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Casual vs Hardcore Part 1: Defining Hardcore

Posted 10-05-2008 at 04:21 PM by Sazime
I need to preface this a bit for the folks that went to PAX. I did not go to the "Is Casual Killing the Core Games?" panel. If I don't reference conversations there, that is why. Reading enough of the online banter, you may find that some point pop up, but let's just ride this out and see where it takes us, okay?

First off, what is hardcore? How do we define what hardcore games (or gamers) are? Urban Dictionary has some funny answers.
Originally Posted by Urban Dictionary
People who are extreme are hardcore. Being hardcore is a rare talent and can only be mastered by few.

"Bobbie and Rachel are so hardcore, Leah and I wish we were as hardcore as they are!"

Hardcore Game
Any game in which successful completion or demonstration of skill requires a significant investment of both time and effort on the part of the player.

"Damn, this hardcore game is hardcore!"

Hardcore Gamer
True gamer. Me. Any gamer who has played video games since they learned sub-basic motor skills, and who go into the past, before they were born, and play every retro system out there.

Hardcore Gamer: "Me 'n my cuz. Hardcore 2 tha bone "
Casual (Poser): "Johan (always thinks he's better than the 'hwhite boi' because he plays only new shit."
So, to be hardcore you have to be really into it, have bad grammar in some cases and apparently think Johan is a poser (UD's words, not mine!).

Then there's the journalists and developers. From G4.
Originally Posted by G4Tv.com
Games are now truly marketed to a hardcore audience. Games like Grand Theft Auto and Gears of War are mature, violent, and complex.
And then EiC Brandon Sheffield from Game Developer.
...there will always be the hardcore players that will want that deeper experience.
Hmmmm, so hardcore games are "deeper" and "more complex" than other games. Alright. Can I assume that hardcore gamers want more than what simpler games like N have to offer them? Bigger stories and deeper play?

What about gamers? What do they think defines hardcore? That is where it get a little difficult. Dawdle over at Gay Gamer asked this question (almost a year ago!) and got a couple of responses.
Originally Posted by TexCub
When I think of "hardcore gamer," I tend to imagine someone who doesn't just play games but someone who really enjoys the culture around it.
The most popular response seemed to be-
Originally Posted by TOMATO
My definition of a hardcore gamer is someone whose life is generally game-centric. Someone who checks their gaming blog feeds frequently, and has enough information from first or second hand experience to have an answer for pretty much any video game related question.
Hmmm, sounds about right to me so far.
But what about trusty Wikipedia? I mean, I am going online to find my answers, why not them?
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Hardcore gamer is a widely used term applied to describe a type of video game player. There is currently no unanimously agreed upon definition for the term.
Eek! No agreed upon definition? But Wikipedia! What about Games Radar's article on what games you should have finished to consider yourself hardcore?
Originally Posted by Games Radar
To us gamers, it means the kind of game that serious gamers devote their time to. You know, hundreds of hours of time. The kind of game that kept Granny away from gaming until Wii came along.

What can we divine with this knowledge? Hardcore gamers immerse themselves in the whole experience of gaming, from playing to reading about games (live, eat and breathe), the Wii isn't hardcore (at least not according to GR) and Wikipedia is editing by a bunch of wishy washy nerds who don't like to argue too much.

It's a funny term to be hung up on, I know, but some developers, PR, and websites, like Mega Games, purport catering specifically to the hardcore! I mean shit, if there's a whole section of the industry dedicated to the hardcore, that audience must be huge, right?

Destructoid, Firing Squad, and even Hardcore Gamer Magazine (I know, right?) all tout themselves as being for the hardcore. So there must be something there. I mean, if they promote it, it's gotta be hardcore! "If you want hardcore, get over here here kids. We have all the hardcore you'll ever need!"

I think the consensus here, for the hardcore, is that a hardcore gamer wants more from his total experience than a cheap platformer that has nothing to it. The more I read, the more I seem to see that consoles like the Wii do not support the hardcore as much as some would like. No "next-gen" graphics, simpler family games instead of liscensed AAA titles and widespread appeal have seemed to hurt its image among the hardcore.

Most importantly, I think, is that the definition of a hardcore gamer and a hardcore game seemly truly different from one another. A gamer revels in the experience, a game delivers the biggest and baddest experience it can. Most importantly, no one is more hung up on the definition of "hardcore" than the very same PR people who are selling you their games and magazines. The hardcore things you want can only be apprehended from the sources, who themselves, are truly hardcore. How do I know this? Try to get a hardcore gamer to define themselves and watch them struggle and argue. Ask a marketing rep and they'll have it for you in under a hundred words with perfect punctuation. Remember this kids, it will be important later on.

Next week: Defining Casual.
Total Comments 2


Rogue_hunter's Avatar
Not hardcore enough.

And sushi place with PAX people pwns panel any day of the week.
Posted 10-05-2008 at 08:31 PM by Rogue_hunter Rogue_hunter is offline
mister slim's Avatar
Personally I don't think the term really needs a strict definition. I think it communicates a certain attitude towards gaming as hobby, but it's not necessary or possible to draw that deterministic demographic line. I've been using the word 'core' more recently, just because it better captures the idea of the gamer devoting a lot of time and money to gaming, without connotations as to what kind of game someone is playing.
Posted 10-07-2008 at 04:22 AM by mister slim mister slim is offline
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