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Monday, February 4, 2013

Hardcore Play and Casual Play

Ah, labels. If we didn't have them, it would be hard to identify things. As Eliza said in Gargoyles before she tricked Hudson into naming himself "Things need names." Gamers, too, are labeled, but much to my annoyance, gamers cannot simply be called "gamers" No, no, these days gamers are categorized in two classes: hardcore and casual. The fact that the later type of gamer even exists is a sticking point for many that are in the former.

Hardcore gamers are very passionate about the hobby and take it seriously, sometimes too seriously. Because of this dedication, it seems that many hardcore gamers think that gaming belongs to them and them alone. Gaming was created for the hardcore and no other type of gamer is allowed to be part of the exclusive club that is gaming. Who are these casual upstarts to intrude on the hardcore's hobby? If you couldn't tell that last bit was sarcasm, you need to get your sarcasm sense checked.

Games for everyone existed long before
the term "casual gamer" was even thought up.

Why would any self respecting gamer not want others to enjoy something that they do? For the life of me, I can't comprehend how any gamer could have this mindset. And yet so many gamers scoff at the casual crowd for not being as dedicated to hobby as they are. Casuals aren't "real gamers" whatever those kinds of gamers are.

The Wii has been under fire for a lot of things, but the biggest criticism stems from the console's appeal to the casual gamer. Nintendo's sleek, white console is home to a copious amount of great titles, but so many so-called hardcore gamers are too busy bashing the system to see that. Wii Sports, a game that anyone could play placed the system into the homes of millions and helped solidify the belief that the Wii was a console just for the casuals. The Wii was intended to be a family system focusing on social gaming, hence the name and Nintendo's marketing ads of "Wii would like to play." But to the hardcore, branching outside of their audience can only lead to ruin. I fail to see how gaming with family is a bad thing and I'm all for gaming experiences that unit the family and help the industry grow.

Without a doubt, the casual market has grown tremendously with the Wii, but so many hardcores act like the Wii was the system solely responsible for inventing casual gaming. It isn't. The Wii changed a lot of things, but it is far and away from being the system to birth the casual crowd. In the mid 1990s, back when gaming was no where near as huge as it is today, I recall some company that made stereos and TVs broke into the gaming market and to much success. What was that company's name? Oh, yeah, Sony, and their system was the PlayStation. Sony was the rookie going up against SEGA and Nintendo, industry veterans. The new kid on the block ended up making the big boys look like scrubs. The PlayStation had games across all genres that greatly interested the hardcore and the casual gamer as well and as a result, gaming became far more mainstream. Gamers that hadn't touched an RPG wanted to take Final Fantasy VII for spin because the hype was so huge and they purchased a PlayStation just for that game, yes, including casual gamers. Gaming would be all the poorer without the PlayStation and it's contributions to gaming. But you didn't hear gamers moaning and complaining about how the system was ruining the hobby for them. (Maybe that's because the internet wasn't as blown up as it is now.)

The system that made gaming cool and
brought in many more gamers.

Gaming has and always will be my first hobby love. But as much as I love it, not every game I play is of the hardcore variety. I love Tetris, a game that anyone can enjoy, regardless of age or skill level. Sometimes I don't want to play a complex title, or sometimes I don't have a lot of time on my hands to do so. That's the reason we have arcade games and such so we can get quick gaming fixes. You know, I like Wii Sports. Does that make me a traitor to gaming because I like a game that is super easy to play and appeals to the casual?

The thought that casual gamers are killing gaming is a foolish belief and wreaks of selfish entitlement. It kinda reminds of of the episode of Gargoyles where Eliza finally tells her partner Matt about the Gargoyles. Until they were introduced to Matt, Eliza was the only good human they could confide in and that made her feel special. I think a lot of hardcore gamers feel that they aren't special if more and more people are joining in on their hobby. Really, how special can you be if literally millions of people are doing the same thing you are? People are people and people share many common interests, one of which happens to be gaming. I wish we could all just be gamers instead of hardcore and casuals, but as I said earlier, we need labels to classify things.

Years ago, I was on the message boards and in one of the gaming forums, someone made an idiotic post saying that "Gaming needs to become 'not cool' again." It was one of the stupidest things I'd ever read in my life. I wonder if this guy had any idea how many awesome games the industry would be denied of if it hadn't become as popular as it has.

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