HoTs and DoTs: A Restoration Druid and Shadow Priest

Why is Hardcore Such a Dirty Word?

A new definition for hardcore: the swift pursuit and killing of dragons

A new definition for hardcore: the swift pursuit and killing of dragons

Apparently it’s a big no-no to use words like “hardcore” or “casual” when blogging. Readers and bloggers alike seem to get so caught up over these labels that they completely disregard the actual argument!

The term “hardcore” has become a dirty word. No one wants to be labeled as a hard core player; in fact everyone will do what they can to twist the meaning of casual just to make sure that they seem to fit into this category and no one could ever accuse them of being a hardcore player. Forgive me if I stop to roll my eyes.

I really loved a post written a while ago by Euripedes at Critical QQ which gave an interesting perspective on the whole casual and hardcore debate (if you can call it a debate) and highlighted how there is no real definition for what constitutes these two play styles. And if there is no definition, everything is open to interpretation.

I’ve decided to steal a page from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and am rejigging his Time Management Quadrant (you know, the one that is shown is every business course your office sends you to!) to come up with a fail safe way to tell if your casual, hardcore or something harder to define. I’m basing these on 2 factors time spent playing and your gaming attitude.

Time Spent Per Week
Gaming Attitude Very little A lot
Success-driven This is Lath! Hardcore
Fun-driven Casual ?

The problem is that there are two grey areas: Success-driven players who play very little (that’s me) and Fun-driven players who commit a lot of game time. In my opinion, Gaming Attitude is the stronger factor of the two. After all, if I had more time to play World of Wacraft, I probably would. So I would argue that Success-driven gamers with little play time shouldn’t be afraid to be labeled Hardcore. Time-poor, yes, but Hardcore nonetheless.

And fun-driven players who spend a lot of time in Azeroth? I would argue that if you put yourself in this space how you label yourself comes down to priorities. If you log off the moment that you’ve run out of fun stuff to do? You’re definitely qualified to proudly bear the “casual” label.

The average MMO player spends 21 – 22 hours a week in game. That statistic comes from information collated by Nick Yee who did extensive research on MMO’s in society. Was that a surprise? Seems like a lot, doesn’t it? Well Nick Yee also did some comparison to MMO players and the average TV watcher.  Did you know that the average American adult spends 28 hours per week watching TV?

I think of myself as a casual player in terms of the amount of hours I spend a week. I’m definitely coming in under the average, even if I attend each of our four raid sessions every week. And that’s usually all I have time for. It’s what I do and it’s how I spend every second of my 15 hours of game time each week. Then I log off. And try and scrape time out of my lunch break to write for Hots & Dots.

Yet I play/raid with a hardcore mentality. I know what I’m doing and I don’t want to fuck around waiting for people who consistently have net issues or must go have dinner and AFK for 20 minutes in the middle of each raid. I’ve raided in those guilds before, hell I ran one of those guilds and while I have no problem with people who want to play that way – go enjoy be merry, it just isn’t my cup of tea.

The only reason that hardcore has become a dirty word is because it’s based on an unflattering stereotype. It’s the player who sacrifices their social life in order to succeed in a game. It’s the player that condescends to less experienced players. The player that boasts about their achievements and gear. The player that thinks casual players are ruining the game.

I’m surrounded by people who approach raiding in World of Warcraft with a hardcore mentality. And guess what? They’re not like that. They take time off from raiding to go to parties, to celebrate birthdays, to go on holidays. They try and get along with other people and make friends – after all – at the highest level of success, World of Wacraft is a team sport and nobody can succeed on their own. Most of these players have no problem with casual players as long as they don’t try and raid together (raids are not a good place to mix mindsets).

I know that I’m not the mean anti-social stereotype described above. So call me hardcore. I consider it a compliment. A testament to my achievements and my success. I’m not offended.

I actually clock up less hours online and less hours in raids than I did when I played casually. Crazy, I know. Don’t believe me?

Less hours in raids: In a casual guild there was always that “just one more attempt please” attitude and while we raided less days we raided for a longer period. The time between attempts was drawn out as we waited for people to answer the phone, restart their computer, or replace a player that needed to log off to do homework. I definitely get more bang for my buck in a more extreme environment.

Less extra duties: I’ve been both a GM and an officer in different casual guilds and I’m now an officer in Vitare. The work load is a hell of a lot less in Vitare where the only aim of the guild is to raid and you’re either along for the ride or you aren’t. There is no scheduling, no loot complaints and no time spent persuading members to join the raid because they feel like doing arena/BG/leveling an alt.

