Back when I was a kid, being called a geek was a crude insult thrown around by those unwilling to accept that people didn’t share their interests and hobbies. Nowadays it’s worn as a badge of honour. I’m not saying that you’ll see me standing on the top of a mountain with my shirt torn off, shouting “I AM GEEK” into the wind, but you get the idea.
I can see the same thing happening within gaming culture. The terms “casual” and “social” are thrown around with a sneer in the voice. After all, social gamers aren’t real gamers, are they? Casual gamers just don’t play games properly? Unless you’re playing the game in the style of a seasoned professional, you must be doing it wrong, right?
I’ve played at both ends of the spectrum. I’ve been in the server first chasing hardcore guild, raiding six nights out of seven for some six hours a night. I’ve been in front of the computer screen for wipe after wipe, my dinner going cold next to me. I’m now in a guild that’s more relaxed, raiding a few nights a week and having time to enjoy the game with friends and family. I know that I’ve gone from what you’d normally call hardcore to something more casual.
Have I somehow become something less of a gamer for making this choice? Did the magic skill fairy visit me in the night and render me a crap button fumbling idiot? I don’t think so.
There’s nothing wrong with being a casual player. We all have different pulls on our life and only so much time we can give to Warcraft. Like Vidyala said over at Manalicious, there’s nothing wrong with not being first.
What I do have a problem with is people using their casual status some kind of hall pass. I don’t need to gear up properly because I’m a casual. I don’t need to get glyphs because I’m a casual. I don’t need to know tactics because I’m a casual. This is wrong. You don’t want to do these things because you’re a casual, you don’t want to do them because you’re lazy.
The worst misuse of the casual label by far though is when it applies to raid loot. We had it easy at the end of Wrath – the tier 10 gravy train meant that you could get top quality raid gear purely from running heroics. That boat has sailed – if you want the best gear now you have to work for it.
There are some who complain that they can’t raid, but should get the gear anyway. They want the reward, but they’re not prepared to put the work in to get it. These people aren’t casuals either, they’re Entitled. Calling them casual players just gives the rest of us a bad name.
Most of us want to play the game right. We read up on tactics and prepare our gear properly. We make sure our talent builds are sensible and our glyphs are in place. We want to be an asset to the groups we’re in, even if we gear up at different speeds.
Call a spade a spade. Call someone who breaks crowd control, fudges iLevels to get into heroics, hinders you at every turn and yet demands the Moon on a stick a Greedy Entitlesloth. Leave the casuals and social players out of it.