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June 8, 2010 4:08 PM   Subscribe

""Hardcore" equals masculine. "Casual" equals feminine. It's just that simple, and all the marketing-speak about "core" gamers won't change that."
posted by Pope Guilty (128 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, gee, I thought I was a woman but guess I was wrong and am male then. Because I like "hardcore" games and find the "casual" ones listed to be bboring. Though I don't know anyone that talks about "raping" others as some kinda slang for winning a competitive game. I suppose that means the men I know are really women?

What generates this sexist drivel from, anyway?
posted by bearwife at 4:14 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


So irked I missed my typo for "boring" and forgot to delete the "from" after "drivel." Apologies.
posted by bearwife at 4:15 PM on June 8, 2010


I'm a straight dude. I haven't played a "hardcore" game since Wolfenstein 3D. I do like Tetris and Reversi.

My awesome wife is busy playing the latest Resident Evil. She also digs Civ 4 and The Sims.

I think this hypothesis may need more thought.
posted by miyabo at 4:15 PM on June 8, 2010


I play a lot of games. Defining the distinction in this way is pretty odd, and likely looking for controversy (of what kind, I don't know), rather than a accurate sociological phenomenon.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:16 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, this is kind of a facile analysis. It may well be true that hardcore gamers are disproportionately male but that doesn't make the word "hardcore" into code for masculine. Mathematicians are predominantly male but the word "mathematician" is not a codeword for masculinity. And so on.
posted by Justinian at 4:18 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The article is about how the terms are socially coded, which does not mean that every man loves the "hardcore" stuff and every woman loves the "casual" games. The point is that the games that get classified as "hardcore" tend to be the ones that appeal to desires or fantasies which are socially coded as male, while the games which people tend to call "casual" tend to be the ones that appeal to the desires or fantasies which are socially coded as female.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:18 PM on June 8, 2010 [28 favorites]


Masculine and feminine don't mean men and women. It describes the kind of social behaviour that is thought to be typical, distinctive, and/or admirable in men or women. To describe success in a competition as an act of rape is certainly "masculine", because it metaphorically associates doing well with performing a (violent) act that is overwhelmingly performed by men against women. What generates the sexist drivel is a huge unsolved problem, but this article seems a pretty accurate description of it.
posted by stammer at 4:20 PM on June 8, 2010 [13 favorites]


This guy defines Madden as hardcore?

That's about the farthest that you can get from hardcore, save for Barbie Horse Adventures.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 4:20 PM on June 8, 2010 [17 favorites]


Mathematicians are predominantly male but the word "mathematician" is not a codeword for masculinity.

The equivalent would be a situation wherein women who spent decades of their life successfully solving obscure problems of pure mathematics were consistently described not as mathematicians, but as mathaholics or math-fans or something.
posted by stammer at 4:21 PM on June 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


Some casual gamers are pretty hardcore. I know one who plays "words with friends" seemingly constantly, only pausing for eating and sleeping.
posted by cell divide at 4:21 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


*surges with testosterone*

But seriously, this strikes me like a Glenn Beck story or a John C. Dvorak computer article - designed to be provocative, or troll. Either that or the author's older than me, and has never hung around young gamers.

'Hardcore' gets tossed around when the shoe fits - if you've worn out all your original controllers, you're hardcore. If you found every secret in Super Mario 64 you're hardcore. If you've played something on every platform just to see the differences, you're hardcore. Balls or no balls.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 4:24 PM on June 8, 2010


The equivalent would be a situation wherein women who spent decades of their life successfully solving obscure problems of pure mathematics were consistently described not as mathematicians, but as mathaholics or math-fans or something.

Or if academics separated themselves into "hard" and "soft" sciences, with the "hard" scientists looking down on the "soft" sciences.

oh wai-
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:24 PM on June 8, 2010 [39 favorites]


The article is not an analysis of games, it's an analysis of terminology about games. If you're pissed that it's lumping you in as a player of a kind of game you don't like, you're not reading very well.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:24 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


No man I know above the age of...22? must be masculine.
posted by DU at 4:25 PM on June 8, 2010


you can take my Plants vs Zombies when you pry it from my immaculately manicured hands.
posted by boo_radley at 4:27 PM on June 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


I guess this means my casual fav whoring doesn't mean I am a dick.
posted by srboisvert at 4:27 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


> Plants vs. Zombies is that pink, fuzzy game; its content is a hardcore game, but it looks like a casual game, thanks to its marketing, its bright, 2D graphics and relatively simple grid.

My wife plays Plants vs. Zombies (and a few other games) on her iPhone for probably an average of one or two hours a day. When I pointed out that this made her, by any reasonable standard, a "gamer," she was appalled. She loves video games but wants absolutely nothing to do with the gaming subculture at large, in part because she associates it with boyzone crap like the sorts of things described in this article.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:29 PM on June 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


I used to spend 10 hours a day playing Sims 2. Can't tell you how much money I spent on it, how much time I spent designing and creating within the game, how many thousands of items I downloaded. But nobody caters to Sims players as "hardcore" gamers, no matter how much they put into it. I guess I'm personally grateful that the gaming magazines and conventions weren't catering to me because then I might not have kicked the habit, but I think the article highlights a true phenomenon.
posted by Danila at 4:30 PM on June 8, 2010


Likewise, Nintendo's systems are disdained by "real" or "hardcore" gamers as being too "kiddie" (or casual) with their brightly colored graphics and games aimed at wider demographics. Girls might like that kind of game, and they have cooties!

Clearly, this guy has never met Super Smash Brothers Brawl/Melee players.
posted by hellojed at 4:33 PM on June 8, 2010


Clearly, this guy has never met Super Smash Brothers Brawl/Melee players.

The gaming culture word for people who are really into SSB Brawl/Melee is "tourneyfag", for the record.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:34 PM on June 8, 2010


Yeah, a bunch of people don't really seem to be reading the article. Unrelatedly:

In addition to their masculine subject matter, games in these genres are almost always multiplayer, allowing for opponents to be crushed and driven before the player, and (theoretically) for the lamentation of their women to be heard.

Is this true? It seems inaccurate to me. When the Half-Lifes and the Modern Warfares have multiplayer modes at all, the multiplayer mode is essentially a simpler, casual game. On the other hand, multiplayer is inherent to the experience with the Mario Parties and Bombermans.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:36 PM on June 8, 2010


The equivalent would be a situation wherein women who spent decades of their life successfully solving obscure problems of pure mathematics were consistently described not as mathematicians, but as mathaholics or math-fans or something.

Or if academics separated themselves into "hard" and "soft" sciences, with the "hard" scientists looking down on the "soft" sciences.

oh wai-


Heh, as a feminist SF writer I know once told me, "As if anyone even bothers pretending that the debate about 'hard' and 'soft' SF isn't about erections."

Anyway, I once got on vent to say hello to my husband's MMORPG friends (male). They told me that I wasn't a "serious" gamer because, though at the time I was logging in about 6 hours a day between my Gold's Gym Wii game and Scribblenauts, those weren't "real" games. That pretty much made me want to, I don't know, punch things.

(Preferably in a cardio boxing video game)

Oh, and I absolutely think my mother-in-law is hardcore for having three facebook accounts so she can game farmville, cock or no cock.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:39 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I read this a while ago when that shooting rude men game was making the rounds.

