Using the term casual for people who play casual games for long hours and pretty excessively is kind of strange. This shows us that there are at least two aspects of the term casual which are often confused.
On the Gamers in Society Seminar in Tampere Jussi Kuittinen, Annakaisa Kultima, Johannes Niemelä and Janne Paavilainen from the Game Research Lab presented a paper proposing a stricter use of the term Casual-in-Games.
Find a blog entry on the presentation here and updated slides here.
Casual concerning the design characteristics of certain games which are typically called casual games (meaning games on popcap.com, pogo.com and so forth). These often feature general appeal, simple controls, fast rewards, possibility to play in short time bursts.
We could refer to this aspect by calling the games Casual Games, and the people playing them Casual Game Player.
Casual concerning the way someone is playing a game. This means playing any game (casual or hardcore) while not being focused on the activity and/or playing only for a short while. Is someone playing a certain game session just for fun without being afraid of loosing or with a more competitive attitude (example in an tourney including price money).
We could refer to this aspect by calling the activity casual playing.
A Casual Gamer would be someone who is playing in an casual manner (casual playing) or who has a generally casual approach to playing computer games as a hobby .
The casual/hardcore playing dimension stated here is compatible with my definition of casual/hardcore playing in this earlier post.
Problem is that it is still pretty hard not confuse the terms.
Could we come up with more sticky words for the different concepts. Any suggestions?
The game research lab will most likely hand out the paper to anyone requesting it (it is not published yet).