Re-post: Metagaming: Casual vs Hardcore
In anticipation of a December/January slowdown, we’re reposting some older writing for the benefit of new (and nostalgic!) readers. This piece originally appeared on Nov 21, 2009.
I teach first year computer game development at my university, and one of the questions we sometimes use as a way to start some discussion within class is, “What is the difference between hardcore and casual gamers?”
Theory: “Hardcore gamers are the ones who spend hours and hours mastering a game.”
But my Mom spent hours and hours mastering Lemmings. She saved so many little green-haired dudes that those lemmings should have been building shrines to her as their hero. Is my mother a hardcore gamer?
Theory: “Hardcore gamers play games that require excellent hand eye coordination, like first person shooters”
World of Goo requires coordination. Slinging goo balls takes skill — ask any kid with an especially large booger attached to a finger and ready to flick. But I don’t hear many people saying that they’re hardcore because they got the Obsessive Completion Distinction (OCD) flags in World of Goo.
I had this great conversation with a student the other day. I asked him what he felt defined hardcore gamers:
Him: “Oh, people who play lots of different types of games”
Me: “Oh, I play a bunch of different genres.”
Him: “Yeah, but a hardcore gamer has to spend hours mastering them.”
Me: “Do you *know* how many hours I logged on WoW?”
Him: “But WoW isn’t a game for hardcore gamers…”
I find it fascinating that as we drill down further to the definition of a hardcore gamer, it feels a little like the core answer is “not you.”
I don’t really consider myself a hardcore gamer, so I’m hardly offended. Those hardcore folk
are crazy go far beyond what is considered normal by most of society, after all. Maybe that’s my definition? I’m happy to play what I want. I pretty much consider it a win if people think of me as a gamer, ’cause that means they’re more likely to invite me to play new stuff with them.
But the question has made me think, is “hardcore gamer” one of those moving targets where women are just somehow not allowed to fit the definition?
Or maybe it doesn’t matter: Would you like to play a game?