Just a total load of garbage.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 4:39 PM on June 8, 2010


This is the game publishers' own damn fault for failing to market their games effectively. Game marketing is atrociously simple-minded.

Take the Mystery Case Files series for example. This is a great series of games with old-school puzzle game flair; I highly recommend it to anyone.

It's marketed almost exclusively to middle-aged women, and is very popular among that audience.

But dig deeper into the "Return to Ravenhearst" entry in the series, for example, and you'll find that it's about freeing the ghosts of a mother and her children from their power-mad, demonic father, who murdered all three of them and is now quite literally powering his techno-magical devices from the mother's corpse.

In "Dire Grove," you'll track down four college students, finding each partially frozen and entombed in ice, babbling incoherently about a Chthonic elder witch-god that they accidentally unleashed on the world.

DUDE.

If the casual audience likes that ... and they have, as borne out by sales ... these women aren't the flowers-and-unicorns droids marketing seems to think they are.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:41 PM on June 8, 2010 [15 favorites]


So, if I were to summarize this three page turd, I would say:

Here's a bunch of anecdotal crap that I'm not backing up. Hey look, I used the terms "code" and "social psychology", which means I must know what I'm talking about.

Hardcore Gamers are really 13 y.o. boys on the inside, which does seem like masculinity. If you've never been 14. Casual gamers don't get it/don't care/are too busy actually playing games to teabag anyone.

I now pretend I know the history of the term "hardcore". After wasting your time with inflammatory sexist remarks, I now propose we all just be Gamers. Can't we all get along?

posted by hanoixan at 4:42 PM on June 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


This article is completely ridiculous. Perhaps to some, the phrase "hardcore gamer" refers to a male who plays Call of Duty (or a reasonable facsimile) online, but to suggest that the majority of the industry or gamer culture is oriented this way is complete hogwash.

Assuming my (limited) experiences in the industry and (less limited) experiences as a consumer have been representative of the current state of things, "hardcore" refers to one of two things:

1. A gamer who identifies with gamer culture, follows game release dates, is well played, and/or sees gaming as a competitive pastime.

or (from a game designer's point of view)

2. A player who enjoys complex game mechanics, high level opposition AI, and/or will invest a large amount of time collecting items and/or 100%ing a title.

Thats all.
posted by FuzzyLumpkins at 4:42 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's about the farthest that you can get from hardcore, save for Barbie Horse Adventures.

Er... Depending on what exactly you're talking about, "Barbie Horse Adventures" sounds very hardcore.
posted by qvantamon at 4:43 PM on June 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


Hardcore = exploding aliens; casual = matching shapes
posted by Burhanistan at 4:46 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Is this true? It seems inaccurate to me. When the Half-Lifes and the Modern Warfares have multiplayer modes at all, the multiplayer mode is essentially a simpler, casual game.

The husband wants me to point out that Modern Warfare has a multiplayer mode that's called "hardcore."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:47 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


LogicalDash: "you're not reading very well"

Well, fine: here's some srs analysis for you.

To me, as an avid gamer, "hardcore" and "casual" are terms that define how much time you want to invest in a game. Rowan (gadzooks!) wanders towards this idea on the third page, but never really discusses it -- reading it a third and second time, he kinda veers all over the topic space, but never really settles on any point for analysis. This detracts from the piece overall, especially the second page, where he says `It can be discomfiting to have seemingly innocuous terms labeled as sexist and violent code words, which leads to demanding questions along the lines of "What is to be done?" ' and then immediately discards that set-up in a facile and unsatisfactory way ("To be honest, I don't think there's anything that's going to make this hardcore maleness go away.")

He didn't end it with "gaming is a land of many contrasts", so I guess he gets points for that.
posted by boo_radley at 4:48 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Any analysis of gaming that thinks that Nintendo games are "not hardcore" is working from a very idiosyncratic subset of the gaming world.

If he wants to say the terms "hardcore" and "softcore" are used to mean "male" and "female" among XBox 360 Call of Duty and Halo players, I have no argument, mostly because I have no interest in that subset of gamers whatsoever.

Basically, this essay's subtext is, "I live in a sad, disgusting video gaming ghetto. Maybe someday I will escape the ghetto and play games with other adults."
posted by straight at 4:51 PM on June 8, 2010


This is pretty dumb.
Guns are for boys and tea-sets are for girls, yes, but what happens when you show a child a fuzzy, pink gun? They look at the cover, and say it's a toy for girls.
What does this does have to do with games? In order to validate his point, he'd have to show that pink guns are somehow not "hardcore" toys.

Then he points out a (casual?) RTS and says it's somehow girly? First of all it doesn't look like it's aimed at girls at all. Even though it's cartoony, it still uses muted colors, 'grotesque' figures, not what we generally consider to be 'girly'.

Then he rambles on about sexually crude language in PvP games, which has nothing to do with the gender mix of casual games. I would bet that lots of guys play them.

I think it's more like this
*hardcore games: your stereotypical 14 year old boys
*casual games: Everyone else
The author seems to think that everyone who's not a 14 year old boy is a girl. But actually most men are not 14 year old boys.

And yes, of course I realize that not all hardcore gamers are 14 year old boys, but I'm talking about what people 'think of' when they 'think of' a hardcore gamer. The authors mistake is thinking that because the concept of a hardcore gamer is a teenage boy, everyone else is a girl.

(again, not trying to dis hardcore gamers. I used to be a teenage boy myself! :)
posted by delmoi at 4:52 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Racing games are "hardcore"? Racing games are pretty much the epitome of the casual game. This is nothing but stereotyping by trope.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:56 PM on June 8, 2010


He did indeed say that you can't make hardcore maleness go away. But you might be able to make the stratification of games into "hardcore" and "casual" go away. It would take a lot of money, but marketing departments might be persuaded to run multiple sets of ads emphasizing different points on the testosterometer.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:56 PM on June 8, 2010


While I think the "hardcore" and "casual" definitions can often dramatically oversimplify gaming and arbitrarily classify gamers, I do think that it will continue to be used as long as there is a significant contingent of hardcore gamers who fear that the growing social acceptance of gaming will fundamentally alter the industry.

There is a pervasive anxiety out there among the hardcore gamers that they will become increasingly marginalized as gaming becomes a more mainstream activity, and I don't think that this fear is entirely unwarranted. The death of the arcade in the United States certainly proved the arcade crowd wasn't just crying wolf.

While I think it's mostly a good thing that gaming is no longer the exclusive province of teenage boys, I certainly think that, as gaming moves further into the mainstream, the enlarged market will dictate that more games are made for the increasingly casual masses. In a gaming world increasingly dominated by the likes of Wii Fit, will developers and publishers still want to take risks with 140-hour RPGs and innovative titles like Viewtiful Joe?

As someone who grew up with long JRPGs, Counter Strike, and the wonders of the arcade, I do worry that the the 'casualization' of gaming may make these types of games much rarer in the future as the latest warmed-over sports titles and movie tie-ins take over. I have no idea what the future holds, but I hope that hardcore gamers - male and female ('hardcore' is not a gender thing at all, in my opinion) will be able to maintain their niche. We'll see...
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 4:57 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is nothing but stereotyping by trope.

Um.

