Sometimes I hear people speaking something other than English, such as Mandarin or English English. I do the logical thing and yell at them. Then we argue, usually about the geopolitics of the day. I'm a bit of an ideologue and refuse to budge from my principles, such as denying the existence of the Welsh. It all gets a bit confusing because they keep on speaking their non-English language, so we do a bit of arguing past each other, but I assure you, I argue past them a lot better.
But these arguments are a lot more productive than the average one regarding casuals. At least when I start random arguments with foreigners (I assume they are foreign, since Americans speak English) they recognize that we might see eye to eye (metaphorically, some of the old English English men I yell at are a bit hunched) but are not speaking the same language, so some meaning gets lost in the lack of translation.
The casual-harcore arguments never have this benefit. I say casual and you say casual and the word sounds the same, with maybe one person saying it more like "cash-ual" and another more like "ca-zhual", and maybe a "cassual" to complete the mix. But the minor variation in sound fails to alert us to the not-so-minor variation in meaning.
Is casual a time thing? How much time?
Or maybe it is an interest thing. This one seems strange, since someone playing a game they aren't interested in sounds more like "stupid" than "casual".
Is it the fullness of the care cup? Competitiveness? Research? Social ties?
We could look up the dictionary definition, but that wouldn't be of much use, since we're not going to all suddenly switch to the meaning used by Oxford. Beside, they're sorta elitist about their words.
I wonder if we should even bother to use the word. In *ahem* casual conversation it could still be of some use as a generic pointer toward a direction on a spectrum, but if we want to say something more than that? Useless! Worse than useless, counter-productive!
Imagine if one day WoW removed targeting in favor of aiming, so that spells and attacks had to be manually pointed at targets. An FPS player might like this. An RPG player who is more used to the 'sticky' system might not. Certainly the targeting makes it a bit harder, but is it hardcore? The FPS player might say yes. The RPG player might say no, that it is dumbing down and ruining the genre to suit the stupid FPS players.
It is almost as useless as the terms conservative and liberal. Less so only because at least casual doesn't suddenly flip in meaning when going from America to Europe the way liberal does. Apparently over there "liberal" means "libertarianish" (this is Europe we're talking about) whereas here it means "nannystater who takes your money to force black people to get abortions", in contrast with "progressive" which means either "person who wants to improve things" or "cancer".
We need a new word. Or no, no mere word, but a format. A code. I suggest these parameters for measurement, on scales of 1-9 with 1 being lowest and 10 highest. Roughly-speaking, higher scores are more 'hardcore', but I want to emphasize the "roughly-speaking" part.
Time investment: Ranges from "now and then" to "second job"
Emotional investment: Ranges from "meh" to "It's not stalking if I plan to murder the loot ninja at the end."
Knowledge: Ranges from "Press buttons and pretty!" to "I've found a bug in the boss code showing that he is using 'Hyperspace Doom' a tenth of a second sooner than intended"
Customization: "I changed a couple keys so I stopped pressing quickload instead of quicksave" to "my keyboard cost more than your computer and I have a contract with Apple to redesign my UI"
This would give scores ranging from 4 to 36. It would start at zero, but I'm pretty sure that if someone has a time, knowledge, or emotional investment of zero, they are not playing the game. Even a customization of zero suggests that they may or may not have a keyboard. The reason it goes 1-9 rather than the more common 1-10 is that this way it all fits into a 4-digit code, a convenience which I'm sure will be appreciated when everyone in the world adopts my new standard for game communication.
It still needs some work. For example, emotional investment is going to be linked to all of the rest, with emotion and time forming a feedback loop. Knowledge can be expected to generally increase with time and emotion, and may increase customization. These are not perfectly independent factors. It may not be appropriate to have them all on the same scales. Customization may call for a wider range, in fact, since buying special hardware just to play a specific game strikes me as pretty hardcore. Or it may merely follow from a high emotional investment.
For myself during the height of my WoW days, I'm estimating scores something like this:
I spent a lot of time, cared quite a bit, knew a lot about the game, mostly within lore but a great deal about classes and raids, but my UI was a sort of on and off thing. The off coming with a new patch where I'd have to check the "load out of date addons" box and put up with constant UI errors until one day I got around to downloading an updated version. That might sound like less than 5, but considering I had a bar, gear, UI, and multiple AH and mail addons, I think that makes 5 a minimum. If it wasn't all so haphazard I'd probably put it higher.
That would make me a 7685 or 26 combined, or 72% harcore. That sounds about right to me.
What's your score?