What the hell is hardcore?
Gaming that is… Not porn. I think we can all quickly come to a consensus on what that is. I want to know what constitutes hardcore gaming. I read this blog post from Games For Thought this morning after receiving a tweet about it. It reminded me of a recent family gathering I attended I which my Wii became center stage. My out-of-town relatives had brought their eight-year-old daughter and they wanted my to entertain her with my collection of games. Wii Sports was a sure hit (with the whole family, of course) but she got tired of it and asked me what else I had.
That was an interesting question mind you. I am the only one who plays with the console on any regular basis (the family beg me to bring it downstairs every time we do these get togethers), and I don’t find mini-game collections very enticing. SO, to answer my cousin’s question, I popped in one of my SD cards and showed her my collection of VC titles which includes the following among others:
– Super Mario Bros. (I and III)
– Sonic the Hedgehog (I and III)
– Pokemon Snap
– Mario Kart 64
I assumed, based on my cousin’s age and apparent gaming experience, that these titles would be a good start. I know they’re “old” and she most likely was not going to be thrilled by them, but they certainly were far more accessible to her than what the alternatives were. Thing is, her mom wanted me to show her the alternatives…
– The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
– Final Fantasy IV: The After Years
– and others I don’t remember…
I was forced (against my will and despite my fair warning that she would not be interested) to demo Zelda for the girl. As I had predicted, she was not impressed, not interested, and bored out of her mind. Her mom (also my cousin) asked me if I had any games that would appeal to an eight-year-old girl…
People, I’m a TWENTY-SOMETHING MALE that has been playing games well over TWICE as long as this little girl has been ALIVE. Why the HELL would I OWN a game purposefully, specifically targeted to eight-year-old GIRLS?! Yes, I play Pokemon almost religiously, and I pride myself on often going out on a limb from time to time to try new IPs and experience new types of gameplay. I’ve sampled just about every genre out there and I have favorites and choice picks that span multiple generations of gaming history and platforms – arcade to PC and everything in between. But, seriously, do I look like Blockbuster Video to anyone..?
I had to explain my taste in games, and, to get back to the topic at hand, I used the term “hardcore gamer” to describe myself. Obviously, I had to define this term as well as the accompanying opposite, the “casual gamer.” I defined the “casual gamer” simply by pointing out everyone besides myself in the room. None of those individuals regularly play video games, at least not in the traditional sense of purposefully sitting in front of a gaming device to play games on a regular – for joy or for profit. They play games because they are presented to them as such, games – just another activity or thing to do because it can be fun. I play games because they are and are more than entertainment. It is a hobby for me, but one that has potential to be much more (example, a JOB).
My family wasn’t very convinced, and they proceed to tease me the rest of the night because they saw me, albeit jokingly and yet still truthfully, as a “superior” gamer. They made fun of me for opting not to play Wii Sports with them. It bores the hell out of me, but I know how much people that don’t regularly play games love the Wii tutorial that Wii Sports is. As I said, it was a hit.
Still, I have no real clue as to why the gaming scene has begun to appear so polarized. I know that in reality, the industry has actually fractured and split into niche segments, same as TV with networks and cable. But for the life of me, I can’t help but feel that there is a definite difference in the types of people playing now. It’s not all Nintendo’s fault with Facebook and Apple driving various gaming sects of their own. I want to really found out what makes a gamer “hardcore,” what makes a game “hardcore,” and what, then, is “casual.”
So, I extend to you all. What makes you or your favorite games “hardcore” or “casual?” What is your definition of these terms? Are they even real? Next time, I think I’ll dive deeper and explore how really feel about this – should make for good soul searching…