I would be remiss in starting my rant without citing my sources. While not relating at all to the views presented by BlindsideDork, or to the rather lengthy reply by GuitarAtomik, the forthcoming cluster of words has everything to do with their arguements.
You see, at the heart of their debate is one word: "hardcore." This term is one I've had a problem with, because there is no one definition of hardcore gaming, and when I hear the "hardcores" picking on the "casuals" I have to ask myself just what the difference is.
My girlfriend loves Katamari. Loves it. If she didn't have to work in order to make money to pay the electric bill to keep the PS2 running, she would play Katamari to the exclusion of all other things. What's the catch? Katamari is the only game she likes. She plays Tetris every now and again, but she refuses to touch any game -- and I'm using her words here -- "with a plot".
This makes her a "casual" gamer. She doesn't like games with any kind of story. She couldn't care less about your Master Chief or your Liu Kang. She doesn't think she should have to learn strings of button-presses to play a game. Hell, she doesn't play games with buttons. But is there not a hint of hardcore in her complete willingness to remove your eye from it's socket using the left hand of a Mr. Potato Head in order to get an advance copy of Beautiful Katamari?
Would a person that devotes themself to one game exclusively be demeaned -- because let's be real, we say "casual" with a hint of vitrol, don't we? -- by the "casual" tag if that game was Counterstrike? Halo? Madden? Final Fantasy? If your child went through a period (like many children do) of only eating hot dogs, would you call your child a casual eater? Would you say they didn't really like food and call their plates stupid?
What about my roommate and myself? We both work about 50 hours a week. We've played games all of our lives, and we love just about every kind of game there is. Between us, we've put in close to 400 hours on Oblivion, and we still don't have any of the expantions. The fact is, though, that we don't have nearly as much free time as we used to. Between work and girlfriends, our choices are limited.
He's taken to playing Rayman: Raving Rabbids. He likes it because it fits his schedule. He needs a game that he can pick up and put down without feeling tied to. The fact that it saves his progress every ten minutes or so is a huge bonus.
Unfortunately, by the definition I understand, his playing a minigame compilation for fifteen minutes at a time makes him a casual gamer. Does it matter that he spends 90% of his free time playing video games, or is his status decided only by how long he plays in hours? He hasn't unlocked an achievement or fragged a noob since he started his second job, but does the fact that he wants to count?
I, on the other hand, have been trying to play Twilight Princess. I don't like to play it for any less than three hours at a time, because I don't feel like I'm getting anything done otherwise. The problem is that it's hard for me to find that kind of time. I only get around to playing it once a week or so. Can I still be hardcore if I only really play once a week? Does it count that my sessions last forever? Does it make a difference that I'm playing it on a Wii?
My point with all this is that casual and hardcore are very fluid concepts. And in the end, does it matter which is which? What's the point of standing on one side of the line cursing the other? As long as people are playing games and enjoying themselves, shouldn't we welcome them into the fold? Just because someone doesn't enjoy the same games you do in the same way you do doesn't mean they don't enjoy games.