Casual vs hardcore: Mobile gamers are gamers too

Do you consider yourself a gamer? If you said no but you play mobile games, that’s not right. Years I’ve been dealing with “casual” and “hardcore” gamer labels. Let’s talk about these seriously for once.

Casual vs hardcore

Can I just say I really really hate these two labels? For the longest time, I didn’t call myself a gamer after someone told me in high school (approx. 2007), “You’re not a hardcore gamer so you’re not a gamer.” If I wasn’t spending a minimum of 8 hours a day playing games, then I wasn’t a gamer.

casual gaming vs hardcore gaming
Why is this a thing?

To that guy and everyone else who’s said something similar: Look mate, if I spend 8 hours a day gaming, that only leaves me 8 hours of sleep and 8 hours of school (at the time). That leaves 0 hours for homework, assignments, chores, piano practice (like a good Asian kid*), sports, movies or other fun kid stuff.

I think it’s fair to say that if you play games, you’re a gamer. Right? I don’t see why there should be specific criteria involved. It’s as silly as categorising who is a gamer based on what platform they game on. That is, harking back to PC gamers who would diss console players and vice versa.

Speaking of platforms, that brings me to one of my favourite gaming platforms at the moment…

Mobile “gamers”

This one is another pet peeve: telling people I love gaming on my phone and being scoffed at because there’s no such thing as a “mobile gamer”.

Yes, mobile phones are not as beefy as other hardware. Yes, you’ll primarily find certain genres of games on mobile (e.g. Candy Crush, Flappy Bird, Fruit Ninja, etc.) compared to “fully-fledged” games like CoD, CS:GO or Dota 2.

But, dismissing mobile gaming is a huge mistake. Why? It’s a lot bigger than you think or perceive it to be.

Mobile gaming (aka “casual gaming”) is YUUUUUGE

Of course, I’m definitely going to hit you with some stats right now even though this is meant to be an opinion piece.

I last broke down Newzoo’s Global Games Market report earlier this year. If you missed it or you didn’t really dive into the details, here’s a point I’d like to emphasise:

Mobile gaming is expected to be worth US$70.30 billion in 2018 making up 51% of the global games market.

Of that number, US$13.98 billion will be from tablet games and a whopping US$56.4 billion will be from smartphone games.

Gaming phones and mobile esports

If you follow mobile gaming already, you would have at least heard about the Razer Phone and its latest iteration the Razer Phone 2. While the Razer Phone may have been one of the first gaming phones on the market, it’s not the last. It’s been followed by gaming phones from Honor (Huawei), Asus, Xiaomi, etc.

The rise of gaming phones indicates the changing gaming experiences people are expecting from smartphones. Yes, you could game on a high-end smartphone but gaming phones offer higher refresh rates, better sound, clearer displays, and so on.

Not to mention, the need for hardware to match indicates the rise of mobile esports. Australia and New Zealand are still a little bit behind our close neighbours in Asia. (Side note: Asia is more mobile-first but we’re slowly catching up over here.)

Man is mobile esports popular over there with titles like Arena of Valor, Vainglory and Clash Royale (I play this one) forging positions as competitive titles. As this Nikkei article notes, 2 out of 6 games chosen for the Asian Games 2018 are mobile games: Arena of Valor and Clash Royale. That’s pretty significant.

Let’s just enjoy games, shall we?

Where was I… My whole point here was that we need to drop words like “casual” and “hardcore”.

We need to collectively fight against the stereotype of a 12-year-old middle-class white boy in a dark basement click-clacking away at a computer playing games all night.

Gaming transcends age, race, socioeconomic class, orientation, gender, upbringing, country, origin: everything. That’s why gaming is amazing. We should spend more time celebrating that every day.


* I make a joke about being Asian and playing the piano. But, in reality, I didn’t start lessons until 2006. That was after years of begging for lessons as opposed to being “encouraged” to play. [PSA incoming] But seriously people, only pick up an instrument if you like it. And, don’t make your kids do music unless they want to.

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Lifelong gamer with a fond love of RPGs, MMOs, puzzle games and mobile games.

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