Yes.

That is what the article is about. It is a critique of a stereotype trope.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:58 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, gee, Despondent_Monkey, I grew up on JRPGs, too.

But I don't play modern ones. Know why? Because it was one thing to spend 20-40 hours on a game. But140 hours (are you serious?)?! There's no way that's not completely bloated, and I say that as someone who writes novelly things. It seems bizarre to me to imply that a game like that is somehow automatically artistically superior. Because it's long. And not, you know, "casual."
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:01 PM on June 8, 2010


As for us "casual gamers" ruining the industry, or whatnot, we've always been there. But there was a long spate of time, between Soul Calibur II and the Wii, when gaming was largely completely inaccessible to me, so I just played Yoshi's Island over and over again on my old SNES. It seems to me that gaming is again becoming more inclusive--this isn't exactly a sea change, but more a return to form.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:04 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


When the Half-Lifes and the Modern Warfares have multiplayer modes at all, the multiplayer mode is essentially a simpler, casual game.

I'm guessing you've never played the "Modern Warfares" multiplayer.

The idea that Plants Vs. Zombies has the same depth or difficulty level as a Warcraft title is dead wrong. I've finished PvZ a few times and the rules and strategy don't go nearly as deep as a Blizzard strategy title. The Blizzard titles are complex and hardcore number crunchers, where a level in PvZ is a casual five minute affair that can be beat with some basic patterns.

The casual/hardcore difference pretty much runs across those lines. This article is some kind of alien speak to me, and I've been a gamer for over 30 years now.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:04 PM on June 8, 2010


also, PvZ is fucking awesome
posted by eyeballkid at 5:05 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Where's my hardcore unicorn laser blaster game? That would be fucking AWESOME! Death by rainbow.
posted by symbioid at 5:07 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


You mean unicorn robot attack?

Nothing more hardcore than a robot unicorn.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:09 PM on June 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


LogicalDash: "
Um.

Yes.

That is what the article is about. It is a critique of a stereotype trope.
"

It is barely a critique of anything. It is a list of tropes, along with some riffing on what the word "hardcore" means. Also, as I have said before, writing "um" to point out the obvious makes you look idiotic.
posted by boo_radley at 5:10 PM on June 8, 2010


Where's my hardcore unicorn laser blaster game? That would be fucking AWESOME! Death by rainbow

Here it is symboid.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:10 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's no way that's not completely bloated, and I say that as someone who writes novelly things. It seems bizarre to me to imply that a game like that is somehow automatically artistically superior. Because it's long. And not, you know, "casual."

I didn't imply that such a game is automatically artistically superior by virtue of its length alone. And I never said that casual games were bad, just that their increasing share of the market will make games like I mentioned more 'niche' titles.
posted by Despondent_Monkey at 5:12 PM on June 8, 2010


Ahh. Beaten by PhoBWanKenobi.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:12 PM on June 8, 2010


When the Half-Lifes and the Modern Warfares have multiplayer modes at all, the multiplayer mode is essentially a simpler, casual game.

Half-Life maybe, but COD is known more for multiplayer than single player. The single player is nice, and a warmup for multi perhaps, but Modern Warfare (1 & 2) is fundamentally a multiplayer game with a single player campaign as an option. Especially MW2, where the absolute best part is arguably the co-op missions (Special Ops).
posted by wildcrdj at 5:17 PM on June 8, 2010


That is what the article is about. It is a critique of a stereotype trope.

He presents the position as "real games" being games that boys play with, or are associated with toys for boys. In that sense, it fits, but the only person I've ever heard refer to a racing game as either a "real game" or "hardcore" is this guy.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:22 PM on June 8, 2010


Is this where I get to link to Hal Sparks talking about a vagina being the tougher genitalia?

I am a hardcore gamer, I guess. I hate PVP and FPS, but I like playing games and do it frequently.
posted by keli at 5:23 PM on June 8, 2010


I agree that the author has identified a meaningful distinction (in that he correctly observes that many people attach meaning to it). But I also agree with many above who point out that his analysis is facile and does not really ask difficult questions about the observed facts. For instance, he barely recognizes generational or age issues as a possible factor. I'm 29, and although I certainly enjoy a good zombie slaughter with some friend on xbox live, I've also noticed that the sort of games that interest me have changed as I've grown older. Pure explosion-fests tend to bore me, while simple games that involve some mentally stimulating puzzle aspect increasingly gain my respect (see, e.g. Braid).

Or perhaps he might have considered that the personality of the player has a large role not only in what games he or she will play, but in how he or she plays them. There are people who play Farmville by checking once a day. And there are people who, as he puts it, set their alarms at 3:30 AM to harvest their crops and make excel spreadsheets of optimal strategies. The game itself has a colorful interface - but here's an example of people playing it like a "hardcore" game. In this case, its not the game that is casual or hardcore, but the personality of the player with respect to the game.

But it would be equally facile to think that assumed gender stereotypes are not at play in game design and marketing. No one bats an eye when someone says that Transformers 2 is targeted at a largely teenage boy audience. That isn't saying that it cannot or is not enjoyed by any number of women of any age. It is saying that those in charge of marketing and development of a money making product think that these demographics correlate closely enough with reality that it is worth changing their product in an attempt to increase sales. The exact same thing happens with games surely. But that is a different question from whether these labels actually do bare a strong connection with reality or whether there are other factors at work in creating the observed results.
posted by syntaxbad at 5:33 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm a hardcore tabletop rpg gamer! As for X-box games... well, let's just say I played the Ballard of Gay Tony for the romantic subplot, and Batman for the possibility that Two-Face would be in it... and ditched Dragon Age because as a totally hardcore tabletop rpg gamer, I just found it wanting.

And that's about me for the last year.

However, I do have a housemate who has literally spent every night since Modern Warfare Two came out, playing the multiplayer feature. Yes, he does make gay jokes, yes he does complain about getting raped in game, and this article... reads like it was written for him. It's nice to read that he's the exception and not the rule, though.

Incidentally, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't count the hundreds of hours I've got clocked on Dungeons and Dragons (or the fact that I recently ascended to a lofty MC2 position in the IoD campaign) towards me being a hardcore gamer, but that's cool, I probably wouldn't either.
posted by emperor.seamus at 5:33 PM on June 8, 2010


Durn Bronzefist: "He presents the position as "real games" being games that boys play with, or are associated with toys for boys. In that sense, it fits, but the only person I've ever heard refer to a racing game as either a "real game" or "hardcore" is this guy."

Counterpoint: Gran Turismo.
posted by boo_radley at 5:35 PM on June 8, 2010


No one uses the term hardcore this way. I've played games where the term is used to describe a difficulty level, but that's pretty much it. Casual just means easy to pick up and play.

Attaching these terms to masculine/feminine is plain ol' dumb and poorly thought out.

Plants vs. Zombies is fantastic and everyone should play it.
posted by graventy at 5:36 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


My own experience with the words "hardcore" and "casual" in games journalism is that they're pretty solidly about complex/inaccessible/long vs. simple/approachable/short experiences. To take the example that stands out most in my mind, do a google search for Peggle, casual, hardcore. You'll see article after article about how that game bridges the casual-hardcore divide, how the dichotomy is false, about how it merges "casual game design with hardcore appetites", how "casual is the new hardcore", etc. Very few of these articles are approaching "casual" and "hardcore" from a gendered point of view, as far as I can tell.
posted by naju at 5:38 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think there's a point here, but it's not in the article that was linked to. There's definitely a predominant idea that the things that boys like are somehow "better" than the things that girls like.

