Why “Casual Gaming” is Actually Great

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This just in: you don’t ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO win at every game you play. Casual gaming IS a viable option!

Current Gaming Culture: Win All the Time or You’re “Not a True Gamer”

Unfortunately, these days, casual gamers (like me) often get treated as an inferior breed by winning-obsessed meta-gamers. Those who treat winning at a game like their career are venerated, after all; their motive seems to be “If you’re not playing to win, why play at all?”

I only have to look as far as Magic: the Gathering and HeroClix to find this infectious mindset, but it’s invaded all sorts of gaming. We all naturally want to prove we’re strongest, we’re smartest, etc., in all areas of our lives, including gaming.

Competitive Gaming = Anger and Frustration

Personally, however, I’ve had to get out of competitions in about everything I do. Not just because I don’t win/succeed as much as I’d like (though that’s part of it)–it’s because competition turns me into a horrible person. I yell, I bite my fingers, I stomp around, and otherwise express unwarranted anger that other people should never have to witness. When my efforts lead to failure, I explode. I’m just not a good Christian when I do anything competitively, and that unfortunately extends to gaming, too.

Casual Gaming = Relaxation and Fun

To combat my anger in gaming, I’ve become a casual gamer, and I’ve found it to be a much more enjoyable experience than trying to be competitive. I’m actually much more suited to casual gaming–I like exploring around and coming up with my own ways to solve puzzles, not just copying what everybody else did to get through a level. (This is possibly one reason I get so angry in competitive gaming, because it pretty much requires you not to be creative, at all.)

As I’ve continued to game casually rather than competitively, I’ve noticed a few other perks:

Other Benefits of Casual Gaming

  • Socializing with others takes the place of just “beating the game.” I love being able to joke with my friends about the game instead of being so concerned about the “big win.” Not to mention that I have the mental freedom to come up with new strategies that my friends haven’t thought of–in casual games, they can appreciate it without being angry that the strategy is beating them.
  • In a casual game, you can piddle around and find all kinds of new things. If you’re not worried about completing a game in a certain time limit, for instance, you can just explore and wander around–that’s my favorite part of any console game or large online game.
  • You can try new strategies and add to or abandon them as you see fit. Playing casually lends a “sandbox” feel to any game–since every idea is equally worth pursuing, there’s more room for creativity and less inhibition about trying your new ideas out.
  • You can use the game as an escape rather than a worth-proving exercise. Gaming competitively does not let me wind down–it tenses me up and makes me feel worse about myself when I lose, because I put a bit of my self-worth into winning. When I game casually, I let go of that concept and just enjoy the time spent not working. 🙂

Why This Might Not Work for Everybody

As cool as casual gaming is for me, it might not be the natural playstyle for everyone. There are just some people who thrive on competition–and I might be describing you! For some, competitive gaming is their forte and casual gaming is an exercise in futility; indeed, casual gaming might be irritating rather than fun.

If you like competing with others and it doesn’t send you into fits of rage, that’s wonderful. However, neither form of gaming is superior to the other. It just depends on what you get out of the game, whether you like the challenge or like the escape from everyday life.

Summary

Casual gaming is a worthy pastime, great for anybody who prefers using a game for socializing with friends and escaping from the pressures of normal life. Us casual gamers may not be winning any “speed gaming” or “fastest A button in the West” prizes any time soon, but…that may not be the most important thing!

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