Can you play a MMO and still be a Casual Gamer?

I’ve been playing FF14 on and off (admittedly more off) for around a year now. I’ve reached level 50 and played through the main story, started unlocking the hard dungeons and last night I finally participated in my first raid.

I was pretty pleased with myself, and lying in bed with the future-husband I told him that I was thinking of blogging about my accomplishment, writing about playing an MMO from a casual gamer’s perspective.

“You can’t play a MMO and call yourself a casual gamer”

I was a little surprised at the response, because it seems like a bizarre line in the sand to draw – as soon as you play this type of game it makes you this kind of gamer. Is it because it requires a subscription? It could be I suppose, but then that’s like saying if you pay for a gym membership you’re suddenly a health guru. I have one of those as well and I certainly haven’t suddenly developed the desire to wear Lycra and do yoga whilst drinking a kale smoothie.

And what if you play games like Guild Wars? That game was an MMO that required no subscription, so would that be more acceptable? I did briefly own and play Guild Wars back when I was 18 (SO MANY YEARS AGO), I remember enjoying it and to be honest I can’t remember the reason I stopped.


Surely it all lies in the reasons people play and their style? Some people get really involved in a game, looking into all the classes in depth and building up a mix of characters they can play depending on mood. Raids and dungeons are all run according to a strict strategy to streamline the process and get the maximum rewards possible. Is that how I play?

Not even close.

I am probably an infuriating person to run through a dungeon with, especially if I don’t know what I’m doing. As I was playing the raid last night my other half popped in to watch and saw me using some of the abilities my character has (Bard woo!). He asked me why I was using them, to which I replied – “no idea, but nobody has shouted at me to stop yet so it’s probably right”.

Most people play on the PC and use a keyboard and mouse to maximise the efficiency of their casting and actions – I lie on the sofa and run around using a controller because that’s how I like to play. I still don’t know most of the shorthand used in player chat, and I’m happy running through and shooting things with a bow and arrow and consider not dying an achievement.

If I play a game, it’s just to relax and have some fun. Playing it online means I get the opportunity to play with my friends, the more the better. There is nothing more to it.

I identify very strongly with casual gamers because of this attitude I have to playing.  It also removes any pressure to know what I’m doing when I play any game, be it with friends or people I’ve just met. If I tell them “oh I’m just a casual gamer” then automatically it gives me a free pass to be absolutely terrible at it. Then I can just enjoy it at my leisure. Don’t finish a game? No problem, it’s just something to dip into now and again.

It also gives me the freedom to play whatever game catches my eye. If I want to lose my day playing the SIMs then I can. If I’ve spotted an indie little game that peaks my interest for all of 30 minutes then I play it and move on – I don’t have to know the latest release, or have an opinion of every indie platformer that is released on Steam. To tell me I can’t identify with that any more just because I play one MMO seemed a little harsh, and it’s something that I definitely disagree with.

So will FF14 change the way I play games? No. Does being a casual gamer mean I love games and playing them any less? Of course not. Playing a game for me is something I do socially – be it online with an entire world of people or in my living room with just my fiancé. If something comes up and stops me playing for a while, then I stop playing for a while – it won’t stop me picking my controller back up when I get the chance.

So if you do play FF14, and see a little red head Miqo’te bard by the name of Sai Rei running around, feel free to wave to me or invite me to your party. The more friends the better – just don’t assume I know what I’m doing.

Miqo'te Bard

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Co-op Playing with a Casual Gamer

There are many examples of Co-op games, from the gaming giants of Mario and Luigi, to the small indie classics like Castle Crashers and Child of Light. Local co-op has been a part of gaming since the second generation consoles, and with the introduction of the internet we can play with friends who live thousands of miles away. In fact, co-op gaming is such an ingrained part of the gaming scene, we even have shows dedicated to it


I am the most casual of casual gamers – I play board games over video, I dip into the odd bit of online gaming (Final Fantasy 14, Bard and proud!), and it takes me forever to complete any game. I am going to marry (still novel :D) a full-time gamer. He is never without some sort of controller or hand-held nearby (he was once told off by a friend of ours for pulling his phone out and playing a level of Sonic during a social gathering. I swear it’s an automatic reflex now). Gaming is how he relaxes, and over the years naturally we have bought and played games together.