I used to review games for a while -- and I'd typically get the puzzle packs, the massive solitaire collections, the random CDs full of shareware games, whatever -- and I liked it, because those were games that tended to get overlooked, the games that no one else wanted to play, and I knew I'd give them a fair chance. Sometimes, obviously, they were terrible games. Other times, though, they were pretty great.

(My brother, who knows more about video games than just about anyone else -- at least, historically -- has said that Tetris for the GameBoy is the best video game ever because it does exactly what it sets out to do and does it perfectly.)

So I know what this article is trying to say -- that just because a game isn't a first-person shooter or a fighting game or a sports game, it's not automatically inferior -- but it does a really bad job of it.

I like plenty of video games (even when I'm terribly bad at them) but the game I'm currently most excited about picking up? Picross 3D for the Nintendo DS. But I'd probably also be buying Super Street Fighter IV if I had a system to play it on.
posted by darksong at 5:41 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, I'll take a stab at a DSM IV like classification of hardcore gamers.

1) Spends a large fraction of his or her free time gaming.
2) Plays a variety of game types although focusing on a single type at any given time is common (MMORPGs, etc)
3) Plays competitive-type games in multiplayer.
4) Winning is very important to the player.
5) Plays on more than one platform, with one of those platforms often being a PC. I would love, love, love to be able to say one of those platforms MUST be a PC, but to my eternal regret I can no longer do so.
6) Usually has the latest and greatest tech (video cards, console upgrades, etc).
7) Often heavily customizes tech.
8) Player self-identifies as a hardcore player.

I submit that at least 6 of these 8 criteria are necessary.
posted by Justinian at 5:44 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


FARMVILLE 4 LIFE, MUTHAFUCKAS. WE BE FARMIN HARD.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 5:56 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Justinian, a dude who plays nothing but Flight Simulator X on a eight-year-old computer and has logged thousands of hours is absolutely a hardcore gamer, yet he fits at most three of your criteria.
posted by straight at 6:15 PM on June 8, 2010


Because he's not a hardcore gamer by the definition of the hardcore gamer subculture. You're welcome to call him whatever you want but hardcore gamers would not consider him one.

I certainly wouldn't consider him a hardcore gamer. Not even close.
posted by Justinian at 6:18 PM on June 8, 2010


It might help to think of "hardcore gamer" as a term of art. Like "Fan" with a capital F in the context of "Science Fiction Fandom". You might think a person who enjoys reading science fiction is a Science Fiction Fan but it isn't so. I wouldn't be considered a Fan, for example.
posted by Justinian at 6:28 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


This article was vaguely useful because I now know what codewords to look for to find the games I want to play, not the games that are being marketed at my demographic. Apparently I should look for pink fuzzy guns.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:29 PM on June 8, 2010


Starts with a fairly obvious point, doesn't really go anywhere with it.

Incidentally, it seems like almost any game can be played either 'casually' or 'hardcore.' FarmVille players can update wikis and set alarms for 3:00 a.m., and GTAIV players can drive around in the tugboat listening to Roy Haynes. Madden and Tiger Woods games are popular among both the frat-house and sports-nerd crowds (not to say there isn't plenty of overlap).
posted by box at 6:47 PM on June 8, 2010


Thanks to PhoBWanKenobi, eyeballkid, and wildcrdj for schooling me. I've actually never played any of the MW games, only watched videos of gameplay during the recent hubbub about MW2. Clearly I was mistaken, and I suspect my broader point way have been misguided too.
posted by roll truck roll at 6:50 PM on June 8, 2010


In my experience, hardcore in WoW means doing 25-man hard-mode raids a few days a week, which means applying to a raiding guild, going through a probationary period (if you're accepted into the guild), working your way up through the ranks, then watching the whole guild collapse in a fit of drama revolving around who gets to go on raids or who insulted the one girl in the guild.

In other words, I'm a casual gamer.
posted by Huck500 at 6:54 PM on June 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


Hardcore WoW means quitting your job, selling your home and loved ones, and giving plasma to get the latest video card for your big gaming rig which you operate out of a mysterious WoW players encampment in the high desert of New Mexico. Everything else is casual.
posted by miyabo at 7:08 PM on June 8, 2010


WRT the article, I'm with the majority here who define "hardcore" and "casual" purely in terms of accessibility. For me, a game is "hardcore" if it isn't any fun if you suck. They're multiplayer games where you'll simply spend the whole time watching respawn counter after respawn counter. Or single-player games where if skills are subpar you simply won't advance.

"Casual" refers to games that require little but time to be enjoyable. You can certainly develop your skills with regard to it, but even if you suck, you can derive enjoyment from it. You can certainly devote considerable time to a casual game, but the point is that your grandmother could pick it up and play it. Solitaire is the prototypical example for me: I know people who have never finished a game, but who still play it constantly at work.

While I think it's mostly a good thing that gaming is no longer the exclusive province of teenage boys, I certainly think that, as gaming moves further into the mainstream, the enlarged market will dictate that more games are made for the increasingly casual masses. In a gaming world increasingly dominated by the likes of Wii Fit, will developers and publishers still want to take risks with 140-hour RPGs and innovative titles like Viewtiful Joe?

This is my fear as well. I see it already happening.

I bought a Wii two days after launch. I'm literally the first person I know to own one. And I bought it because Nintendo promised that they were going to make games for gamers. And it is true that Nintendo themselves have followed through on their promise, and released several first-party titles that I've rather enjoyed.

But nearly the entirety of the 3rd-party Wii library is garbage. Just total dreck. Why is this? Because that's what the market appears to want.

The average Wii owner owns 1.6 Wii titles, including Wii Sports. I've met loads of people who have Wii Sports and literally do not see the point of owning any other game. And looking at industry sales figures, it's quite clear that what sells best on Wii are casual games. You have to get to #9 (Mario Galaxy) before you get to a game that held my interest. You have to drop down three more before you get to a game I would consider "hardcore" (Zelda). I count only about 5 non-casual games on that list even.

Furthermore, the really neat stuff that has come out on Wii (I'm thinking of No More Heroes and Okami) doesn't even show up on that best-sellers list. No More Heroes, which is probably the most
original, and arguably best, game on the Wii, appears to have sold something like 250,000 units in the world.

It seems quite clear to me that if the mainstream games market expands to include those whom I'd currently consider non-gamers, that the publishers are going to try to capture as much of that larger market share as possible. If this means financing Braindead Puzzle Party instead of Fallout 4, because the first will capture 5% of a 100 million-user market, while the other will sell only 1.6 million copies, then they're definitely going to finance the bullshit over the stuff I love.

Take the Mystery Case Files series for example. This is a great series of games with old-school puzzle game flair; I highly recommend it to anyone.

