Errata: What are Casual and Non-Gamers?
Sometimes when I review a game, I’ll talk about how “casuals” or “non-gamers” or both would or would not enjoy it. These terms seem pretty clear to me (in my mind, at least), but I have recently been made aware that they are not. Hence, this week’s question and answer.
Casual Gamer asked: “Is there a difference between a casual gamer and a non-gamer? What makes a person casual vs. non-gamer? What if someone plays bridge or poker, but not designer games?” (minor edits for brevity)
For me, a non-gamer is someone who doesn’t like board games. Maybe its because of a tragic Monopoly experience as a youth, or maybe its an innate personal preference that no amount of board game proselytizing will change. At any rate, it’s someone who does not enjoy any kind of board gaming. That’s not to say that they couldn’t be convinced to play a little Pictionary at an office party, or to humor a friend or spouse. But it is never something they would seek out or request on their own.
By contrast, a casual gamer is someone who has played and does enjoy games. They just aren’t on the top of the list of things to do. They might prefer sports, or camping, or model railroads. But they like getting a good game in now and then as well. This is sometimes also called a “family gamer”; a person who likes playing games, but only with the immediate family. With friends or other relatives, another activity dominates.
Finally, a gamer is someone who seeks out gaming opportunities. That doesn’t mean they can’t also like sports or camping or model railroading, but that they invest a significant amount of time, energy, and their hobby budget into gaming.
As for your hypothetical bridge or poker player, I’m putting them at casual. Gaming is an inclusive term. It doesn’t necessarily mean designer games. In fact, someone could be a casual poker player and a euro non-gamer. I know a few who castigate the “cube pushing” euros while enjoying other games.
Got questions about strategy, specific games, or the hobby in general? Post them in the comments here, email them to geekinsight at gfbrobot dot com, or send them to @GeekInsight on Twitter and check back next week for answers!