I see this every day, Almost as much as as I see the whole Republican vs. Democrat rage fest (which as far as I’m considered, has no place in this article, so that’s the last you’ll hear about me on that). What’s the issue I’m talking about that’s so common it’s sad? The arguments between “hardcore” gamers and “casuals”. Why is this a gripe? Because there’s certainly more important things to debate about. What is the premise behind it? Read on…
To start off with, let’s make the definitions clear on my observations, as there never seems to be a consolidated opinion on what each means (in other words, I can’t tell you what one is, but I know one when I see one). Too often, people think it looks like this:
While most in the arguments think there is no real middle ground so the scale looks like this:
Personally, I don’t buy either scale. Why? Because there’s nothing defining the difference. I much prefer my own idea on this with definitions for time and difficulty:
Now in this example, Casuals and Hardcore are represented, but there’s two more. Why? Because as much as skill separates us, so does the time to play. Most gamers will at some point visit all four quadrants, but usually settle on one to varying degrees. Now let’s look at each quadrant and understand the complications they have with each other.
-Casuals. These are people with a short amount of time to spend on games and not a lot of time to devote into learning the intricacies of the game. This is where the older parents, grandparents and families in general turn up in. Party games and games with as few controls as possible are the types for these people. They don’t have any major issues with the other quadrants but always seem to be the black sheep, always being picked on.
-Novelists. These are the ones with a lot of time to spare and focus more on the intricacies of the characters and the story more than trying to be the best. The people here are as much at home curled up with a good book as they are playing their favourite type of game. (*ahem* raises hand) Easy access MMO’s and user friendly role playing games in general are the ones these people look at. Their point of contention with the other quadrants is story. Casuals don’t have the time to appreciate it, Hardcore and Epic are too intent on being the best to enjoy it.
-Hardcores. These people are the ones who are too impatient to focus on anything but the goal and how to get there, as such the little time they spend on the games is spent on mastering the controls and getting to the end. FPSers and sports fans are in this territory. This group seems to have the most hatred for the other quadrants. They hate Novelists push for story, often seeing it as useless, they can’t tolerate Epics because they have no problems devoting more time in their hobby, and seem to be bitter rivals with casuals because it’s the new focus for developers. The extremists in this category are the former jocks, who proclaim anything not catering to their flashy explosion and sports fest as “gay”. They are also the most likely to lash out at the others.
-Epics. These are the people who have ages to devote to being the best at a game. Most NES era gamers have been in this quadrant at some point, if only to shut up those in the hardcore quadrant, though it is commonly covered by MMO fanatics and strategy masters (Sid Meiers’s games seem to have a death grip here). Novelists baffle them, as they can’t comprehend someone not wanting to be the best, casuals are considered so far beneath them that they don’t even register, and hardcores seem to be a favourite whipping boy, as they can brag about how so much better they are.
“So what’s the issue?” I imagine you are saying. The issue is that every group wants the developers to focus solely on them and their interests, that if the developers look elsewhere, they throw a screaming fit(the hardcore players response to Nintendo’s E3 performance for example). This leads to the ones getting the focus having to defend their quadrant and the inevitable insults and hissy fits. The end result is no one is satisfied and the ones who choose not to get involved having to explain to the other quadrant observers how the extremists don’t speak for them, etc.
So what can be done about it? Not much I’m afraid. The extremists of each quadrant won’t discuss anything and the moderates are more than willing to accept that not every game will be made for them. Why did I write this then and even went to the trouble of making pictures? Two reasons: The laptop prize and because I wanted to put my thoughts into words.