Oxymoronic? Not really. I’m distinguishing between activities and personalities here. A casual activity is something you can complete in a relatively short period of time, say under 10 minutes, with minimal conscious effort. Most games have daily quests and each of those typically encompasses a casual activity – even the group dailies. A hardcore activity is something that takes a combination of time and effort, where dedication is key. Running an old raid might not require a lot of time now but it does require thought on some parts. Running a new raid is certainly a hardcore activity. Competitive PvP is hardcore too. Running an auction house business comes up.
When we get to personalities we have the casual player who’s in it for the distraction and time wasting (in a good way). They might log in here and there, no real big deal if they miss a few days. Each session is different from the last, with no real disappointment if they didn’t reach their goal. They play for fun, which is measured by the journey, not the goal. Hardcore players have set goals and measures to reach them. Dedicated playtimes are often par for the course and there’s a need to be “the best” at something, even if you’re the best in your small circle. They also play for fun, but the journey has nothing to do with it, it’s all about the goal. Here’s a Venn diagram to help explain it.
Most players exist primarily in 1 of the intersections. I tend to fall into the casual activity, hardcore personality. I rarely have the time or dedication for strenuous activities but I certainly take value in improvement and reaching my goals. The inverse, hardcore activity and casual personality are in my opinion, the true gaming minority. It is really hard to do a hardcore activity with a casual attitude in an MMO setting as the peer pressure can push you out. Hardcore content usually requires a solid group effort and if you can’t put in what others can, then you get put on the sidelines. Casual/hardcore raiders exist, but they need fairly strict rules for success and something outside the game to keep them going.
The other side of the coin is those who gel with their personality and activity. Casual/casual tends to fit into the F2P model, where the journey/process is where the meat is, rather than the goals. You don’t need to be the best pet trainer, you just need to get more pets. These players existed in previous MMO models but had extremely limited options up until 5 years ago. Facebook gaming exploded thanks to this group. Zynga is failing at an epic pace because other groups, who have much more game development experience, are able to put out quality titles at the same price point now.
Finally, the hardcore/hardcore player. EvE nullsec players are this group, though they apparently only account for 20% of the playerbase (if that). Raiding guilds racing for world firsts fit here too. Rank 1-10 PvP players. FPS clans. MLG is tailor made for this group. For a very long time, this was the only gaming group that was catered too because their needs are simply. The goal is organic to the game (be the best) so your reward system is simpler. The obstacles to get there are “balance” in PvP games (which can be easy if it’s only PvP) or “pick 3-5 from this list of 100” for PvE games (a-la DnD) – again, easy. This is by far the easiest group to please but they are also in the gaming minority today, especially in the MMO front. EA has said that they won’t ever release a game without an online component again. If you like the hardcore online stuff, you have way more options than any other player type.
I’m curious where people think they fit into this mix, if at all.