So fellow readers, where do you fit on the quadrant? Do you think this is a fair view of how to determine where you sit in the gaming community? Do you think hardcore has become a dirty word?

Or do we need a new, lighthearted definition for hardcore play in World of Wacraft? More dragon-slaying, please!

21 Responses to “Why is Hardcore Such a Dirty Word?”

  1. ElialianniNo Gravatar says

    I’m a new player (four months and counting) and I definitely count myself as a casual player, I play about 5 hours a day on weekdays, 10 on weekends, but only when there is something to do; if I get bored, I’m on my other monitor watching tv until stuff starts happening in WoW again.

  2. lissannaNo Gravatar says

    I’m a fun-oriented raider that plays a lot. I’m not doing hard modes because they aren’t fun.
    .-= lissanna’s last blog … Why raids need trash mobs =-.

  3. NazanielNo Gravatar says

    Such a good article – I’m part of the Unreal Realities Kobsolete/Pirates team, and I object to people calling us “Casual Raiders” because I don’t think we have a casual attitude. We raid 2 nights a week but we have goals and we expect proper gearing/enchants/gems, plus flasks/food buffs. I guess we fit in the quadrant with you :) “Hardcore casuals”? “Time-poor Hardcores”? :P
    .-= Nazaniel’s last blog … Friday!!! =-.

  4. NaithinNo Gravatar says

    “The only reason that hardcore has become a dirty word is because it’s based on an unflattering stereotype. It’s the player who sacrifices their social life in order to succeed in a game. It’s the player that condescends to less experienced players. The player that boasts about their achievements and gear. The player that thinks casual players are ruining the game.”


    These negative connotations that go along with the word ‘hardcore’ are almost certainly the biggest drivers for many people going a long way to avoid falling into the category.

    I’m not presently due to life requirements, but as opportunity presents, I’m a fairly hardcore player. I play to win, and will research and read all that I can to ensure I’m doing my part. Yet there is still a balance, I still go out, my every waking moment is not dedicated to the game or it’s peripheries, and I consider myself by and large quite a ‘nice’ player.

    Even so though, even though I know all that, if someone else were to call me a hardcore player I’d still feel slighted. :P

    That’s how ingrained the negative aspect has become, to me, anyway.
    .-= Naithin’s last blog … Wrath Raiders are Guinea Pigs =-.

  5. BellwetherNo Gravatar says

    Hardcore is a dirty word because of perceived elitism. Hardcore is a dirty word because of complaints about gear normalizations and content being too easy. Hardcore is a dirty word because there is less leniency, less coddling. Hardcore is a dirty word because it is a minority that would like to see a return to the days when epics weren’t passed out like Halloween candy and the only raid block was a difficult encounter.

    Whether the above is true or not, it is the stereotype. Besides the “live in the basement at mom’s and never kissed a girl/boy”

  6. vokNo Gravatar says

    I think Harcore and Casual are dead. Like Naz said, we may only raid two nights a week, but we’re sure as hell not casual about it. It’s relaxed, successful and enjoyable – but a “casual” tag just does not fit.

    I don’t really know what the obsession with fitting everyone into one of two different labels is. There are 100s of different playstyles and a million different games. We’re all gamers and we game the way that suits us. More power to you imo
    .-= vok’s last blog … Friday!!! =-.

  7. BoizeNo Gravatar says

    Yeah, the term “hardcore” seems to have many, many negative connotations these days. I’m sure a lot of people would claim that they are “success-driven” more so than they’re a “hardcore raider”.

    I’ve found now, more than ever, it’s apparent that I do have a hardcore mindset. I’m currently raiding 0 nights a week with my guild, and thus am having to pug if I want any loot/badges. I’m finding that I have been very spoilt by my guild, and get easily frustrated in PuGs.
    .-= Boize’s last blog … When RL and WoW Collide =-.

  8. DaghNo Gravatar says

    I can vouch for a success oriented guild taking less time. I’ve been looking for a proper raiding guild for a while, so I’ve had to PUG raids in the meantime. It takes so much longer spending time in-game, watching trade, than checking my phone to see if the Tuesday or Wednesday raid time has been posted yet.

  9. CassandriNo Gravatar says

    @Vok Why do we need labels? We don’t.

    I guess what gets to me is that the whole community has become so PC about the words that they can’t seem to look beyond the words and understand what the author is trying to say.

    I know when I write I’m careful not to use either term. No because either term upsets me, but I don’t want to derail a reader – I want them to understand the point I’m trying to make.

    BTW I’m not in a grey area. I’m success-driven and I spend heaps of time in game.

  10. drugNo Gravatar says

    For me, Hardcore and Casual means more or less successful and not quite that successful.

