinking: The terms “casual” and “core” are often tossed around when talking about games and gamers, but what do they actually mean?

The past week has seen an intense debate in the staff room about the qualities that separate a “core” game from its “casual” counterpart, with nearly everyone contributing their own ideas.


Richard  Ross: I hate those titles, you either play video games or you don’t. That includes SolitaireMinesweeperHearts, and Angry Birds. To me it’s this way of trying to feel superior to other people, a way for a son to say that he’s a “core gamer” because he can “pwn noobs” in Call of Duty unlike his Mom who can play a mean Backgammon.

Steven Boaz:  There are people that are HARDCORE into The Sims and FarmVille…. are they casual or core? Many of them spend more time than I do playing games and are far more dedicated than I am because they dump hundreds of dollars into microtransactions. Or people that are hardcore into Train Simulator and invest several THOUSAND dollars into collecting all of the expansions. I just play games. I like Zelda. I like Mario. I like Half Life. I like Halo. I like Perfect Dark. I like Viva Pinata and Animal Crossing. I don’t care what you call me just give me games that are fun.

Crystal Baltimore: I hate this label of “core” or “casual”. I am a hardcore casual gamer. I play everything. everything! If I am playing Plants vs Zombies or The Sims, does that make me casual? What if I spend 8 hours playing one of these, which would be a more “core” thing to do?

Generally casuals are thought of as people who spend a few minutess here and there playing any game you can just pick up play for a few moments and then go along with life. I guess if I am forced to define a core player then I would say it would be anyone who chooses to play games as their main source of entertainment. If you would choose to sit and play any game rather then another hobby then to me, you’re a core gamer. If you spend your extra money on games or specifically budget for video games then you’re a core gamer. I know my opinion is not probably the norm but it’s how I feel.

In all seriousness, have you guys seen the new SimCity trailer? I’m not a fan of The Sims games, but that game looks HARD.

Devin Kotani: I don’t like the “core” and “casual” labels. In reality, I think people tend to use “core” to mean, “games I like,” and “casual” to mean, “games I don’t like.”

In other words, I think “core” and “casual” are just used as a form of self validation.

Migui Goryu Rossy: There is no ‘Hardcore’ or ‘Casual’, both of those titles mean nothing to me. I play Facebook games, phone games and games on my PS3, PS2 and Wii. Why should ANY gamer be cast down by what they play? Why do we judge other gamers based on our tastes? Who are we to do that? We’re nobody, that’s who. Gaming is for fun and video games are no exception to this rule. It’s a hobby used to loose yourself of life’s burdens and just free your mind from the stress of daily tasks; it’s a pleasure like no other to lose yourself in the game and just crack a smile, have something to feel great about, finishing that one hard level or uncovering a secret path that you never expected to find or beating that high score from another online player like yourself. Gaming to me is pure bliss, and we shouldn’t take it away from others who experience it as well, but differently. As long as you’re having fun…that’s what matters. That’s what games are…pure fun. If you forget that and judge others like ‘Casual’ or ‘Hardcore’ then it’s time to find a new hobby and move on.


So, everyone on on this page believes that there should be no distinction between the “core” and the “casual” crowd. But there are some on staff, (including yours truly) who believe that “core” and “casual” games do exist as separate entities. To find out who, and why, head over to page two!

Pages: 1 2

  • LethonomiaDeacon
  • To me, a hardcore gamer, core gamer, or gamer (whichever you call it), is a person who spends a lot of time playing video games, buys (or rents or borrows, in essence experiences) many games, and contributes to gaming community.  Now, the thing is, games like Angry Birds or Tetris are not designed for long periods of play.  They’re designed with a pick-up-and-play mentality and there’s nothing wrong with that.  On the other hand, games like Zelda, Metroid, Pokemon, Call of Duty, Half-life, etc. are designed for the core gamer to be played for hours on end.  Those are the sort of games the core gamer prefers.  Does that mean a core gamer can’t play a casual game.  Not in the slightest.  I’m not saying that core gamers are some sort of elite group; they’re just a group of gamers who enjoy their games a bit more and a bit deeper than the casual gamer.  

  • To me is mostly how much investment (time or passion) a person puts in a game or games. As was said, you can play Call of Duty to have fun here and there, and don’t bother much with mastering its multiplayer or playing the game on harder difficulties, so you can be a casual Call of Duty player. Contrary, someone might be hardcore at Farmville, by buying tons of stuff and waking up at insane ours (say 3am) to tend the crops.
    This could also factor how many games you buy and how much of your time you invest playing them.

