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Casual Gamers Not So Casual 83

Next Gen is reporting on a study indicating that casual gamers actually play quite a lot, putting the term 'casual' under a microscope. From the article: "'Our survey has determined that mainstream audiences dedicate a substantial amount of time to gameplay — not just in 15-minute increments as previously thought,' said Loren Hillberg, executive VP and general manager of commerce at Macrovision."
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Casual Gamers Not So Casual

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  • Gamer? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theelectron ( 973857 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:32PM (#15631131)
    In general parlance, could someone who plays in increments of less than 15 minutes be considered a 'gamer'?
    • Re:Gamer? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by creimer ( 824291 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:49PM (#15631340) Homepage
      Is there a difference between someone who plays a game for two hours (120 minutes) straight versus someone who plays eight times at 15 minutes each (120 minutes) during the course of the day? You obviously never the experienced the joy of doing multiple loads of laundry and playing a game for 15 minutes between loads.
    • Re:Gamer? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @04:05PM (#15631547)
      In general parlance, could someone who plays in increments of less than 15 minutes be considered a 'gamer'?

      Actually, I think they got their definitions backwards.

      Could a peice of software be considered a "game" if it takes more than 15 minutes to play before you start to enjoy it?

      I think that is what is meant by causual gamer. You pick up a game and in 90 seconds you are enjoying yourself and not after 90 minutes of hack and slashing... Oh and don't forget that if you can't simply save and put the game down without loosing enjoyement in 15 minutes of you decided to quit (ie save points, having to remember what exactly you were doing, and where you were going) then it isn't a casual game either.
      • Re:Gamer? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ClamIAm ( 926466 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @05:07PM (#15632145)
        Could a peice of software be considered a "game" if it takes more than 15 minutes to play before you start to enjoy it?

        Could a piece of video be considered a "movie" if it takes more than 15 minutes before you start to enjoy it?

        Could a piece of text be considred a "novel" if it takes more than 15 minutes before you start to enjoy it?

        Could a piece of metal be considered a "tool" if it takes more than 15 minutes before you learn how to use it in a way that makes it useful?
        • Re:Gamer? (Score:5, Funny)

          by creimer ( 824291 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @05:15PM (#15632214) Homepage
          Could a Slashdot comment be considered "redundant" if it takes more than 15 minutes to figure that out? :P
        • Could a piece of metal be considered a "tool" if it takes more than 15 minutes before you learn how to use it in a way that makes it useful?
          Yes, because every metal object is, by default, either a hammer or pry-bar.

          Even a car. It's just a really big hammer.
        • No on all accounts. They would be considered BAD [insert object].

          Just to feel how long 15 min is, try timing it while doing nothing...

          If it takes that long to start to enjoy or understand something, it gets boring. When that object is designed to entertain, it's not doing a very good job.
        • It's a point of preferance. It may "take" me 15 minutes to start enjoying it, but it could take you 15 seconds. And none of these items is similar to each other. Some tools (not necessarily made [entirely] of metal) take a lot more than 15 minutes to become useful, like a computer, a car, etc.
        • Shooting my karma to heck, but I'll bite...

            Could a piece of video be considered "pr0n" if it takes more than 15 minutes before you finish enjoying it? ;)
    • Re:Gamer? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @04:07PM (#15631577)
      There's a lot of games which take less than 15 minutes a day to play. One example is Nation States [nationstates.net], which takes less than 5 minutes a day to play. Something non-gamey, like Brain Age, doesn't require much more than a few minutes either.

      I've read a lot of comments on handhelds that like their instant-on/resume feature (specifically, the DS and the PSP) so they can play games while "on line at the bank" --- now, I'm not jubilant about the service at my bank but even when it takes a long time I'm in line for no more than 5 or 10 minutes. So clearly there's people who buy these gadgets to play for minutes at a time. A review I read for Tetris DS lauded it for the ability to be online and playing someone else within 60 seconds. Heck, I bet you can get in a Halo 2 game in or two in 15 minutes.

      If you look at older games there's a lot of games which can be satisfying in 15 minute increments. Take Geometry Wars or Bejeweled for example. Games that you find on XBLA or other compilations.

      Or, if we're talking table top games, stuff like Checkers or Othello or Backgammon or any number of simple card games. Not every table top game needs to be as long as complicated as Risk or Settlers of Catan or Monopoly.