    The usual cliches, like hardcore players having no RL and being a bunch of nerds playing from their basement, well this doesn’t have to be true. I’m sure there are a lot of highly successful guilds out there, which have a very casual feeling and the time investment into raiding isn’t that high.

    On the other side, I’m sure there are a lot of casual guilds, who require brutal high-attendance, have very demanding officers and a raid schedule that would match the one of most hardcore guilds. Well, and they still suck at raiding.

    In the 5 guilds that I’ve been in since I started playing, I have also seen, that a lot of cheesy cliches are true in fact. When I was in a near-hardcore raiding guild, it was like I expected: Officers would yell at people. The raiding schedule was extended for progression raids. Very high-raid attendance was necessary. And so forth.

    Same goes for casual guilds, where most of the time I spent a lot less time in game than in the guild described above, there was a much nicer vibe in vent and raid attendance dropping low wouldn’t lead to instant guild kicks.

    This is why I’d call most guild I’m in and was in, semi-hardcore. I just like the best of both worlds.
    .-= drug’s last blog … Mastering Shaman Healing =-.

  11. CassandriNo Gravatar says


    “On the other side, I’m sure there are a lot of casual guilds, who require brutal high-attendance, have very demanding officers and a raid schedule that would match the one of most hardcore guilds. Well, and they still suck at raiding.”

    So what you’re saying is that casual guilds are more lenient? nicer? they can be demanding about attendance and demand a lot of time but will be forgiving when players perform poorly?

    Therefore, hardcore guilds are defined by their strict intolerance of poor player performance?

    It sounds mean on the surface, but I don’t think you’re wrong on that point. The good hardcore guilds have ways to out poorly performing players (starting with selective recruitment and trial periods) and it can be handled very nicely/politely. Not every hardcore guild is going to resort to yelling “RETARDS” in raid chat or vent when someone makes a mistake. But if you want to succeed, yes, you need to surround yourself with players who do their job well.

  12. AvalonnaNo Gravatar says

    So uncanny! I was about to do a blog on just this thing, but you said it way better than I could have!

    Hardcore =/= time spent. I’ve seen some pretty horrible people play almost 24/7!

    We raid 18 hrs a week and have Algalon 25/yogg 0/Tribute to Insanity 25 and more under our belts. We’re a tight, smaller group, we get along great and we actully get together now and then outside the game. We consider ourselves Hardcore Casuals.

    (I’m not going to lie either and say I haven’t wasted an entire weekend playing wow…I doubt any of us would be here if we didn’t occasionally!)

    Great article!
    .-= Avalonna’s last blog … It’s InSaNiTy!!!!!!!!!!!! =-.

  13. PsynisterNo Gravatar says

    I define hardcore and casual to be how serious you are about the game. If you’re hardcore, then you really care about whatever your focus in the game is. If you’re casual, then while you might care you also don’t have a specific thing constantly driving you.

    You can be a hardcore raider, a hardcore farmer, a hardcore goblin, or a hardcore fisher. A hardcore raider is going to get more upset if they don’t down a boss than a casual raider. A hardcore farmer is going to get upset when he can’t find a titanium node while the casual farmer is fine with cobalt. A hardcore goblin curses his opponents when he only pulls out 1,500g from the mailbox, while the casual goblin chuckles with glee at having scored 25g.

    Time spent playing has no direct connection to casual vs. hardcore for me. I spend about 5 hours each night in the game, weekends is closer to 10-15 per day. I put a lot of time into the game, but I’m still casual. I’m a hardcore fan of WoW, but I’m a casual player.

    I’m casual because I can do just about anything in the game and enjoy it. Generally, I don’t mind stopping whatever I’m doing to go dink around with a friend and accomplish nothing at all. I don’t like to leave dungeons/raids (unless they suck horribly) and I don’t like to leave battlegrounds (at all), but otherwise I can switch between 15 different things that night and essentially accomplish nothing at all. As long as I’m enjoying something in the game, then I’m good.

  14. PapaNastyNo Gravatar says

    I’m hardcore.

    No way I’d even try to justify not being so. Simply looking at my /played and gearscore across my 3x toons would be enough to disqualify me from pretending to even be in the grey area.

    However, it’s not an image which I like to be associated with.

    To me, it is an image associated with those epeen junkies who yell, scream, bitch and moan at other people all day, struting around thinking that they are better than everyone else.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m an arrogant bastard, but I like to think that it more comes across as “Quietly Confident” instead, because I hate those pricks who try to make themselves feel better by putting down other people.