Not to split hairs, but that actually looks like a point-and-click adventure. The gameplay in such a game does consist primarily of puzzles, but it isn't a puzzle game. Puzzle games are far more abstract, and are almost invariably "casual" (The Incredible Machine being an exception to this rule).
posted by Netzapper at 7:08 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is Portal casual?
posted by roll truck roll at 7:09 PM on June 8, 2010


Because he's not a hardcore gamer by the definition of the hardcore gamer subculture...
I certainly wouldn't consider him a hardcore gamer. Not even close.


I'm contesting your group's claim to be "the hardcore gamer subculture." There is no such thing. There are lots of separate gaming subcultures, some of which could be usefully described as "hardcore" within their sphere.
posted by straight at 7:20 PM on June 8, 2010


There is no such thing.

If there is a group of people who have considered themselves part of a subculture of hardcore gamers, then there is by definition a hardcore gamer subculture.
posted by Justinian at 7:24 PM on June 8, 2010


roll truck roll: "Is Portal casual?"

I think it is, up until the point where the turrets show up. Then it starts to become a bit more twitchy (well, particularly near the end).
posted by graventy at 7:27 PM on June 8, 2010


Is Portal casual?

Nope.

It's short, but that isn't the issue.

Portal is still a first-person shooter. It relies on all of the visual language of any FPS, and plays against our expectations.

I've found that people who play exclusively casual games tend to be intimidated merely by the presence of a 3D rendered space through which they must move. Controlling movement direction and camera heading seems not to compute for most of them.
posted by Netzapper at 7:27 PM on June 8, 2010


Is Portal casual?

One of the things I don't like about the article is that it talks about hardcore and casual games rather than hardcore and casual gamers. I prefer the opposite approach. Portal appeals primarily to hardcore gamers, therefore I'd consider it a hardcore game. Note that primarily doesn't mean only.

A game is hardcore if it appeals to hardcore gamers. A game is casual if it has broad appeal. Like Netzapper says, if your grandma could like the game it is a casual game. Unless you have a kickass hardcore grandma.
posted by Justinian at 7:28 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it is, up until the point where the turrets show up. Then it starts to become a bit more twitchy (well, particularly near the end).

This seems to imply that hardcore games must be twitchy which isn't the case. There are plenty of hardcore RPGs and those aren't generally twitchy. Well, these days a lot of them are leaning in that direction but certainly historically speaking it isn't true. And I'd probably go as far as saying one could make the argument that Civilization II-IV are hardcore games and since those are turn-based...
posted by Justinian at 7:30 PM on June 8, 2010


I'd say that various things can make games hard to approach; twitchiness is one of them. For RPGs and Civ, it would be complexity.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 7:36 PM on June 8, 2010


Fair enough. That's a good distinction.

If one were to attempt to define hardcore games vs casual games I think that's exactly the approach one would take. Hardcore games tend to be more difficult and have a steeper learning curve. Casual games tend to be easier to pick up (if not master) and be more social in nature.
posted by Justinian at 7:43 PM on June 8, 2010


Bull-fucking-shit. I no longer have the time necessary to invest in some game, and "casual" is exactly what I want from a recreation.

Games should be fun. Hard-core sounds like no fun. And, I am way more of a man than any of these little man-children spending all their allowances on game cruft and calling each-other "fags."
posted by clvrmnky at 7:45 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


For a lot of serious gamers, what separates "hardcore" from "casual" games (not gamers) is the reward players gain for attaining technical and mechanical skill at a game. Much like sports are competitive because players have varying skill levels depending on how much practice you've put into learning both the sport-specific movements and tactics, only games that produce a wide margin of skill difference between someone who has put a huge amount of time into them (this is your hardcore player) and those who much more casual about them can truly be competitive. When practice, skill, and knowledge no longer reap the rewards in terms of ability to win against someone who is not as versed in the game as you, a game becomes casual rather than hardcore. From there, it's pretty easy to see why competitive gamers see those who play games on their iPod, even for 6+ hours a day, as casual gamers.

An example most would probably be familiar with is Starcraft. It has spawned the biggest pro-gaming scene in the world, with matches even broadcast on Korean television, and also has a huge mechanical learning curve to become a truly solid player. Large numbers of players invest good chunks of time into strategy development and following the latest tactics used by pros. Plants and Zombies on the other hand? Casual.

Anyway, the masculine/feminine distinction seems disingenuous at worst, and out of touch at best.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 7:50 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whoa, surprisingly stupid article dressed up as gender-based analysis of coded language without rationale behind its assertions. That's sort of dispiriting.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:02 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what the definition of hardcore games should be but a better one for casual games is any game where you're not concerned about save points.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 8:08 PM on June 8, 2010


wtb zero punctuation review of this article.
posted by talaitha at 8:09 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


But nearly the entirety of the 3rd-party Wii library is garbage. Just total dreck. Why is this? Because that's what the market appears to want.

The Wii is a strange beast in that much of its output is aimed at middle-aged women and little girls, or, more pointedly, "the whole family." The reason it works is that the overwhelming majority of the people who buy gaming consoles are parents. If the parents think they might use a given console themselves, that's what their kid gets. Mario is still a major brand: We old fogeys know it and love it, and if we have kids, that's a decision that makes itself: Wii!

Parents tend to have a) kids and b) jobs. People with kids and jobs tend to be casual gamers.

And that's why most Wii games are just awful. (However, there are plenty of great 3rd party games for the [insert any Nintendo system here]. They're made by Capcom. It has ever been thus.)

I have a Wii, I love my Wii, and I am very much a Wii dork, but I am nevertheless always quite embarrassed browsing the Wii section of a store (particularly gaming stores). I might as well be in the My Little Pony aisle.

But really, meh. People with actual street cred don't even play video games. Hardcore gamer? No-life loser, more like. (One of us! One of us!)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:12 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Justinian: If there is a group of people who have considered themselves part of a subculture of hardcore gamers, then there is by definition a hardcore gamer subculture.

I was (once, back in the day) a hardcore gamer by your rather odd standards. Most of my friends were and a few still are. Two of them lost their house but managed to maintain the DSL and raiding schedules in WoW until the very end. We would ALL have considered the hypothetical Flight Sim freak a hardcore gamer. A freak, but hardcore. Hardcore being a measure of intent, devotion and sheer bloody mindedness as opposed to the tech-minded criteria you've proposed.

And if you have the misfortune to play FPSs online, the preponderance of gay jokes, sexist bullshit, rape rants and general douchebaggery is high. It's the pinnacle of this, for the most part.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:12 PM on June 8, 2010


I really liked Viva Pinata too :-/
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:22 PM on June 8, 2010


Hardcore being a measure of intent, devotion and sheer bloody mindedness as opposed to the tech-minded criteria you've proposed.

By this definition there are quite a number of hardcore gamers who play nothing but Windows Solitaire. I think that's not a useful definition.
posted by Justinian at 8:38 PM on June 8, 2010


I also disagree with the "casual=female" hypothesis.

I was at Relic the other day and the General Manager in Vancouver summed it all up in a nutshell: "After the age of 35 or so it's simply impossible for the average guy to spend 4 to 5 hours in the zone with a RTS game. So we have to adjust, while still providing great content for the core demographic of 20-something males who play simulations."

