What is a casual?

| Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Apparently people actually did read this. Wow. Now I have to make a new post for my death knight. Jerks.

This was triggered by a recent post by Coriel:
Not mocking casuals is listed as a requirement for an ideal guild. Based on the heading I said "well great, I'm all for that." Then I read more and the example was a paladin with spirit gems. That's not a casual. That's someone that lacks basic understanding of their class.

So what is a casual?

So far I've seen many ways of rating people on the casual-hardcore continuum.
Time played, either per day or week or longest time at once. Whatever it is, a hardcore would play a lot.
Skill/Progression: Highest raid completed, highest arena rating. A hardcore would be higher.
Posting on the forums is for hardcores, even if they claim to be casual.
Game knowledge: casuals don't know anything while hardcores know everything.
Priorities: casuals play WoW for fun when they have some spare time while hardcores play WoW for everything (including, but not limited to: fun, ego, social interaction). This ties into the time played a bit.

None of these really work for me. For one, I don't fit any of them properly. In the past I played constantly, 8-12 hours a day, probably more on weekends, every day. And yet, I was wiping on Razorgore, low-ranked in PvP (under the old system which mostly rewarded time and connections), and generally ignorant of everything. I didn't fit the previously mentioned measures for casual or hardcore.

Now I still don't fit. I play less, in the past few weeks a lot less. I played pretty much every day, but sometimes it was just to do the cooking daily and maybe smelt titansteel. Before that I played more, but my schedule did not fit my guild, so I didn't raid much at all and didn't really care. However I think I knew a lot more and was not only better geared than in the past, but also more intelligently geared, a difference which I hope you understand.

Ideally we'd just not label people. What does it accomplish? Not much. But we do label people and make assumptions based off those labels, so at the least we can use more accurate labels.

Let's go back and look at the measurements.
Time: At first glance this seems obvious, more = hardcore-er. But what about someone with nothing else to do? A better measure might be a percentage of free time wich could be used for non-WoW activities. If you have one hour of free time a day and it's always used for WoW, the absolute time is low, but the relative time is 100%. Expanding it, taking away non-free time is even more hardcore, or probably just irresponsible since I am counting things like a minimum amount of sleep and work/school. Taking time away from important things is hardcore, but also stupid.

Skill: Worthless as a measure. A person can be good without being hardcore, or can be bad without being casual. See: me a couple years ago. Hardcore and bad. Practice helps, but that's a matter of time and should be measured as time, not skill.

Forums: Crappy measure too.

Game knowledge: This is a weak measure. It does take some amount of effort to learn details like uncrushable (RIP) or uncrittable (540 for raids, 535 heroics), but it's not a huge amount. Or it could even just be learned by someone telling you or asking for advice, no need to run over to Elitist Jerks for info. However I'd say that deep theorycrafting is somewhat hardcore, unless you're just a very bored math geek. Finally, there are some very hardcore people that know nothing.

Priorities: This seems pretty good. Don't ask how important is WoW, but how important is it relative to other things. Is work/school more important? I'd hope so. Family interaction? Ideally none of these are totally neglected for WoW, but obviously there are some tradeoffs. If givena choice between hanging out with friends and playing WoW, wich do you pick? WoW would be hardcore, friends would be casual, however I'd like to add that taking a bit of time from either isn't hardcore or casual since it's understandable to not want to hang out every night or raid every night (though if you did, that would be a bump on the hardcore measure).

There aren't really good definitions for casual and hardcore. Time helps, but may be just a measure of the rest of life, not the importance of WoW. Game knowledge is a little (tiny tiny tiny) bit hardcore, but it's a weak measure. Priorities seem to come out on top. What and how much will you give up for WoW? How much of your self-worth and mood are affected by in-game events; I mean things like losing 10 straight games in arena, not social things like difficulty in an online relationship.

Labels suck.


Rohan said...

Let me explain my example of the paladin with Spirit gems. Technically, you are correct. That paladin does not understand her class.

But I can see where she went wrong, why she made the mistake. She is a healer and wants to improve her mana regen. Spirit gives better mana regen, so she invests in Spirit. Her mistake is that she doesn't know about the Five Second Rule, and its implications for paladin regen. And it's not an obvious mistake. The 5SR isn't explained anywhere.

To me, the proper response is to tell her about the 5SR, to enlighten and educate her. Simply laughing at her in your private guild chat (which she cannot see) accomplishes nothing.

Most people don't intentionally make mistakes or make sub-optimal choices. In their mind, their choices are optimal. They are just usually mistaken in their chain of reasoning. If you can point out where they went wrong, you can help them improve, become a better player.

What I object to is choosing to mock the weak when you could have made them stronger instead. To me, that is the mark of an unattractive personality.

Kiryn said...

I completely agree. There's a very big difference between mocking someone for playing through 80 levels and still having a laughable misunderstanding of game mechanics, and mocking someone because they chose to spend time with their friends instead of raiding. By now I've gotten used to those paladin-with-spirit-gems type of people not caring when I try to help them, so I stopped trying.

I enjoy knowing as much as I can about my class, and generally spend all of my free time playing WoW or reading about WoW online. Even so, I don't like PvP and I don't like starting a raid ten minutes after I get home from work without even having a break first, so I usually only raid one or two days a week. Many people would call me a casual due to that.

Klepsacovic said...

See, I'd be the type to try to explain things. Unfortunately I run into two problems.

1) Some people refuse to admit that they might not be perfect. See: hunter with melee proc weapon who just keeps insisting that epic is better.

