Thursday, July 22, 2010

Casual or Hardcore?

More and more people are playing videogames...the Wii and the iPhone have opened up a brand new "type" of gamer. Media/Press is quick to label them "casual gamers" - but we had casual gamers BEFORE the Wii and iPhone and they are nowhere close to what was considered casual gamers just a few years ago. I am sorry, but Billy's mom who only plays Wii Active and Wii Fit on her Nintendo and BrickBreaker on her BB are not in the same category as Jeff who only plays CoD MW II and Madden on his 360.

We need a new category for gamers or maybe more than just the 2 we have now. We NEED to be able to differentiate between Jeff and Billy's mom instead of having this massive "casual gamer" stereotype that clearly does not fit.

In hindsight, we have had this problem for a LONG time - most gamers fell in between "hardcore" and "casual" - for example FFVII was an RPG played by almost everybody and was such an event when it came out it transcended the "hardcore nerd" status that most RPGs were labeled beforehand. FFX was one of the biggest-selling titles on the PS2 and it was certainly due to the success of FFVII on the PSOne.

Fast forward to today and you can look at the success of Mass Effect 2 and realize that the sales reflect that it was more than just "hardcore gamers" purchasing the game.

Now, just because a certain title is in your library does not make you a casual or hardcore gamer - but a person who played through FFVII is definitely different than somebody who occasionally plays Wii Bowling.

It gets more complicated - there is a LARGE contingent of gamers who are like Jeff. Jeff might only play Madden and that's it, but he is like a Mozart on Madden and can beat the hardest of hardcore gamer in Madden but will get MURDERED in any other game. A hardcore gamer is not supposed to get beaten by a person who only knows how to play one game, right? Well, how about Billy's mom getting a "higher score" in Wii Fit than Billy?

You could make the argument that a "true" hardcore gamer should be adept and skilled in everything from BlazBlue to Mario Kart and should be able to easily annihilate Jeff in Madden and Billy's mom in Wii Fit a la Wizard (who didn't even play Super Mario Bros 3 and inherently knew where the magic whistle was). But its probably easier to make the argument that if you can beat Jeff in every other game other than Madden than you are a more skilled videogamer than he is, but at the same time the same so-called "skilled" videogamer could lose to the best Mario Kart gamer, the best Gran Turismo gamer, the best Street Fighter II player, etc - and in reality a varied "skilled" gamer will probably lose to the top 100 Street Fighter II gamers because he plays more than Street Fighter II; going further, if you are not in the top 100 in ANY game, could you be considered a "hardcore" gamer at all?

The best Modern Warfare player in the world could hypothetically suck at every other first-person shooter ever created. He/She could beat the game in hardcore mode and be completely inept in any other game - is this player hardcore or casual? Are varied skills and being competent across multiple genres more indicative of "talent" or is it being a specialist in a certain game? The labels we constantly use in gaming vernacular need to be revised to address the current crop of gamers.

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