Casual Vs. Hardcore!111
Posted on Monday, December 8 2008 @ 12:55:41 Eastern
Can I ask you a question without sounding like a life insurance advertisement?
How would you classify a 'casual' game? Conversely, what about 'hardcore'?
Do you consider yourself to be a hardcore gamer? What about your family members? Your friends? Your dogs? Mr. Jenkins the magic dragon who cries tears of jellybeans?
Moreover, who the Hell cares?
I believe that the phrase 'the game appeals more to a [casual/hardcore] audience' is about as over-used and over-rated as its pseudo-arty industry counterpart: '[the feature] adds depth to the experience'. The former, and variations thereof, is the epitome of bad videogame journalism and there's a lot of that about as it is. How does one define what is a 'casual' or 'hardcore' game? It simply doesn't make any sense, especially when this description applies more to a player's attitudes and their own style rather than what a game is. I'm taking a very vague stance on this, but hopefully it'll provide some discussion amongst my faithful readers.
Let's take World of Warcraft to begin with, shall we? The internationally acclaimed massively multiplayer seems to be forever stuck in a twilight of being 'casual' or 'hardcore', depending on who you ask. This is the fundamental issue with attempting to categorise a title in such a way; it relies entirely on subjective opinion. What, according to reviewers, causes WoW to be a 'casual' experience, then? If you ask many of these self-proclaimed journalists, they'd argue that the implementation of more quests cause the experience to switch to a more mainstream focus. However, I'm sure we all know one person who has already blasted through the new content, hit 80 and are now sauntering through the wonderful collection of raids. They did all the quests available, but does that make them a soft gamer? What's to say story arcs and collection boar hides make it 'casual'? I used to play Lineage II back in the day, logging in for about an hour every day to grind on giant spiders and bandits. It honestly featured the same mobs for 20 levels consecutively, but after a while the whole rigmarole became therapeutic, even enjoyable. Oh, look! I like killing the same monsters over and over! I must be a hardcore gamer! But if I only played for 7 hours a week, then surely I must be casual? Its an inherent contradiction, which defies such attempts at defining either 'casual' or 'hardcore'. Its ridiculous; the same goes for if I only raid for three nights a week on WoW, and don't play for any other time. Is it casual? But I'm clearing the endgame, so I must be hxc 4 lyf, surely?
Furthermore, I suck willy. Not really, just checking you're still reading. Anyway, I was reading UK-based GamesTM this month, in which they ran a feature about designing controls for games. The Fable 2 guy talked briefly about adapting buttons for a 'casual crowd'. Eh? Can someone please explain how mapping controls can be either casual or hardcore? Surely there's simply either 'easy to use' or 'a fiddly piece of ****'? Industry individuals using such idiotic buzz language which is even further detracted from its original context does nothing but upset me. Its bad enough this fad has penetrated the journalism side of things, nevermind the developers.
My point is this: There is no possible way to establish what is a 'hardcore' or 'casual' game, as it mainly comes down to the person playing and their own style, rather than what the game itself presents. No title 'demands' you invest time into it; its always going to be an optional hobby and how long you spend playing (or how intensely) is dependent totally on the folks with the controller in their hands. I'm addicted to Peggle. I'm casual-hardcore.
Scott Constantine writes for The Three Rs and Honest Gamers. He has been alienated by The Escapist and ridiculed by PC Gamer UK. He would like to go for a two-minute trolley-dash under your petticoat.
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