Clearly there’s going to be an unbalanced level of talent whenever we play – if we play at a level that will provide him a nice challenge it will be nigh on impossible for me, yet on the flip side if it’s easy enough for me to play it might be boring for him. Plus if there is ANY chance AT ALL of being able to kill your co-op partner in some way, he will find it…which is very frustrating.

There are games that have tackled the gaming skill-gap between co-op players. Games that have one person be the main player whilst the second player helps perform certain tasks or assists in battle (Child of Light being a brilliant example) are perfect in those kind of situations, or if you want to play a game with a young child. The main player can set the skill level to a challenging level, without worrying that the second player won’t be able to do anything, and at the same time the second player can contribute to the game, whilst at the same time (if they are anything like me), they can enjoy watching the story in the game progress.



But what if you want to play a co-op game that’s a bit more equally weighted? If that is the case, I have decided to speak on behalf of all casual gamers and provide a handy list of rules for all their more experienced co-op partners to take into consideration. Consider this list a guide for a conflict-free fun gaming experience.

  • If you’re playing a shoot-up game, give us a chance to get our bearings. Sure we might shoot around the target at first, but give us a few chances – we’ll start hitting things eventually!
  • If there’s a melee option and a sniper option – let us go for melee. In games like Halo, I often found myself leaning towards using the Grav Hammer whenever possible. It’s much easier to wade in with brute-force and not have to worry about aiming. I have played sniper in some games and found it satisfying (I did quite well in the small amount of Borderlands I played through), but I think you need to have a very patient co-op player who won’t run in and kill everything before you have a chance to take a shot.
  • If we’re playing a side-scroller where going off-screen results in loss of life – DO NOT RUN OFF. Sure you’ve played hundreds of hours on the old school platformers, and can quite comfortably speed off and make all the jumps, but we need to take a moment and scout our surroundings first! Unfortunately by the time we’re ready to make the jump, you’ve run on ahead and we’re floating around in a bubble waiting to be freed at your convenience. Once or twice is acceptable, but more than that is infuriating
  • Level with plenty of jumping across chasms? Jump ahead or let us go first – but for the love of god don’t jump at the same time. Mario 3D World is a complete bastard for this. So many times one of us would end up jumping on top of the other sending them to their death. Admittedly it can be funny a couple of times, but more than that and it can grate.
  • If you can shoot your partner and kill them, even if it doesn’t waste a life, it is so very annoying to do it on purpose. Games like Lego-anything where you can smash up your Lego partner, or mini-challenges in Borderlands where you can kill each other in a small battle area – occasionally it can be funny. Do it more than that and you greatly increase the chances of me throwing my controller at you mid rage-quit.
  • We will use up so many lives, but it’ll be worth it in the end. In games that have lives to burn (such as Mario), you’ll find that most of the lives will be spent by us attempting to cross one chasm, or running into the boss accidentally. But I swear that our hilarious attempts more than make up for  it.

List aside, I love co-op gaming. It’s so much fun playing through something together, and when you complete a game its a good achievement. Thankfully I have a group of incredibly patient friends that tolerate my terrible aim, god-awful platforming skills, and general talent at dying at critical points (I’d give Tails a run for his money). I also have a fiance who clearly loves me enough to lie and tell me I’m not that bad 😛

As long as you have players like these, you won’t need any list to enjoy a game.

One final hint to casual gamers though: if you’re playing Left 4 Dead and your friend tells you to go help the person crying – IT’S A TRAP AND YOUR FRIEND IS THE SPAWN OF SATAN

Did I miss anything in my list? Let me know in the comments below!

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