Gaming is constantly changing, due in part to technological trends, but also because of changing demographics.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:42 PM on June 8, 2010


Would it work for "real-world" games too? Chess would be hardcore: you can spend years learning to play, and there is a large competitive community. Crazy eights or even hearts would be casual: you can spend a lot of time playing them, and have a lot of fun, but afaik you kind of "top out" at some (relatively early) point, and there is no serious competitive community.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:45 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


What a stupid article.
posted by dazed_one at 8:48 PM on June 8, 2010


Er... Depending on what exactly you're talking about, "Barbie Horse Adventures" sounds very hardcore.
Select the pistol. Then select your horse.
posted by verb at 8:54 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm only surprised that people are surprised. I didn't realize it was a secret that "hardcore gamer" equals boy, and "casual gamer" equals girl. And that "hardcore games" are games aimed at boys, and "casual games" are games aimed at girls.

That's all a given, and the current effort is to to move past it. The article's author is several steps behind the curve, from my perspective.

Shout out to Border House. It's the only place that's never made me feel like a "casual gamer" playing a "casual game," just because I'm a girl who plays Sims.

(2000-today, 1-3 inclusive; thousands of hours logged, and years of blog posts written. I ask you, is that casual? To most gamers, yes.)
posted by ErikaB at 8:56 PM on June 8, 2010


Actually I guess I should be heartened that so many people are taking offense to this article, and arguing with its basic premise.

Unfortunately that's like reading an article that says "There's a perception that women are inherently bad at math," and reacting by saying "That's outrageous! Women are not inherently bad at math!"

Which is totally true, and that's the point the article was making. The problem is, a lot of people believe the sexist nonsense, regardless of how little sense it makes.
posted by ErikaB at 9:04 PM on June 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


I guess we can add "hardcore" to "hipster" and "pornography" on the list of things you know when you see them.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:18 PM on June 8, 2010


ErikaB: "I ask you, is that casual? To most gamers, yes."

I don't think that's true. If you're polling 13-year-old Xbox Live players, then maybe, yes, but you put 1000 hours into anything I think you've earned a hardcore title.

But, again, I don't consider myself a hardcore gamer, because I think the term is negative. Despite the fact that I have probably weeks of WoW, and am 25+ hours into FF13. I play for fun. Not for pwnage or anything like that.
posted by graventy at 9:20 PM on June 8, 2010


Like Netzapper says, if your grandma could like the game it is a casual game.

Not that it's gendered or anything.
posted by stammer at 11:07 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's clearly a mistake to divide the games into "hardcore" and "casual" as opposed to the people playing them. Street Fighter IV, for example, falls neatly under both categories of "Man, Dudley's c.MK sweep sucks because it's -4 on block" and "HOW DO I SHOT FIREBAL" by virtue of:

1. Nostalgia-fueled marketing (27 of the 35 characters are returning from older games)

2. Online play ranks players and generally tries to match them as well as possible with, if requested, people of roughly similar skill level.

It's entirely possible to just have a copy around to mess around with with friends or to kill half an hour online, and it's entirely possible to learn the nuances and just completely erase some noob who has their copy set to "match me with someone better than I am." Is the game casual or hardcore? The answer, of course, is "yes, it is."
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:20 PM on June 8, 2010


Not that it's gendered or anything.

Oh come on; it was a reference to someone who earlier in their thread mentioned their grandmother. Taking it out of context like that is bullshit.
posted by Justinian at 11:29 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's clearly a mistake to divide the games into "hardcore" and "casual" as opposed to the people playing them.

Yes, exactly.

Is "Rock Band" a hardcore game or a casual one? The answer, of course, is both... or neither. But the person playing it might be hardcore or casual depending on if they just occasionally belt out some tunes while drunk or if they play expert lead guitar on the Metallica pack over and over until they get 100%.
posted by Justinian at 11:32 PM on June 8, 2010


If there is a group of people who have considered themselves part of a subculture of hardcore gamers, then there is by definition a hardcore gamer subculture.

But there's not just one of them. There are thousands of such subcultures, and you seem to think the one you're most familiar with is the only one, or the "real" one. It's not.

Your claim (or this article's claim) to be the real "hardcore gamers" is just ignorant provincialism.

That's one of the many lame things about this article. It's not describing the difference between "hardcore" and "casual", it's describing a group that's mainly young boys who like Gears of War, Halo, and Call of Duty, who think they're "hardcore gamers" but who've probably only really seriously played ten or fewer games in their whole lives.

To them, I say, You're not really hardcore unless you've ascended a dozen times in Nethack, 1cc'd Dodonpachi, finished Spellbreaker without Invisiclues, killed Ozma, navigated Veni Vidi Vici, had more sims than Magnasanti, been in Boxer's base killin' his d00ds, fragged Thresh, become or defeated a Matar Colonel, won the Omegathon, and memorized the BFG FAQ.
posted by straight at 11:57 PM on June 8, 2010


Where's my hardcore unicorn laser blaster game? That would be fucking AWESOME!

I realise that a llama is not a unicorn, but I feel this is worth linking anyway.

ruminant power!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:04 AM on June 9, 2010


My sister can kick my ass in any number of 1st person shooters. She's definitely hardcore.
posted by moonbiter at 12:09 AM on June 9, 2010


It's not describing the difference between "hardcore" and "casual", it's describing a group that's mainly young boys who like Gears of War, Halo, and Call of Duty, who think they're "hardcore gamers" but who've probably only really seriously played ten or fewer games in their whole lives.

Well, yes, but don't most of us agree the article is superficial and useless? Attacking it further is mostly pointless.

But there's not just one of them. There are thousands of such subcultures, and you seem to think the one you're most familiar with is the only one, or the "real" one. It's not.

It seems to me that what gets called the "real" (whatever that means) hardcore gamer subculture depends on nothing more than which subculture the most people call the hardcore gamer subculture. So saying "it's not" is a valid contribution to that conversation but in no way the deterministic one. It is if enough people say it is, and it isn't if enough people say it isn't. That's how these things work.
posted by Justinian at 12:27 AM on June 9, 2010


What's a casualcore gamer to do?
posted by zsazsa at 12:30 AM on June 9, 2010


Oh, and I think you're wrong about the demographics of these things. While I have no doubt there are a bunch of 14 year old boys running around who think they've got hardcore skillz because they've played both Halo 3 AND Halo 2, the median age of gamers even in stuff like Gears and Halo is much higher. It's up in the 30s now.

finished Spellbreaker without Invisiclues

Nobody finished Spellbreaker without clues. Nobody!
posted by Justinian at 12:31 AM on June 9, 2010


Like Netzapper says, if your grandma could like the game it is a casual game.

Not that it's gendered or anything.


Seriously? Seriously!? Feel free to substitute "grandpa". The gender was irrelevant, and I meant mainly to call to mind a member of a much older generation unlikely to play games, and I chose pretty much arbitrarily. You're like the people who flip shit that in a single-sentence example, I chose a male pronoun instead of a female pronoun.

I don't think you're going to find a better male proponent of gender equality than me. I grew up in a stay-at-home dad household. My wife has way more career ambition than I ever will. While I recognize biological distinctions, I don't think there's any particular way that chores around the house break down as man-work versus women-work. I like working with competent women just as much as I like working with competent men. I certainly feel lust, but a woman's value isn't determined by how much lust I feel toward her. Fuck, I even listen in conversations about privilege, despite my disgust with the social science jargon, and adapt my behaviors: I've noticed that men interrupt women in discussions, and I do what I can to assure that doesn't happen on my watch; I've recognized that salespeople talk to men more often than the women they're with, and I make sure that my wife is either included, or we find a new salesperson. I've chewed out male coworkers for talking about female coworkers as sexual objects, and I've chewed them out for sexually harassing women both at work and out socially.