      It sounds insincere and hackneyed but gaming is about passion. If you like gaming for gaming's sake (not just to pass the time a la MS Solitaire) then it doesn't matter if you only play half an hour a day or 3 hours a day.
    • I think the difference lies in the kind of games you're talking about. Usually, casual gamers play flash-based or card games. Games like "Diner Dash" are very short, and you won't spend much time trying to beat it. Ok, you can spend a 5-hours session playing it (I won't discuss if you actually do it or not), but the game won't take more than a short amount of time out of your life, in comparison to big games like RPGs, MMOs or others. In the end, the casual gamer will beat the game (or get bored of it) and
      • Actually, I don't feel like a "hardcore gamer", I feel like a casual gamer, playing very casually for serveral hours a day ;)

        Well, ok, it's not entirely a joke there. I never understood most of the "hardcore gamer" mentality, or what it even means. Sure, defining it as seeing games as a part of your life is one thing, but half the time "hardcore gamer" is passed off for meaning anything between tough-as-nails kick-me-in-the-teeth I-eat-bosses-for-breakfast adrenaline-soaked challenge-seeker and being outrig
    • I could stomp you 3 times in 15 minutes in Starcraft. ;)
    • Re:Gamer? (Score:5, Funny)

      by dominion ( 3153 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @04:52PM (#15632022) Homepage
      Possibly.

      I'm sure a lot of women whose husbands only have sex in 15 minute increments a day would consider them to be "fuckers".
  • Not Surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gnostic Ronin ( 980129 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:33PM (#15631151)
    Doesn't surprise me. Other than RPGs, I think I'm pretty casual. And I usually end up playing a few hours. What makes you hardcore is when you do nothing else.
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:37PM (#15631181) Homepage
    15-minute increments

    What game nowadays can you play in 15 minute increments? Absolutely no sports games ... RPG's usually take longer than that in between save points ... what games were they thinking? Pacman & Frogger?
    • Flash games.
      Solitaire.
      Minesweeper.
    • Its a complete straw-man argument, designed to draw attention towards videogames. Macrovision is a company that usually makes copy protection for DVDs if I recall correctly! I'm trying to figure out their angle here...probably trying to define a 'new' market for their products.

      Think of it -- does a 'casual' TV view only watch 15 mins a day? An insipid network sitcom is at minimium a 30min commitment. I think the average adult in North America watches ~ 2hrs of TV a day. What's happening is 'gamers' are d
      • The point isn't about playing 15 minutes a day, it's about being able to play in 15 minute bursts, if I so choose. You know, if someone's on the phone, or I have to get the laundry from the washing machine, or I'm playing just a quick round before going to work, or whatever, don't make me search for a save point for half an hour first and don't make me freakin' need a 40 man raid for a long mission. Just let me save there and then, or park my character in a safe place, because I need to take a break _now_.

        T
        • It's going to take me at least a half hour to don my top hat and tails and remember where I put my cane last, so there's really no point in only playing in 15 minute bursts. I guess that's why I'm not a casual gamer. Don't get me wrong, there was a time when I'd play a computer game wearing whatever I had on at the time. But since the doctor told me I was impotent, I figured I should start dressing like I was impotent.
    • seriously.

      I cant even get ready to play a game in 15 minutes. Gotta roll in the comfy chair from the 'office', get the easily consumable food out and ready to go, prepare a stiff vodka based beverage.

      Sheesh!

      I am being a bit facetious, but really, 15 minutes? i dont think you can even sit down and play any game (video or not) in less than 15 minutes. Who are these people?

    • by tmjr3353 ( 925558 ) <tmackintosh@NoSpam.gmail.com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:52PM (#15631367)
      A lot of Nintendo DS games. Brain Age, for one, can be played in 15 minute increments. On top of that, closing the DS puts it to "sleep," so you don't even need to wait for a save point in those RPGs. :)
      • I was also going to mention Nintendo DS. Their games are so "lightweight" in contiguous time commitment, that you really *can* get a 10-15 minute fix and be done. I play New Super Mario Brothers in 10 minute spurts when making dinner, or even during commercial breaks when I decide to watch something on TV.
      • There are RPGs on the DS?

        (Anyone mentioning Lunar: Dragon Song will be shot, stabbed, hung, drawn & quartered. Calling that abortion an RPG is like calling a Volkswagon a vegetable.)
    • games.yahoo.com
      games.msn.com

      And similars.
    • Various kinds of MUDs [game.org].
      Nethack.
      Subspace/Continuum.
      Console emulators with save state features.

      The list goes on and on...
    • What game nowadays can you play in 15 minute increments? Absolutely no sports games ...
      You're joking right? You can play a sports game in five minutes, they usually allow you to set the length of the match.
    • The Casual Games they are referring to include the following:

      - Diner Dash
      - Mystery Case Files
      - Feeding Frenzy
      - Egg vs. Chicken
      - Plantasia

      The reason they are casual games is not because you HAVE to play them for only 15 minutes at a time, but because you CAN play them for 15 minutes at a time, as a casual break from your day to relieve stress, like playing it at work until your boss walks in.

      If you're interested, check the games out at www.playfirst.com
    • Enemy Territory is fun in short increments and free.

