[H]ey, sidekicks and villains. I am the Debaser, and this is Swift Justice. I will bring you an original editorial every Saturday here at TheGameHeroes.com, and I am excited to get this started.
[T]his week I want to talk about this entire “hardcore versus casual” mess that seems to have recently boiled over with Nintendo’s giant E3 disappointment. The argument certainly existed before this incident, but the flame has become a wildfire ever since Nintendo didn’t deliver the goods that fans were expecting.
[I] shouldn’t have to explain the concept to anyone who visits TGH.com, but I’ll give the benefit of doubt this one time. The “hardcore versus casual” concept is the idea that there are gamers who are more serious and choose serious games to play(like Call of Duty 4 or Halo 3 for example) and there are casual gamers who choose games because they’re fun and easy to pick up(Super Mario Galaxy, Animal Crossing, or Pikmin for example). This idea is pretty much reality for the most part, but the reality begins to distort as gamers argue over which side is better.
[T]he hardcore gamer tends to enjoy a challenge. The idea of competition is exciting and welcoming to him or her. The hardcore gamer usually feels that games lacking challenge are a waste of time. They tend to play first-person shooters, but they can delve into plenty of other challenging genres as long as they enjoy the competition and something is present to keep their competitive spirit up(Call of Duty 4′s Prestige Mode is a kickass example of what I’m talking about). Hardcore gamers are known to play one game for long periods of time in attempt to become one of the best players of said game. The hardcore gamer is usually in an age range of fourteen to thirty years old. They don’t take losing very well. *
The casual gamer tends to embrace games that are fun and aren’t overwhelming. They will try a plethora of different games from different genres, and they don’t really care to become the best at any of them. Competition and challenge is okay, but they don’t like to be overwhelmed or humiliated. The casual gamer is known to play games that they enjoy or will play multiplayer games that they can share with others(Wii Play and Wii Sports). The casual gamer doesn’t really have an age range; anyone can be a casual gamer. They accept defeat with mild irritation most of the time. *
[O]bviously, the two are as different as night and day, but they can quite similar in certain aspects. Both the casual and hardcore gamer are people who want to be entertained, enjoy video games, and collect video games.
[B]ut how can two things so different be so similar at the same time? I believe the answer can be found in a brief history lesson. In the early days of video games, the gamer usually found himself in the arcade. A place of fun and wonder, the arcade provided many different cabinets for awaiting patrons who needed some entertainment on the cheap. For a quarter, one could assume the role of Frogger, Jumpman, or a yellow-ish creature that gobbled up tiny dots and fended off pesky ghosts. It was fun stuff. It was a great way to relax and leave all of the troubles and cares of the world behind for just a short while.
[H]owever, fun wasn’t the only thing that was offered with these beloved arcade classics. The chance to hold the high score of one’s local cabinet of Pac-Man, Xevious, or Donkey Kong was also readily available. Gobble up some dots? Get points. Shoot the bad guys out of the sky? Get points. It was a harmless and enthralling activity that gamers couldn’t get enough of.
[I]t didn’t take long for the reality that other players could also record their scores to sink in. Certainly it started as friendly competition between buddies, and the loser owed the other a milkshake. But as the number of dedicated players to the game grew, so did the level of competition. Some gamers enjoyed it while others slowly backed away with their hands in the air. “Hey, man. I just want my go,” I imagine they would say.
[T]his is my theory on the creation of the hardcore and casual gamer. Simply put, both sides came from the same pool. One enjoyed one specific aspect while the other side enjoyed a different aspect. It was merely a matter of choice and nothing more. There was no reason to get bent out of shape and go on a wild tangent over the difference between the two, and I recall them interacting in perfect harmony with one another as a small boy.
[A]s arcades slowly began to die and home consoles became far more popular than the industry had expected, the hardcore and casual crowds slowly drifted away. They definitely existed, but there was no more competition to differentiate the two. Aside from the usual game that provided a greater challenge than the others, console games didn’t really create the same environment. Gamers could always take snapshots of their high scores and send them to publications such as Nintendo Power, but it wasn’t entirely the same. It was far milder and less popular.
[A]s online capability became more common in game releases, the competition heated back up. The gamer split into the hardcore and the casual categories again, and two were able to live in harmony again – at least at first. In a mix of what would probably be Internet anonymousness** and a clash of differences, the two sides slowly began to dislike one another and feud over which was superior. The casual gamer would want to try the latest release and jump online to be greeted by the hardcore gamer who is less than pleased that he is paired up with an inexperienced player or provided little to no challenge.
[S]end me hate mail if you wish, but I’m going to blame this feud on the hardcore side for the most part. Before someone addresses that letter bomb to me, I’d like to state that I consider myself a “hardcore” gamer simply because Call of Duty 4 practically lives in my Xbox 360. I play it for fun, but I also play it for the challenge. I like to see how well I can play compared to my friends, and I do not make losing one of my options.
[I] blame the hardcore crowd mainly for being intolerant to the choices of others. I can’t count how many times I’ve played Halo 3 or Gears of War and witnessed a new player get flamed straight to Hell and back simply because they didn’t know much about the game and simply wanted to try it online. These players were the victims of friendly fire and other lewd, unfriendly actions. This never happened back in the old arcade days mainly because someone would be leaving the arcade with a broken face.
[I]n closing, this feud will go on forever as long as the hardcore gamers continue to act out online because they can and the casual crowd nags them on with insults in retaliation. I sincerely hope that this will change in the future and the gaming community can somehow convert back to the old days.
[I] find the hardcore crowd guilty of creating this overall unfriendly environment that leads to the feuds we hear about on a daily basis. Justice is served.
* This information is from personal experience. No official statistics were used
** See “The Brutal Truth – Online Gamers” at Debasedtothis.org