    I don’t know if this maybe deserves a special category on your table, one for high blood pressure maybe? Or perhaps Rude? Either way, you’re right, I feel dirty when someone calls me hardcore, because there are too many players who have tarnished the image for the rest of us and I don’t like to be associated with the image.

  15. drugNo Gravatar says


    I know it’s awful to boil things down to cliches. But that’s just the personal experience I’ve made. I’m sure though, that many folks out there are part of great and social hardcore guilds. That just isn’t the way I experienced it.

    I’m also not sure if it sure if casual vs. hardcore evolves around fun vs. success driven. Actually I guess every PuG raids to succeed. And everyone in hardcore guilds will tell you again and again, that he’s really having fun. I’m having fun working out a new strategy for a new boss and make it work. But I lost nearly all interest in gearing up my character. I’m I fun- or success-driven?

    For me it’s all about the results.

    If someone is in a guild who has beaten Algalon25, I’d say that’s pretty hardcore. Someone who raids in a guild who only succeeds at normal mode raids or very simple hard modes, I guess I’ might label him/her casual.

    Now what defines a guild is a) the success and b) the ways they achieve it.

    If I look at very successful guilds and very casual guilds, I always found to have most fun somewhere in between. Casual guilds drive me crazy, most of the time they lack all the dedication and organization required to make the game enjoyable for me.

    The only really progress-driven guild I’ve been in, has though very much proven true every cliche I had concerning hardcore guilds. And I’m not a bad player. It wasn’t me who got yelled at. I wasn’t one of the many players who quit during the time I was there. I’m absolutely no one who thinks successful raiding gives you the right do look down on other people. But yet, that’s what I found, paired with myself raiding much more than I consider healthy.

    I know it’s not really a nice image of hardcore raiding I paint, but it’s rather a case study than the truth. I guess there is a lot of truth in what papanasty says: the bad experiences and bad examples will stick in your head, that’s what gives negative connotations to both terms, hardcore and casual.
    .-= drug’s last blog … Mastering Shaman Healing =-.

  16. KayllnnNo Gravatar says

    I have been struggling with this issue for awhile now. I consider myself a hard-core casual. I want to raid and I have found raids in the past where I can raid the end game stuff in 10 and 25 man level. I have four 80s and it is hard to balance, because for some reason I just can’t choose one as my main toon. I want to join a raiding guild so that I can progress without the goofing off and the wipes, but at the same time I am GM of my casual guild and I love my guild. I don’t know how to balance the two interests I have. I have considered taking one toon out and joining a raiding guild, but I am not sure if I would have time for my guild.

    You article was an interesting read but how do people balance when they have conflicting interests?
    .-= Kayllnn’s last blog … Know Your WoW: Shamans =-.

  17. OphelieNo Gravatar says

    I see hardcore and casual as a spectrum. On one end, you have the “hardcore” player who raids 20+ hours a week and takes things super seriously, on the other end, you have the person who plays once in awhile and might not even be level 80. And almost everyone is somewhere in between.

    Both hardcore and casual are considered insults because when they’re used, people assume they refer to the extreme. If you’re hardcore, you’re a jerk with no life, if you’re casual, you’re a n00b that can’t play.

    I stubbornly still use the words hardcore and casual because, to me, they serve to give a context to what I’m saying. Hardcore means more towards the hardcore end of the spectrum, casual means towards the casual side of the spectrum. But I expect those who read me to see the words as spectrum sides and not extremes.

  18. vokNo Gravatar says

    Aye, I hate trying to fit people into one two boxes, although I certainly do. I raid two nights a week, play two MMOs, own all three current gen consoles, read numerous gaming mags, have bought three games in the last three weeks, write a blog and am trying to start a gaming community.

    There’s no doubt, I fit into the Hardcore box nicely.
    .-= vok’s last blog … Account Hack E-mail =-.

  19. CassandriNo Gravatar says

    @Papa If I call myself hardcore, you are too :) It’s not a bad thing!

    @Kayllnn If you have conflicting interests, it’s about finding the right guild who have the same in-game goals that you do. The same level of dedication that you do. If you value the friendships that you have made, I can testify that you can retain those friendships even if you join another guild to raid. Then you get the best of both worlds :)

    @drug If you say “it’s all about results” isn’t that the same as saying success-driven? I know that I don’t enjoy WoW if I’m not making progress. That means wiping a hell of a lot but getting the boss to 60% if your early attempts got him to 80% makes me happy. Sounds strange, but I’d say that’s success-driven. Make me sit under an umbrella and eat a picnic to gain a “happy” buff? That’s cute, but it doesn’t make me enjoy the game.

  20. Amazing as always :)

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