      I think any FPS where you respawn is appropriate for get in/get out kind of play on public servers (as long as they don't say serious gamers only).
    • Actually, most RPGs that are bound to "save points" are console RPGs (which aren't usually RPGs at all, they're just action games with player character stat evolution and at least an attempt at a plot, but that's a different discussion altogether). Computer RPGs usually aren't limited by some "save point" mechanism. At least, not Neverwinter Nights, not Planescape: Torment, not Elder Scrolls: Oblivion or Morrowind, not any of the Fallouts, not "Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magicka Obscura", nor KotOR II (prob
      • I apologize for the blocky look. Here's a properly paragraphed version of that if that's too painful to read:

        Actually, most RPGs that are bound to "save points" are console RPGs (which aren't usually RPGs at all, they're just action games with player character stat evolution and at least an attempt at a plot, but that's a different discussion altogether). Computer RPGs usually aren't limited by some "save point" mechanism. At least, not Neverwinter Nights, not Planescape: Torment, not Elder Scrolls: Obliv

  • by Lance_Denmark ( 985878 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:41PM (#15631234)
    I'd have said that casual was a combination of time spent, money spent on games and how generally important games are to a person. If you end up playing two hours a night five nights a week but go out on the weekends and don't think about gaming, I'd say you're casual. Also you can usually identify a 'hardcore' gamer by their willingness to 'play until it gets better'. After criticising a game for being shite from the offset I'm often told 'You have to play for a bit for it to get better' and you are usually talking to a pretty hardcore gamer there.

    Nope there is more to it than time alone.

  • Nedulous Definitions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shadow Wrought ( 586631 ) * <shadow@wrought.gmail@com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:41PM (#15631237) Homepage Journal
    No one would consider my wife to be a gamer. She doesn't like the Xbox and could find any of a million things to do other than play a game. Except Solitaire. Once every couple of weeks she'll play Solitaire on the PC for a couple of hours. Does that mean she's a casual gamer? By some definitions, yes. In reality? No.

    I think of myself as a gamer, but the reality is between work and family I don't have the time to play as much as I want. I'll play a game of football, do a mission on Halo, or play SSBM with the kids maybe 3 times a week. I, too, would be considered a casual gamer, but I am not in the least interested in the "casual game market," nor would I likely put casual in my descriptor.

    I'm reminded of a point made in regards to creative writing: write something you want to read. Not something you think others would like to read, but something that you would enjoy reading. Maybe gameshops should work more towards making games that they enjoy than trying to capture a certain market segment.

  • All relative (Score:4, Interesting)

    by entmike ( 469980 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:43PM (#15631260) Homepage
    A recent study reveals that nearly one-third of casual gamers play for over two hours per gameplay session

    A 2 hour game of poker would be considered casual by many.
    • would be considered normal. That's what gets me. Most families watch hours of TV a day, and somehow that's seen as no problem. But if you want to spend the same amount of time playing a game, somehow you are "hardcore" or even an "addict".

      I think the problem is seeing gaming as something that should be a short-interval kind of thing. No, it's not. I mean it can be but it doesn't have to be. There are many things in life that are fun when done in longer periods. For example I don't think you'd seriously sugg
      • I was thinking the same thing, only along the lines of movies. Most people don't watch movies in 15-minute sessions. The difference comes when you look at how seriously people take it.

        Billions of people watch movies, but there are a lot less who fit the definition of "movie geek" or (to borrow the gaming term) "hardcore". These are people who maybe know more about film or drama, or just really love movies. These people don't necessarily spend more time watching movies than the average person, especially
  • This is a little underwhelming. Who does anything for just 15 minutes unless they're interrupted?
    • Who does anything for just 15 minutes unless they're interrupted?

      Sounds like my sex life.

      But seriously, when it comes to games, who shells out the $20-$50 (plus the cost of the console, for console games) to play only a few minutes a day? This is like Lays' [lays.com] old ad campaign for their potato chips: "Betcha can't eat just one!" Why would you want to? You bought the whole bag!

    • These days, people have short atten...wait, what?
  • by Red Samurai ( 893134 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:57PM (#15631436)
    It's not about how long you play for, it's about how dedicated and obsessed you are with gaming. It's about your taste in games, what games you play, what consoles you own, how long you've been playing, the variety of gaming experiences you've had, and many other factors. It's not just how long you spend playing that determines whether you're casual or hardcore.
  • Show me a game where I can have fun and make some progress in a 15-minute increment, and I'll show you Solitaire.

    Just try playing WoW for 15 minutes, and see how much you can do...