  • If I may weigh in, I believe it is not the same to “be a gamer” than to “play games”. As commenter James Best put it, I believe being a gamer or not is defined by interest and participation in the community and/or industry. It’s the line that divides a game hobbyist and an game afficionado. Hobbyists are what people tend to call “casuals”, while us afficionados are what tend to be called “gamers”. In my opinion, the former aren’t gamers, casual or otherwise, but simply people who play games.

    Us, on the other hand, are gamers.

  • i agree with this article, i mean, i dont really care about that BS of “hardcore or casual” games, i just care about good and bad games, and thats because i dont want to pay for shitty games…

    but actually, the hardcore and casual games really do exist, they existed even in the early 80´s…  but in that time, we knew them as pc & arcade games.

    arcade games are simple, just for quick fun, a lot of games where like that: tetris, pacman, mario, DK, etc… those games still exist but they are seen today as “casual shit” or “kiddie games” like angry birds or wiisports, actually the consoles were built for you to have arcade games in your home.

    on the other hand, the pc-games are more complex to handle, they have weird controls and confusing menus, just see the fp´s, strategy games or Wrpg´s…

    on some point of the story, the consoles stoped from being arcade machines and then they converted in pc-like machines, with that multimedia stuff and ugly controllers, and they started to bring pc games to consoles (which is ironic because these games are casual versions of the true games on pc, with bad controls and limited graphics)… thats why, when another arcade console arrives (in this case, wii), the hardcore media tried to put down not just the console but his public too, so they created those twisted concepts about hardcore gamers or casual gamers, impliying that the hardcore are superior than the casual ones.

  •  “I don’t like the “core” and “casual” labels. In reality, I think people
    tend to use “core” to mean, “games I like,” and “casual” to mean, “games
    I don’t like.”

    In other words, I think “core” and “casual” are just used as a form of self validation.”

    *DING* *DING* *DING* We have a winner

  • John Ellis

    I see core games as games you put time into, and casual games are like flash and mobile, quick games that you jump into.

  • xHeraCross

    I guess I consider a core game to be one that requires skill or dedication or hard work or vast knowledge or all of the above to be appreciated as a good game among gamers.

    The terms ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ have been used as elitist statements as people who call consider themselves “core” gamers try to give themselves a feeling of superiority by looking down on those with less experience with gaming.

    But it depends on how a game is played, like one person said, Pokemon is a kid’s game. It is appealing to the casual audience. However, when IV breeding, EV training, movesets, items, tiering etc come into the mix, a whole metagame for competetive, ‘core’ gamers is present.

    Gaming is becoming more and more mainstream and with the mass interest comes status and bitterness from people who feel they’re losing what defines them as individuals. It’s all post-modernistic and by that I mean these “core” gamers don’t like losing their exclusive gaming status and so they look down on those who are new to the scene to try and to cling to their identitfication as gamers.

  • to me it is the games themselves and the demographic they are trying to appeal to. like angry birds to me is a casual game no matter the time or effort put into it. to me the a hard core game is something the has offers a rich gameplay experience. now that was talking about games. hard core people are the ones who spend lots of money on games and is a primary means of entertainment no matter the game, and the casual only play for a few minutes like the guy who pwns people in COD may only play for about an hour a day/week or so and is a casual gamer, a hard core gamer could be the guy who plays farmville for hours on end and spends a substantial amount of money on the game. think we need a middle ground personally i like to feel im in that middle, if i like a game i play it, i can go for months and not play a game and then for a time spend almost a year playing WoW trying to get some epic gear to PVP with my guild.

  • What irks me is the fan war between core and casual games. Gamers like to use casual as their version of the F word along with bias and fanboy (even those that are fanboys). As-long as core games keep being made I think casual games are perfectly fine to exist. I remember the great fun my family had with wii bowling, I loved reading the news about how much fun people in nursing homes have with wii sports. I think its great that casual games exist, its a great tool to try and get people of the older generation to play games and maybe try to stop the irrational bias they have against the medium. 

  • I believe that what they’re getting at is that games aren’t for the stereotypical “gamers” anymore, the people that show up in the news after a playstation was found in the basement of an apprehended murderer’s parents. 
    Video games are for everyone.  Healthy, successful productive people can enjoy the fantasy worlds of Zelda or the ongoing fad of Pokémon without feeling like they’re being pigeonholed into the sweaty orifice labelled “gamer”.

  • Johannes

     having those labels really don’t exist, the casuals play titles mostly because they are new on sale, like once i told a friend “let’s play halo 3″ and he told me, oh, i don’t really play halo 3, is boring, the time for halo 3 is past and the future is reach”, also happened with assassin’s creed, with CoD and BF, these should be called “people”

    i play every kind of videogame that it’s on disposition, on xbox, PS, nintendo 64, wii, NES, indie games, etc. I think the ones like me should be called gamers, not hardcore gamers nor casual gamers, but GAMERS