Core gamers were defined as those who play "core" games for five or more hours per week.
Market research firm the NPD Group (who you may know as the guys who provide sales numbers for games every month) has conducted a large-scale survey of American PC gamers, and come up with some interesting observations. The 6,225 members survey were split into three groups - Heavy Core, Light Core, and Casual. Heavy Core gamers play "core" games for five or more hours per week, while Light Core gamers still enjoy core games, but do so for less than five hours a week, and Casual gamers only play non-core games. The survey found that the majority of gamers in the two "core" groups were male, while the casual group was "overwhelmingly female."
Just FYI, In order to qualify as a core gamer for the survey, respondents had to currently play Action/Adventure, Fighting, Flight, Massively Multi-Player (MMO), Racing, Real Time Strategy, Role-Playing, Shooter, or Sport games on a PC/Mac.
The largest segment is Casual at 56 percent, with Light Core at 24 percent, and Heavy Core at 20 percent. Though Heavy Core is the smallest segment, they spend a significantly higher number of hours gaming in an average week, and have spent roughly twice as much money in the past 3 months on physical or digital games for the computer than Casual PC gamers.
Of all the participants surveyed, 51% were male and 49% were female. The survey also determined that 37% of all participants above the age of 9 identified as someone who played PC games, and the average play time per week is 6.4 hours.
A few interesting patterns were discerned about PC gamers spending habits too. 46% of respondents had visited a digital storefront to buy games in the last year, and "half of PC gamers who play digital and/or physical games on the computer are expecting there to always be a sale right around the corner," said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.
Source: NPD Group