For that matter, while I have more persistent prejudices to work through, I'm also a vocal proponent of racial equality.

But, I'm not going to be locked into a goddamn rhetorical straight-jacket whereby I must qualify every goddamn throwaway example by properly calling out every possibly-oppressed group appropriately.

I just don't think it's reasonable that I should have to write "If someone (be that person caucasian, asian, african, pacific islander, Australian aborigine, French, German, Sovak, Pole, Namibian, a citizen of the United States of (North) America, Congoese, Congolese, Burmese, Australian, New Zealander, a member of an indigenous tribe in an occupied/colonized land, etc) wants to bake a cake, he/she/hir/ey will need a cakepan."

It's fucking ridiculous. And more and more on metafilter, I feel like this kind of constant pandering qualification is expected in even the most casual or well-intentioned comments. It's like there's a giant pussy-measuring contest going on, and the person with the deepest vagina is the one who manages to show off just how incredibly, excruciatingly ey can mangle the English language with colorless, lifeless, tortured political correctness.
posted by Netzapper at 12:37 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I used to be a hardcore gamer (lvl99 corpse explosion necro in hardcore mode in Diablo2, can't get much more hardcore than that), and now I prefer more casual games that I can pick up and play for a few hours every couple months. I call bullshit on this article.
posted by Joe Chip at 2:36 AM on June 9, 2010


I think the author has somehow conflated hardcore gamer with hardcore porn.
Was that the point somehow?

Above "...can't get much more hardcore than that"

There is a month long nethack tournament coming up in Novermber you might like. You've got almost 5 months to practice. Or you could just try to ascend (win) using say, the nudist conduct.

hahaha
Aaahaahahahaha
Aaahaahahahahahahahahahahaha
posted by vapidave at 3:27 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey! Don't miss Greg Costikyan's A New Audience in the same magazine. The editors even linked to it in the first page of this article.
posted by wobh at 5:02 AM on June 9, 2010


I think there is a sort of spectrum involving the time it takes to reap enjoyment out of a game that could denote 'casual' vs 'hardcore' leanings. If it takes a lot of time to get good/have fun/complete/whatever a game, it's probably hardcore. If it takes less time, it's more casual.

That's fine with me. I'm a casual gamer. I don't need to complete games 100% and have no qualms playing a game on Easy mode. I mean, I'm playing a game to have fun, so why get frustrated dying constantly? As long as I can pass my Fun Budget Benchmark (I'm willing to pay about 5 bucks an hour for fun, so a 50 dollar game best keep me entertained for at least 10 hours.), I'm happy.

I avoid any game I perceive as 'hardcore' like the plague. Gears of War? NO THANK YOU. Online play? Only if I can play with friends - Halo 3 sapped my will to play with strangers. If game companies want me to spend more money on online shooters or DLC, they need to have a strictly enforced "must be of legal drinking age" age limit option.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:23 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems quite clear to me that if the mainstream games market expands to include those whom I'd currently consider non-gamers, that the publishers are going to try to capture as much of that larger market share as possible. If this means financing Braindead Puzzle Party instead of Fallout 4, because the first will capture 5% of a 100 million-user market, while the other will sell only 1.6 million copies, then they're definitely going to finance the bullshit over the stuff I love.

I think part of the problem here is that you're conflating casual games with "bullshit." Are some casual games bullshit? Sure. But looking at the list of top-selling wii games of all time, there's a large number of "casual" titles on there (wii fit, play, et al., not to mention just about every mario game that's come out for the system). But no My Little Pony Time III. Or whatever.

Quite a few of them are really good. Twilight Princess. Paper Mario. And so on.

And, again, Nintendo's always had licensed crap and subpar games. Am I the only one who remembers the Cool Spot games? Chester Cheetah's Wild, Wild Quest? Did they signal the fall of rich, interesting gaming? No. Of course they didn't. In fact, I had no problem jumping between playing the cheetos game and FFVI. And VI sold well enough alongside licensed SNES titles that we got FFVII!

So what are you so afraid of?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:37 AM on June 9, 2010


Tautological argument is tautological.
posted by drlith at 5:48 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fucking navel-gazers.

Did anyone already mention that "Joysticks" are masculine and "Keypads" are feminine? Except the Atari joystick—that's, like, pedophilia you goddamned sicko.

Hey, this article is fucking stupid and so is my point! Let's see what other stupid comparisons I can make purely for the sake of reading my own words and possibly generating some faux-controversy!

Centipede trackball? Feminine.
Nintendo Duck Hunt gun? Masculine.
The Pong controller? Neither. That's for the asexual mouth-breathers. Same as the CalecoVision controller.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:53 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Once my grandpa was diagnosed witch cancer of the esophagus, my cousins hooked him up with their NES. He would play Super Mario Brothers and try to get every point possible. Break every brick, get every coin, smash every Goomba. He consistently died because he ran out of time.

He was a hardcore gamer. He would play Klondike solitaire, using two decks and only sorting the cards by suit (hearts on spades & diamonds on clubs), on the tabletop in the kitchen and keep score using a stub of pencil and scrap paper. I used to pore over his score-sheets, front and back, trying to figure out just what the hell they meant.

God knows how many decks of cards he wore out playing that game.

He also used to assemble jigsaw puzzles with all of the pieces picture-side-down.
posted by sciurus at 6:09 AM on June 9, 2010


There's something to be said about marketing dogwhistles like "hardcore" and "casual" gamers. Granted, this article takes that point and drools on it, but it strikes me in the same way as how when white guys rap, they call it "alternative" and it gets played on mainstream rock radio, but when black guys rap, it's stamped as RAP and kept far and away from white mainstream rock stations; It's a nebulous concept and tough to prove outright, but it's there.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:14 AM on June 9, 2010


Hardcore vs. casual is not a clean and simple dichotomy at all. There are hardcore The Sims players who would never call themselves gamers but know the game and all its console commands and the vagaries of its content formats backwards and forwards, and not only build custom content but create elaborate online challenges to show off what they can accomplish.

There are many, many people who game for hours and hours a day and yet aren't hardcore.

There are quite a few games that are both hardcore and casual, or perhaps neither. WoW and TF2, for instance.

Peggle is, for some reason, beloved by the gamer elite and yet it's basically pachinko with cartoon characters. Puzzle Quest has the same cachet.

Plate of beans?
posted by Foosnark at 6:54 AM on June 9, 2010


And now that I've RTFA, I have to chime in... I hate that the word "rape" is used so casually by gamers, even while it seems to (finally) be going out of style to call people "faggot."
posted by Foosnark at 7:01 AM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I always seem to get to these threads late, but:

As someone who grew up with long JRPGs, Counter Strike, and the wonders of the arcade, I do worry that the the 'casualization' of gaming may make these types of games much rarer in the future as the latest warmed-over sports titles and movie tie-ins take over.

On the arcade.... stop right there. The "wonders of the arcade" were the very definition of casual gaming. Back in the arcade boom, pre-1984, all kinds of people played video games, and had done so for almost ten years.

