For me, personally, I would rather skip the whole discussion and just talk about how I play casually. I can list hours played and titles accessed, but I think it would be a better idea to sketch out a rough but typical day or week in my household to illustrate just how someone who considers himself casual is actually quite committed. Does that mean I am hardcore in certain cases? I don't care anymore, frankly. What I care about is seeing if how I play is completely alien or if there are other players out there who love to do what I do.
Let's call it a cry for help... or at least information.
Notice that no gaming has gone on yet.
After the necessary job of writing, checking emails and tweaking my calendar I start to check my "daily" MMOs. This is where the "casual" part blurs into dedicated, closer-to-hardcore player behavior. I have a list of MMOs that usually hovers around a dozen or so titles, and everyday I log into each one of these games several times. The first time is to check daily login bonuses or to spin prize wheels. Daily logins and prize wheel-type deals are becoming more and more popular as casual MMOs and gaming continue to grow in popularity. In my opinion, the casual market can already boast more players than any other, and so developers are learning from each other about which systems appeal to these players. Remember that not all casual players are always casual, and even hardcore players might access a casual game or two. That bleedover is the reason why casual or "lighter" gaming has become so successful.
"As you can see, not all of those titles are considered "casual" games by a lot of other players. Titles like RuneScape and Parallel Kingdom are intense games that can be played for hours at a time."
Along the way I will play my Rise and Shiny game, the games I am covering for the other columns for Massively and other sites I work for. So, throughout the day I might play for several hours. Browser-based or mobile titles are perfect because they are accessible almost anywhere. I can always have my tablet with me and there is a laptop in every used room in this house. Yes, accessibility or the ability to access these games anywhere is a core reason why I love them. It's not everything of course -- the gameplay is still key -- but accessibility plays a huge role.
"I can jump into one of these games and join a random group and, most of the time, enjoy the heck out of myself."
I'm curious how many people game this way, happily stuck in the gray area between hardcore and casual, enjoying games on a schedule yet also reserving time to experiment even further. For me, the daily list and the weekend gaming chunks remind me just how much I love MMO gaming and all of its flexibility.
The great widely known secret to covering games is that you simply must love gaming. It would seem obvious, but I cannot tell you how many people I know who don't seem to enjoy it. And, if you are going to write about games, you need to find a schedule and a way to game that still allows you to work. For me the daily list and the flexibility of mobile and browser MMOs allows me to enjoy myself on a realistic schedule. Are there ways you fit gaming into your life, or is gaming so much a part of your life that your life fits around it? Let me know in the comments... I want to know if I'm not the only one!
Each week, Free for All brings you ideas, news, and reviews from the world of free-to-play, indie, and import games -- a world that is often overlooked by gamers. Leave it to Beau Hindman to talk about the games you didn't know you wanted! Have an idea for a subject or a killer new game that no one has heard of? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org!