Post-casual Play: Affect, Demand and Labour in Digital Gaming

Author(s): Leorke, Dale


This article examines the concepts of “casual” and “hardcore” games in order to complicate the distinctiveness of these categories. While casual games have become a significant boon to the games industry, radically reconfiguring the composition of its audience, financial models and aesthetics, hardcore approaches to play are increasingly evident in games typically designated as “casual”. Meanwhile games targeted at a hardcore audience of players are integrating features that enable them to be played casually. In light of these concomitant developments I introduce the notion of “post-casual” to describe how game design and gaming cultures are able to draw on both casual and hardcore elements with very little conflict or friction between these seemingly opposing notions. The article will examine and discuss the game design and player cultures of several AAA “hardcore” games, such as Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and popular “casual” games such as Pokémon GO, in order to map the confluences that have emerged. I draw on existing interview data, game analysis, and from formal and informal reviews of games conducted in online press and com- munities. This data suggests three emerging trajectories within post- casual play: “fluid play”, “background play” and “extreme play” that together point towards the post-casualisation of digital games.

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Preferred Citation
Leorke, Dale: Post-casual Play: Affect, Demand and Labour in Digital Gaming. In: Digital Culture & Society, Jg. 7 (2021), Nr. 1, S. 53-72. DOI:
 author = {Leorke, Dale},
 title = {Post-casual Play: Affect, Demand and Labour in Digital Gaming},
 year = 2021,
 doi = "\url{}",
 volume = 7,
 address = {Bielefeld},
 journal = {Digital Culture & Society},
 number = 1,
 pages = {53--72},
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