Whatever it was that killed video gaming, the most likely candidate was the field moving towards annoying difficulty that either demanded paying a whole pocketful of quarters in order to meet some arbitrary standard of progress, or of paying out even more money over a longer time in order to get good enough to get far on limited credits.

Game developers, seeking to try to drag players into the game more and thus extract more money, worked to make it so that it required more money to play and get good at them (this was about the time the default price of a new game went up to 50 cents). That worked a bit towards attracting players with that kind of time and interest, who were mostly young male. But it dissuaded other people, people who didn't necessarily want to spent twenty dollars mastering a game in order to "reach the end," and when developers found they could make even more money catering to the young male audience the problem fed upon itself.

Anyone can play Pac-Man and have fun for a few minutes. It doesn't take many games in order to get better at it. Even Defender, for its formidable difficulty (honestly the game couldn't be harder if knives stuck out of the machine and stabbed you as you played), was still a lot of fun with its awesome sound effects even if you never cleared wave 1.
posted by JHarris at 7:23 AM on June 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Taking it out of context like that is bullshit.

Again with the gender references! Will you never learn?!?!?!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:02 AM on June 9, 2010


In my experience, this is pretty spot-on.
posted by NoraReed at 9:59 AM on June 9, 2010


JHarris: "Even Defender, for its formidable difficulty (honestly the game couldn't be harder if knives stuck out of the machine and stabbed you as you played), was still a lot of fun with its awesome sound effects even if you never cleared wave 1."

I wonder, why is that more true of golden age arcade games than of current "hardcore" titles? I mean, everyone loves Donkey Kong, but most people can't pass the second level. They break down the numbers in King of Kong, but IIRC, less than one percent of people who've ever played Donkey Kong have ever seen level 4. And there are 50 levels.
posted by roll truck roll at 10:20 AM on June 9, 2010


roll truck roll: "I wonder, why is that more true of golden age arcade games than of current "hardcore" titles?"

Because those games were designed to take your quarters almost as fast as possible. A lot of the love for those games is clouded nostalgia, and their ability to be approached and played easily by anyone. A joystick and probably one or two buttons.
posted by graventy at 10:40 AM on June 9, 2010


People with actual street cred don't even play video games.

Tell this to the dudes I run into at my local GameStop that try to get me to "exchange" games for them 'cause they "didn't bring their IDs" (ie the games are stolen). Or the reasonably sketchy friends from my past who only interrupted their games of NFL Blitz when they needed to cut a new shipment of product. EVERYONE plays video games; it's like smoking pot - "traditional" socionomic indicators may lead the observer astray (no, not "will ruin your life" and "costs $50-60 a go for the good stuff").
posted by jtron at 11:22 AM on June 9, 2010


Foosnark: "And now that I've RTFA, I have to chime in... I hate that the word "rape" is used so casually by gamers, even while it seems to (finally) be going out of style to call people "faggot.""

This is a derail, but there's few things that'll get you kicked from the mefight servers -- these are two. Maybe I'm getting cranky in my middle age, but dang if these behaviors don't set me off.
posted by boo_radley at 11:25 AM on June 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


But really, meh. People with actual street cred don't even play video games. Hardcore gamer? No-life loser, more like.

Wow, it's like you teleported here directly from 1983. Did you bring your Members Only jacket?

Secondly, how does it feel to be a high-schoolesque bully?
posted by Justinian at 2:41 PM on June 9, 2010


Here's another point why hardcore = stereotypically masculine is nonsense. By the "boys' toys" metric Fallout 3 is hardcore because of guns/gore. However, Fallout 3's fans had a reputation of being hardcore (or hardcore whiners) because they were pestering Bethesda throughout the development cycle for ways to finish the game without shedding blood, for multiple ways to solve quests (including by dialogue), to preserve the oddball humour of the first games and retain the quality of the writing and so on. In other words because they demanded options that were not stereotypically masculine.

If only they had demanded a more useful Super Sledge a la Fallout, too.
posted by ersatz at 2:52 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder, why is that more true of golden age arcade games than of current "hardcore" titles? I mean, everyone loves Donkey Kong, but most people can't pass the second level. They break down the numbers in King of Kong, but IIRC, less than one percent of people who've ever played Donkey Kong have ever seen level 4. And there are 50 levels.

Well let's clarify about Donkey Kong. The "fiifty levels" comment I don't remember, but if that statistic is accurate level 4 is actually rather far into the game. This is because each level is actually divided into a number of different boards, from the four types: Ramps, Elevators, Conveyor Belts and Rivets. The level number only goes up when you clear a Rivets board, defeating Donkey Kong temporarily before the next abduction occurs. I've never spent the time to get good at it, but getting to level 4 sounds like it involves completing ten boards, which is a great accomplishment. Getting to level 49 is a feat probably only accomplished by a few dozen people in the game's history, but of those people, probably all of them have been to level 50, too. The game ceases to get harder between levels very far into the game. Almost certainly Nintendo's play-testers never got that far. Thus the existence of those levels is not wholly "supported" by Nintendo; players are supposed to have been forced out of the game by difficulty long before that. Level 4 is actually probably the level of mastery that Nintendo foresaw for people who were really good at it; that players can get further is good, but also dismaying.

Arcade games are balanced to be fun (to entice people to put money in) but also hard (so the next player can put in his money). It certainly wasn't designed (by Shigeru Miyamoto himself) to have fifty levels; the game is limited to that many only by a kill screen, a serious bug. An ultra-long-lasting game like that is actually a failure of the game's design, in a way, because in a classic-era arcade countless people aren't putting their money in during that long game. So long as they are still fun though, as long as players get something out of the game besides a challenge to overcome, people will still play it. When arcade games transitioned away from general audiences and towards young males, they focused the fun to things young males like. (minor chord) With predictable results.
posted by JHarris at 3:05 PM on June 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I may have the numbers wrong, but I was referring to boards. In the movie, Billy Mitchell also says that most Donkey Kong games last less than 60 seconds.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:11 PM on June 9, 2010


So what's the core density of Lemmings? On the one hand they're cute and bouncy and blue and have an earworm soundtrack and you'd have to think they're over at the adorable end of casual. OTOH sometimes they emit little peeps of desperation, hold their heads, and blow up. In fact at several points you're obviously supposed to plant one beside some barrier blocking your path and make it emit little peeps of desperation and hold its head, knowing it's about to be blown up on purpose, just in hope that the barrier will get caught up in the collateral damage and blown up too. Which only a heartless fourteen-year-old dick could do (though I don't find it a problem, usually.) All this effort to set up a nice clean dichotomy and the best game ever doesn't fit.
posted by jfuller at 5:15 PM on June 9, 2010


All this effort to set up a nice clean dichotomy and the best game ever doesn't fit.

It's weird that you spell BurgerTime with an L and two Ms.
posted by Errant at 5:25 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because those games were designed to take your quarters almost as fast as possible. A lot of the love for those games is clouded nostalgia, and their ability to be approached and played easily by anyone. A joystick and probably one or two buttons.

Many examples of this. Joust for the Atari was a breeze. Joust in the arcade was hard. Just to stay aloft, you had to flap like a motherfucker.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:29 PM on June 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


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