    • You can level to 60 in 15 minute increments in WoW, and probably have fun doing it. I think its one of the few games designed for a casual as well as a hardcore base.
    • WoW can be played for 15 minutes. Hop on, check the mail, run warsong... right back off. =) Do it every morning with my cup of coffee.
    • well this [ebaumsworld.com] guy could beat Super Mario 3 about 4 times over in 15 minutes
      • by vistic ( 556838 )
        Usually those videos are made by cheating... using emulators and the ability to save-state and pick up where they left off if they screw up even slightly.
        • At least all of the ones that I've seen are honest about it. There's a huge community centered around a few sites [tasvideos.org], and they make it quite clear that they're not trying to trick people into thinking that they beat the game that quickly for real, but rather to demonstrate what perfect play of a game could look like.

          I can respect that. Some of those videos are still jaw-dropping, just knowing that it is physically possible to do that in a particular game.

          The only time I've seen them without some kind of ment
    • Just try playing WoW for 15 minutes, and see how much you can do...

      Surprisingly, a lot, especially if you like to play the market to get rich. The auction house is great for folks who just want to log on for a couple minutes. I doesn't take long to search through items looking for underpriced stuff that you can resell for a profit or seeing if the market is ripe for listing your goods. You can make quite a lot of money keeping an eye out for obscure rare items that many players don't realize is a com
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:57PM (#15631442) Journal
    People who have casual sex rarely break the 15 minute mark.

    Interesting. Indeed.

    Titties!

    • People who have casual sex rarely break the 15 minute mark.

      Well, maybe *you* don't.

      Or maybe I'm just weird that way. Oh well.
      • people who have casual sex rarely break the 15 minute mark.

        Well, maybe *you* don't.

        Or maybe I'm just weird that way. Oh well.

        "MOM! Dad pwned me again!"

        Uh, oh. Are you sure you meant to share that with the group? You might check the green pages in the phone book for an incest support group and the blue pages for health and human services...

  • by CaseM ( 746707 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @04:41PM (#15631931)
    ...but at the end of the day the difference between "hardcore" and "casual" I settled on wasn't necessarily how long a person played, but how hard it was to save/quit/get out when you had to put the game down.

    This applied specifically to whether or not a person could raid in World of Warcraft, but I think it applies to gaming in general - it isn't that "casuals" wouldn't play for 4 hours at a stretch, it's that they couldn't commit to a playing schedule and actually keep said commitment consistently enough to a) not piss of the other raid members and b) not upset Significant Others.
    • it isn't that "casuals" wouldn't play for 4 hours at a stretch, it's that they couldn't commit to a playing schedule and actually keep said commitment consistently enough to a) not piss of the other raid members and b) not upset Significant Others.

      Actually, that's where most people set the limit between "hardcore" and "obsessive" gamer. Just FYI ;)
  • by nick_davison ( 217681 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @06:40PM (#15632751)
    These days, most of my gaming is what I'd call casual: I pick up games that can be completely played in 5 minute blocks.

    Now it just so happens that I'll likely get hooked once I start and play a good dozen of those blocks and find an hour has gone by - often longer still. But, if I knew I had to invest an hour to even try, I likely wouldn't pick up the game in the first place.

    So, yes, casual gamer play sessions are often much longer than one five-to-fifteen minute block. But, no, that doesn't mean you can create a game that requires those longer average play times and still capture the same market. It's a false conclusion based on completely missing the low barrier to entry aspect and fixating on average playtimes.

    In short: Casual gaming isn't about short play times. It's about the ability to play for short sessions and thus having a low barrier to entry that then leads to those longer play times.

    And with that, I'm off for just one more game of sudoku.
  • Coincidentally, casual gaming is the topic of today's strip at real life comics [reallifecomics.com].
  • by popo ( 107611 ) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @11:14PM (#15634043) Homepage
    Is a guy who wears this [cafepress.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    My observation on Casual Gamers, in MMORPGs atleast - is quite often, many of them seem to put in more time into the game then the 'hardcore, uberguild-raiding type'.

    I'll use myself, and a friend as an example.

    - We both started playing EQ at the same time, and for the first month of play we stayed pretty much neck in neck in terms of levels. We'd duo allot, goof around, have fun, explore. Somewhere along the line, I got bitten by the 'power-gaming bug', and ended up taking off in levels past him.

    We started
  • If you look at what results are really being looked at, you'll see that the sample of "gamers" was all people who go to the Trygames site, which IMO is not exactly the mainstream outlet for gaming. That over one-third of these people are 35-49 years of age, etc., is probably not representative of the gaming community that most are familiar with (console and popular PC games). I was at first very confused as to how anyone could have *ever* thought that "casual" gamers only play in 15-minute intervals (meani
  • People who drive slower than me are idiots, people who drive faster than me are insane.

    Likewise gamers: if you play more than I do, you're a hardcore powergamer no-life. If you play less than I do, you're casual.

    -Jeff

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