2) I have a lot of trouble starting conversations about gear. "May I offer you some advice?" feels, I don't know, I just feel intrusive. Sometimes this ends up going badly and I look like a jackass.

It's just a lot easier and more entertaining to mock people. Oh look at that noob, what an idiot. It boosts the ego with almost no effort. Unfortunately in the long term it just means more noobs and fewer potential people to group with.

Klepsacovic said...

And since I thought of it too late for the first comment...

Do you see a sort of transition, like a waking up in WoW? I mean the time when you start questioning things, wondering why, and trying to figure them out. In the example of the paladin, if she was 'awake' she'd see that paladins where plate and spell power increases healing (these are both obvious). Also no one else uses spell power (this is a bit trickier, since prot and ret do benefit), at least in a practical sense they avoid it directly on gear. So, spell power plate is for holy paladins. It has no spirit. Why? It would seem logical that there is no spirit because it is not a useful stat, similar to why there is no attack power or hit on plate healing gear.

Maybe this awakening is a transition from casual to hardcore. I doubt it though, since it seems one-way, short of brain damage I can't see someone suddenly forgetting that there are mathematics behind the game which can be figured out. This being one way would mean that a person, once hardcore, is permanently so unless hit on the head really hard, which doesn't seem like a common enough occurrence to account for the large casual player base (since a one-way transition, even if slow, will eventually consume all).

Rohan said...

Then in my view, you should just ignore them if you choose not to help them, or they refuse your help.

Maybe it's just a matter of personal ethics, but I believe that if you are strong in one area, you shouldn't mock or make fun of people who are weak in that area. If you are smart, you don't mock people who are not as smart. If you are physically strong, you don't mock people who are physically weak. If you are fast, you don't mock people who are slow. It's just not correct or moral behavior.

I agree about the transition point, but that transition point can be weird. For example, there's lots of spirit gear while levelling, but no spellpower plate. That only shows up in the 60s. If you look at how other healers such as priests and druids gear, then you'll get a warped sense of what stats to go for. Not to mention a lot of weapons have spirit. Also Lightforge armor has some Spirit on it, but no mp5.

There's nothing that outright tells you Spirit is bad, you just have infer it, ignoring pieces of evidence that counter that theory. It's easy to come to the wrong conclusion if you don't know about the 5SR.

As well, the crafted PvP healing set, Ornate Saronite or whatever, is going to seriously mess with your head. (Kind of honestly, it seriously messes with mine. Why is there no Int on it?)

Finally, if you went by your experiences leveling up, you might conclude that paladins are supposed to melee, and we all know where that leads you.

Klepsacovic said...

I suppose it is all easier with history.

I know about the history of spirit, the rise and fall. Or the plateau and fall. I remember shamans trying for some sort of spirit talent since we had no regen. Eventually they just gave us mana/5. The green dragonscale set used to have a regen from spirit set bonus, it was changed to a flat mana/5 amount.

This is my difficulty. Well okay, now I have two difficulties, with the new one being how to say the other without sounding arrogant. Oh well. So much is obvious now. To me it makes perfect sense that there is a 5 second rule, after all, it says regen while casting and not casting. But that doesn't indicate the length of the time or anything really all that helpful. It takes some thinking, if you even realize you're supposed to think about it.

As for leveling, Blizzard really should have a note that says "the way you are currently playing should not be taken as an indication of how you will or should play at higher levels." Early on hunters are effectively a melee class. Shamans are casters, even though enhancement is the fastest way to level once you have talents.

But what's wrong with a melee paladin? NO EMO IN MY BLAG! :P

Green Armadillo said...

My longheld belief on the C-word is that it should be banned from all discussion of MMORPG's for failure at the basic purpose of a word (that being to communicate ideas). I work pretty hard to avoid using it on my blog simply because I don't think it's useful if you don't define it, and, once you've defined it, you don't need the word anymore.

So yes, labels suck, but that particular one seems to suck even more than usual. ;)

Unknown said...

More often than not people like Rohan's paladin example get mocked, not because other players like boosting their ego, but because it really demonstrates a lack of effort/interest/care by that player.

There is such a huge amount of great information available for anyone who wants to improve their play and character that being uninformed or ignorant of game mechanics doesn't really fly anymore for most of the playerbase. A quick trip to your official class forums can provide solid basic information about class mechanics/gear/spec right in stickies at the top. Now there's even role specific forums too, not to mention all the non-offical information sites and blogs. Just looking up other holy paladins on the Armory could have pointed Rohan's paladin example in the right direction.

A majority of players know this information is readily available. Thus when they see someone who is max level or close to it and wants to participate in groups with others yet hasn't even bothered to take the initiative and learn just the basics, their opinion of them is soured. The fact that most people have had 1 or more terrible experiences with people like this doesn't help either. Burned by those past experiences they are more likely to be dismissive/rude/difficult when interacting with someone like that in the future, if they just don't flat out ignore them.

I know I don't pay 15$ a month to teach people how to play the game when some simple searching/reading would give them all the info they need. I know it sounds harsh and I'm typically quite helpful when I play, but this is the reality of the situation for most players.

Kiryn said...

"it really demonstrates a lack of effort/interest/care by that player."

That's really what it is for me. It's not so much that they don't know, but that they haven't TRIED to know. A simple google search on your spec would give you endless information. Those who manage to get to 80 and start gearing up for heroics who STILL haven't bothered to take 5 minutes to look up their spec... it just bothers me.

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